Review by: KEN KORCZAK
Think of a soap opera, but not the kind with impossibly handsome doctors and lawyers tangled in sleazy love affairs with achingly gorgeous women — no, instead imagine a soap opera that has UFOs and alien abduction as its central premise.
Well, that’s what you get with the first season of MILGRAM & THE FASTWALKERS, a micro-budget but heroic attempt to take ufology to the streets serial-TV style … well, Internet-platform style, that is.
But wait a minute — I want to jump right ahead and say that while Season 1 of ‘Fastwalker’ was indeed rather soapy, Season 2 quickly evolves into something much more sensational, and by sensational, I mean sensationally good.
Milgrim & The Fastwalkers easily out-Xs The X Files, in my opinion, and I loved the X Files.
But this is better. Read on.
Here’s the premise: Brilliant psychiatrist Richard Milgram (Richard Cutting) has his career in high gear having just won the prestigious “Pullman Prize” for penning a brilliant book, while his practice has a mile-long waiting list of people who desperately need one of the world’s best shrinks.
In the meantime, a young, career-climbing lawyer has developed a real problem. She’s the lovely Sally Lemm (Walker Hays), beautiful as a summer day — but tough, cold and hard-bitten as the worse kind of A-hole lawyer you ever want to meet
Her career is crumbling because she is being taken up, up and up into the frightening interior of a UFO operating room where nasty aliens are giving impregnating her with alien hybrid seeds, only to terminate her pregnancies whenever they see fit. And then they do it all over again.
Ms. Lemm eventually finds her way to Dr. Milgram, who is skeptical at first, but gets pulled toward where the science is taking him — to the astounding realization that this whole alien abduction thing just might be real.
Dr. Milgram is certainly based on the real, world-famous and late Harvard psychiatrist DR. JOHN MACK. Like Milgram, Mack had won the Pulitzer Prize for a brilliant book, and was among the most eminent psychiatric doctors in the world. Like Milgram, Mack was drawn into the endlessly bizarre world of ufology when he dared conclude that his many patients complaining of alien abduction were not crazy — that what was happening to them was probably real.
Mack’s distinguished career was rocked to the core. Harvard elites formed a kangaroo court and tried to revoke his tenure and spit him out like a bad oyster — but Mack was saved thanks mostly to the efforts of attorney Daniel Sheehan (of the Pentagon Papers case), who pulled his fat out of the academic-witch-hunt fire.
Portraying Dr. Milgram in the image of John Mack is just one thing that this intelligently written series gets right. Finally, here is a serial dramatic production channeling the UFO phenomenon which goes beyond all the surface cliches of ufology. It gets at the truly mind-bending, far reaching implications of what is most likely the most important sociological/scientific/spiritual issue of our times.
Yes, ufology is hopelessly infected with the lunatic fringe, but at the same time, has captured serious attention of some the most brilliant minds in the world, including the aforementioned John Mack, but also others, such as Jacques Vallee, Carl Jung, J. Alan Hynek, Horace Drew, Gordon Cooper, Laurance Rockefeller, Edgar Mitchell — and many other movers and shakers in science and industry.
Two other things that make Milgram & the Fastwalkers a superior production:
Character driven plots: The creators do not rely on the sensational aspect of the UFO phenomenon to carry the entire narrative. This saga is deeply character driven, and there are a lot of them! Milgram and Sally Lemm are the major players, but they are surrounded by well-fleshed out characters with all the normal problems of everyday life — from Milgram’s boozy, sex-starved wife, Evelyn (Kate Revelle), to Fred Robinette (John C. Bailey), Migram’s fellow psychiatrist with an addiction to gambling, to Lisa Hill (Danielle Davy), a repulsively seedy, scruples-free journalist hell bent on digging dirt to further her own career.
Punchy Script: The screenplay often sores to delightful levels with crackling, cut-to-the-bone dialogue that will spin the mind of the viewer like an alien brain implant. A prime example is a sizzling (and darkly humorous) scene in Episode 3 of Season 2 when hapless mechanic Kevin (Joe Hansard), a frequent UFO abductee, is confronted by the wonderfully freakish Claire Tighlman ( Victoria Guthrie) — who is almost certainly some kind of alien (probably a “reptilian” disguised as a human) — who badgers and bullies Kevin while simultaneously dishing out an awful kind of tough love.
I want to make mention of another scene that lifts this series to a higher level of authenticity. It’s in Season 2, Episode 6 in which Sally Lemm is paid a visit by a MIB (Josh Davidson), one of ufology’s infamous “Men In Black.”
I use the word “authenticity” because the scene captures the real flavor or the incredible weirdness of the MIB phenomenon, and while an element of wry humor is involved, it doesn’t present the MIB event as a shallow Hollywood joke as did those silly the Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones movies.
It seems clear that the scene leverages two of the most famous real MIB events, the first as reported by Jacques Vallee in his book, Confrontations. The incident occurred in 1976 near a small lumber town in California called Happy Camp. After numerous UFO sightings and confrontation with aliens, a local restaurant in the small town received a strange customer one day. Vallee describes it this way:
“… a stranger who had never been seen in town happened to stroll into Lois’s Cafe … all conversation stopped when the man came in. He ordered a steak dinner but proved unable to use a knife and fork, and eventually left without paying … he had pale skin and ‘oriental’ eyes. He wore a bizarre sort of shirt and no coat, although it was the middle of winter. He smiled constantly at people in a strange, forced grimace. Among the peculiar things he did during his extraordinary dinner was a brave attempt to drink Jell-O out of a glass.”
The other MIB event the scene takes a cue from is from the book, CAPTURED! by Kathleen Marden, the niece of famous UFO abductee Betty Hill. In this book, Marden describes a frightening MIB visit to a medical doctor who had hypnotically regressed a young man who had experienced an abduction event. Part of the doctor’s bizarre conversation with the MIB involved the MIB asking the doctor to hold a coin in his hand. Marden writes:
“(The MIB) told the him to hold (the coin) in his outstretched hand. he told him to watch the coin, not him. He did this and saw the penny change to a silver color, then to a blue color, become hazy, indistinct, and vanish .. the MIB said no one on this plane would ever see that coin again.”
The MIB then tells the doctor that Barney Hill (Betty’s husband) “knew too much” and that his heart had been taken in just the same way the coin had been made to vanish. This very same scene is played out with Sally Lemm and her MIB visitor, except he vanishes her ring instead of a coin.
The point is, the star and writer of this UFO show, Richard Cutting, has clearly done his homework and is delivering to his audience a script that is inspired directly from the pages of some of the best books on the subject. It imbues this drama with a depth and intelligence rare in shows about the UFO issue.
Again, I want to emphasize that Milgram & The Fastwalkers really hits its stride and becomes something special in Season 2, but I recommend you watch from the beginning, starting with Season 1, which is composed of 12 short episodes of just seven to 20 minutes each.
Let’s hope there is a Season 3.
Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
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