the x-files

So I’ve been watching The X Files a lot recently and I feel like it is just so overwhelmingly, surprisingly good that I don’t really know how to deal with it. Of course there bad episodes and a lot of general corniness, but overall I’ve been surprised by how well it holds up. If anything it is even better as a kind of artifact of a very particular time in USA.

I keep wanting to type this very long thing about how the show is probably the best ‘total package’ encapsulation of, uh, the sort of aesthetic/epistemological reality of the early 1990’s, by combining vague visual/thematic allusions to things like Cops, Unsolved Mysteries, Weekly World News, Twin Peaks etc. with its general ethos of … naive paranoia? I don’t know. Like, the most implausible thing about the show looking at it today is the idea that the FBI would ever grant anyone access to any kind of information like that. The government is both the hero and the antagonist, and it seems like a lot of the drama in the overarching mythology is trying to figure out exactly how and why that is possible. I think a show depicting a government conspiracy these days would have to be approached from the outside, or in the very least by someone who had a specific agenda against the government, rather than from people who are executing the commands of one part of the government faithfully, while apparently simultaneously pissing off the “shadow government” or whatever. It ends up being nonsense, but it works because the particular reality it inhabits is also kind of nonsensical. I keep wanting to draw some deeper significance from the fact that the show premiered just a few months after the whole Waco thing, and consider that in relation to the current non-starter “uprising” in Oregon, but I don’t really know how to sound that smart about it.


I feel like a much easier thing for me to express is that the show would really be 10x worse without David Duchovny as Mulder. I don’t know if he really should get get all credit for this, but the fact that all of his lines suggesting the existence of UFOs or aliens are whatever are delivered with this kind of self aware sarcasm makes the whole character so much more palatable. It would be way stupider if he was just a total die hard believer in the cause. But having him realize how silly all of it sounds really goes a long way.


also, Gillian Anderson looks even better now, and I’m glad that she got popular enough in the 90s for that to be something we can all be widely aware of

The new miniseries is going to start this month on the 24th. Really looking forward to that.

I mean, I’ll certainly watch it, but is there anyway this isn’t terrible? Like, make-a-bunch-of-eyewinking-references-while-looking-at-the-camera bad.

Episode 1: Find out who the Cigarette Smoking Man really is but actually not really.
Episode 2: Mulder’s alien-abducted sister reappears.
Episode 3: Mulder and Scully investigate strange phenomenon at the Vatican.
Episode 4: Find out Mulder’s recently reappeared sister is actually an android.
Episode 5: Mulder and Scully investigate the mysterious series of murders of the Lone Gunmen.
Episode 6: Mulder finds out his android-sister was actually created for the U.S. government by the aliens who abducted her as a child and that he’s been mind-gamed this whole time his entire life to follow exactly the path he’s followed. Scully learns that she is actually considered royalty by the aliens who are also the government who are also all androids. The Lone Gunmen had to be killed because they were getting too close to the truth and were about to spill everything to Mulder before the Cigarette Smoking Man could. Series ends with Mulder and Scully talking to each other while the sun sets in the background and just before the credits roll we see the Cigarette Smoking Man some distance away silently watching them.

The later seasons where he is largely not in it make it clear how painfully true this is. I like Gillian Anderson a lot, and Robert Patrick does his damndest to fill the void, but it’s just not the same. it’s like when your favorite band gets back together for a reunion tour but half the band members are dead.

my roomies in California watched most of this series last year, and i saw a pretty sizable chunk of the show with them. Enough to make me wonder why i hadn’t tried it sooner. It’s the kind of series where even the bad episodes (which there are a lot of) are basically enjoyable because of the jovial, embrace-the-cheese tone the actors take. i’m a massive Doctor Who fan and it gave me similar vibes as the pre-90s series does, in that regard.
and of course, the good episodes are fucking great~

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I definitely feel That 90s Vibe from the X Files. Same thing exists in Star Trek: TNG, really. I’ve heard the term “Clintonian diplomacy” used to describe the relative calm the world (felt like it) experienced from the fall of the Soviet Union up until 9/11, but it’s even larger than that. When we weren’t a bad five minutes away from nuclear Armageddon, the economy was looking up, terrorists hadn’t had time to dig in against the certain American hegemony, and boy that Internet stuff looks sort of neat–they were good times, or at least they were times where we expected the good.

