The X-Files: Shows We Loved

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The best TV shows are those that make you laugh and cry, feel something for the characters, and root for them to succeed. The ones that stay with you and bring you back to them time and time again. Join us as we reminisce about our favorite programs.

This week’s topic: The X-Files.

The X-Files was an American science fiction television series that originally aired on FOX for 202 episodes from 1993 to 2002 and two miniseries in 2016 and 2018. It was created by Chris Carter and starred David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully, and Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner. The franchise has inspired entire television series such as Lost, Fringe, Bones, and similar programs.

It won 16 Emmys, five Golden Globes, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards in its initial broadcast.

It was followed by three spin-off series: Millennium (1996), The Lone Gunmen (2001), and The X-Files: Albuquerque, in production.

Television’s Best Duo

The X-Files’ main focus was on FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully being assigned to investigate and expose the truth behind the so-called “X-Files.” They would accomplish this by utilizing their unique talents and access to case files, as well as extensive research and communication with other individuals who had experienced similar encounters.

When it came to obtaining the information he wanted about his sister Samantha’s disappearance, Mulder frequently found himself lost in a rabbit hole. As a child, Mulder witnessed an event that led him to believe aliens had taken his sister. He spent years between investigations trying to gather information about the events of his youth to bring her back. Scully would frequently play the role of a voice of reason, gently bringing Mulder back to reality when his investigations put him in danger.

When it came to cracking the case, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully started as opposites. Mulder was often dangerously eager to discover the truth, while Scully was more cautious. However, when it came to exploring strange events, their differences in character made for a great contrast.

Scully’s initial resistance to believing anything strange that Mulder suggests created some wonderfully tense or hilarious moments in the first few seasons. As a physician and a woman of science, Scully was slow to accept these theories unless she witnessed evidence for herself. However, as the series progressed and seasons passed, Scully’s faith in her partner’s instincts grew, eventually becoming Fox’s most ardent supporter and eventual romantic interest.

It was difficult not to become captivated with the characters and the excellent camaraderie that seemed to exist between them on-screen. Despite years of reports that David and Gillian had brief periods of conflict, there was no better pair than these two actors in the 1990s. It isn’t easy to picture anyone else filling the roles. David Duchovny’s deadpan delivery as Mulder made the character hilarious in many situations, and he nailed the sunflower seed and adult movie-addicted FBI agent.

When Mulder and Scully were on the case, you knew things were about to get spooky.

While we admired and rooted for our favorite doctor turned FBI agent in Gillian Anderson’s kind, nurturing, and clever take on the Scully character, it was Gillian’s heartfelt and passionate moments as Scully that made her a rock and an essential part of the series. However, Scully had her clever quips and was never afraid to spar with her counterpart, Gillian’s dynamic and passionate moments as Scully made her invaluable on the show.

When David Duchovny went on leave for almost a year, Gillian Anderson raised the bar considerably, as she carried the series alone. Although the series is still in demand for decades later, it would not be easy to continue without its central figures. Gillian Anderson gave a slew of stunning moments to the show as Scully, and there’s a reason why her statement that she was quitting indicates that it will never return.  You can’t have X-Files without Dana Scully.

X-Files Episodes Explained

If you’ve still never seen the program (again…what?!!), and if I have your attention, here’s a brief rundown of how the show is put together:

The X-Files episodes are divided into two categories based on the show’s narrative. “Monster of the Week” episodes, in which a new monster or supernatural being is introduced to keep audiences scared or, on rare occasions, disgusted, are the first category. Then there are plot-advancing installments that advance the series’ larger mythology. For example, the Monster-Of-The-Week episodes frequently involved some monster (or sometimes deranged human) who would go on a deadly spree. Occasionally, the show would use Scully as a human plot device, often putting her in danger enough to become a running joke within the fanbase.

However, these creatures were not simply used as plot devices; many became recurring villains, such as Eugene Victor Tooms, who showed up in multiple episodes.

