Re-opening The X-Files

Geek Culture

Image from downloads.Image from downloads.

Image from downloads.

Fox Mulder’s government contact once told him, “They’ve been here a very long time.” He was talking about aliens. I’m talking about my almost ten-year-old X-Files Season One DVD set, which I’ve been waiting to dust off and share with my daughter.

Honestly, I thought it would have happened before now. She’s almost 13 and a huge Fringe fan, so you’d think getting her to watch The X-Files would be easier than tracking down a shape-shifting alien bounty hunter, but when I brought it up: “Um, no thanks.”

So I waited awhile. When Peter and Olivia and Walter finally took a summer vacation from their alternate-universe jumping and monster chasing, I tried again: “X-Files, anyone? It was first! It was better! And it’s kind of the same, but, you know, different!”

Nothing doing.

Given a recent rainy January Sunday to share, then, I suggested once more, “Want to watch X-Files?” – absolutely certain that she’d shoot it down like a government-planted fake weather balloon – and she responded, “Sure.”

Okay, so I grab the DVD and pop it in, and now, of course, I’m fraught with fear that is I’ve oversold it, right? That being such a Fringe fanatic – Fringe-ite? Fringe-o-phile? – my daughter might see Chris Carter‘s iconic 1990s creation as a slower-paced, humorless ripoff. (Oh, there are plenty of laughs in The X-Files – “Mulder, I … I think it’s bile.” “Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?” – but until the Lone Gunmen show up, there’s nobody played for regular character snickers like Walter Bishop on Fringe.)

Well, here we go: We start watching “Pilot” … and the and the next thing I know, she’s saying, “Can we watch another one?” Okay, then! And forty-some minutes later: “One more?” Onward to “Squeeze,” the first – and still one of the best – of the non-UFO “mystery of the week” episodes.

By dinnertime, we’ve gone through the first half-dozen, and we probably would have enjoyed more except for the fact that darkness was falling, and my daughter’s got a thing about not watching spooky shows as bedtime nears.

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched these, and given the way the show’s overarching mythology seemed to shaped so much of what happens in later seasons and Fight the Future, I’d forgotten how quickly the seeds of the government conspiracy and alien abduction are sown and then left to grow quietly mostly in the background while the standalone episodes unfold. To my mind, that’s a good thing – and a pattern Fringe seems to have also taken to heart in its own second year.

I’m pretty psyched that our local library system has all the X-Files DVD sets available, though I confess I gave up on the series myself back when David Duchovny left the show, skipping most of the last couple seasons until the finale. It will be awhile, though, until we reach those later, debatable years of the show.

In the meantime, you can find us munching sunflower seeds and hanging out with “the FBI’s Most Unwanted.”

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