THE X-CAST BLOG: Announcement

Hi, X-Casters and X-Philes!

You may or may not know this, but The X-Cast is actually part of a podcast network called Black Hole Media, started by our own Assistant Director Tony Black as a home for his other podcasts, some of which no longer run regularly.

Well now it has a shiny new website, and that means The X-Cast Blog is going to look shinier too, just in a new home, alongside all the other film/TV/media writing Tony and other writers do or have been doing. Which means we’re abandoning this blog and moving here, effective immediately:

This blog won’t be going anywhere. Plenty of the articles & features will still be available to read as Tony begins the process of moving many of them steadily across to the new site (trust me, it takes ages!), and the site isn’t 100% finished yet, but from Monday you can expect X-Cast articles that are new to only be on that space.

Besides that – nothing changes! Our tournament continues apace, we have the A-Z project, the Ranked project, Sarah’s Blair Watch project, the final few Secret Agendas reviews/interviews (before we move onto the other anthologies), and the comic book reviews will be coming back soon too. This plus loads of other stuff, some of which we haven’t even thought of yet!

So yeah, stay tuned, we hope you join us at our new home and remember…

The Truth is In Here…


TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Audrey Pauley vs Anasazi / Field Trip vs Shadows

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).


January 3rd/4th


Tony: “ANASAZI – should be a confident win for among the more acclaimed season finale’s the show ever did.”

Carl: “It’s good to be back doing these. Easy ANASAZI win. Audrey Pauley is probably one of those episodes that has a few fans here and there, but most haven’t seen it or don’t remember it.”

Sarah: “ANASAZI is going to win this by a landslide. Who could forget CSM yelling “Burn it!” and screaming at the TV as flames shot out of that boxcar?! Kids these days have it SO EASY with Netflix and DVDs. We had to wait a WHOLE SUMMER to find out what happened. ANASAZI is iconic. It has to win.”

Paige: “I agree Anasazi is iconic. Audrey Pauley could have been iconic for a new wave of the show, but that didn’t come to pass. It’s an incredible blend of interest story and Kim Manners’ trademark direction.”



Tony: “FIELD TRIP – perhaps a little overrated but Field Trip has more interesting ideas than Shadows, so should win.”

Sarah: “FIELD TRIP will take this one because hallucinogenic carnivorous fungus is more memorable than murderous shadows.”

Paige: “This should be a rout for Field Trip. Are there Shadows fans? I keep recalling meta about how network wanted Mulder and Scully to “help” people. As we can see, that doesn’t work out. And in other news, I think that everything that came to pass since Field Trip is just M&S in that mushroom. That explains CSM surviving, finally!”

Carl: “Shadows is that rare beast, a forgettable Morgan & Wong outing. FIELD TRIP all the way.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: How would Mulder & Scully celebrate New Year 2016?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

How would Mulder & Scully celebrate New Year?


TONY: “Well this year might not be their best given a viral alien apocalypse has happened. It may even be worse than fighting zombies before a quick snog. Let’s assume though Mulder got better & the aliens buggered off – I reckon they’d probably just quietly get very drunk in one of Mulder’s basements and start going over old times.”

PAIGE: “By trying to work their way through the Times Square crowd so they could find … the son of Fluke!”

SARAH: “A bubble bath and a nicely chilled Champagne.”

TONY: “And Skinner?”

CARL: “I’m not sure Mulder is the type to go for a big celebration, so most likely they’d just stay at home and watch a film. They might have fun investigating some of the folklore around New Year in other countries. For instance, in ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten demons away. Also, in Chinese mythology there’s a beast called a Nian that comes out of hiding around New Year to attack children. Could make for a scary standalone investigation.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

Reasons X-Philes Should Be Cheerful About 2017

Carl Sweeney helps us end the year by talking reasons to be cheerful next year… one, two, three!

