The X-Files revisited

“Weird Tales”

Checking it out. Now doing the pilot, after jumping around and watching a bunch more. Now here’s something I didn’t know, or that’s never played up: Mulder went to Oxford. Just interesting. I think this show would’ve benefited GREATLY by more procedural elements and less, well, retarded hokum? Crap network television writing, directing and production? And most certainly casting of secondary players. Anyway, I now begin to fantasize about my own X-Files novella, and this type of story most readily lends itself – miniseries length, like Prime Suspect, one major investigation per serial, more dense and baffling, and more emphasis on the role of the bureaucracy of paranormal investigators working with a system that cannot publicly acknowledge it. I’m noticing that pretty much every episode involves a murder in the opening act with Mulder and Scully being called in to investigate – very straight, conventional detective story dynamic. As a whole, it’s almost more about crime than the existence of “others.” Now there we go, there are some directions to take the story to give it some resonance… those who commit crime have become “otherly.” The Lovecraftian fear of Otherness, ancient evils, man’s tiny place in the universe… no, no, The X-Files never comes close. It’s B-grade pulp fiction at best.

Here are some notes I made over an IM:

just watched a pretty good, and pretty archetypal X-Files ep
E.B.E.
season 1
hardcore cliche X-Files stuff
this show and Twin Peaks were on around the same time, both became cult sensations
both deal with absurd and bizarre explanations for phenomena
pilot opens with the recovery of a female’s body wrapped in plastic in the woods
looks quite a lot like Twin Peaks
also main characters are feds
feds called in to investigate deaths associated with supernature
interesting
Gillian Anderson started on the show at 25. Duchovny was 33
25. shit.
also takes place in Oregon. Feds driving out to Northwestern America through the woods… same shots as Twin Peaks….
TP pilot was shot in 1988 or 89
I’m starting to get the distinct impression the creators of this show were infected by the TP craze…
let’s see what else Chris Carter has his hands in
also bear in mind this is Fox
ABC had Twin Peaks
Fox needed its own show
CBS, did they have some paranormal-based show in the early 90’s, I wonder?
hopefully not with g-men, perhaps regular cops
or another gov agency…
oh by the way
Duchovny has a very notable cameo in Twin Peaks
he plays a transvestite

(and then there’s Major Briggs as Scully’s father)

CONNECTIONS TO TWIN PEAKS
-Plot element of Feds investigating paranormal phenomena
-Feds travelling to Northwestern US, driving through same woods, in show’s pilot episode
-Major Briggs as Scully’s father
-Hawk as another Native American police officer
-Benjamin Horne as the doctor in Sanguinarium
-Lori Jo Nemhauser as show’s producer
-The casting of David Duchovny
-The “Man from Another Place” in Humbug

And a few more cameos that I found on another website, that I personally have not yet noticed.


In summation: The X-Files is a paranormal crime thriller serial made by Fox in 1993, and lasting for nine seasons. Potentially a response to the success of Twin Peaks, particularly its mystical implications. Feds vs Paranormal. It’s a relatively good idea for a show. Currently reading some Sherlock Holmes and am finding my interest in it to be surprisingly lukewarm (Study in Scarlet, A Scandal in Bohemia, Sign of Four). Only read a few of Maurice LeBlanc’s Lupin books before I sensed myself becoming quite bored – there’s only so much pulp one can read – yet I had chosen the best works: the primer, The Adventures of Arsene Lupin, followed by the sensational and rather cool The Hollow Needle and the somehow forgettable and utterly fantastic, but still interesting, The Countess of Cagliostro.

I’ve just started to delve into the show. We’ll see how much longer I go before I give up hope. I’ll keep my episode rankings below, since nothing is useful until subjectively quantified:

X-Files eps, ranked

s5e20 – s6e01                                    The End/The Beginning
s2e20                                                    Humbug
s6e11-12                                               Two Fathers/One Son
s4e24 – s5e01-02                              Gethsemane/Redux 1 & 2
s8e20-21                                              Essence/Existence

s4e10                                                    Paper Hearts
s4e20                                                    Small Potatoes
s7e2                                                       Requiem
s4e14                                                     Memento Mori
s6e22 – s7e01-02                              Biogenesis/The Sixth Extinction Parts 1 & 2
s4e07                                                    Musing of a Cigarette Smoking Man

s3e04                                                    Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

s1e17                                                     E.B.E.

