Know Your Show: The X-Files #AtoZChallenge

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
This post is part of my #AtoZChallenge for April 2016 where my theme is TV Sitcoms.
For the letter X, I was always going to choose The X-Files.


The show follows the investigations of the two FBI agents of the X-Files department, assigned to investigate unsolved cases that involve the presence of paranormal phenomena.

10 reasons you will love it:

1) Chris Carter's show is iconic pop culture, mentioned alongside greats like Star Trek and Twilight Zone and having a huge cult following of fans (myself included). Every list from TV Guide to Times Magazine to Entertainment Weekly features this show in its Top 100 TV Shows of All Time, usually in the top 20. Everything from its theme song to its side characters and even the tag lines (I want to Believe, The Truth is Out There) is immediately identifiable across generations of viewers.

2) High production values, great cinematography, good storytelling and suspense ensured that you remained engrossed in each episode during its peak years. 

3) But graphics alone do not bringeth the audience. The show took a huge gamble, resting it all on two relative newcomers, David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson
  • David Duchovny as Fox Mulder was the believer, an FBI Special agent with a gift of droll sarcasm forever ready to embrace the presence of the supernatural and always on the lookout for cases pertaining to extraterrestrial life forms. 
  • Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully was the young doctor and scientist who is his partner in the X-FIles, a skeptic looking for scientific explanations. As the show progressed, she would become more open to the possibility of paranormal events. The two had a wonderful chemistry, their often opposite ideologies to any case not affecting their respect for each other as the years went by. 
  • With key supporting roles given to the dependable Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director of the FBI Walter Skinner as the one Mulder reports to but does not know whether to trust and the surprising longevity of William B Davis (read the trivia at the end to know why!) as the evil Cigarette Smoking Man pushing the strings behind the show.  

4) Monster of the Week vs X-files Mythology arc: 
While every season would have stand-alone 'monster of the week' episodes focusing on a particular form of supernatural phenomena, the overlying arc of the show - the X-files mythology arc episodes - focused around the efforts of FBI agents Fox Mulder & his partner Dr Dana Scully of the unpopular X-FILES department to try and find proof of the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms and how the government was part of the conspiracy to keep the truth away from the public for their own nefarious purposes. 
The concept of a long running mythology arc around a show that also had other topics was first seen here before being utilized in shows like Lost, Supernatural etc.

5) The storylines may have focused on the presence of the paranormal but they did make you 'want to believe' as the popular poster on Mulder's office wall suggested. 
Some of the famous Monster of the Week (MOTW) cases included:
a) Squeeze: The first MOTW episode was also among its best. Following the evidence in a series of bizarre deaths that Mulder traces back to a similar cycle every 30 years, Mulder postulates that the killer is not a regular psychopath but a mutant capable of contorting his shape and getting into any closed area that hibernates and comes out for sustenance once in 30 years.
Eugene Tooms (Squeeze) remains one of the scariest villains of the show even today

b) Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose: Peter Boyle won as Emmy for this episode as the titular Bruckman, a lonely travel salesman cursed with the ability to see how people die. His dark humour made for some hilarious moments as Mulder and Scully raced to save him from a killer each to know his own fate.
c) Home: One of the darkest episodes in X-Files lore, it was the first to have a viewer discretion warning. It starts off with a live infant being buried alive by deformed members of presumably its own family. This was not a Home you wanted to be a part of. Shockingly, the episode was inspired by a section in Charlie Chaplin's autobiography.
d) Ice: Sent to the Arctic to investigate why a scientific research team went mad & slaughtered each other, Mulder & Scully find themselves and the survivors at the mercy of an ancient micro-organism mistakenly dug up from the deep ice that amplifies its hosts feelings of anger and paranoia.
e) Eve: Mulder & Scully investigate two identical murders that took place thousands of miles apart only to find that the daughters of both victims are identical twins.
f) Pusher: Written by Breaking Bad's creator Vince Gilligan, the villain here has the ability to control minds, with dangerous results for anyone who gets in his way.

6) In spite of the dark eerie themes, the show was not afraid to make fun of itself and that would lead to some of the most beloved episodes of all time.
a) X-Cops:  Shot in the 'real footage' style of the hit show 'Cops' (including using their title credits!), the episode is shot entirely from the point of view of regular police with Mulder & Scully seen investigating the case only in the background. A creative risk that paid off in spades.
b) Bad Blood: In 'Rashomon' style, both Mulder & Scully tell their versions of what happened during a 'vampire case' to the assistant director Walter Skinner, accentuating their own prowess while undermining their companions' in the retelling with hilarious consequences.
c) Jose Chung's From Outer Space: Men in Black. Aliens kidnapping aliens. Aliens smoking cigarettes. Alex Trebek from the show Jeopardy. They are all there in this hilarious take from the point of view of author who interviews Mulder and other 'believers' as he writes a book on aliens.
d) How the Ghosts Stole Christmas: Two ghosts in a haunted house get interrupted by Mulder & Scully and decide to have a little fun with them.
e) Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster: The episode I loved best in season 10 was a hilarious role reversal. A weird creature gets bitten by a human being & starts to develop human tendencies - like going for a job, getting a mortgage & lying about his sexual escapades! 

