Geek Piece: The X-Files 20th Birthday

‘The Truth Is Out There”

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On September 10, 1993 The X-Files commenced airing on the Fox network in the United States. It would last for 9 seasons and totalled 202 episodes. It spawned a spin-off series, 2 feature films and 2 video games. When released, the DVD season box-sets were best sellers. There is also a possiblity that the season box-sets could be getting the Blu-ray treatment. Not bad for a series that was not highly regarded by the men upstairs at Fox.

2013 sees The X-Files become 20 years old. Rather than look back at how the series was created and the ins and outs of production or my recollections on watching the series over those nine years, I’m going to look at what I think are the best 10 episodes of The X-Files ever made. We can agree to disagree.

10. Small Potatoes – Season 4 – Episode 20 – April 20, 1997

Five babies in the same town are all born with tails and the local doctor is blamed for tampering with fertilised eggs. However, Mulder discovers the culprit to be a simple man with a genetic deformity who may have the ability to alter his appearance.

Comedy. One of The X-Files greatest secrets. This episode starts out rather dark but evolves into a very funny piece of television. Having your ‘monster’ have the ability to change appearances ensures comedy magic. Luke Skywalker named as a possible perpetrator? Check. Star Wars theme song. Check. Scully’s reaction to Mulder (who’s not Mulder). Classic.

9. Dreamland – Season 6 – Episode 4 – November 29, 1998

Mulder and Scully travel to Area 51 to meet a contact who has inside information on UFOs. A weird event occurs that results in Mulder switching bodies with Morris Fletcher, a “man in black” from Area 51, without anyone else knowing. Mulder takes advantage of this perfect disguise to infiltrate Area 51, while Fletcher uses the opportunity to escape the life he hates.

Ah! A body swap episode. Another comedy episode! When The X-Files did comedy you knew you were in for a treat. The only way to describe this episode is if you combined the films Men in Black and Big. I cheated a little as this episode is actually a two part story. Its fun to see Mulder out of his depth as a ‘regular’ family man. It’s even funnier to see Morris Fletcher as Mulder. When the two finally swap back, Mulder’s reaction to his apartment is hilarious.

8. How the Ghosts Stole Christmas – Season 6 – Episode 6 – December 13, 1998

Mulder talks Scully into investigating a haunted house on Christmas Eve where several couples have met their fate on that very night. While there they encounter endless tricks and traps set by a ghostly couple who originally made a lovers suicide pact in the house. The ghosts try to convince Mulder and Scully to kill each other.

Finally a non comedy episode. It’s still not what you would call a ‘regular’ episode though. It doesn’t take a genius to deduct that the two old people are ghosts, so the reveal later in the episode is a bit of an anticlimax, but hey. What is fun about this episode is how the ghosts turn Mulder and Scully on each other via hallucinations. Then ending reminded me of Reservoir Dogs! Guns and lots of blood.

7. Drive – Season 6 – Episode 2 – November 16, 1998

Mulder is trapped in a car with a man who has developed a serious ear condition which can only be suppressed by driving west at high speeds. As Scully tries to find the cause and a cure for the problem, Mulder and the man are fast running out of road.

A homage episode. This episode riffs off Speed, but instead of a bomb exploding, it’s a man’s head. The man who has taken Mulder hostage. In a car. The majority of the episode takes place in the car with Mulder and the hostage taker. It’s well directed with a poignant ending. It’s a bright episode too! Season 6 moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles. So now we have sun instead of fog.

6. The Post-Modern Prometheus – Season 5 – Episode 5 – November 30, 1997

 A modern retelling of Frankenstein, Mulder and Scully get caught up in a town where the residents live on Jerry Springer episodes and fear a two-faced monster who has been impregnating the women.

Filmed in black and white with comic book panels, this is probably one of the strangest episodes of The X-Files. A straight up love letter to the original Frankenstein films. It features Cher on the soundtrack. Yes, it’s pretty strange. 

5. X-Cops – Season 7 – Episode 12 – February 20, 2000

A Los Angeles police officer who is being filmed for the show COPS is attacked by a strange monster and Mulder and Scully are investigating the case. Scully is wary of having their faces put on national television but Mulder welcomes the publicity.

Comedy again. Filmed as an actual COPS episode this is fun from beginning to end. It’s in real time and shot all handheld. Mulder and Scully are drawn into the investigation of an unknown animal attacking people. Mulder loves being on camera and hams it up. Scully not so much. Mulder + Comedy = Gold.

4. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose – Season 3 – Episode 4 – October 13, 1995

In the midst of a psychic sideshow while on a murder case, Mulder and Scully enlist the help of a man who may have a true psychic ability to foresee how people will die to help the agents catch a man killing fortune tellers.

An Emmy winning episode. Who would have thought that. Beautifully written, directed and acted there is nothing much wrong with this episode.  Peter Boyle won the Emmy for his portrayal of Clyde Bruckman. The only episode I know of where a likeable character actually kills himself at the episode end. And it’s not a downer..

3. Squeeze – Season 1 – Episode 3 – September 24, 1993

One of Scully’s friends from the FBI academy asks her to assist him on a homicide investigation involving no clear point of entry. Mulder realizes that this is similar to a series of X-Files case that have occurred every thirty years, and joins in the investigation to stop the latest cycle.

Tooms. Yellow goo. Yellow eyes. The best episode of the first season and one of the creepiest of all time. Tooms needs to feed once every thirty years to enjoy prolonged life. He also has the ability to squeeze though tiny spaces. Hence the title of the episode. Clever right? Tooms would return in a second episode towards the end of season one, but it wasn’t very good.

2. Jose Chung’s From Outer Space – Season 3 – Episode 20 – April 12, 1996

An alien abduction of two teenagers with different versions of the same facts prompts a science-fiction novelist to write a book about the incident. However no one involved with the investigation can tell him the full story with any accuracy.

Comedy. Again. This starts with a couple being abducted by aliens. The aliens then get abducted by another alien. Crazy! That’s just the half of it. This episode has it all. Smoking aliens, Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek as the ‘Men in Black’ (who drive their car backwards) and all swear world replaced with ‘bleepin’ or ‘blankety blank’. I think The X-Files should have been a comedy show. It works!

1. Bad Blood – Season 5 – Episode 12 – February 22, 1998

After Mulder chases down and kills a young man whom he believes to be a vampire, Scully realizes that his fangs are fake. Faced with a lawsuit from the family of the man, they recount each of their sides to the story leading up to the event.

So, my favourite episode. Sigh if you will. It’s comedy again. This is The X-Files doing Rashoumon. It is laugh out funny from start to end. The way Scully describes the story and then you see Mulder’s version is gut busting. Aw heck. Just watch the videos below. The quality sucks but I’m sure you’ll have a laugh at Mulder’s reaction in the first video. The second video shows just how wacky and offbeat the show really was.

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