Television

Debris Represents the Crumbling Leftovers of X-Files Rip-offs

Oh look, two mismatched government agents investigating alien technology.

|

Debris. NBC. Monday, March 1, 10 p.m.

Tragically—well, maybe; you be the judge—that bastard COVID has claimed another victim. The X-Files is finally dead, a stake pounded through its throbbing space-alien heart by its dozenth or so television clone. The killer was Debris, a mumbly and mindless sci-fi drama that would never have made it on the air if NBC weren't so desperately scrambling for new pilots as the COVID production lockdown virus slouched toward Hollywood last spring.

If you somehow missed The X-Files during its 11-season run on Fox, or the various movie spin-offs, comic books, and video games that followed, you've probably seen it under some other name—FringeWarehouse 13Dark Skies, and too many others to count—because it essentially engraved the template for nearly all the television science fiction that followed over the three decades that followed its 1993 debut.

Not every series followed every particular, but generally speaking, you had a team led by two temperamentally opposed but sexually attracted investigators looking into weird phenomena caused by—in descending order of sinisterness—conspiracies of the U.S. government and/or extraterrestrial civilizations manipulating human history. Some episodes were devoted to the series' overarching conspiracy storyline; some to a "monster of the week" that didn't necessarily tie in very closely with the big story. (I was gravely disappointed when a demon's lecherous obsession with a Stanford coed in an early episode of Supernatural turned out not to be a central tenet of Satanist theology.)

This was kind of fun for a while on The X-Files, but even the show's own producers seemed to have sensed it was getting a little thin when they entitled an episode in the ninth season "Jump The Shark." Most of the clones died off much more quickly. And finally one of them has been stillborn. Debris will freeze your blood not with terror but tedium. Its monsters are puny and its dialogue mostly left over from 1955. ("In the wrong hands," gravely warns one investigator of the outer-space junk they're chasing, "it could be the end of humanity.") I wouldn't watch this stuff with your eyeballs.

Debris stars Jonathan Tucker (Westworld) as CIA operative Bryan Beneventi and Riann Steele (NCIS: New Orleans) as his partner Finola Jones, an agent of the British intelligence outfit MI6, who've been teamed on a task force searching for the shattered remains of an alien spaceship. (Anybody who remembers the results of the CIA's partnership with MI-6 through its agent Kim Philby will not exactly be optimistic about the outcome of this project.)

Beneventi, who just completed several years in Afghanistan that entailed the removal of eyeballs with knives or some similar intelligence task, is not inclined to view the alien junk in a positive light. Steele, who blathers on like a Hallmark card in the terminal stages of diabetes, thinks it's like penicillin of the cyberage. She holds fast to her belief even after seeing the debris transmogrify a waitress into something that plunges seven stories to her death on a dining table in a hotel restaurant, not to mention causing various random Americans to burst into hemorrhages from their eyes. Sherlock Holmes has left the building.

Supposedly the search for the debris is complicated by various factors, including counterplotting by the CIA and MI-6; the interference of Jones' dad, a star physicist and—um—dead; and a group of unknown but thuggish-looking fellows who are trying to get their own hands on it. Their exact goal is unknown, but some of them have letters of the alphabet tattooed on their fingers, which in my experience is never a good sign.

But the interest in these various subplots is seriously undercut by the sparse dialogue and its frequent incomprehensibility due to Steele's posh British accent, which will likely leave a lot of viewers feeling like Whoopi Goldberg trying to decipher Rolling Stones lyrics in Jumpin' Jack Flash. Incomprehensibility, though it's usually due to plot machinations rather than accents, is a regular feature of creator-writer J.H. Wyman's work, particularly the old sci-fi series Fringe, another X Files clone that Debris closely resembles. By the end of its 2008-2013 run, Fringe had hopped through so many time-travel worlds and alternative universes that even the characters seemed uncertain where they were at any given moment. But I could always tell. In Hell, about the Ninth Circle. It's a neighborhood viewers of Debris will get to know well.

NEXT: Democrats Can't Use Reconciliation To Pass a $15 Minimum Wage. Here's What They Might Do Next.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The golden age of television is dead and buried. The only thing worth watching is whatever else Vince Gilligan cooks up.

    1. ░A░M░A░Z░I░N░G░ ░J░O░B░S░
      I basically make about $8,000-$12,000 a month online. It’s enough to comfortably replace my old jobs income, especially considering I only work aboutQWE 10-13 hours a week from home. I was amazed how easy it was after I tried it copy below web.

      COPY HERE———->> GoOgLE CaSh 1

      1. I get paid 140 $ each hour for work at home on PC MAKE MONY. I never thought I’d have the option to do it however NHYT my old buddy is gaining 65000$/month VFE to month by carrying out this responsibility and she gave me how.