7) Winner of Emmys for all the things you would want in a creepy, sci-fi mystery show: 
  • Outstanding makeup (5 times), 
  • Picture editing, 
  • Art direction,
  • Sound editing, 
  • Outstanding Writing,  
  • Individual achievement in cinematography & sound mixing. 
  • David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson both won Golden Globes for Best Actor & Actress while the show won twice for Best TV series of the Year. 
  • Heck, even the iconic title sequence and tune won an Emmy for Outstanding Graphic Design and Title Sequence. 

8) 10 seasons (The 10th season released in 2016 after a gap of 13 years with a limited edition of 6 episodes.) 208 episodes. The best episodes do not feel even a tad dated two decades later.

Arguably, the best parts of the newly released Season 10 was watching the 
beautiful chemistry between these two again after all that life has thrown at them..  

9) Pop culture: Is it just 10 seasons then? You wish! 
There is an actual term for fans of the show - 'X-philes'. There are also 2 movies to boot, besides a 'Lone Gunmen' spinoff TV show. There are DC comic books and novels. There are 3 video games. Hell, caricatures of them have even been spotted on Simpsons and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where the Captain is interviewed by 'Federal Department of Temporal Investigations Dulmer & Lucsly' (how good are you at anagrams?) 

10) Personal Opinion: At its best, the X-files was simply brilliant at making you want to believe that there was more to life than you thought you knew. Even its weak episodes often offered a more enjoyable TV viewing experience than good episodes of other shows. Whether you like sci-fi or not, this is a show that should definitely be on your bucket list.

If aliens were to judge us based solely upon this show:

They would know that we know about them. 
But would they know that we know that they know we know, is the question, isn't it? *X-Files theme tune starts playing in the background*

Trivia: (Oh, so many!)

  • The villainous 'Cigarette Smoking Man' who is considered one of the biggest TV villains of all time was actually just meant to be an extra with no words for a single episode, standing in the background! And guess what? William Davis had not smoked a cigarette in over 20 years before that episode. 
  • Gillian Anderson was so good that when the movie sequel to Silence of the Lambs was being considered, they approached her for the role. She had to turn it down! Part of her contract with Fox network included that she could not play an FBI agent anywhere else while the show was running!
  • In real life, it is actually a case of role reversal - Duchovny is a skeptic while Gillian is a believer!
  • Remember that 'I want to Believe' poster on Mulder's wall? It is presently sitting in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History!

To see all the shows  I have talked about till date, please CLICK HERE.

Post a Comment


Let me know what you think.

  1. I started watching X-files at an age when I could hardly understand it and grew to liking it. This is why Mulder & Scilly have been parts of my growing up years.
    It's a great show and I think you've done full justice to its awesomeness in your post.

    1. Thanks so much.. for the last three posts of this challenge, am making an extra effort since it is all coming to an end.
      Happy to hear you enjoyed it :)

  2. This was a show I was crazy about. It was so different from all the shows we were used to watching. I remember very vividly the villain 'Squeeze'. I found it too scary and sadly could not watch any further. The episode is so vivid, I cannot remember the previous ones. But they were the best.

    1. There are so many brilliant episodes... even among the mythology arc, there were some amazing ones. Could not put them all in this post :)

  3. When it was on the air I never got into it, but I might have to go back and rediscover it

  4. I remember watching this show with a lot of trepidation, intriguing yet scary! Half the time I watched it in between shut eyes and ears, but recently managed to watch full episodes while it was being re-aired! Possibly Duchovny's only claim to success, but really what a great act to be associated with! Brilliant post doc!
    @KalaRavi16 from

    1. Duchovny did find success years later.. that forms part of tomorrows list :)

  5. Great trivia about a great show. Thanks for sharing. I didn't know about the Silence of the Lamb opportunity. She would have played the part wonderfully too. Jodie Foster did a great job though.

    1. Thanks Mary Hill. There was so much Trivia in my list. Finally had to stop with just this much.

  6. I know this ispopular but it might be too much for me! Great to know more though / #atozchallenge

  7. This is such an old one but I totally agree that this is one of those really good ones. That trivia is so interesting. :)

  8. Yes... you can still watch the episodes even today, though its been 20 years!

  9. There was one movie released , and I was very small then. But fell in love with the show..Thanks for refreshing the memories!

    1. Yes... it was in between two seasons. There was actually 2 movies but the first one was the relatively better one.

  10. I have heard so much about X files but never got around to watch one. Loved reading about so many facts :D

    A Whimsical Medley
    Twinkle Eyed Traveller

    1. It really is a lovely show because of some very creative minds and great effects and storylines.

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