The X Files follows the adventures of maverick FBI agent Fox Mulder, ostracised due to his belief in the supernatural and unexplained. To rein him in, young scientist and rookie agent Dana Scully is paired up with him. The logical and analytical Scully and the intuitive Mulder made for a great combination as they investigated the weird and whacky!
As the series developed, the mythology of the show surrounding government cover ups of alien encounters got more and more complex. The show worked for a number of reasons, chief amongst them the chemistry of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The show arose at the sane time as the internet became more a part of everyday life. My entry into the internet was on X Files forums and message boards, when everyone was new to it. The nine years the show ran saw huge changes in technology and the access we expect to our favourite TV shows.
[Season 1] /
[Season 2] /
[Season 3] /
[Season 4] /
[Season 5] /
[Season 6] /
[Season 7] /
[Season 8] /
The series got off to the best possible start with the fortuitous casting of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Chris Carter, the creator of The X Files had to fight to get the studio executives to accept the rookie Anderson. Her lack of tv or film experience must have worried the money men. Whatever it was that Chris Carter saw in the young actress, he must feel very pleased with himself now to see what a success she has become.
There are many excellent episodes in season one, although there were a few I feel didn't work for one reason or another.
Highlights for me were 'Pilot' ,'Squeeze' 'Ice' , 'Beyond the Sea', 'EBE' , 'Tooms' , 'Darkness Falls' and 'The Erlenmeyer Flask'.
Those episodes that didn't impress me were 'Born Again', 'Roland', 'Space'and 'Shapes'.
As an opening, the pilot show was excellent stuff. It was crucial in establishing the tone of the series, and the rapport of Mulder and Scully. It is of tremendous interest to fans now because it shows the first meeting and first case of Mulder and Scully.
David Duchovny seemed to have hit the ground running as Mulder. He is immediately comfortable as the character, and has Mulder's sardonic wit established soon after we meet him. Gillian Anderson was either rather nervous herself or was just very good at playing nervous! However this is perfect for Scully's first meeting with her new partner. The pattern of the series is seen in their first scene. Mulder presents his mystery, Scully tries to explain it through science, but there are unanswered questions so off they go to investigate. The believer/sceptic roles are the heart of the shows success. A one sided view would not be of equal interest, which is why Scully will always be sceptical. Imagine Mulder saying, I think that was a UFO, and Scully saying, yes you're right. Let's go and tell Skinner. The show wouldn't work.
Of equal interest to mant fans are some scenes, the like of which have not appeared since this pilot episode.
Scully's shower scene and subsequent dash to Mulder's room where she bares almost all is something that is unlikely to be repeated. Scully has shown virtually no skin except her hands and face since then. Also of interest is a big, if hysterical laugh for Scully. An occasional smile is all we've had since. In fact, Scully's character was different in a number of ways. Her suits weren't very nice, she had longer, browner hair and spoke in a higher, more strident voice. Clearly a bit of adjustment was decided upon. However, the episode was sufficiently impressive that the series was comissioned, and the rest is history.
This episode introduced one of the most memorable killers on the show. Eugene Victor Tooms, the liver-eating, hibernating, mutant. It was also interesting to see Mulder and Scully working with other agents, and their attitude to Mulder's ideas. We saw Scully try a different hair do during the lie detector scene- not a success though. There was also an odd little scene with Mulder and Scully where Mulder grabs hold of Scully's pendant to get her attention. An intimate gesture that seemed solely for the purpose of highlighting the pendant so that when Toom gets it later we will realize it is Scully's. It is soon replaced by the famous cross. Scully is remarkably cool in snapping the cuffs on Tooms at the end, although I still can't figure out why he didn't just squeeze out of them.
Mulder and Scully, three scientists and a pilot fly to a remote Arctic research station to investigate some wierd happenings. Soon two are dead, and a killer is amongst them, Mulder being chief suspect. This is a tense, dramatic episode where even our favourite pair do not trust each other. It features them holding each other at gunpoint as they try to figure out who has the parasitic worm that makes its host a killer. The mysterious opening is intriguing, the real possibility that Mulder may be the carrier and the isolated enviroment help create an atmospheric exciting episode.
Beyond the Sea
Chris Carter himself has said how proud he was of this episode, and I fully agree. It is one of my all time favourites. The roles are reversed as Scully is inclined to believe in the psychic killer Luther Boggs(Brad Dourif, most impressive), after the death of her father. Mulder is the sceptic as he has knowledge of Boggs from the past.
