Return of The X-Files
The cult series is set to return for a six-episode run. Series creator Chris Carter will be at the helm and although no air date has ben set, it’s likely to be some point next year.
The original ran from 1993 for nine seasons and over 200 episodes. It was one of the most influential television series ever created and one of the defining elements of early Nineties pop culture.
Although the overarching mythology of the show went off into strange places and at time lost credibility, even within the context of the premise we’d happily bought into, it was utterly compelling – especially in the first four seasons. While the aliens and government conspiracies that formed backbone of the show are what it’s mostly remembered for, it was often the stand-alone “Monster of the week” episodes really were the “did you see last night’s episode?!” gems. They often wear their influences openly, but contemporize and add to the tropes that are the staples of sci-fi, horror and weirdness.
If you want to get in the mood, or see why the show was so beloved, then these are four of the best episodes to hunt down and watch.
Season 1, Episode 2
The pair investigate the disappearance of a military test pilot and discover strange technological happenings at a military air-force base. A lot of it is a nod to real test sites at Nellis Air Force Base and Groom Lake in Nevada and projects that were rumored to be taking place at the time. The ending nicely sets up a lot of the show’s mythology without taking away from the believability of the episode. And watch out for a young Seth Green as the stoner teen [34m 15s].
Season 1, Episode 8
Inspired by John Campbell Jr’s book Who Goes There? (famously adapted for John Carpenter’s The Thing) the FBI pair investigate a mass murder-suicide at a remote Alaskan outpost where they become stranded when their pilot dies. The isolated nature of the four protagonists (Xander Berkly and Felicity Huffman guest starting as the scientists) who begin to turn on each other amid fears over who may have been infected by the parasite is brilliant. It’s like watching a great horror/thriller condensed into 43 taut and edgy minutes and this episode really elevated the series up to must-see television.
Here’s the TV trailer that ran on Fox for that episode:
Season 3, Episode 2
Perhaps the most X-Filesy episode of The X-Files, this takes the whole aliens cover-up premise and blends it into real American history amid lots of whispered meetings, The Smoking Man and shots of people running through dark corridors holding those FBI flashlights. That Project Paperclip was a real thing, and is (almost certainly) the actual reason for weird flying objects being spotted around Area 51, was not lost of the makers of The X-Files who took this and ran with a broader “What if?” This episode inspired a whole load of people to use this new World Wide Web thing that was getting popular at the time to look up Project Paperclip and learn some actual shocking truths. The truths were really out there.
Season 4, Episode 2
Set in a small Pennsylvania town with deranged inbred brothers living in a remote farmhouse. The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre are the obvious touchstones here, but the writers say they were inspired by the “barely literate” brothers who lived on a farm in the documentary Brother’s Keeper (1992) and a (frankly disturbing) true story from Charlie Chaplain’s autobiography. One of the great episodes that played out like a horror film but was grounded in a believable reality.
Here’s a fan-made trailer that give you a pretty decent idea of the episode