Binge Watchin' TV Review: The X-Files
Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Series: The X-Files
Number of Seasons: 9 (205 episodes), 2 feature films, and an upcoming 6 episode mini-series
What’s the show about?
Following the disappearance of his younger sister, Fox Mulder joins the FBI and investigates supernatural phenomenon dumped by the Bureau into the "X-files". His superiors assign medical doctor Dana Scully as his partner, primarily to debunk his investigations. Always the sceptic, Scully joins Mulder on his journey into the fantastic and begins to question her own scientific beliefs. Over the course of nine seasons and two films, the duo unravel a massive government conspiracy that involves their past, present, and future as well as the potential end of the entire human race.
Why should I watch it?
There are a few shows in the history of television that have completely changed the medium. The X-Files is one of those shows. Following in the footprints of series like The Twilight Zone, The X-Files managed to balance a series long mythology with standalone monster of the week episodes. Covering every potential sub-genre from horror to science fiction, comedy to drama, mystery to romance, and some others in between, The X-Files revolutionized mainstream genre television and paved the way for shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe, Lost, and Firefly.
The crux of what makes The X-Files so good even two decades later is the acting of stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The then unknown Anderson would go on to become a cultural sex symbol along with Duchovny who was best known for supporting roles on Twin Peaks and Red Shoe Diaries. Series creator Chris Carter kept his love of serialized television shows like Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The Twilight Zone alive by telling a mix of original stories from a talented crew of writers like Glen Morgan, James Wong, and Vince Gilligan. The fact that The X-Files never pandered to it's audience and kept it's production values high would help it cross from being a cult favorite to one of the highes rated television series of the 1990s.
Like many series, the supporting cast of The X-Files helped broaden it's popularity and roster of characters. From the comic relief of Mulder's go to conspiracy theorists The Lone Gunmen to allies/enemies like Alex Krychek, Marita Covarrubias, and Assistant Director Walter Skinner, there was no shortage of characters to focus on for tangental stories. Mulder even had contacts like Deep Throat and Mr. X while fighting the alien-friendly Syndicate, led by the generically named Well-Manicured Man and Cigarette-Smoking Man. William Davies' performance as the Cigarette-Smoking Man helped make him the Darth Vader of the series with his connections to the Mulder family.
After several years, both Duchovny and Anderson began to lessen their time on the series and were supported by new FBI agents played by Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, and Cary Elwes. While the show still was The X-Files at heart, it paled in comparison to the original cast. The series ended after nine season with one feature film in between that was a moderate box office success. It spawned a feature sequel in 2008 subtitled I WANT TO BELIEVE. After seven years, The X-Files is set to return as a mini-series on FOX in January 2016 which makes this the perfect time for fans, new and old, to revisit this seminal show.
While the first season is what started it all, the third run of the show is by far the most creatively unique and well-balanced season of The X-Files. Featuring two of the all-time best episodes, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'", the third season expanded the over-arching mythology of the show. The creative skills of fan favorite writer Darin Morgan were heavily on display in this season as was the talent of Vince Gilligan. His episode "Pusher" is widely considered one of the best episodes in the entire series and helped build his skills that would eventually lead him to create Breaking Bad for AMC.
I have few words to say how influential The X-Files has been as a television series and on myself as a genre fan. I watched every single episode live as it aired on television but have found that rewatching the series in it's newly remastered HD versions has resulted in a new appreciation for the writing and direction of the show. Sure, the technology may be grossly outdated in the form of massive cell phones and antiquated computer systems, but like The Twilight Zone before it, The X-Files surpasses it's limitations with brilliant story structures and original takes on genre cliches to deliver a show that goes beyond your typical television series. There is definitely something special here and it deserves to be watched as many times as possible.
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