The Lone Gunmen (2001) – Planet of the Frohikes, and Maximum Byers

Planet of the Frohikes is probably my favorite episode of the rewatch of The Lone Gunmen (I haven’t seen most of them since the series aired, and DVD set came out). Written by Vince Gilligan, this episode first debuted on 6 April, 2001.

The guys receive an email from asking for help to be freed from secret government tests, but they are confused when all they come across is a chimpanzee testing site. Frohike (Tom Braidwood), Langly (Dean Haglund), and Byers (Bruce Harwood), are confused to begin with, but Jimmy (Stephen Snedden) has it figured pretty quickly.

It was the chimpanzee who messaged them. A chimpanzee that when near a computer enables a voice synthesizer to sound like Edward Woodward.

Apparently, he’s incredibly smart, proving the old adage if you put a group of chimps in a room with typewriters, sooner or later, one of them will crank out Shakespeare. The chimp, who has taken the name Simon, has a plan and needs the guys to help him.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in this episode, with lots of goofy moment, an engaging story, and a story that be so out there, that it could almost be believable. Which is exactly the point, as the Gunmen get pulled in by the events, and the chimps, until they discover the truth of what is going on.

This one made me laugh, put Frohike through it again, and let Jimmy show that he’s a little more observant than the guys give him credit for.

Maximum Byers, which first aired on 13 April, 2001, and was written by Gilligan and Frank Spotnitz, has Byers and Jimmy go undercover as prisoners to help get an innocent man, Douglas Pfeiffer (Darren E. Burrows), off of death row. All at the request of his mother, who, apparently, had been reading The Long Gunmen since it’s creation.

Meanwhile, the rest of the boys with Yves (Zuleihka Robinson) at their side, backtrack the investigation, and aren’t sure that they have the right guy. Pfeiffer may have done it, and there may be another man, ‘Spike’ Atherton (Badja Djola), on death row who was framed for the crime instead.

Can Byers and Jimmy get the truth out of Pfeiffer, and save an innocent man? Or is the justice system rigged against them, and those caught up in its machinations?

Jimmy, once again by story’s end, offers up a more philosophical conclusion to Byers, showing that while he may not be as ‘smart’ as the Gunmen, he’s brilliant in his own way, and his trusting nature and honesty plays nicely against the cynicism of the other characters in the series.

And with these two episode we have more past the halfway mark of the series, and are racing towards the final episodes of the short-lived show. But remember, the truth is out there…

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