Baz Greenland introduces us to two decades of X-Files fandom…
I’ve been a fan of The X Files since near the beginning; I was vaguely aware of the show during its first season on BBC2 back in the mid-nineties and started watching the show a couple of episodes into season two. It was after ‘The Host’ (I would definitely have remembered the Flukeman) but before Scully’s abduction. I watched her kidnapping at the hands of Duane Barry with keen interest and was mesmerised by her dramatic return a couple of episodes later. By the time Mulder and Scully were back investigating the X Files, I was hooked and stuck with the show for many, many years after.
Before the full series release of each season on VHS, came the multi-episode stories, starting with The Unopened File, the epic three-episode story beginning with the season two finale ‘Anasazi’ and continuing with season three openers ‘The Blessing Way’ and ‘Paper Clip’, adapted into one feature-length TV movie. I watched it with awe and continued to buy every subsequent video release; the second video combined the Eugene Victor Tooms episodes of season one, giving me my first glimpse of the ultimate monster of the week. I continued to buy the videos right up to the end of season five and the release of the first movie The X Files: Fight The Future. I remember the thrill of seeing it at the cinema. It might not have met expectations (I don’t think it ever could), but it was still a rewarding experience. The 90s were a great time to be fan of The X Files.
Around season seven I began to drift away (like many fans of The X Files), as the show began to feel a little tired; season six might be one of the best but there was such a drop in quality in the final full series to feature Mulder and Scully that I no longer felt inclined to watch each episode. Then came university and The X Files became a show I used to watch. A couple of years later I caught the season nine finale ‘The Truth’ and remarked at how different the show had become.
But I always considered myself a fan and collected each season VHS boxset (when VHS was still a thing), working my way through every episode. Much of season seven through nine was new to me and I appreciated that the show was still as good years later, even if it didn’t quite nail the classic status of early seasons. Of course VHS died and steadily I began to replace each season on DVD. I always intended to watch them but they sat there on the shelf gathering dust, a memento of the show I loved. When the new ‘event series’ was announced, I was over the moon. The X Files still had some unanswered questions and I was eager to see what Mulder and Scully would be like in today’s golden age of television.
In July 2015, I set about the mammoth task of re-watching The X Files in preparation for the revival, putting those DVD box sets to good use. With a day job and a family, I was never going to be able to get through 202 episodes and two movies, so I went for the simpler approach; watching all the key mythology episodes and classic stories from each year – about 15 episodes a season. As a writer and TV editor for The Digital Fix, this was a great opportunity to watch and review the show for the site. I made it to episode 100 before the show returned (it was a bigger task than I expected!) Post revival I’ve continued to ‘revisit’ old episodes, picking my way through season five, the first movie and beyond and am currently deep into season eight with the arrival of Doggett and the hunt for Mulder.
It has been a fantastic experience and I’ve loved every minute it. As a writer and TV reviewer, it has been a wonderful opportunity to pick apart the mythology, the stories, the characters and the mesmerising performances. I might remember about 90% of what is coming but the show continues to absorb even on the third or fourth viewing. What’s really fascinating is how much of a mark The X Files made on TV history; its influence ranges from everything from Supernatural to Criminal Minds to Lost.
As for the revival? Well it was certainly an interesting experience; it didn’t quite match the classic status of the original run but there was no denying the chemistry was still there between the two leads after all these years. ‘Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster’ was hilarious and ‘Home Again’ perfectly recaptured the gruesome horror of the early years. The mythology episodes…I’ll need to re-watch again but on first viewing there were lots of issues. As for ‘Babylon’… I wasn’t a fan. But I still loved the revival regardless and I remain hopeful for more.
I’ve been a fan of The X-Files for over two decades and that will continue for many more. It is an iconic show for so many reasons, some of which I’m sure I will discuss in detail in the future
Baz’s favourite favourite episodes are ‘Home’ and ‘Triangle’, his favourite season is Season 2, and his favourite character is Dana Scully.