2016 will be remembered for many reasons, but if you’re reading this then it’s likely that one of the things that affected you this year was the release of new episodes of The X-Files. The year to come may not offer anything quite so exciting on the immediate horizon, but there are still a few things we can look forward to.

We’ll get an update on Season 11, one way or another


You’ve probably heard the whispers that negotiations for new episodes, which had appeared to be progressing nicely, may have hit some sort of impasse. We don’t know how this issue will be resolved, but at least we are likely to get some clarity. Representatives from Fox may be asked questions about the future of The X-Files at a Television Critic’s Association event in January.

IDW Publishing will continue to impress


Those of us reading the Joe Harris-penned comics can expect more interesting stuff this year. Upcoming issues are set to include an intriguing tale about the Smoking Man’s involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, as well as a Skinner-centric story. If you haven’t read the IDW comics before, now’s as good a time as any to start.

Check out our previous X-Cast shows talking to comics editor Denton J. Tipton & artist/writer Matthew Dow Smith, who should–all going to plan–be back on the show during 2017!


Elsewhere, January will see the publication of two X-Files novels aimed at a younger audience. Jonathan Maberry’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and Kami Garcia’s ‘Agent of Chaos’ will shine a light on events in the life of teenage Scully and Mulder, respectively.

Jonathan will be on The X-Cast in January talking about these novels, and we will be doing podcasts discussing the books in detail.

A new critical look at the show


Some of you will have read Darren Mooney’s excellent articles at The Movie Blog. Those of you who are unfamiliar with his work would be well advised to spend some time getting acquainted with his careful analysis of all the 1013 series. Darren’s ‘Opening The X-Files: A Critical History of the Original Series’, to be published in June, will doubtless be as impressive as his online work.

Darren will also be discussing the book when he reappears on The X-Cast in 2017.

The X-Cast will continue to go from strength to strength


The podcast will continue to bring you the same eclectic mix of reviews, interviews and other features. On Twitter, our ongoing Tournament will continue to ruthlessly eliminate episodes until a winner emerges, and we’ll be starting to countdown every week the results of our Episodes Poll we ran at the start of December. We’ve got a lot of exciting things planned for this blog, too, which we’ll reveal as the year progresses.

Remember… trustno1 (except us) 😉

You can follow Carl on Twitter @csweeney758.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Humbug vs Nisei / Triangle vs Revelations / Squeeze vs The Walk

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 22nd/23rd/24th




Tony: “HUMBUG – a comfortable victory for Darin Morgan’s first legendary comedy, if not quite his best.”

Sam: “HUMBUG for sure! Awesome episode. It’s one of those go to episodes for me.”

Carl: “I’ll eat a cricket if HUMBUG doesn’t win.”

Baz: “I think HUMBUG will win – it’s the first Darin Morgan classic and was a memorable entry in season two. Like 731, it’s a shame NISEI is up against a great episode because it forms part of an exciting mythology story, one of the best in season 3. But 731 is the stronger of the two and against the circus freaks, NISEI won’t win.”




Tony: “TRIANGLE – can’t see past it here, probably quite a rout.”

Carl: “TRIANGLE win. Won’t be close.”

Baz: “Absolutely (and not just because TRIANGLE is my favourite episode). It’s a fantastically experimental, memorable episode, not least because it pits Mulder against a Nazi Cigarette Smoking Man. There’s a lot of love for this episode out there, and understandably so. REVELATIONS isn’t bad, sitting in one of the strongest seasons (three) and with a dark tale about a serial killer hunting a boy with religious markings. It’s good The X-Files fare, but nowhere near the standard of TRIANGLE and honestly, I don’t think a lot of people remembering it that well. TRIANGLE to win by a landslide…”

Sarah: “Absolutely TRIANGLE!”




Tony: “SQUEEZE – absolute slam dunk for Mr Tooms, part 1.”

Carl: “Yeah, I have nothing more insightful to add. SQUEEZE win. I think I like The Walk more than most people do, though.”