s1e16                                                     Young at Heart
s3e23                                                    Wetwired

s4e08-09                                             Tunguska/Terma
s2e16-17                                               Colony/End Game
s5e13-14                                               Patient X/The Red and the Black
s6e21                                                     Field Trip
s5e19                                                     Folie a Deux

s3e15-16                                               Piper Maru/Apocrypha
s3e14                                                     Grotesque

s3e12                                                     War of the Coprophages

s1e13                                                     Beyond the Sea
s3e24/s4e01                                        Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk

s8e01-02                                             Within/Without

s2e13                                                     Irresistible
s3e17                                                     Pusher
s1e10                                                     Fallen Angel
s1e01                                                     Pilot

s5e11                                                     Kill Switch

s8e13                                                    Per Manum

s2e04                                                    Sleepless

s3e21                                                     Avatar

s7e12                                                     X-Cops
s1e09                                                     Space

s8e14-15                                               This is Not Happening/Deadalive
s1e20                                                     Darkness Falls
s5e05                                                     The Post-Modern Prometheus
s5e10                                                     Chinga
s6e04-05                                              Dreamland
s5e12                                                     Bad Blood

s2e08                                                    One Breath
s1e15                                                      Lazarus
s2e25/s3e01-02                                 Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip
s2e09-10                                              Nisei/731

s2e07                                                     3
s1e03                                                     Squeeze
s1e02                                                     Deep Throat
s3e20                                                     Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’
s4e17-18                                               Tempus Fugit/Max

s8e07                                                    Via Negativa

s1e04                                                    Conduit
s8e19                                                    Alone
s5e08                                                   Kitsunegari
s1e12                                                     Fire
s2e05-06                                             Duane Barry/Ascension
s1e21                                                     Tooms

s4e13                                                     Never Again
s4e21                                                     Zero Sum
s1e06                                                     Shadows
s2e22                                                     F. Emasculata

s5e04                                                     Detour
s5e06-07                                              Christmas Carol/Emily
s8e18                                                     Vienen
s1e11                                                      Eve
s2e02                                                     The Host
s7e15                                                     En Ami
s2e19                                                     Dod Kalm
s7e14                                                     Theef

s8e16                                                     Three Words

s3e06                                                     2Shy
s1e07                                                     Ghost in the Machine

s4e19                                                     Synchrony
s4e12                                                     Leonard Betts
s2e23                                                     Soft Light
s8e12                                                     Medusa
s3e05                                                     The List
s4e06                                                     Sanguinarium
s2e15                                                     Fresh Bones
s3e13                                                     Syzygy
s2e14                                                     Die Hand die Verletzt

s1e14                                                      Gender Bender

s5e03                                                     The Unusual Suspects
s4e04                                                     Unruhe

s7e18                                                     Brand X
s6e14                                                     Monday
s7e04                                                     Millenium
s3e03                                                     D.P.O.
s6e02                                                     Drive
s8e04                                                     Roadrunners
s1e08                                                     Ice
s1e22                                                     Born Again

s6e17                                                     Trevor
s8e03                                                    Patience
s8e05                                                    Invocation
s2e11                                                     Revelations
s2e18                                                     Fearful Symmetry

s1e05                                                     The Jersey Devil
s2e03                                                     Blood
s3e22                                                     Quagmire
s6e07                                                     Terms of Endearment
s9e01-02                                               Nothing Interesting Happened Today Parts 1 & 2

s3e18                                                     Teso dos Bichos
s7e03                                                     Hungry
s2e21                                                      The Calusari


s5e20
The End/The Beginning
Pt 1 – Surprised to hear myself saying, “Smart, snappy writing.” For network television. Mulder is getting more and more neurotic and unsympathetic, which is great. And obviously a little sexual tension was long-desired. –Yes, actually surprisingly good ep. The kid’s wisdom is welcome. The puppetmasters are relatively believable and actually a trifle sinister. There’s some genuine “stuff” here. It’s about damn time.

s4es24, s5e01-02
Gethsemane/Redux 1 & 2
Disillusion. Bout time. A number of intense revelations. Good times. But wait – religion saves Scully? What utter bollocks.

s2e20
This one has a high reputation and does not disappoint. Incidentally it’s the only episode where Scully takes charge of the investigation in the way that Mulder always does. Thumbs up to Darin Morgan.

