Oct 20 2011 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: Presumably, The Truth is Still Out There

When The X-Files debuted on Fox in 1993, it stood out on a fall schedule that leaned heavily on comedies (The Simpsons; Married…With Children), soaps (Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place), and the endless failures of mankind (COPS, America’s Most Wanted). The broader network landscape didn’t have much use for science fiction programming, either — Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and seaQuest DSV debuted the same year, but neither would have the long-ranging cultural impact or the longevity of The X-Files. Created by Chris Carter and starring the little-known Gillian Anderson and the mildly-known David Duchovny, the show ran nine seasons, two feature films, and one spin-off. The storytelling was smart, the plotting was complex, and the creepy bits were really, really creepy.

But I don’t need to tell you that, right?

We’re going to rewatch The X-Files together. From now until a point sometime in the future, I will be discussing select episodes. These won’t be strict blow-by-blow recaps — I think the rest of the internet’s got you covered there — but a chance to dig into the show’s themes and to track its evolution. I’ll try to untangle the mytharc, revisit some classic monsters of the week, and probably I’ll get very excited about some things. Because this show is a lot of fun, you guys.

My credentials are as follows. The X-Files was my first real fandom. I was young, and I was on the internet, and somehow I ended up on USENET and if you think you remember me from you’re probably not wrong. I was there a lot. I had a sig file with a lot of acronyms in it. I also managed what I believe was The Internet’s Premiere Alex Krycek Fan Site, you’re welcome. I loved the show like a fan loves something: fiercely, openly, and sometimes, angrily. When things didn’t go the way I thought they should go, I took it personally. This rewatch is an opportunity for me to watch the show on its own merits, as a strong piece of television instead of the object of my obsession. We’re going to re-open the X-Files and find ourselves some perspective.

So I hope you’ll join me and Mulder and Scully and the Cigarette-Smoking Man and Skinner and Blevins and Krycek and Pendrell and Spender and Deep Throat and Fowley and Luis Cardinal and X and Byers and Langley and Frohike and Marita and Bill and Teena and Melissa and Kersh and Bill and Doggett and Cassandra and Reyes and Gibson Praise and the whole gang in working this conspiracy out, once and for all. Let’s watch it, let’s talk it over, let’s head on down to the basement and find ourselves some truth.

We start with the pilot episode.

Meghan Deans is a playwright and fiction writer living in New York City. She has a very exciting Tumblr, a website called Daytime Prize Winner that is full of short stories, and also a second Tumblr where she writes about the television show Justified. If you’d like you can follow her on Twitter @meghandrrns.

Reopening The X-Files: index | next ›
Chris Hawks
2. SaltManZ
Awesomesauce. I was a huuuge X-Phile back in the day, but skipped out on (I think) the last season. Though, of course I came back for the series finale and both movies. And I've got one of those old paper boxes stuffed full of authorized and unauthorized guides, comics, trading cards, manga, all the novels... Heck, I even bought all the action figures and the Barbie & Ken set at one point.

tl:dr; This should be fun. :)
3. Reade
I was in and the OBSSE :) It's so funny you started this because I just rewatched the Pilot on Tuesday now that it's all available on Netflix! I'm in.
Meghan Deans
5. Meghan
@Reade, I was also OBSSE! And am still convinced that with study and prayer, I could run down a criminal in heels.
Ty Margheim
6. alSeen
I'd say two spinoffs. Lone Gunmen and Millenium.

While not technically a spin off, Millenium was related to X-Files. And two of the characters did appear in X-Files.
7. Alex C. Telander
I've been working through a rewatch for a few months now with my wife. We just wrapped up Season 4. We've been X-Files geeks for a very long time -- it's kind of how we met in college with our X-Files posters and VHS tapes of the show!
8. Natenanimous
Excellent! I am a longtime X-Files fan and owner of all the DVD sets. I'm really looking forward to this. The first one for the pilot was good fun.
Meghan Deans
9. Meghan
It's on Netflix Streaming, also Hulu, and in the Pilot thread I'm told it's on Amazon Instant. So basically...there are no excuses, people. Get out your unauthorized guides and your international fan magazines. We're doing this. And we're doing it together.
Ian Tregillis
10. ITregillis
I am so delighted by this! Man oh man, did I love this show. So many fond memories... I credit Mulder and Scully with helping me keep my sanity when life got tough at points. An hour of escape each week can do wonders.

Thanks for doing this.
Angela Korra'ti
11. annathepiper
SWEET! I spent a good chunk of the '90's going MMMMM Muuuuuuulder on Friday nights. :D And I have in fact been having the urge to re-buy all of the X-Files novels in ebook form, too!
Joe Vondracek
12. joev
@alSeen: True, and Strange Luck with D.B. Sweeney also referenced the X-Files.