The Season 4 episode “Home” is one of the most notorious examples of a Monster-Of-The-Week installment. In this disturbing episode, the agents investigate the death of a newborn with genetic abnormalities. As the only one to be rated TV-MA, this episode disgusted viewers when it originally aired. When the federal agents arrive in the isolated hamlet of Home, Pennsylvania, they discover a dysfunctional family of deformed farmers. When the agents find that a lady has been kidnapped and forced to bear children, they further investigate and learn the sick truth in the process. The family has been surviving via incest. If that storyline doesn’t make your skin crawl enough, a newborn infant is buried alive in this episode. 

The X-Files had always excelled in terms of shocking visuals, and Season 4 Ep. “Home” was no exception.

Unfortunately, because of its shocking content, it is the only episode of the series not to be aired by Fox in repeats. 

At the time, “Home” was considered extremely disturbing and praised for its shocking storyline. Some people even wondered whether they would continue watching the program after it first aired. Despite this, certain critics have praised the episode for its darkness, implying that today’s networks would be scared to produce anything like it.

Episodes focusing on Mulder’s quest to discover the truth about extraterrestrials and the government’s involvement in covering it up would fill the gaps between Monster of the Week adventures. The search for the truth resulted in the famous line from the series, “Trust No One.” Our beloved agents frequently found themselves up against strong men in government, some of whom attempted to shut down The X-Files and others who directly put them in danger. On the other hand, Scully initially urges Mulder to abandon these interests out of worry for his safety. However, her determination to battle back against these dark men grew stronger when these dark figures put her family in danger.

The X-Files’ unique storytelling style and unpredictable nature have kept it relevant for almost 30 years. Of course, the show’s success produced many copycat shows in its wake. Still, none compare to the absolute madness that graced our television screens for over 200 episodes.

After The X-Files

Since the cancellation of the original series of The X-Files, David Duchovny has not given up on television. He’s appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, including Californication, in which he played writer Hank Moody for seven seasons. In addition, he reprised his role as Denise Bryson, a transgender DEA agent from the show Twin Peaks.

After leaving the X-Files, Gillian Anderson launched a career in film, television, and theatre. She played DSI Stella Gibson in The Fall and Dr. Bedeila Du Maurier in Hannibal before being cast as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown and Eleanor Roosevelt in The First Lady.

Despite Anderson’s assertions that she is done with the character, Duchovny has stated that he will never rule out a return as Fox Mulder. However, many viewers felt that Dana Scully’s character was mishandled in Season 11. Combined with a public pay dispute where she was offered half of David’s salary to return, Gillian may have lost interest in the character. Additionally, given her numerous television appearances since then, it may be argued that she is too engaged these days.

Spin-Offs

What if you’re finished with The X-Files and still want to watch more episodes in the X-Files universe? There are a couple of possibilities.

The X-Files’ first spin-off, Millennium, followed a similar plot to The X-Files. It starred an FBI agent named Frank Black, who had the unique talent of seeing the world through the eyes of serial killers. Likewise, the Lone Gunmen chronicled the exploits of three pals who became involved in government conspiracy theories and sought to expose them by any means necessary.

The X-Files: Albuquerque, a third spin-off series currently in production by FOX, is intended to be an animated comedy based on the original program but a vein similar to the Star Trek parody series, The Lower Decks. This series follows agents in the Albuquerque office as they look into things “too strange” for even Mulder and Scully to investigate.

It’s still unclear whether the comedy spin-off will live up to the legacy of the original series. Still, it’s fantastic to know that The X-Files universe isn’t going anywhere. Perhaps this spin-off might lead to a potential reboot (perhaps with new agents), which, if done well, could be exciting.

Regardless, the X-Files legacy continues to thrive, even though the TV show has been off-air for almost 20 years. The enduring popularity of this iconic series is a testament to our love of extraterrestrial conspiracies and how it shaped television as we know it today. 

So if you haven’t watched any episodes yet, it’s long past time that you stop reading and get to watching. The X-Files has been restored in widescreen HD and can be observed in all its renewed splendor on Hulu.

The villain that never dies: X-Files’ Cigarette Smoking Man

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