s4e08-09
Tunguska/Terma
More cuh-ray-zee. I’m surprised to like Krycek’s presence, even though its a bit dumb that he killed both Mulder’s father and Scully’s sister. What’ll he do next? And Scully before Congress. Yeah!

s4e14
Memento Mori
The emotional core, at last. Anderson struts her stuff. What it lacked was Mulder telling Scully that he loved her and thusly would do anything for her – this being precisely what a terminally ill person would need to hear most.

s2e16-17
Colony/End Game
Hard to imagine X-Files running hotter than this. I’m not even the biggest fan, but this is what the show’s about. It also now occurs to me that the show is not remotely about actual mystery in anyway – it’s another paperback thriller with action, chases and bureaucrats delivering tense speeches – only set in the world of Weird, and never particularly well-written.

s1e17
E.B.E.
Pretty good stuff. Straight up ultimate X-Files cliches, in the best way possible. Like it.

s4e07
Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man
Now this is pure X-Files. Actually a pretty decent little episode. I was highly skeptical going in. Also a tremendously important episode.

s1e16
Young at Heart
Dick Anthony Williams is way hamming it up, giving every line a jaded throaty drawl. It makes me disbelieve virtually everything he says – but I kind of love it. The killer pleasantly indulges his acting as well. Gotta say that this is pretty much also one of the best-directed episodes of the show I’ve yet seen. Getting real performances out of the actors. There’s even a quick rack focus that works well! The satanic score is a bit… gay. –Well. Now sinister Dr. Ridley is espousing his mad theories, and it’s… great! Very twisted ep! Now a personal fav.

s6e21
Field Trip
Now this one I enjoyed. It’s a little bit ridic, but the extensive twisty-turny was effective.

s3e03
Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose
Peter Boyle, hilarious. “Well, goodnight” gave me the most enjoyment I’ve ever had during X-Files viewing.

s5e19
Folie a Deux
I kinda really like this one. Real simple. Straight monster crap. No explanations given whatsoever, just rampant paranoia.

s3e15-16
Piper Maru/Apocrypha
Finally getting into some meat. Not bad, not bad at all (for X-Files).

s1e13
Beyond the Sea
Brad Dourif. Not saying he’s great – but Brad Dourif.

s3e17
Pusher
Sinister. A few choice lines include: “Cerulean blue.” and “Your heart flatlines.”

s1e10
Fallen Angel

s1e01
Pilot
Actual character and emotional attention paid. Work for it, writers.

s5e11
Kill Switch
Hey – written by William Gibson! The cyberpunk chick with the painted face… yes. Gibson. A bit ridiculous, but fun. The images of Mulder sans arms and Scully kicking ass are fun to see.

s1e09
Space

s5e10
Chinga
Better known as The Stephen King episode. A few minutes in and it’s already actually hilarious: Scully is in Maine, allegedly on vacation, and Mulder calls from the office. He’s got nothing to fill his time and is sort of bouncing on a chair like a little boy, quietly begging Scully to get involved in a ‘CLASSIC’ X-File. When she balks, he needlessly brings up macabre statistics – and in the next scene when she calls he’s just sitting there watching pornography. I very much like King’s assessment of what’s actually behind Mulder’s inner itch. The rest of the ep is standard X-Filler.

s6e04-05
Dreamland

s5e12
Bad Blood
We’ll see where this goes. At a few minutes in I’m again quite satisfied to see Mulder turned into a drooling social misfit who instigatorily (not a word) seeks out Weird things. He is dying for validation. It’s a very funny, and necessary, perspective into such a character. (and this is all BEFORE the silly stories)

.
.
.

s2e08
One Breath
Mulder fights to save Scully’s life.

s1e15
Lazarus
Very nice how the X-File element is only part of a straight story about some criminals.

s3e09-10
Nisei/731
Having known about Unit 731, I was pleased to see it crop up here.

s5e08
Kitsunegari
Pusher Pt 2. Slightly satisfying, just nice to see Pusher again.

s2e07
3
Vampires. Apropos, slow and broody.

s1e03
Squeeze
Classic, early, good.

s1e02
Deep Throat
Can’t even remember, just that its alright.

s1e20
Darkness Falls
Classic weird.

s3e20
Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’
The bleep thing gets old, but its cute.

