A couple of days ago, Fox released a promo for the upcoming X-Files revival, challenging fans to get ready for the series’ return in January by re-watching all the episodes. I thought I might give it a try and since The X-Files came along before I did my tv round-ups, I thought I might blog my thoughts on each episode as we go along.
I can’t say yet exactly how these posts will go. We may get one episode per post or we may get several. Or this may not even make it past season one. We’ll see how it goes.
So, first up, it’s…
Now, I’ll admit I didn’t jump on board The X-Files band wagon right away. It took until the summer after season two when the show got a bunch of Emmy nods and the recommendations of several friends before I finally gave in and started watching. And picked about the worst possibly entry point the show had — up that point. It was right at the end of the Scully is missing arc and I saw “Three” as one of my first episodes. It’s sort of like how “Time Flight” was my first Doctor Who story. Not a great entry point and not indicative of the show as a whole.
But it must have been enough to get me hooked.
So I didn’t see the pilot episode until mid-way through season three when it was released on commercial VHS. It was part of a three-VHS tape set with two episodes per tape that covered the first half of season one. We also got an introduction to each episode by Chris Carter in which he’d give away the entire ending of the episode nine times out of ten.
“Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.”
Part of me is glad I didn’t start with the pilot because while all the pieces are there, it’s not necessarily indicative of what’s to come. Special agent and doctor Dana Scully is called in for a special assignment — assist Fox “Spooky” Mulder with his investigations on his pet project The X-Files and report back. Seems that Mulder has earned some goodwill from the FBI for this work on a serial killer case and was allowed to indulge his interest in the X-Files.
First up: a trip to Oregon to look into the class of 1989, several members of which show signs of being abducted by aliens and have some odd marks on their skin.
The Pilot sets up the believer (Mulder) vs skeptic (Scully) dynamic fairly well — almost too well, in fact. There are times that Mulder comes across as a bit too crazy for his own good or too willing to believe any paranormal event that comes along. Then there’s Scully who is deep in skeptic mode — to the point of debunking every word that comes out of Mulder’s mouth .Scully is intended as our point of entry into the show and seeing her reaction to Mulder and his quirks is nice.
Brought up and dropped is Mulder’s painting a red X whenever he comes across a zone or place that could be involved with aliens. Or paranormal. Or something. Watching again, I wondered if Chris Carter intended to make this a running thing on the show or not.
The Pilot also starts the trend of Mulder sees something fantastic while Scully is just around the bend and misses it. If you’re a fan, get used to this . This will happen a LOT, especially in mythology episodes.
The Pilot is slowly establishing the look of the show, if not the feel. Mulder’s quips feel too forced at times as does a scene that features gratuitous Scully underwear. There is a bit of underlying attraction between these two (see the scene when Mulder knocks on her door and Scully gets a big grin on her face) that is downplayed once we get to the series as a whole (and thus creates the great battle of shippers vs non-shippers).
The music is a bit uneven, though the final sequence gets it just about right. Overall, the most memorable moments are the bookends of the show — Mulder and Scully meeting to start out and the Cigarette Smoke Man storing the evidence at the end.
Interestingly, our duo don’t have cell phones yet (something that is essential to the show) and CSM doesn’t speak (I don’t think we hear him speak until the finale of season one). The case here is one that the show eventually comes back to at the end of season seven (if memory serves). There is the element of whoever or whatever is abducting people putting an implant of some time into the abductee when he or she is returned. This will be a pivotal point as we progress forward.
So while the Pilot is good, it’s not great. It does establish the world, the characters and bits of the mythology arc. But you can still see everyone working a few things out.