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Mutant X (2000)
Produced by Avi Arad and Rick Unger

review by Daniel G. Jennings

I have a feeling that this dreary show is going to be one of the casualties of the terrorist atrocity of September 11th. Judging by the boring and unimaginative stories filled with dull one-dimensional characters and tired cliches that would not necessarily be a bad thing.
   Basically, Mutant X is Marvel Studios (Marvel Comics) attempt to repackage its classic X-Men characters for TV. Unfortunately for Marvel, the TV and movie rights to the X-Men were sold to Rupert Murdoch's 20th Century Fox cartel a few years back so none of the rich storylines or interesting characters from the original comics is available for this TV show. Instead, producers give us a storyline about a secret US government experiment that genetically modified people to create super powered secret agents. This experiment has now gone awry and thousands of innocent people are now 'New Mutants'. The US government agency behind the experiments decides to hunt down and kill the mutants for no real reason. A group of these mutants decides to fight back, instead of complaining to the Congress or filing criminal complaints against the bad guy with the FBI, the mutants use their powers to blast the evil government agents. Naturally, he government agents are all sadistic killers who act like gangsters and violate every law around, while the freedom fighters are super-ethical paragons of virtue.
   Audiences might have accepted this plotline a few years ago when we were living under the delusion that the world was a safe place and we could afford to be paranoid about government agencies. Now that it appears we might actually need agencies like the CIA to defend us from the Bin Ladens of the world, I doubt audiences will be very receptive to this plot.
   To make matters worse the heroes, Mutant X, operate out of a cave hidden in a remote area just like Bin Laden does. In other words the heroes are terrorists and the government are the bad guys. A plot that will hardly win over audiences who've been watching the carnage in New York on their TV screens. The evil government operatives even wear Nazi type uniforms. Not a very good move given the patriotic climate in the United States these days.
   Do we really need movies and TV shows that promote idiotic and paranoid conspiracy theories? Especially after seeing thousands of innocent people blown up in New York and Washington by morons who buy into such theories.
   The conspiracy theory nonsense is particularly boring because it is the only plot this show seems to have. Mutant X protects good innocent mutants from bad government agents every week. The paranoia might be forgivable if Mutant X were actually entertaining, but it isn't. The show is so serious that it's dull, and the conspiracy theory plotlines are simply a retread of stuff we've seen before on The X-Files, Blake's Seven, Nikita and other programmes. None of the characters are the least bit exciting, and some well done action and special effects aren't enough to make the show watchable.
   A talented cast of young actors led by Victoria Pratt (who played one of the Amazons on Xena: Warrior Princess) is wasted. Particularly dull is the leader of Mutant X, Jonathan Shea - who looks about as bored as the folks watching at home. None of the characters either good or bad are interesting and even their super-powers aren't very super.
   Mutant X fails dismally, as it has none of the entertaining elements that made the original X-Men so much fun. Or for that matter the recent X-Men movie so entertaining. None of the characters is as memorable as the Wolverine and the writing is a pale shadow of the creative plots comic-book writers like Chris Claremont and Stan Lee came up with. The thoughtful morality and understanding of human nature that Lee and Claremont injected into the best of their writing is also sorely lacking here. Nor does Mutant X have Lee's sense of humour. Lee's comics worked because he never took them seriously and always knew when to go for the laughs. Mutant X has no sense of humour whatsoever.
   My advice to Marvel Studios go back to the drawing board and come up with a really entertaining show based on of their classic comic books. They've produced so many that there's got to be something there that would make a good TV show, especially with modern special effects like they used in The Matrix. (Nick Fury - Agent of SHIELD, or Daredevil, The Punisher, Deathlok, Iron Man, The Wolverine and Dr Strange come to mind). Or better yet ask guys like Stan Lee or Chris Claremont to come up with an original idea for a TV show. Another idea might be a show making fun of all of the ludicrous conspiracy theories that have infected the science fiction genre as of late.
   Anything would be better than the dreadfully dull hour called Mutant X.

Related pages:
tZ  Mutants Season: Mutants in SF and Comics - by David Sivier
Mutant X
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