Chris Carter seems to have made the concious decision to show us little of Mulder or Scully's life outside of their work, so a glimpse of Scully's family is intriguing. We get to hear Mulder call her Dana three times (and only one other time to date since.) Gillian Anderson has a chance to shine, and demonstrates her confidence as an actress with an emotional but fully believable performance. It is facinating to see the way Scully reacts to a bereavement, and to a genuine challenge to her traditionally logical viewpoint. However, in true Scully fashion, she is ultimately looking to science to explain her experiences with Boggs and his knowledge of her. So often, Mulder leads the way, here he spends half the episode in hospital. It is Scully questioning the prisoner, speaking to the governor and leading the SWAT team. Go girl! The X Files at its best.
UFO and alien stories probably the reason the show exists. Apparently 5% of Americans think they've seen UFOs (I'm not sure of those figure though.) This story includes favourite X Files elements. A crashed UFO, an alien survivor, goverment conspiracy to cover it up. This episode was notable for introducing The Lone Gunmen, flaky friends of Mulder's and popular recurring characters. Deep Throat lies to Mulder, and he and Scully come pretty close to a big arguement over a faked UFO photograph. There is the clearest conspiracy eveidence so far when bugs are found at Mulders and in Scullys pen. After Deep Throat's deception, Scully and Mulder have to lose their watchers to follow the trail of a truck that may be carrying the alien. Mulder gets as close to seeing an alien as he's got, just missing it twice.
This episode is an exciting one because of all the action. There are a lot of memorable and well written scenes, and almost too much plot for one episode. All this and the Lone Gunmen too.
Mulder and Scully take a trip to the forest and encounter some killer bugs that catch, cocoon and kill people. This is just another example of how well the series was going in its very first season. An ecological note is sounded, as it is too uch tree felling that seems to have released the mutant bugs. Mulder and Scully have another little falling out, Scully has a bit of a panic attack, and they almost die. The story is enjoyable, but plot holes abound. Why didn't they light a fire to scare off the bugs. Man's greatest discovery and all that. Why didn't they just drive on even if the tyres were puntured. Who would moan about a wrecked tyre?
He's back! A second story about our favourite liver eating mutant. Mulder is dismissed as a nut AGAIN! Scully has a chat with Skinner- first lines for Mitch Pileggi. Famous for being the episode where Scully tries to call him Fox, and is laughed at! Poor old Dana! Good job she didn't bring him iced tea after all. Again, the pair do a lot of the work in this episode separately as Mulder is tailing Tooms. You'd think even he would manage to lose Mulder long enough to have eaten one liver though. Watch closely during the final scene in the elevator tunnel. See if you can spot Scully point her gun down at Mulder. Sack that editor.
The Erlenmeyer Flask
The first season finale brought the first series to an exciting climax. It hadn't achieved particularly good viewing figures, but word of mouth recommendations built it up. The finale was another outstanding episode. Once again it was aliens and conspiracies. Here it was alien DNA being used, and the episode included the memorable images of the bodies in the tanks that Mulder sees, and Scully's encounter with a frozen alien embryo. Mulder follows a lead about a doctor working with alien DNA , while Scully analyses a substance that turns out to be positive evidence of a biochemistry unknown to Earth. After Mulder is taken prisoner by secret goverment forces, Deep Throat helps Scully get the alien embryo to swap for her partner. Deep Throat is killed and the X Files are closed down. Dramatic stuff indeed.
The first season on the X Files also had a few poorer episodes.
Space just didn't work because it was based on one thing; those spooky shots of something that looked like a face on Mars. The plot and script were too weak to hold the attention.
Shapes was just a werewolf story. There was a little Indian mysticism, but this was rather half hearted compared to The Blessing Way episodes later. The story was competant enough, but dull.
Born Again was about reincarnation, an intriguing enough idea. The little girl was a poor actress, with only one expression, and the guest characters were not all that interesting. Another dull one.
Roland was an unsettling one because of its focus on a handicapped man as a killer. I didn't like the use of the character and his supposedly touching scenes with his girlfriend. This episode did have one of the funniest ever crime scenes after a victim's head had been plunged into liquid nitrogen and then smashed on the floor. It made the bits of tape outlining the body look like confetti.
Overall, a very impressive series. As the first, it established the very high production values that we now expect. It also had a lot of original and intriguing stories, and two super cool and sexy stars. To top it off, the series won a Golden Globe award for best drama series. What a start.