A Guide to The X-Files

The first episode of The X-Files that I ever saw was ‘Ice’, sometime in the summer of 1994. I was instantly hooked, and after catching some more reruns that summer, I started watching the show religiously in the fall with the start of Season Two. I continued right up until the end of Season Nine, long past the point where many others had given up on it. In the early days, I taped each episode, and then treated myself to a mini X-Files marathon during the summer, watching all of the previous season’s episodes over again in anticipation of the upcoming season premiere. Sometime in 1995, 20th Century Fox Home Video began releasing the series on laser video disc in Japan: elaborate box sets that typically contained half a season’s worth of episodes at a time. I began collecting the discs, and dutifully watched each as it was released. (The first time I saw many of the first season episodes, they were laserdisc copies with Japanese subtitles). The Japanese releases reached the end of Season Seven before laserdisc gave way to DVD, and Fox began releasing the series in North America in full season sets, with Season One appearing in the spring of 2000. Once again, I collected these as they appeared, and once again I started watching the series from the beginning, seeing many episodes for the third or fourth time.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I began making notes about the episodes as I watched them, notes that were equal parts synopsis (what happened?) and critique (was it any good?). As I finished each season, I circulated my notes via e-mail to some friends who were also, at one point or another, fans of the show. Eventually, I decided that it was easier just to put them on the Web—that way everyone would always have access to the latest version.

Finally, in January of 2005, almost three years after the series ended, I watched the DVDs for the final season, and completed my notes, which run to almost 30,000 words—enough to fill 50 printed pages. If you read them all, particularly for the later seasons, you may wonder why I bothered. I realize that I spend a lot of time complaining about specific episodes—particularly the so-called Mythology Arc episodes. The truth is that, even though I am critical of many individual episodes, I like the overall show very much. When it was good, as it was for much of the time when it was produced in Vancouver, it was very good indeed, and there are many episodes that I would happily watch over and over again. Like everyone else, I became more and more frustrated with the series in the later seasons, but I kept watching, because I liked the cast, and because there were occasional glimmers of the old brilliance, even in the show’s weakest moments. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the final two seasons when I watched them for the second time on DVD. They certainly weren’t up to the standard of the early seasons, but they were better than I had thought after my initial viewing. Perhaps it’s because my expectations weren’t unreasonably high, but there are good episodes right up to the end of the series, and even the real dogs weren’t quite as bad as I’d remembered.

I wrote these notes strictly for myself—to help keep track of what was going on in the episodes, and to justify all the time I spent watching them. I had a lot of fun doing it—I hope you have fun with them, too.

Introduction Season One Season Two Season Three Season Four Season Five Fight The Future Season Six Season Seven Season Eight Season Nine I Want To Believe

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© 2005 Jim Pattison