I have been a fan of The X-Files (an X-Phile, in the fandom) almost from the beginning. I say almost, because the first episode I watched was “Squeeze” (S1 Ep3) and I recall one or both of my parents asking me to turn it off before the end. It was deemed too scary for me at that age. (Of course, I also remember being slightly scared of small openings for a while after watching…but also being thrilled, wondering WHAT IF someone could really do that?!)
The second episode I remember watching was “Soft Light” (S2 Ep23). I’m not quite clear if that was really the next one I saw, or just the next one that left a strong impression on me. I must have been allowed to watch by then, at least.
For those younger than me (and at the risk of playing, “back in my day.”) we only had the one family tv in the living room. If Mom didn’t allow a tv show, we were kind of SOL even if it was released on VHS. (Which didn’t always happen to begin with.) Happily, even for the few episodes she disliked – “Home” (S4 Ep2) comes to mind – my mom kindly put up with years of me claiming the tv for every episode, refusing to miss a single one – even the reruns. She never became a huge fan, but if I mention it now, her memory is of it being a smart show that she was mostly pleased I was watching.
Speaking of VHS, once I started watching regularly I scrambled to collect those as quickly as a could. Being a kid, this meant not very fast, but I managed to buy quite a few of them thanks to a local used video store. Since I couldn’t get all the videos, not all episodes were on tape to begin with, AND I was unwilling to rely on the rerun gods to get me up to speed…I then began my collection of books about The X-files. I read every synopsis in those books (remember, this was before the internet was widely used), and memorized even episodes I hadn’t seen yet. I still have a stack of the books, both official and unofficial guides, nitpicker’s guides, and trivia. Even once I had watched all the episodes I wanted to learn as much about them as possible.
I saw the first movie in the theater, multiple times. I’m pretty sure I spent that entire summer trying to figure out how everything was going to connect to the next season. The movie hit at the height of my interest in the show, and it was a huge deal to me at the time.
I was a member of the official fan club for a while, and still have the poster and stills from that. Eventually, the X-Files also wound up being my first experience of online fandom, the first time I ran into the term “shipper,” and my first experience with fanfiction. Luckily I was at least a few years older by the time I discovered the fanfiction, but somewhere in the house I probably still have at least one computer disk with stories ranging from the very G-rated to the very not.
In the interest of full disclosure, the one and only time I tried writing fanfiction was also in The X-Files universe. I recently dug that one out, and let me tell you it screams fanfic written by a 15/16 year old like nobody’s business! 😛 My self insert character (not that I knew the term) was somehow both Mulder’s cousin and Krycek’s twin sister. She was also married to Max Fenig, since I was completely unwilling to write anything that could possibly come between Mulder and Scully. The Lone Gunmen show up, Metallica quotes happen because reasons, and I ended it on a cliffhanger with the reader unsure if everyone will live, because of course I did.
I do have to admit I was one of those fans who drifted away during the later seasons. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I’ve always been someone who gets very attached to characters. The show wasn’t terrible when it focused on Dogget and Reyes, it just wasn’t for me. Despite that, I am the proud owner of the massive complete DVD set (I bought it just weeks before joining Netflix, funny enough), and periodically marathon at least the first seven seasons. I’ve only done the entire series once…again, while Dogget and Reyes likely needed to be there to keep the show fresh, I never formed the same attachment to them.
I started up another marathon a few days before @thexfilesfox started tweeting out its #TheXfiles201Days schedule, meant to lead up to the revival. At my most honest, I can’t claim the show completely holds up for me. To be fair, neither does Season One of The Next Generation and that doesn’t stop me from loving every episode! Still, the older I get the more I’m rubbed the wrong way by the concept that (generally speaking) if Mulder thinks it’s supernatural it probably is, whereas if Scully thinks it’s supernatural…she’s being emotional or paranoid or…bleagh. I realize the idea was to swap their roles, but it tends to make him come off as kind of an arrogant asshole. Ditto for his habit of disappearing/hanging up on his partner. As a kid, I thought it was rude but didn’t put much thought into it. As an adult who knows exactly how it feels to not know if someone you care about is ok, I’m much less forgiving of that personality quirk.
It does hold up strongly in at least one way that’s important to me. While the writing isn’t always great, I’m hard pressed to think of another woman (character, at least) on tv that I like as much as Scully, especially in the sense of being written as a complete person. She has her emotions and connections to her family, and also is passionate about her job. She is sometimes the strong one and sometimes stumbles. While she does occasionally need rescuing, so do other characters, it’s the nature of the things they investigate. As corny as it sounds, I’m rather glad I had a character like that on tv while I was growing up.
And now we come to the meat of things: the X-Files revival announced earlier this year. Part of me is excited, if that needs to be said. It’s an interesting situation since they have an impressive number of returning actors and writers. With not only Chris Carter, David Duchovny, and Gillian Anderson, but also other returning team members, they’ve certainly got a great base to work from. In some ways, it might feel more true to the show (to me, at any rate) than the actual last couple seasons.
Then again, it’s more than just phone etiquette that doesn’t hold up as well in 2015. At the time the show ran, we didn’t have smart phones, cell phone reception was less reliable, there were still phone booths and people used them. Conspiracies in general are a lot less adorable these days. I’m not the first one to point out that in the days of 9/11 Truthers and Anti-Vaxxers, I’m not finding conspiracy theories nearly as appealing. The world has moved on in more than a few ways.
On the bright side, I’ve been loving the boiling viscera [TSW Issue 7 spoiler] out of The Secret World MMO for a couple years now, and they present a modern day world of conspiracy that I find very intriguing. Mentioning the two together, I feel like I should connect their respective bees somehow. 😉
Anyway, if I had to come down one way on the revival, I’d say I’m optimistic. I can’t even really say “cautiously” because I have a lot of faith in Chris Carter, and the rest of the team. They know their show, and even the episodes that didn’t keep my attention were better than the majority of other tv I’ve watched. The show was important to me in so many ways when I was younger, and nothing they do is going to take that away. At the absolute worst, it will likely go in my head as on par with the last few seasons – not really my preferred form of the show, but something worth watching at least once.
I live in the American Midwest with a black lab mix named Loki, three cats, and a chinchilla. I’m in my 30’s, and I’ve enjoyed reading, writing, gaming, and assorted geeky pursuits my entire life. I’m a panelist on Beyond the Veil, a regular guest on a few non-Holosuite livestreams, and have a gaming/writing blog over at www.lfgryph.com.
Other than writing and gaming, I’ve worked at a few different Renaissance Festivals and I used to be on a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast in the Twin Cities.
I love otters, ST:TNG, D&D, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and setting zombies on fire. My Twitter is @darkgryphon42 if you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing.