Reviews
selected from TV Zone #112
.
 THE X-FILES

HOW THE GHOST STOLE CHRISTMAS 7
T’was the night before Christmas…

It’s a credit to How the Ghosts Stole Christmas that, while watching it, I could have sworn that the smell of mince pies wafted through the air. I think the people in the flat below may just have been cooking something fruity, but, nevertheless, there is something successfully Christmassy about this episode, which is odd in that there’s not a tree or a Santa in sight. Perhaps it’s got a lot to do with the ghost story Mulder tells in the pre-credits. Certainly, the half-scary half-jokey mood is established very strongly early on through Chris Carter’s careful writing and directing.

The story is reassuringly simple, concerning a pair of ghosts (guest stars Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin) who trick couples passing through their house into suicide pacts echoing the one in which they took their own lives, one Christmas eve long ago. Despite being confused by the fact that Mulder and Scully aren’t actually a couple, the ghosts see in them a pair of lonely and confused individuals ripe for the killing. They also deliver lots of home truths to the FBI agents en route, though even Mulder raises an eyebrow when one of them accuses him of ‘para-masturbatory’ behaviour.

The story loses some of its effectiveness in the last 10 minutes, which rather spoils things, but the final scene – Mulder’s lonely Christmas, redeemed by Scully’s popping round to give him a
Episode F6
First Aired: 13 December 1998
Reviewed by Gareth Wigmore
present – is surprisingly touching. Enjoyable enough in its own right, How the Ghosts... is a good deal better than many series’ Christmas offerings.

 STAR TREK

THE 34TH RULE 9
Quark sells his story

Star Trek: The 34th Rule
I’m always a little wary when actors write novels around their characters. Granted, actors often have a remarkably good grasp of their own characters; however, they also tend to play up those characters at the expense of everyone else around. (For example, take a look at any of William Shatner’s seemingly 20-volume set of Kirk-centered books.) Armin Shimerman’s The 34th Rule, fortunately, contains the best of both worlds. Yes, Quark is a central figure, and by extension, Ferengi culture is at the heart of the book. Shimerman’s understanding, however, seems to go beyond his own character to encompass basically everyone in DSN’s main cast (with the exception of Jake, who comes off as somewhat more sophisticated than one would expect), and he also knows how to present Ferengi as interesting without descending into the grotesque excesses so common in Ferengi-centered episodes of the show.

Set late in DSN’s fourth season, The 34th Rule traces the path of a diplomatic rift between Ferenginar and Bajor, centering around Grand Nagus Zek’s refusal to sell Bajor one of the lost Orbs of the Prophets. As Bajoran spiritual and secular leaders get ever more stubborn in their demands and their retaliatory actions, Quark finds himself trapped on decidedly hostile ground, eventually seeing some of Bajor’s worst history from the Occupation re-enacted with himself as unwilling participant.

If the book has a fault, it’s that the events here take so much time and are so momentous that readers might have difficulty reconciling the book with what they’ve seen on screen. As problems, go, however, that’s pretty minor; Shimerman (along with co-author David R George III) manages to keep the reader interested in the
Written by Armin Shimmerman and David George
Reviewed by Tim Lynch
Simon and SchusterBooks • Price: £5.99
Out: Now
ISBN 0-671-00793-9
characters while weaving a tale of plans within plans within schemes. In addition, those who are familiar with Shimerman’s non-Quark characters inside Trek should keep an eye out for a few surprise guests. The 34th Rule is one of the richer DSN books to come along in a while; it’s definitely worth a look.
TV Zone footer