Media Series Review: X-Files

THE X FILES

The X-Files universe, which includes a couple TV series, a couple movies, a mini-series, comic books, and a graphic novel. The TV series debuted in 1993 and the next mini-series or movie is in talks, as of 2016.

  • The X-Files, original TV series seasons 1-5 (1993-1998)
  • The X-Files, comic books (1995-1998)
  • The X-Files: Fight the Future, movie (1998)
  • The X-Files, TV series seasons 6-9 (1998-2002)
  • The Lone Gunmen, spin-off TV series, (2001, mid-season 9)
  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe, movie (2008)
  • 30 Days of Night, graphic novel (2010)
  • The X-Files, season 10 comic books (2013-2015)
  • The X-Files, TV series season 10 (2016)
  • may be continuing…

IMG_7537My husband starts a lot of new TV series and I rarely go with him. He kept saying he thought I would like The X-Files, but I thought it would be too scary. I do not do horror. Or vampires. Or whatnot. (For the record, I also originally thought Lost was too scary, and that is one of my favorite TV series of all time.) However, about halfway into his Netflix binge of the first season, I joined him. A year later, we had watched all nine seasons and both movies and were greeting Halloween as Mulder and Scully, anxiously awaiting the much anticipated six-episode season ten.

I can’t speak for the comics or The Lone Gunmen, but from beginning to end, this is an exemplary series.

First things first. When the intro comes onto screen for the first time, you are going to think that it is old-school and cheesy. However, knowing that–in its time–it won an Emmy and also that the creators stick with (basically) the same intro through all the years makes it sort of awesome. Also, it will come, in time, to signal warm memories.

The set-up of the series is this: a young, eager, ever-rogue FBI agent gets himself assigned to the X-Files, which is the barely-existent, unexplained cases division of the FBI. A new, brilliant agent, who really belongs as a doctor, is assigned to keep an eye on him and the files. Thus begins years and years of the X-Files, its ups and downs, the ins and outs of Mulder’s and Scully’s relationship (which appears really only ever as an addendum to the X-Files themselves), and a number of great supporting characters. Many of the episodes are built on this single thread, where Mulder is hell-bent on exposing supposed alien contact with humans, by which his sister was abducted when they were children. Many more of the episodes are basically episodic, and fall in line more with CSI meets The Twilight Zone (and in some case, meets monster movies). About once a season, you’ll also find a comedic episode, a horror episode, and at least one quirky/time period episode. In my opinion, while the overarching story is what keeps you coming back, the comedy, horror, and especially quirky/time period episodes are among the best.

Yes, you become addicted to whatever it is that is happening under the surface between Mulder and Scully and to finding out that next layer on the onion of alien conspiracy, but you also become addicted to other characters, like Assistant Director Skinner, Alex Krycek, The Lone Gunmen, and even The Smoking Man. You also start looking for the many appearances by famous guest stars; some of them from before they were famous, some after.

And speaking of famous people, there were many guest directors, and some of them famous as well. In fact, it’s the different directors that help make The X-Files the great series that it is. While the series feels cohesive and whole, many of the episodes have their own feel. I don’t know how they managed it so well, but the flavor of the director really shines through, while every episode still remains distinctly X-Files.

The cons: there are questions that remain unanswered, and a few strings that get crossed. (It’s like the opposite of Lost. They never promise any answers, but sometimes they give them to you.) And things get a little bumpy as the actors–especially David Duchovny–became famous and busy. There was always a lot of off-screen press surrounding The X-Files, and supposedly Duchovny couldn’t or wouldn’t show for large bits of some of the later seasons, making it necessary for the writers to either abduct him (in the show), force him into hiding, make him a recluse, and/or add in new agents to take the actual cases. You’ll see.

Also, while Mulder and Scully are one of my favorite media couples, most of the time you are wondering coupla’ what? Much of the series you are left guessing–and hoping–at the true nature of their relationship, and then the absent-Mulder thing really complicates what the writers were doing with them at that time in the series. That ends up okay, until the older Mulder and Scully return for the years-later seasons. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I found the later version of their relationship to be too modern and unsatisfying.

The best bits: Gillian Anderson, episode 3 of season 10, the lone gunmen… and the movies were fun, too. I would watch everything in the order given above, and, if you are really enjoying it, throw in the comics and let me know how that goes.

I love The X-Files. It’s a classic, and it should be.

X FILES 2

 

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