The X-Files revisited
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
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
Gillian Anderson started on the show at 25. Duchovny was 33
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
s6e11-12 Two Fathers/One Son
s4e24 – s5e01-02 Gethsemane/Redux 1 & 2
s4e10 Paper Hearts
s4e20 Small Potatoes
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
s1e16 Young at Heart
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
s3e12 War of the Coprophages
s1e13 Beyond the Sea
s3e24/s4e01 Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk
s1e10 Fallen Angel
s5e11 Kill Switch
s8e13 Per Manum
s8e14-15 This is Not Happening/Deadalive
s1e20 Darkness Falls
s5e05 The Post-Modern Prometheus
s5e12 Bad Blood
s2e08 One Breath
s2e25/s3e01-02 Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip
s1e02 Deep Throat
s3e20 Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’
s4e17-18 Tempus Fugit/Max
s8e07 Via Negativa
s2e05-06 Duane Barry/Ascension
s4e13 Never Again
s4e21 Zero Sum
s2e22 F. Emasculata
s5e06-07 Christmas Carol/Emily
s2e02 The Host
s7e15 En Ami
s2e19 Dod Kalm
s8e16 Three Words
s1e07 Ghost in the Machine
s4e12 Leonard Betts
s2e23 Soft Light
s3e05 The List
s2e15 Fresh Bones
s2e14 Die Hand die Verletzt
s1e14 Gender Bender
s5e03 The Unusual Suspects
s7e18 Brand X
s1e22 Born Again
s2e18 Fearful Symmetry
s1e05 The Jersey Devil
s6e07 Terms of Endearment
s9e01-02 Nothing Interesting Happened Today Parts 1 & 2
s3e18 Teso dos Bichos
s2e21 The Calusari
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.
Gethsemane/Redux 1 & 2
Disillusion. Bout time. A number of intense revelations. Good times. But wait – religion saves Scully? What utter bollocks.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Pretty good stuff. Straight up ultimate X-Files cliches, in the best way possible. Like it.
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.
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.
Now this one I enjoyed. It’s a little bit ridic, but the extensive twisty-turny was effective.
Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose
Peter Boyle, hilarious. “Well, goodnight” gave me the most enjoyment I’ve ever had during X-Files viewing.
Folie a Deux
I kinda really like this one. Real simple. Straight monster crap. No explanations given whatsoever, just rampant paranoia.
Finally getting into some meat. Not bad, not bad at all (for X-Files).
Beyond the Sea
Brad Dourif. Not saying he’s great – but Brad Dourif.
Sinister. A few choice lines include: “Cerulean blue.” and “Your heart flatlines.”
Actual character and emotional attention paid. Work for it, writers.
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.
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.
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)
Mulder fights to save Scully’s life.
Very nice how the X-File element is only part of a straight story about some criminals.
Having known about Unit 731, I was pleased to see it crop up here.
Pusher Pt 2. Slightly satisfying, just nice to see Pusher again.
Vampires. Apropos, slow and broody.
Classic, early, good.
Can’t even remember, just that its alright.
Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’
The bleep thing gets old, but its cute.
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!
Good old 1st season realism.
Everybody likes fire.
Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip
Too long to be justified, Indian monologues are gay.
Focus: Gillian. Noice reminder.
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.
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.
Blood, scalpels, awfulness. Totally ridiculous. Really gross, hard to believe its on network television.
Mr. Stretchy on the run
Oh boy: Hawk. Another Twin Peaks transplant.
Ghost in the Machine
More 90’s computer paranoia.
Old dood comes back in time to stop his own research. Cryo-whatever.
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.
Die Hand die Verletzt
Satan worshippers, forced suicide, bad times.
I like the concept – insect spores transmitted through cigarette smoke – but the ep itself is pretty formulaic and dull.
Man-sized sewer parasite.
Chemical spraying results in fear turning ordinary citizens into murderers – but as part of a “controlled experiment” done by a higher power.
The Unusual Suspects
Lameass origin story for the once-interesting Lone Gunmen.
Pathetically transparent cover of John Carpenter’s The Thing
The Jersey Devil
Terms of Endearment
Silly and somewhat useless. Bruce Campbell is quite at home, obviously. He should’ve had a major role on the show.
Teso dos Bichos
I like learning about South American tribal cultures, but the fact is it is not a striking episode.
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.
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).
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.
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You’re currently reading “The X-Files revisited,” an entry on David Ashley's blog
- 2011/07/26 / 00:47
- 1993, 9, 9 seasons, best, best episodes of the x-files, chris carter, dana, dana scully, david duchovny, episode, episodes, favorite, favorite x-files episodes, fox, fox mulder, gillian anderson, list, listed, lists, mulder, nine, pilot, rank, ranked, ranking, ranks, scully, season, seasons, serial, series, television, the x-files, tv, twin peaks