Who: “The X-Files,” a cult science fiction horror drama that aired on the Fox network from 1993-2002 (and that garnered millions of ratings, despite its cult flavor).
What: “The X-Files” revolves around FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigating so-called X-Files, i.e. marginalized, unsolved cases outside of the FBI mainstream involving paranormal and/or extraterrestrial phenomena, as well as the government conspiracy to hide the truth about those phenomena.
Agent Mulder wholeheartedly believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to apply scientific analysis to Mulder’s discoveries for the purpose of debunking his work and steering him back toward the FBI mainstream, in which he was initially a gifted profiler on the fast track. Early in the series, both agents become pawns in a larger government conspiracy and conflict and come to trust only each other. They develop a close relationship, which begins as a platonic friendship but becomes a romance by the end of the series. Episodes consist of so-called mythology story arcs, devoted to the larger, nefarious conspiracy to cover up the existence of extraterrestrials (and their apparently hostile aims) as well as “monster of the week” episodes, i.e. standalone episodes exploring subjects of horror, science fiction, humanism, and, at times, humor.
The main story arc involves the agents’ efforts to uncover a government conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrials on Earth and their sinister collaboration with those governments. Mysterious men comprising a shadow element within the U.S. government, known as “The Syndicate,” are the major villains in the series. They are usually represented by The Smoking Man (William B. Davis), a ruthless killer, masterful politician, negotiator, and the series’ principal antagonist, though the viewer learns of other characters directly and indirectly attached to the Syndicate. The characters assigned to investigate the X-Files throughout the series report to FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi).
When: The show aired in its entirety from 1993-2002 on the Fox network.
Where: The show is set primarily at FBI Headquarters (particularly in the basement) in Washington, DC, but the agents investigate X-Files all over the country and sometimes overseas and/or across international borders.
Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found The X-Files series. They are all personal and occasionally touching.
How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!
Have you heard?! In January 2016, Fox will begin airing a revival miniseries bringing back our two favorite agents, Mulder and Scully, and some of their allies and enemies for six brand new episodes, and the first brand new episodes in fourteen years, of the The X-Files! Quivering with anticipation, I knew CPU! would have to review the miniseries, as the original X-Files series is one of this viewer’s all time favorite shows, but to do so seemed silly without first covering that original series in-depth. Since I know a few people in my life who love the X-Files as much or (possibly) more than I do, I decided to invite some true X-Files scholars, in what has become something of a family event, to participate in a five-part podcast series, during which we will take a critical look back at the show that fuels our respective imaginations and tugs at our TV-loving hearts. The first three episodes of this series will review the nine seasons of the original show, while the fourth episode will delve into the expanded universe, including films, spin-offs, and comics, as well as each individual panelist’s favorite and least favorite episodes from the series, among other categories. In the fifth episode, the panel will convene to discuss the miniseries and all of its hoped for glory – will it be a return to X-Files form, fourteen years after its initial departure from our TV screens? Or, will it be more like Season 9 or, worse, the film I Want to Believe? The panelists remain hopeful that it’s the former and not the latter, though some are more confident than others.
In this third podcast episode of CPU!’s X-Files series, our panel – Sarah, Nick, Hilary, Kyle, and moderator Kylie – take a look back at the last three seasons, seven through nine, covering the period of The X-Files when the program was meandering toward its inevitable finish line, light on the character of Mulder overall but heavy on the denouement and, some say, the decline in both viewership and story quality. We discuss our favorites and least favorites within each of these last seasons as well as our general impressions of each season’s success.
To wit, Season Seven was the last to feature David Duchovny as a full-time series regular. In Season Eight, Duchovny and the character of Mulder were on the show part time, while an agent named John Doggett (Robert Patrick) was assigned to the X-Files with Scully to seek out the missing Mulder after he had been abducted by aliens. In Season Nine, Duchovny departed for all but the series finale; Gillian Anderson led the cast, but her character, Scully, worked out of Quantico, the FBI training academy, while Doggett and his new partner, Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), assumed lead investigation duties of the X-Files, supervised by AD Skinner but monitored with suspicion by now Deputy Director Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) and others.
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And stay tuned for episode four of this podcast series, otherwise known as CPU!’s X-Philes Compendium, or Looking Back at the X-Files: The Geek Edition. In that fourth part of our five part discussion, our illustrious panel of X-Files scholars will discuss the expanded universe arising out of the show in-depth and will cap off our look back at the primary series by offering our definitive top ten (or thereabouts) lists of episodes that scared us, grossed us out, made us laugh, engaged us in the mythology, and piqued our interest in the standalone Monster of the Week episodes as well as our definitive list of our least favorite and favorite X-Files episodes of all time. If you are a super-fan of the show like each of the panelists, you won’t want to miss part four, to be released next week! Until then!
The X-Files is recommended to anyone who loves science fiction and/or horror and doesn’t mind a bit of both at the same time. As we discuss in the podcast, this series broke ground for so many other series to come, not the least of which include Lost, Supernatural, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Bones, and other popular shows for which writers and creators learned their trade working on this series originally. This show has a bit of everything, including a dynamic chemistry between its two leads, who have appeared on other series separately, such as Californication, Hannibal, Twin Peaks, and Crisis. Really, if you love television, and you have somehow missed this series, you should make time forThe X-Files – you will not be disappointed in the overall journey and entertainment value that this well written, well performed series provides, whether you enjoy large serial story arcs that provide more questions than answers and keep you guessing or standalone episodes that tell a new and interesting story each week. This series has both, which may be one of the secrets to its overall success. The entire series is available at all of the streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Watch it: you won’t regret it!