        Give it a shot on following website……..VISIT HERE

        1. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much BFRT better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info

          on this page…..READ MORE

      2. I get paid 140 $ each hour for work at home on PC MAKE MONY. I never thought I’d have the option to do it however BGTRE my old buddy is gaining 65000$/month VFE to month by carrying out this responsibility and she gave me how.

        Give it a shot on following website……..VISIT HERE

    2. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy andGTR simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

    3. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple MNK job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page….. Visit Here

    4. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and DVD simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page….. Visit Here

    5. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

  2. People of color are in it. It’s good.

    1. Why even bring that up unless it bothers you somehow?

      1. It only bothers me when there aren’t people of color in it.

        1. White is a color, btw. Pink, as well.

      2. Why even bring that up unless it bothers you somehow?

        Because it’s racist to value character, content, and ability over someone’s skin color.

        1. Nobody was talking about race until he brought it up.

            1. So you are contributing to the problem you are criticizing? Seems like a self-own to me.

              1. It’s going to be a problem whether he contributes or not.

              2. I’M NOT! I’M TALKING ABOUT RACE!

                1. Making everything about race is part of the problem.

                  1. Making nothing about race is part of the problem too. What we need to do is make the perfect, Goldilocks amount of stuff about race. Also, whatever that Goldilocks amount is, by virtue of it being the “Goldilocks” amount, is racist.

                    1. Yeah, but porridge is cultural appropriation.

                    2. Daily Online Jobs ” has been a great platform for the only Trusted Way to start their online career by providing reliable online jobs. For joining you will only need a Laptop or Computer. Your daily work will be from 10 minutes to 60 minutes.KMn All the details of joining and working are already given in site with screenshots and video guides in home tabs. For any detail or problem you can contact us on our Facebook page.
                      Visit our site today to join Online jobs in US & UK…. JOBS APP

          1. And he said it was good.

      3. The fact that it bugs you is reason enough.

  3. “Oh look, two mismatched government agents investigating alien technology.”

    Pinky and the Brain review the green new deal?

    1. *That* I’d watch.

    2. Start working from home! Great job for everyone! stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income…You can work this job As part time or As A full time job.You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection…Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom…jghf You can have your first check by the end of this week…

      Lifetime Opportunity This is what I do—— ONLINE-JOBS-USA

  4. There’s only so much broadcast television can do in the face of the streaming revolution. This is all a function of the economics, and live broadcast television simply isn’t bingeable. If it’s any good, people will catch it on Peacock for free.

    I shouldn’t get my hopes up for Foundation, but it’s likely to be a hell of a lot better than the new Dune production. Foundation will be an open ended series of 10 episodes. There’s no way you can do a good job with Dune in a two to three hour movie–or just two or three two hour episodes. The tenth episode of Dune should probably end with Paul and his mother being forced to flee into the desert.

    They’re doing the new Dune as a stand alone movie. There’s no way it won’t suck.

    For Broadcast television to make something people will still watch, they need to do something Game of Thrones or Foundation like in scale–with a built in cult audience–and make the episodes unavailable on streaming platforms for a year or more–so you have to see it live (or in reruns) if you want to see it at all. They might do The Silmarillion or something like that.

    But why would they do that given the state of the market and their position within that market? They’re nursing whatever audience is too slow and out of it to switch to streaming already. There are still tens of millions of Americans out there who still pay through the nose for cable and satellite and watch broadcast television like there’s nothing better on for less money elsewhere.

    This new X-Files series is being made to appeal to the Amish.

    1. Actually, the new Dune movie will cover the first half of the novel, with the second half to be covered in a sequel. I agree, however, that it would be better as a TV series.

    2. Netflix/David Fincher is doing Rendezvous with Rama (hopefully). Been waiting for that one for 20 years now. Oh and for god sakes, no sequels.

    3. “Foundation” is going to 80 episodes. After reading the books, I have no idea exactly what they’re doing though, because there are no characters named Brother Day, Dawn, or Dusk.

  5. Warehouse 13 was paranormal/magic, not science fiction/aliens.

  6. The Truth is Out There – this show sucks.

    1. The Truth us Out There?
      That was then, this is now. “Fact checks” have buried the truth forever.

  7. Why in the world are Reason readers still watching broadcast teevee?

  8. I liked Fringe and never missed an x-files. Debris didn’t make me look twice

    1. I enjoyed Fringe as well…I think it stands on its own.

      1. the other Multi-Universe show with the Farmers Insurance guy was good too … but I had to look up the title … Counterpart

  9. Getting paid every month easily more than $15k just by doing simple job online. Last month i have exactly received $17529 from this online job just by giving this 2 hrs a day online. start earning more cash online just by follow instructions here.. SeeMore here

  10. Of course it will be good. They hired a woman.

  11. “Star physicist”? Seriously? Finola Jones’ father was/is an “astrophysicist”. If you’re going to slam a show, at least get your terms correct.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.