Personally, I never cared for the X-Files. I tried and tried several times to get into it over the years, but it never grabbed me. My brother-in-law and I, both ardent SF fans, used to call it the Adventures of the Dumbest FBI Agents. But, you know, if we all liked the same things, the world would be a pretty boring place. The weird thing is, I did like Millenium and The Lone Gunmen. Go figure.
Adrian J.
13. LightningStorm
Wow. First Star Trek now X-Files. How great is for having bloggers who are into and willing to rewatch our old sci-fi favorites and blog about it!

Here's hoping we get a Babylon 5 rewatch and/or Farscape.
Ashe Armstrong
14. AsheSaoirse
I'm gonna have to join in this rewatch. I'll start at work tonight.
15. charmingquark
Looking forward to this! I was in The Cave...I still miss it.

LightningStorm, I'm with you on a B5 rewatch too.
16. Jobi-Wan
My wife and I have been making our way through the seasons for a while now, started from the beginning a few years ago and now up to season 8, almost to the finish line! She is obsessed with the show still, I only got into it because of her but I am glad that I did, the storytelling and characters are awesome. We picked up the Lone Gunmen's single season a few months ago I am looking forward to watching that after we finish X-files.
17. erinzyme
Peter Tijger
18. Peter-Tijger
X-files....what a show !!!
I got the dvd box with all episodes for my birthday last year. And every once in a while we watch an episode, or 2, in the order it came out. Because if there's one thing wrong with Dutch television, it's the enormously irritating habit of broadcasting series in the wrong order. Resulting in dropping interest from viewers, because nobody knows what it's all about anymore and resulting in the series being dropped because of a lack of interest.......yeah, like duh !!! Thank you very much for dvd nowadays.
One of the best tv series ever, the X-files. And I absolutely loved Millennium too, maybe even more than the X-files.
19. Eugene R.
Years ago, I spent a month in Honolulu and, keeping busy, I watched a total of one hour of television. That hour, that came by chance? "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", possibly the best hour of television I have ever watched. I look forward to the rewatch, Ms. Deans.

Also, I have a hard time, when people discuss how unimaginable were the events of September 11, 2001, from blurting out the pilot of The Lone Gunmen. Thankfully, I have enough restrain on my geek-boy impulses to stay silent.
20. Jaquandor
I've been slowly doing a comprehensive rewatch, if anyone's interested... (Not trying to compete! The more rewatches, the better! The Internet should consist of eighty percent rewatches, as far as I'm concerned.)
Ian Tregillis
21. ITregillis
And oddly enough, I think I might have heard a very oblique X-Files reference in the third episode of "American Horror Story" tonight. (An incidental character is named "Jack Colquit," or so it sounded to me.)

Who knows? James Wong, of the Morgan & Wong team that wrote some fantastic episodes, is a co-exec producer on AHS. (He co-wrote and directed the episode where the name "Jack Colquit" appeared.) And the X-Files did enjoy its inside jokes...
22. Galadriel
You rock! Hey, this X-Phile can participate your rewatch without rewatching, since just about every ep is permanently burned into my brain. X-Files internet fandom was my first and I loved it. Added so much enjoyment to the show. Proud but sad to say my ol' buddies and I basically overloaded the TVGen XF bulletin board and killed it with our lively discussions... (hi there, all of you! Sorry, I won't share here who I posted as. And hello to OBSSErs!). We created some awesome fanfic too. TXF was ahead of its time and truly influenced so much of what we've seen come after it. And it is SCULLY'S story, not Mulder's. Discuss....
Matt Ostrom
23. Mattimage
Today, after not seeing or hearing about X-files for serveal years, I saw some X-files on TV before work. It was a 2 hour esisode with a cover up, Mulder and Scully walk into a big cold dome building that was a venting system of an underground structure. Then the vents opened and bees came out. But then I had to go to work, so I couldn't watch the rest. I use to Watch the X-Files alot when I was a kid. It's kind of Ironic that I saw this Artical today too.
David Spiller
24. scifidavid
Cool. I was just given an Amazon Prime membership as an anniversary present. I am getting in on this rewatch from the begining, I am also going to join the ST:TNG rewatch in progress.
Sean Holland
25. Akaihyo
Excellent. One of my favorite series, still, at least the early season are.
26. Heidi13
Finding this blog totally made my day, Meghan! Your enthusiasm has me clawing for my DVDs now for a re-watch of my own. XF really spoiled me for good when it comes to TV. It just never gets old.
Thanks Jacquandor for your link, too. I aggree, the more the better.
May I also recommend these two rewatch blogs: Musings of an X-Phile and IMadeThisChrisCarter (the last one covers Millennium, Harsh Realm and TLG series as well).
27. rico567
Whether or not The X-Files was what influenced contemporary culture, we're to the point in 2012 when a percentage of the population I don't even want to think about would just consider it a documentary.

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