Baz: “THE WALK is okay but SQUEEZE is the most memorable (and possibly best) monster of the week. There is no way Eugene Victor Tooms isn’t going to have a clear victory. SQUEEZE to win by a landslide…”

Sarah: “SQUEEZE will definitely not have to squeeze by on this one. It’ll win with a wide margin!”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.



Fan fiction writers who love The X-Files and its universe – WE NEED YOU!

For 2017, The X-Cast is looking to create a prose anthology inspired by IDW Publishing’s three books over the last two years (though in no way officially connected to or affiliated with them – this is strictly a fan project).

We’re looking for fans (or aspiring writers looking for some practice) to help us develop a series of prose stories set in the world of The X-Files which would firstly be released on the blog (and promoted on the podcast) and later collected into a free to download PDF e-book.

There aren’t many conditions on this either, beyond the following:

  • 6000-8000 word count.
  • No slash fiction
  • It has to involve at least one existing X-Files/Millennium/Lone Gunmen character.

To begin with, please respond with an expression of interest and a story pitch (a simple paragraph will suffice). We’ll then ask you to write the first 500 words of your story before we commit to giving it a green light, mainly to ensure you’re definitely committed to writing the story.

Incidentally, just in case you’re unsure about our own background with writing, please check out our fearless leader Tony Black’s own work as a prose writer here via the Fiction Vortex project. Last year one of his stories was published as part of a collection of introductory pieces in paperback, and he has an Amazon author page. So while no experts and certainly nowhere near as good as the IDW writers, we do at least have a *little* experience! 🙂

As an example, please find below the first draft of the first scene in Tony’s story for this anthology, called ‘ChronowerX’.

Please send your story pitch/expression of interest to us via email or via Facebook message on our page or Twitter message.

We look forward to any submissions and creating a really cool fan project!

The stories are out there…


OCTOBER 23, 1996

“We’ve been here before, Mulder,” Dana Scully said, warily, as she listened to her partner present yet another case at her feet before she could even get her coat off on this crisp Autumn morning.
“Artificial intelligence. It’s the wave of the future, Scully,” replied Fox Mulder as he got up from his cluttered desk and, sleeves already rolled up on his slightly crumpled shirt, started rifling through a box across from his desk.
Scully placed her coat over the chair opposite where Mulder hatched all of his theories and skimmed through the Los Angeles Police Department file thrown toward her on the desk as he’d hit her with a barrage of theory. Just one day, she thought, a hello and good morning might be a fun change of pace.
“Robert Justman,” she read. “Fifty-seven years of age, no pre-existing medical conditions, married with two grown up children, found dead two days ago in his leased city apartment from a massive electrical discharge.”
“And who also happens to be one of the founding members of Chronowerx Industries,” Mulder said without glancing her way, still rifling.
“Am I supposed to know the name?” Scully asked, aware Mulder’s answer would in his head probably be yes.
“Chronowerx is one of the pioneering computer technology companies in the United States,” he replied. “As far back as 1969, when man was about the walk on the moon, they were building the first isograted circuit, one of the key building blocks of any modern home computer system.”
Mulder finally retrieved what he wanted from the box, an old black VCR tape, which he proceeded to place inside his VCR attached to an old TV on a stand, which he wheeled out from his adjacent research lab.
“So Justman worked for a technology company. It’s a hell of a leap to suggest an artificial intelligence is responsible for his death, even if we have seen technology suspected of as much through Brad Wilczek’s work.”
Scully still wasn’t entirely sure she believed the Central Operating System created by genius scientist Brad Wilczek was the result of an intelligent computer program, but she sensed Mulder was—as usual—saving the coup de grace and didn’t want to derail him.
“This is the same technology company whose CEO and primary founder disappeared three months ago into thin air,” Mulder said, now switching on the tape using his remote control. “And who also happens to be the second member of Chronowerx’s board to die in unusual circumstances in a matter of weeks.”
Closing the file, Scully crossed her arms as static appeared on the TV before them, before giving way to a news report showing hand-held camera footage of a hazy, brown night sky.
“What is this?” she asked.
Mulder nodded at the screen, as a news reader voice overlaid footage of some kind of UFO moving across the same sky.
“Incredible footage was caught just an hour ago by a man using his camcorder to tape a backyard barbecue,”
Scully moved closer to the screen, a little surprised at the crystal clarity she could see the unidentified flying object soaring through the clouds at low altitude. It was long, chrome and gray, with a domed, elongated spherical neck holding two jutting, blue struts at its side. It didn’t look like any kind of UFO footage Mulder had shown her before.
The news reader voice continued. “The massive, unidentifiable object does not appear to be a meteorite, weather-balloon or satellite, and one aviation expert we’ve spoken to has stated it is definitely not any kind of US aircraft currently in use…”
Mulder switched off the screen as Scully turned to him, confused.
“This footage was taken over the Los Angeles skyline just one day before Chronowerx founder Henry Starling disappeared. Every single source I know in video manipulation, including the Gunmen, can find absolutely no evidence this footage was faked. It’s the single most compelling evidence for an unidentified flying object in years, maybe even decades.”
“And you think this UFO is connected to Starling’s disappearance? To the death of Justman and the others?” Scully asked, in an incredulous manner which suggested Mulder was all kinds of crazy for even suggesting it.
“Pack a bag. We’re off to the City of Angels to find out,” Mulder replied, hoisting on his jacket and heading for the door.
With a sigh, Scully grabbed her coat and the Justman file and followed suit. Here we go again, she thought.

