The X-Files Pilot still one of the better long-running television pilots out there. Quintessentially set in the early 90s, it holds up well. Scully is an adorable skeptic, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed — so eager to please — with a sweet face still bearing traces of baby fat. Mulder starts out almost exactly as he finishes, tossing his new partner a half-assed joke in greeting: “Welcome to the FBI’s most unwanted.” He knows she’s been sent to his basement to dubunk him, and he has his I Want To Believe Poster posted proudly behind his desk, surrounded by conspiracy theory news clippings and marked-up maps. He looks like a kook, and he kind of is, but the brilliant kind.
(Get used to this being Mulder’s domain. Scully only perches on things for the next few years. It does improve for her much later, when she gets a desk of her own. And on a side note, Mulder doesn’t get a bed until the two-parter ep Dreamland, so it’s an equal opportunity level of bodily discomfort.) 🙂
In spite of this preliminarily lopsided pilot powershow, the two exude instant charisma, and the minor ‘abduction’ story needs thankfully little exposition. It’s got a self contained plot (is it about alien abductions, or driven by some other supernatural condition? It doesn’t matter), and it concludes in a satisfying place. But the plot isn’t the main show, thankfully.
The real reason to watch the pilot is to play close attention to the dynamics of Gillian Anserson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder, respectively. Right away, their mutual charisma bounces between them with a crackling electricity, whether they’re bickering in their office, or laughing at each other while drenched in the road in the middle of the night — where a big red spray painted X marks the spot they experienced lost time. It’s a good moment. I don’t want to be too specific. Just watch it.
Were they abducted ? Why did they lose time? It’s actually par for the course that we will actually never know. Get used to this in this series, and you’ll be fine. The show is about its two leads, and how they almost, but quite, prove the evidence of aliens and the supernatural.
If you find this coy cat and mouse overly-plotted, stick it out anyway, at least until seasons 5 or 7. The Chis Carter Effect doesn’t set in ’til then. This is a great show to take the time to savor: the frequent Monster of the Week episodes are often the best things ever seen on television,even though the “mythology episodes” are the ones that keep fans coming back. This was one of the very first shows depicting through-arcs and long-form storytelling.
In spite of the varying quality of the two movies and two revivals, this is still one of the greatest shows on television.
Are you an X-Files fan? Feel free to comment below about your favorite episodes.
Here’s our RunPee movie review of the 2nd feature film:
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