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Review: X-Files Season 1 By Denis Murphy

Firstly, this article is intended for both readers that have already seen the X-Files, and those of you who have not. There will be light spoilers throughout, but my intention is for this article to hopefully be a fun read for X-Files fans, but to also perhaps pique the interest of someone who has yet to see the series. So, with that in mind, lets get into it. Image-1 It has been twenty years since the pilot episode of The X-Files aired. Feeling old yet? But don't worry, dear readers, at least you got to experience the birth of the show, a show that has not only quite literally changed the face of television, but brought the world of the paranormal and ufology to millions of viewers. Nine seasons, two films, three videogames, two comic books, thirty-seven novels and twenty-one non-fiction books later, the X-Files has had quite the legacy. However, lets go back a bit, back to where it all began. While the series arguably got much worse in its later seasons, is season one as good as we all remember? Well, after a few years of not watching the series, I dug back into my DVD box-set and re-watched the entirety of season one. How does it stand up? Generally, a TV series has a shaky first season and usually hits its stride between season two and four, depending on how good the show is of course. This was the case for the likes of the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos, The Simpsons, Fringe and Dexter, just to name a few. While I didn't think this when I first watched it, the X-Files does suffer from this trend. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic season and full of truly interesting and entertaining episodes, but it feels like a dry run for something truly great. The premise of the series is simple enough, but over the course of the nine seasons becomes increasingly more in-depth, sometimes to the point of it becoming muddled (I'm looking at you Black Oil and Super Soldiers!). The pilot episode begins with the first introduction to FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, often referred to his peers by the name of "Spooky". Mulder focuses his time on the X-Files; an obscure FBI section that deals with the world of the paranormal, as well as ufology. You see, Mulder has a personal history with this topic. While most of his past with the paranormal is revealed in full throughout the nine seasons, Mulder is mainly focused on the X-Files due to what happened to his sister, Samantha. In 1973 Mulder, at the age of twelve, witnessed his sister's abduction by extraterrestrials. This hugely traumatic moment in Mulder’s past shaped his life, which eventually led him to the X-Files in the hopes that one day he can find his sister. The second half of the lead cast comes in the form of FBI Special Agent Dana Scully, a medical doctor that has been assigned to the X-Files to keep tabs on Mulder. At first Scully's back-story isn't very interesting, but in later seasons she really shines. Scully is the non-believer in all things paranormal, and makes for a fantastic counter balance to Mulder's believer. Image-2 X-Files episodes are broken into two groups: "monster-of-the-week" episodes that are completely standalone in nature, and episodes that follow the main Alien Mythology story arc of the series. The Alien arc episodes are spaced out through any given season, and season one contains only five of these episodes out of its full twenty-four episodes. This is a little disappointing to say the least, but thankfully these episodes are handled exceptionally well. While the series did dilute a lot of the ideas presented here much later on, there's a fantastic feeling of secrecy here, almost as if Mulder and Scully are moments away from seeing the man behind the curtain. But, like as it always is with the X-Files, they never quite get there. You see, the X-files isn't about massive reveals in every episode. It took on board the idea that the first few seasons of Lost eventually did- to slowly drip feed the viewer major story reveals, all the while amid the backdrop of a character drama. And while the character drama is indeed done wonderfully well, the Alien arc kicks off nicely here. The first major episode, "Deep Throat", provides Mulder and Scully with their first informant, an individual who is very much knowledgeable about the alien presence on Earth. During season one he provides them with information and warnings, all the while Mulder and Scully continue to question the reasoning for helping them. Even in the face of apparent truth, this need to question everything the X-Files presents to us is paramount, because after all, as the X-Files title card reads, "Trust No One". This question of information and misinformation remains throughout the nine seasons. A stand out Alien arc episode here is "Fallen Angel", which introduces the character of Max Fenig. After a UFO crash in a woods in Wisconsin, Mulder quickly makes it to the scene to try and find some evidence. After being captured and detained by the government during their "clean-up operation", Mulder meets Max Fenig, another UFO enthusiast who was captured in a bid to find the downed UFO. However, the beauty of the X-Files is that much like the duality of believe and non-belief that comes from Mulder and Scully, it often drops hints or red herrings to the viewer to question what they're seeing. Though Max is organised and has radio communications about the UFO, Mulder notices Max's medication for his schizophrenia on a table. Though you'll have to watch the episode in full to truly understand what is happening in Wisconsin at that time, the appearance of Max's medication suddenly throws a spanner into the works. Did Max simply have a delusional episode? It's this idea of the two sides of a coin that makes the X-Files so intriguing, and this is something that is represented perfectly within the two lead characters themselves. Image-3 Another game changer is “E.B.E”, an episode that has Mulder hot on the heels of an apparent alien being that is being transported by the government. It's an episode in which Mulder is on the brink of holding physical evidence and undeniable proof to the world that we are in fact being visited by extraterrestrials. So much hangs in the balance here during this episode, and it ultimately makes for possibly one of the best episodes of the X-Files during its complete run. Boasting fantastic performances from David Duchovny as well as Jerry Hardin as Deep Throat, E.B.E puts everything on the line, including the X-Files itself and Mulders life. This episode also introduces three characters who would not only be a staple of the series, but also drum up enough interest to star in their own spin-off. They're known as The Lone Gunmen, and are a nerdy trio that aid Mulder in his ongoing efforts. The Monster-of-the-week episodes are for the most part great, though some do feel a little like unnecessary filler. The ones to watch out for in particular are "Squeeze" and "Beyond the Sea". Squeeze focuses on an unexplainable murder case that is presented to Scully. It's considered unexplainable as there was no plausible point of entry into the crime scene. Mulder and Scully soon become aware that Eugene Victor Tooms, the murderer in this case, has the strange ability of squeezing into impossibly tight areas and extending his limbs, to be point in being able to enter a house through a chimney. It's a chilling episode, and while there are plenty of these types of episodes that feature what is considered a true "monster" (see episodes Space, Jersey Devil and Darkness Falls), Tooms' ability and his unnerving portrayal by Doug Hutchison is terrifyingly creepy, and something that will stay with you long after you've finished watching. Iamge-4 “Beyond the Sea” is an incredible episode, as it keeps the viewer guessing right to the end. This episode is centred around Scully dealing with the death of her father, and with the impending execution of Luther Lee Boggs, an inmate on death row who claims to have psychic visions that can solve Mulder and Scully's current kidnap case. This episode is primarily focuses on Scully's belief that Boggs may be telling the truth, especially since he could identify the song that was played at her fathers funeral. It's compelling to watch Scully tread the line between belief and non-belief, and this episode puts her lack of beliefs in something greater to the test. Of course, the episode is not only written wonderfully with an utterly brilliant performance by Gillian Anderson, but Brad Dourif as Boggs is the highlight of the series in terms of guest stars. He throws himself into the role, much like he did in The Exorcist 3. Yet overall season one feels like a dry run for something greater, something a little more willing to take risks. Despite this, season one is almost as fresh as it was in 1993, and is packed full of episodes that will scare, terrify, intrigue and entertain. With the X-Files series creator Chris Carter brought lights in the sky and those bumps in the night to a whole new audience, yet still perfectly catered to people who were always interested in these subjects. If you've seen the X-Files before- watch it again. If you haven't seen it at all- the first step of the journey towards "the truth", while slightly shaky in areas- is compelling and much better than 90% of what's on TV right now. The X-Files season one still remains a stellar piece of all things weird with an 8/10. Image-5

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