You can find Tony @Mr_AJ_Black on Twitter.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Ascension vs Without / Providence vs Little Green Men

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 21st/22nd




Tony: “ASCENSION – by virtue of it being a legendary episode, though I don’t think it’ll completely trounce Without.”

Carl: “Yes, it’s hard to see ASCENSION not winning. Like you say, Without will get some support, though ultimately not enough.”

Sarah: “ASCENSION is classic. It’s memorable for many reasons. I think it’ll trounce WITHOUT.”

Baz: “I agree about ASCENSION; it’s the episode where everything changed as Scully was abducted, Krycek’s villainy was revealed and we had that thrilling cable car pursuit as Mulder races to save Scully and fails. WITHOUT is a good episode, progression the mythology post-Mulder and has a great body-snatchers vibe but it can’t hope to beat ASCENSION.”






Tony: “LITTLE GREEN MEN – absolute rout, let’s not even discuss it.”



Baz: “As for PROVIDENCE, it’s a dull and frustrating season nine mythology episode while LITTLE GREEN MEN kicks off season two in style. No contest, LITTLE GREEN MEN will win.”


Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Within vs Grotesque / The Pine Bluff Variant vs Oubliette

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 19th/20th




Tony: “GROTESQUE – tricky one that could go either way really but the lack of S8 love could swing it to demonic Kurtwood Smith.”

Carl: “Two very different episodes, both perhaps underappreciated. Season 8 remains divisive overall, so I expect a win for GROTESQUE.”

Sarah: “I expect GROTESQUE will take the win, mostly because Season 8 is not as popular. Basically what Carl said.”

Andrew: “I’m gonna go for WITHIN. It’s a better episode, IMO.”

Baz: “WITHIN is a better episode and a great start to season eight. GROTESQUE is from a more memorable season – I think it might be win by that logic.”




Tony: “OUBLIETTE – much as I’d go for TPBV, the Samantha connotations of Oubliette I suspect could be enough, but again it’ll be close.”

Sarah: “These are both great episodes. Two that I appreciated much more on my recent rewatch. But TPBV has more meat to it, so I think it’ll come out on top.”

