11 May 2001 | Monkasi
A television tour-de-force, good characters
I thought that the 2000-2001 TV season would be a blah year for science fiction after watching the pilot of James Cameron's "Dark Angel." I now see the error of my ways thanks to the Johnny-come-lately superhit "The Lone Gunmen." If I had to sum this show up in a few words, they would be "a futuristic version of 'The A-Team.'" I say that not only because the series follows the extraordinary adventures of four men and one woman who drive around in a van, but also due to the artful mix of adventure, humor, and intrigue that one can look forward to every Friday night with this show. A lot of the pleasure of watching "The Lone Gunmen" derives from the entertaining chemistry among the five main characters (four journalists and a secret agent), all of whom have distinct personalities that transcend stereotype and reveal the best and worst of human nature.
Byers - The straight man. Psychologically, he's the least developed of the five. Cool and professional, he pretty much runs things in the Gunmen's underground newspaper office. Like Fox Mulder from "The X-Files" (the show from which this one was spun off), he wants the truth and nothing but. He's convinced that the U.S. government has countless skeletons in its closet, and he wants to see justice done on behalf of his fellow citizenry. All very admirable, but he doesn't exactly get a lot of yuks.
Frohike - My favorite character on the show. Short, balding, and homely, he nevertheless displays the most humanity of all of them. He's not perfect, and he's often the butt of jokes. Yet even as you laugh at him, you feel for him. He's always ready for action, but his courage is tempered by a somewhat painful realization of the fact that he's hardly flashy and dynamic. Perhaps it's this lack of cockiness that guides Frohike's moral compass; he never fails to help anyone in need. Funny, decent, and eternally sympathetic, Frohike truly is a nice guy who finishes last - but he'll always be first in my book.
Langley - The smarty-pants of the bunch. Nothing out of the ordinary can ever happen without Langley making some sardonic comment about it. With his greasy blond hair, elitist spectacles, and superciliously aquiline nose, Langley would be pretty hard to like if his withering remarks weren't so darn funny. I'd say that roughly 50 percent of the laughs on "The Lone Gunmen" come from Langley's bon mots.
Jimmy - All you really need to know about Jimmy Bond is that he was formerly the coach of a football team composed entirely of blind players. Jimmy is a robust idealist, his eyes so full of stars that one could almost call them galaxies. He can be mind-numbingly naive at times, but his sense of integrity never lets him rest when injustice is done. Don't be fooled by his valley-boy, surfer-dude inflection; Jimmy's more than just another dumb blond.
Eve - This shadowy operative looks and dresses like a grown-up version of Jessica Alba's character from "Angel," and has much of her attitude to boot. Though a casual acquaintance of The Lone Gunmen, Eve is ultimately a tough loner whose penchant for amorality is backed up by a British accent that fairly drips with condescension. Not somebody you'd want to cross, she is. And yet, like all of us, deep down inside all she probably really wants is a few friends. She does manage to help the Gunmen out of many a scrape, and there have been hints that her relationship with Jimmy is not as platonic as it first appears; stay tuned.
Five personalities, all of them strikingly different. Yet when they get together, magic inevitably accompanies the fireworks. It's brilliant ensemble playing like this that puts "The Lone Gunmen" a few notches above the other run-of-the-mill sci-fi shows. On second thought, maybe it's unfair to call it a sci-fi show. I enjoy it simply because it's a humorous, thought-provoking exploration of human nature.