Everything after 9/11 starts to put on a cloak of ‘gritty realism,’ to the point where the 80s robot cartoon Transformers needs to have American military hardware deployed, or else people will reject it as fake. Not because giant talking robots invading is implausible, but everything good and pure seems to us to now be wrong, there has to be some sort of contaminant, some moral disease attached, and believing in something without reservations is seen as infantile.

Mulder wouldn’t work today, because he believes in something. The show would need to invent ways to shoehorn in Muslim terrorists into their plot about alien abductions because the political arena has trained us to desecrate anything pure. If Mulder isn’t like the ‘real’ US Government and he’s not wondering how to torture aliens in case there’s a ticking alien bomb about to go off, he’s just some goofy dork.


Millennium has a sequel to the Charles Nelson Reilly X-Files episode (aka the best episode). Otherwise it was a really really dark and gritty show for its era. I don’t think modern audiences will really notice it though. It introduced an X-Files style running plot that was just as sloppy.

I don’t think anyone ever got into the premiere-sweeps week 2 parter-finale “mythos” episodes after the third or forth season. Post movie, they pretty much fall apart. As much as I love Jose Chung, the show hit a tipping point where the goofy episodes stopped feeling like weird side treats and became routine. Stuff like the haunted Brady Bunch house just didn’t have the heart the killer cockroach episode had.

There’s something so great about the first two or three seasons. They hit on so many cool fresh feeling things–the postal workers and the subliminal (or hallucinatory) LCD displays, the vegan cult and the alien mad cow disease (with the light Picket Fences crossover), Eugene Tombs (before he was a celebrity pedophile) even the AI in that first William Gibson episode.

Speaking of Millenium, one of the biggest things you miss out on by watching it now are the lead in shows! Fox tried to hard to make it a genre TV night to compete with god damn Viper on NBC. Almost everything Fox paired it with was gold!

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. - Wild Wild West with Bruce Campbell

M.A.N.T.I.S. - a black wheelchair bound super hero played by the dude who was John Parker in Buckaroo Banzai

Vr.5 - super under rated show about a cool 90s chick who can hack into people’s dreams using an acoustic modem. It had a “lost” episode where she had a thing with another woman. Shocking! Probably my favorite on the list.

Strange Luck - DB Sweeny is the luckiest guy ever, and it was way more endearing than it sounds.

Space: Above and Beyond - top notch Morgan/Wong sci fi war show that starts out super gung ho, but as the season goes on the conflict gets murkier. My other favorite of the bunch.

Millennium - the only one that lasted longer than a season. Chris Carter’s Seven the Series with a psychic detective who’s only sensitive to the minds of murderers.

Harsh Realm - Chris Carter’s other other show about DB Sweeny and the dude from Lost trapped in a military simulation game.

I think Sliders during its many time slot changes was paired with X-Files too.


I forgot Sightings! It was a news magazine format show about UFOs, Bigfoot, and the like.

There was also a bunch of weirdo one offs like Jonathon Frakes presenting that alien autopsy video, and those masked magician specials narrated by a really unenthiastic Director Skinner.

It kills me that cats still pine for crappy Firefly, yet no one remembers Space: Above and Beyond.

One day someone will get me started on the shows Voyager got paired with, and we can Kickstart another season of Deadly Games.


I remember Sightings. I used to like shows like that but I don’t think they work anymore with the internet being a thing where you can just look stuff up and see what the deal is.

holy shit I completely forgot about Sightings that shit was some real popcorn entertainment

You would think, but aren’t there whole cable stations built on that?

Yeah I guess so, if you’re thinking about the History Channel or something like that.

What a lineup that was. Brisco County was just… something special. Speaking of Firefly, it did it way better with its tongue much more delightfully planted in its cheek (and I like Firefly, actually).

Millenium isn’t exactly a great show, but it had some great episodes. At least they seemed great back in the day, not completely sure how well they hold up. My favorite is one of the Darin Morgan ones with the framing device of four devils sitting around a diner table telling stories.

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I stood a few feet away from Chris Carter at the ‘Secret Space Program’ Conference in 2014. he was eating dinner with Foster Gamble (of Proctor & Gamble) and probably mining ideas for the new X-Files series. I’ll be interested to see what his 2016 take on ‘The Conspiracy’ will look like.

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With the Ally McBeal demon baby dancing to Black Flag’s My War!!!

And what goes down at a secret space conference!?!?

stuff like thisss


Damn those are some Must-See TV. Just… damn. That’s really following the money.

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