I wanted to believe.
When I was a boy, I was a little bit obsessed with the paranormal. In the UK we had a fortnightly periodical called ‘The X-Factor’ (long before Simon Cowell abducted the name and used it to bludgeon our earholes), which dealt with the paranormal, supernatural and conspiratorial in all its guises. UFO’s, MK-Ultra, Satanic rituals, JFK, crop circles, the list goes on – you name it, I was reading about it. This was the 90’s. We didn’t have the internet. We barely had Encarta.
But we did have The X-Files.
Magazines like The X-Factor appeared in the slipstream of the most popular TV show of that decade, the Star Trek of Generation Y. If Gene Roddenberry’s science-fiction saga epitomised the post-war optimism of the colourful, counter-culture 1960’s, then Chris Carter’s magnum opus swiftly became its pre-millennial antithesis, a show where that optimism had been replaced with cold, hard, paranoia about the world around it. Growing up in the 1990’s, that struck a chord with my generation of teenagers who lived, little did we know it, in one of the few decades of true peace in the 20th century. It was the prime moment for The X-Files to make its mark.
And on me, it did. I was a fan of Star Trek and Babylon 5 first, but when The X-Files entered my life first on BBC2 showing Season Two and then majorly when Sky One picked it up in 1995 for Season Three, it hooked me in. ‘One Breath’ was the first episode I truly remember watching, specifically the moment Frohike arrives at the hospital in the bow tie and bunch of flowers. I remember thinking ‘who’s THIS dude?!”. What an episode to come in on though! From then on, there was no going back. The X-Files became a religion for me, firstly on Tuesday nights and then Sunday nights come Season Four.
I distinctly remember as a 14 year old asking my Uncle to tape the show on his massive TV when my parents took me on holiday, and no WAY was I going to miss ‘Talitha Cumi’. I remember watching ‘Zero Sum’ with my dear departed Nan as she fell asleep in the chair, not fazed by the killer bees in the post office! I remember collecting the VHS video tapes with the mythology episodes and the joy when my Dad brought 13 year old me the ‘Duane Barry/Ascension’ two-parter home from work (even though it was a 15 certificate – naughty!). I remember collecting the cards and putting them in binders. I remember my excitement at The X-Files Game and the five hundred CD’s it swallowed on my antiquated PC trying to play it.
Then came my last year of school, 1998, and how to celebrate GCSE results? Fight the Future, of course! I remember trying to explain the entire alien mythology up to that point on the way to the cinema to my non-X-Files obsessive mates. By the time Mulder was abducted & John Doggett came along, it felt like I was the only person still watching as I began University. Even during the rough patches and the disappointments and the bad times, even when Sky sent it back to BBC One and then BBC Two aired the last season in a graveyard slot, I never missed it. I was excited for ‘The Truth’ and devastated when it ended. The five year wait for I Want to Believe was torturous, and the years afterwards before Season 10 convinced my beloved show was gone forever even more.
Never… never did my fandom waive. Never did it falter.
I always wanted to keep believing.
Tony is a writer and podcaster who created The X-Cast.
His favourite episode is ‘Pusher’, his favourite season is Season 2, and his favourite character is the Well-Manicured Man.