ndsu spectrum: TV Review
‘Lone Gunmen’ finds its niche in comedy
By JOHN HANSEN
May 5, 2001
At first, “The Lone Gunmen” didn’t seem like an obvious choice for a spinoff series. After all, while Byers (Bruce Harwood), Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and Langly (Dean Haglund) provided quirky comic relief in many “X-Files” mythology episodes, their cult following was based more on the fact that they made geekdom cool than on the characters themselves. Even after seven-and-a-half seasons, we knew almost nothing about these guys’ backgrounds.
But now that “The Lone Gunmen” is in the homestretch of its first 13 episodes, the conspiracy-busting trio have matured into leading men and the spinoff has become every bit as engaging as its parent show, but for a completely different reason.
After a somewhat dreary pilot episode, “Gunmen” added two characters — the loveable loof Jimmy Bond (Stephen Snedden) and the sexy mystery woman Yves (Zuleikha Robinson) — and found a niche by lacing its dramatic storylines with rapid-fire, witty and light-hearted humor. Three Musketeers, Three Stooges, Three Gunmen… it’s hardly a coincidence.
If people tune into “The X-Files” to get freaked, they tune into “Gunmen” to laugh. Remember how hard you laughed at the toilet scene in “Dumb & Dumber”? There’s a scene of Frohike faking a gas problem that’s even funnier, as the sound effects play behind visuals of Langly peeking over a magazine at the clinic receptionist.
We’ve gotten to know these three leads better with each passing episode. Frohike is the peeved one, threatening an “ass paddling” to a nosy kid who catches him spying on a house; Langly is the geeky one, a 32-year old virgin who spends weeks building a medieval empire on a computer game; Byers is the good-hearted one, admonishing the other two when they call Jimmy an idiot, something that happens rather frequently.
The fact that these three goofy-looking guys play off each other so well is a big key to the show’s success, but not the biggest. That honor goes to Snedden’s Jimmy, who is so blown away by the Gunmen’s heroic mission that he funds the trio’s conspiracy paper and tags along as the fourth gunman.
Jimmy’s childlike enthusiasm towards water-powered cars, super-intelligent chimps and the good-ol’ U. S. of A. is a breath of fresh air. Frankly, if all morons were as adorable as Jimmy, the world would be a better place.
The final cast member, Yves uses the gunmen’s work to serve her own secret agenda. Like Snedden, Robinson is a casting coup. With a sexy sway and stylish wardrobe, Yves seems confident in everything she does. Most of her accented dialogue is laced with sighs that suggest Byers, Frohike and Langly rank about 10 notches below the people she’d like to associate with. Still, as she starts spending more and more time around the Gunmen, you can’t help but wonder if she’s begrudgingly starting to like them.
You can hardly blame her. “The Lone Gunmen” is one of the funniest dramas ever created; let’s hope Fox keeps it around for awhile.
What: “The Lone Gunmen” Season 1
When: 8 p.m. Fridays on Fox
Starring: Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Stephen Snedden, Zuleikha Robinson
Executive Producers: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban
Grade (episodes 1-11): A
“The Lone Gunmen” (2000-01, Fox) — Chris Carter and the folks at Ten-Thirteen Productions have been on a roll this year, juicing up “The X-Files” with new faces and old-fashioned creep-fests, and still finding time to churn out a dozen episodes of “The Lone Gunmen.”
This mid-season replacement started off very well, with loveable Jimmy Bond (Stephen Snedden) and sexy Yves Harlow (Zuleikha Robinson) joining the quirky journalists in their dangerous — and often funny — investigations of government conspiracies.
Unfortunately, the show tailed off as the season went on. The stories were only passable in the first few episodes, but the likeable characters and steady laughs made that forgivable. But the season’s second half left me cold. Have the writers run out of ideas? We may never know. The fact that Fox aired 13 episodes is a small miracle; the odds of them bringing the gunmen back next season are slim. B+
— John Hansen, NDSU Spectrum, Summer 2001