Carl: “We’ve had a few close matches recently and this will be another. TPBV is the best solo Shiban script, while Oubliette is my pick for the series’ most underrated episode. I think THE PINE BLUFF VARIANT will eke out a narrow win.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Fight the Future vs The Red and the Black / My Struggle vs Millennium

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 16th/18th




Tony: “FIGHT THE FUTURE – lot of love out there for the movie & TRATB doesn’t have a massive amount that’s memorable about it really.”

Carl: “I think FIGHT THE FUTURE will win the vote too, possibly quite comfortably. Not sure I agree about TRATB though – Scully’s ‘orgasm hypnosis’ scene was pretty memorable, to name just one thing!”

Andrew: “FIGHT THE FUTURE should, and will, win. TRATB is a quality episode, better than Patient X, but it doesn’t touch the scope and quality of FTF.”

Sam: “Don’t think I can call this one…”

Sarah: “My money’s on FTF over TRATB since the film is iconic enough that possibly even non-XPhiles might know it.”

Baz: “I think FIGHT THE FUTURE will nab it because it is the movie and has some very memorable moments. I’m a big fan of THE RED AND THE BLACK as it starts to accelerate the mythology’s end game but I don’t think it will be as memorable as the movie. Plus the movie is better overall, telling a full story (of sorts). It deserves and will likely win.”




Tony: “MILLENNIUM – by virtue of Frank Black popping up & the mixed feelings on the S10 mythology eps. It also deserves a good run.”

Sam: “MILLENNIUM for sure!”

Baz: “I agree about MILLENNIUM, if nothing else because it brings back Frank Black to tie that series up. But there seems to be a lot of love for the new episodes so MY STRUGGLE might win by virtue of bringing the show back. Both have good moments and their flaws though, so I don’t think it will be a clear win for either.”

Carl: “MILLENNIUM will win. No way is an episode with a Mulder/Scully kiss being voted out at this stage.”

Baz: “Surprised I forgot that. Yeah, that will certainly give MILLENNIUM the lead.”

Andrew: “MILLENNIUM. Doesn’t take much to beat MY STRUGGLE.”

Sarah: “I can’t say it any better than Carl. MILLENNIUM for sure.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Our Town vs First Person Shooter / Monday vs Dreamland II

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 15th/16th




Tony: “OUR TOWN – because is there anyone bar me who likes FPS?”

Carl: “There are, but not too many. OUR TOWN to prevail.”

Sarah: “Mmm, nothing like fried chicken with a side of human brains! OUR TOWN has this in the bag. The take-out bag, that is.”

Sam: “I like First Person Shooter because Scully, but I reckon OUR TOWN will take it. It’s one of those ‘humans as monsters’ episodes and COULD happen. Eek!”

Andrew: “OUR TOWN is an underrated episode. It’s creepy while being funny, and truly offbeat. FIRST PERSON SHOOTER is not the worst of the series, but it’s pretty cringe-worthy.”

Baz: “And as for OWN TOWN – it will clearly be the winner. A lot of people remember the small town cannibals and fried chicken. FIRST PERSON SHOOTER is just not very good and comes in the middle of the much weaker season seven.”




Tony: “MONDAY – man this is a nasty one, but Dreamland II is probably the weaker of the two parter & Monday is just legendary.”

Sam: “Monday is my favourite but I think DREAMLAND II might edge it coz of the shipping and humour and that”

Carl: “I think MONDAY will win but I’m not at all confident to be honest. Could go either way.”

Baz: “Oh MONDAY is just magnificent, a great Groundhog Day-style episode. While DREAMLAND is great, the first half is much stronger. I think MONDAY will win because it’s more memorable out of the two and has a concept everyone loves.”

Sarah: “Considering how much I love DREAMLAND II, MONDAY will probably win and I’ll have to go drink heavily.”

Andrew: “Oh man. Dreamland, on the whole, is one of my top picks. But Part II slips, in my mind. I think MONDAY will pull ahead. But both are great episodes.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.