The Jersey Devil
Ghost In The Machine
Beyond The Sea
Young At Heart
The Erlenmeyer Flask
Arguably one of the most culturally significant shows of the 20th Century, The X-Files begins surprisingly slowly. The stories are good, if a little formulaic at times, but the real drawing power of this show are the characters. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) are an endearing pair and their chemistry on screen helps to drive the season forward. Whilst the first season doesn’t have a significant plot woven through the episodes to drive it forward, the interesting character journeys the two characters undertake is significant and well written.
The X-Files themselves are paranormal cases ranging from the strange to creepy to the downright terrifying. Working as FBI agents, Dana Scully is assigned to work alongside Mulder on these cases in an effort to debunk his work and keep the eccentric agent in check. Driven by the memories of his sister being abducted by aliens as a child, Mulder dives headfirst into the paranormal cases as a strong believer whilst Scully takes a more sceptical, scientific approach to each scenario. As the season continues and the cases become weirder and more difficult to explain, Scully’s persona shifts slightly from ultimate denier to a little more open minded. It’s a subtle change, with her character still dominated by the scientific rationale that drives her character forward but it makes for a fascinating watch as her and Mulder verbally spar over the best way to approach each situation. Its this opposing way that both agents approach the cases that make X-Files such an appealing show to watch.
I mentioned before about a lack of an overarching plot and in many ways the conspiracy that does surface feels a little bit like an after-thought, with the main focus on the characters and the “monster of the week” episodes. There are some memorable episodes here but with 24 of them, some are inevitably more memorable than others. Not all the episodes are strong, with some forgettable ones thrown in and some uninspiring ideas. They’re few and far between though and on the whole, the season is a solid start to the franchise.
Season 1 introduces us to some of the key players through the show’s mythology too but its also pretty light on a lot of the characterisation. The Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), the main antagonist that sits in the shadows, is endearing here and Mulder’s confidant Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) is a mysterious, interesting character too. Along with FBI Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) thats both a hindrance and a help to the two agents, there’s a fascinating array of supporting cast of characters too that are generally really well written.
Overall, season 1 of the X-Files is an interesting, albeit slightly lacklustre start to the show. Some of the episodes feel a little formulaic or simply aren’t as endearing as others and the main conspiracy this season feels like an afterthought too. Having said all of that, the chemistry between Mulder and Scully is what drives the season forward and there’s a good mix of tense, creepy and mysterious cases they tackle. In many ways, vast periods of these episodes are used to try and find the right formula the show should take. Once it settles into the rhythm, there’s no denying that The X-Files isn’t quite like any other show on TV.
Verdict - 7/10