Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Initial Thoughts on "The X-Files"

            I have been for a little while working my way thru the “X-Files” on Netflix.  I did this because I remember disliking the series in my youth because of its confusing BS.  I know realize that the BS did not come until much later and was mostly concentrated in the “Mythology” of the series, the long ongoing plot of an alien conspiracy that never gave solid answers and logically should have wrapped up in season 6 but kept trucking a long time after the audience felt that it would ever really deliver.
            But, I digress.  I have been watching the series and overall really enjoy it, and I liked a few of the new episodes that were on Fox this year as part of a revival.  To that end I am going to look over some of the series and point out some of the highs and lows.  Before I dive into that though I would like to point out a broad observation that started to crystallize as I watched.

“The X-Files” Episode Categories.
            Different episodes of a show, especially a show with such a consistent mood tend to use certain standard ideas.  These help to outline and pitch stories to the producers.  Being a horror science fiction show with lots of police procedural aspects and romantic tension “The X-Files” has a lot of bleed in how it handles things.  Things start as a serial killer, but the killer uses telekinesis or is a shape shifter, is a for instance.
Watching the first couple of seasons I have noticed some broad categories.  They are not exclusive, plenty have elements of others but the focus of the story tends to be on one of these particular core elements.

Aliens… What the show is “about” in the broadest sense
            Is the government trying to kill you?  Have you seen strange lights in the sky?  Have you lost time?  Transmitters in your teeth?  Then Mulder and Scully need to talk to you.  This is also where the cyclones of BS start to swallow the show in later seasons.

Balrog Infestation... the scientists dug too deeply and too greedily
            Are you a scientist or industrialist who wishes to explore the world for knowledge or profit?  Well get ready to be infected, eaten, or encounter that which man was not meant to know because for some damn reason there are horrible monsters living in the shadows and just beneath the skin (often literally).  Retroactively these stories make a lot of sense based on the nature of the shows aliens and how they have interacted with earth in the distant past.

Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
            Are there a series of murders with a uniting theme and something that seems to be gross going on?  Then you are probably dealing with some horrible branch of the evolutionary tree, or the inevitable outcome of global climate change or the splitting of the atom.  While they are not always evil they are a slave to the dark instincts that exist within all of us.

Frankenstein’s (Blank)
            Do you or someone you know wish to better the world thru science?  Get ready for that science to murder the shit out of you, me and everyone else because there is often a murderous instinct in the base code.  I don’t know why, but nobody seems to have read, “I, Robot” in this universe and refuses to program their creation with the very basic command of, “Do not harm the creator”.

I am not saying it was magic.... But it was magic.

Ghosts?  The Afterlife?  Magic?
            Having nightmares of a past life?  Or are you seeing horrible things happen to the folks around you after a friend/loved one’s murder?  Who are you gonna call?  The FBI.  This is when things stop being about science and start going straight into the land of magic.
This is also an area in which the show starts to highlight how insane Mulder would be.  The man believes in everything.  You know, just because you believe in aliens doesn’t mean you believe in voodoo, ghosts, or werewolves right?  Thinking that there is enough evidence to believe in one thing does not mean you have faith that other seemingly equally crazy things also exist.
Just Some Asshole
            Rarely there is an instance in which there is no supernatural component.  This really should have happened much more frequently… But for some reason tracking down serial killers, the central conceit of nearly all other FBI procedural dramas is considered too boring.  I feel this is a missed opportunity as having Scully be right about something from time to time would have been good for the show, but here we are.

This is actually a kid friendly version of the "X-Files" based on a series of books I read when I was a kid.  While it has budget issues the writing and acting are top notch and very funny.  If you want something lite to watch I recommend it.
It is also on Netflix.

            Are you in the middle of nowhere and follow a religion or lifestyle at odds with Midwest American values of the 90’s?  Then you are probably about to be involved in some kind of horrible conspiracy.  I guess Chris Cater grew up near a lot of gated communities that he just grew to dislike them.

Wacky Comedy
            Numerous episodes play with expectations of the audience and use to differing effect the premise of the show to illicit a laugh at its own expense.  I tend to find these the strongest of all the episodes and they are the highlight of any season.

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