Every week, a rotating crew of your favorite Popdose writers takes to the virtual pages of Kirkus Reviews Online, taking on the best — and sometimes the worst — in pop-culture and celebrity books. From coffee-table studies to quickie unauthorized bios, if it’s about show biz, it’s fair game.

This week one of TV’s greatest villains gives us his side of the story — and it’s not pretty…

Bill Davis is a perfectly delightful fellow. Now, that’s the kind of thing I’d usually mention in passing, as a disclaimer — usually in a sentence beginning “I’m sure Bill Davis is a perfectly delightful fellow, but…” — but a good writer never buries the lede. And one cannot discuss Davis’s new memoir, Where There’s Smoke: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, without noting the man’s delightfulness. He is perfectly, utterly goddamned delightful throughout. Relentlessly, bloody-mindedly, punishingly delightful.

Davis, of course, is the actor, theatre director, and teacher best-known (for a while, anyway) for his portrayal of the lead villain — variously known as Cancer Man or the Smoking Man — on The X-Files. That his memoir comes about fifteen years after anyone might still care about The X-Files concerns him not a whit. Indeed, he himself points out the near-instant disappearance of the show from our pop-culture discourse: ”[T]he popularity of the show in the nineties was huge; it was a global phenomenon. But as time went on … its impact certainly receded,” he writes — adding, in a characteristic aside, ”Not to diminish [showrunner] Chris Carter’s talent, but none of his other television ventures had similar success.”

Note that passive-aggressive, half-apologetic (but not really) mode; it really gets a workout when he talks about The X-Files. Chris Carter’s writing, the professionalism of his co-stars, and the anti-rationalist worldview of the show are all dismissed in weary tones, more in sorrow than in anger. A typical assessment: ”Gillian [Anderson] is certainly aloof, but it may be that she is more shy than arrogant, that she only seems arrogant.” To which I would add that Mr. Davis is most assuredly eating his cake, but he is perhaps more having it than eating it, though he certainly seems to find it delicious.

Read the rest of this article at Kirkus Reviews!

About the Author

Jack Feerick

Critic at Large

Jack Feerick — editor, proofreader, freelance know-it-all, and three-time Jeopardy! champion — lives with his family somewhere in upstate New York, where he plays in a rock 'n' roll band and occasionally runs his mouth on local radio. You can listen to more of his work on Soundcloud, if you like.

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