Andrew Brooker talks us through his battle to become an X-Phile…
Honestly, I’m not sure I ever wanted to believe.
I know just how offensive that must sound to a lot of people, I do. But the thing is, when I was eleven or twelve, just as The X-Files was beginning to air in the UK, I was never allowed to watch it! While all my mates were raving about this cool new TV show about aliens and monsters and god-knows what else, my interest became less about wanting to watch an awesome new show and more about pissing my parents off by watching something I really shouldn’t have been.
Wouldn’t you know it? Me being a rebellious asshat actually paid off with a positive outcome. I discovered a show that has influenced so much of my life since I first saw Deep Throat tell Fox Mulder that “…They’ve been here for a very long time.“
While so many fans will have similar stories of how they fell in love with The X-Files and followed the conspiracy religiously; my story focuses more on episodes like ‘Squeeze‘ and later ‘Home‘ in that what it influenced more than anything else was my love of horror. While science fiction was never really my bag – still isn’t really – I am wholly grateful to Files for igniting a passion that has stuck with me for more than twenty years.
Now, that’s not to say that the adventures of Mulder and Scully didn’t hook me in, not at all. Beyond horror, a long-favourite genre of mine is thriller, the more twists and turns in it, the better; the less sense it makes when you get to the end, the better. And the escapades of our favourite FBI agents were the most convoluted of them all.
Somewhere around the time the first film, Fight the Future, was hitting cinemas was when I really started to take notice of this show for real. In a terrifying moment of realisation that I hadn’t been paying much attention to this show that I really liked – I was sixteen at this point, I think it was ok – I took the garbage money I was making from my apprenticeship and hit my local Choices Video (for those not in the UK, it was a poor man’s Blockbuster) and rented out the preceding five seasons on a tape by tape basis to make sure there wasn’t an episode I missed, a twist I forgot or an X-File I hadn’t opened before the film came out. In four episode instalments, I watched those tapes twice before I took them back, I fell in love with this show and everything about it. I stayed up late watching episodes and stayed up later trying to untangle the web of conspiracy in my head.
I became an expert in all things X-Files that summer. I collected all those tie-in compendiums and encyclopaedias; I read every single novelisation that I could find and by the time Fight the Future was gracing the screen of my local flea-pit, I was a damn authority! I saw that movie three times in the short amount of time it was on the screens and I thought I’d unpicked everything until it came out on DVD and I was watching it again and again. By this time, the TV show had become the first show I collected religiously on disc – followed very closely by Millennium – and they were in my player whenever there was a lull in new stuff I was watching.
As always happened, life went on and the show we love so much eventually stuttered it’s way to a finale that to call unsatisfying would be a level of politeness that ‘The Truth’ has never and will never deserve. Despite that, and a badly thought out second film that teased us for years and left us all wondering what the hell was going on; The X-Files remained, and remains, a go-to show for me.
Nowadays, it’s a show that is saved for binging at least once a year, usually followed by Fox’s equally great Fringe, and revisiting every now and then for a certain podcast. And those binges, when they happen, I’m transported back to that sixteen year old’s bedroom watching this mesmerising show and I fall in love with it all over again every single time.
Now, if only I could get my wife to feel the same way.
Brooker will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can follow him on Twitter @brooker411.