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The X-Files: Fire (1993)
Season 1, Episode 12
I didn't know Mary Poppins worked as a British police officer
23 October 2015
For some reason I feel compelled to write this review. I'm guessing I'm motivated to do so because I was a big X Files fan (admittedly I stopped watching after season four) and I had the misfortune to be a British person who watched the episode 'Fire'.

I don't know where to start with this episode. In a nutshell, I am staggered that a man as intelligent as Chris Carter could produce such an inaccurate portrayal of British people. In fact, the writing is so cringeworthy, so 'watch behind your fingers' embarrassing, it borders on the xenophobic and jingoistic.

To start with, the way the British people are dressed is bizarre. Phoebe wears clothes Princess Anne wouldn't have touched with a barge pole in the 1970s, and the children of the aristocrats are dressed like William and Harry in the 1980s. If any of the production team had bothered to visit the UK, they'd know that absolutely no one in the UK dresses like this, least of all London police officers.

And then there is the script: 'Some clever bloke has been giving the aristocracy a good scare' and 'bloody little cur, I'll skin you alive' are just a couple of examples where the attempts to sound British are appalling. I have never heard anyone speak like this in Britain, ever. It sounds absolutely weird. If I met a couple of police officers in the UK who spoke like this, they'd be reported for being weird. And Amanda Pay's accent is affected (along with other cast member's accents which are pretty bad). She speaks like a 1940s aristocrat – I have never heard anyone in the UK speak like this.

And then there is the cliché Hollywood story of the British being evil and stupid, and the Americans coming to save the day. Mulder's patronising suggestion of the 'Irish Republican Army' being responsible for the crimes is mind numbing (as if experienced officers and specialised intelligence units in the UK hadn't considered this, you fool).

Phoebe Green is a comic book villain who is deeply unprofessional and acts like a promiscuous airhead on duty, prancing around in an evening dress. It's like British police officers don't work nights, solve modern crimes or face disciplinary procedures.

In contrast, Scully is on the ball, writing profiles despite being untrained in criminal psychology (as though the British don't use profiling), and acts like a saviour. And Mulder saves the day and also British backsides. Basically, the whole thing is designed to flatter the American ego by insulting their friends on the other side of the pond.

I am really surprised this was actually broadcast in the UK, considering 'Fire' is so bad and offensive. Chris Carter seems oblivious to how bad 'Fire' is in subsequent interviews and I wonder how accurately they portray other communities they visit because of this episode. I also wonder about the ethics of hiring British actors when there is such an inherent disrespect for the background they come from.
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