s4e15
Tempus Fugit/Max
Not too much stands out here, just two good solid eps, but for two things: 1) This is the first time I can ever recall seeing secondary characters go out of their respective ways to assist the Feds without being killed or being part of a conspiracy, and 2) Scully whips it out and blasts a would-be assassin. Yeah Scully!

s1e04
Conduit
Good old 1st season realism.

s1e12
Fire
Everybody likes fire.

s2e05-06
Duane Barry/Ascension

s2e25, s3e01-02
Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip
Too long to be justified, Indian monologues are gay.

s4e13
Never Again
Focus: Gillian. Noice reminder.

s4e20
Zero Sum
The Skinner Conspiracy. The bee playground scene, like so many other scenes you can find on the Fox network, is completely worthless. The production staff should be ashamed.

s1e06
Shadows
I’m sort of in love with Lisa Waltz. She has gone out of her way to keep personal information off the internet, so I can only presume she was about 26 during this episode.

s1e07
Eve

s4e06
Sanguinarium
Blood, scalpels, awfulness. Totally ridiculous. Really gross, hard to believe its on network television.

s1e21
Tooms
Mr. Stretchy on the run

s1e19
Shapes
Oh boy: Hawk. Another Twin Peaks transplant.

s1e07
Ghost in the Machine
More 90’s computer paranoia.

s4e19
Synchrony
Old dood comes back in time to stop his own research. Cryo-whatever.

s4e12
Leonard Betts
GROSS!

s5e04
Detour

s2e15
Fresh Bones
Voodoo… stuff. Scully is briefly tormented and there’s real potential in making her character go mad, but they go down a MUCH less interesting path.

s2e14
Die Hand die Verletzt
Satan worshippers, forced suicide, bad times.

s1e14
Gender Bender

s7e18
Brand X
I like the concept – insect spores transmitted through cigarette smoke – but the ep itself is pretty formulaic and dull.

s2e02
The Host
Man-sized sewer parasite.

s6e14
Monday

s2e03
Blood
Chemical spraying results in fear turning ordinary citizens into murderers – but as part of a “controlled experiment” done by a higher power.

s5e03
The Unusual Suspects
Lameass origin story for the once-interesting Lone Gunmen.

s6e02
Drive

s1e08
Ice
Pathetically transparent cover of John Carpenter’s The Thing

s1e05
The Jersey Devil

s6e07
Terms of Endearment
Silly and somewhat useless. Bruce Campbell is quite at home, obviously. He should’ve had a major role on the show.

s3e18
Teso dos Bichos
I like learning about South American tribal cultures, but the fact is it is not a striking episode.

s9e01-02
Nothing Interesting Happened Today Parts 1 & 2
Minutes into season 9 and its numbingly formulaic. Beyond Mulder’s absence – season 8 wasn’t all bad – something more seems to have been lost. The writers have lost energy, ambition, whatever… it now feels like any interchangeable hour-long drama. Damning choice for an ep title.

s2e21
The Calusari
Must say, I utterly despise stories in which we watch innocent people die horrific deaths at the hands of satanic conspiracies. It’s not so much that the idea itself doesn’t have potential, but that every time such a story is told, these violent deaths are dragged out, relished, not to mention are almost always completely fatuous, like those idiotic Final Destination deaths… Torture pornography. I suppose we need to get it out of our respective systems. It’s just that so many X-Files involve innocent people strolling casually into horrendous deaths.

===

Further summation: Whew – yikes. Forgot how poor of a network Fox could be.

Mmmm. Onto season 4. I must say, the general level of production and writing quality to every single episode is much improved. It’s getting pretty good (for an absurd paranormal thriller serial).

2011-7-27
Cooooool. The black oil is contained in 4 billion year old meteor fragments, and it’s already infected at least two people… good stuff…

The first Scully-cancer episode. The show has really improved. Thank goodness for the talented main actors.

At season 4 finale. Officially totally tired of this show.

If I had a nickel for every time the phrase “anaphylactic shock” was uttered, I’d have a million dollars.

If The X-Files is sorely lacking one thing, it’s homage to Lovecraft. I don’t understand how so much attention can be paid to Weird Tales without Cthulhu references, Deep Ones, Old Ones, or the general notion of malevolent forces of the cosmic magnitude of Lovecraft. It comes off as a significant oversight.

Advertisements

About this entry