X-Files Bulletin: Smartphones with Caller ID make obsolete “Mulder, it’s me.”

Mulder and Scully

20th Century Fox

Note: This blog post will be relatively spoiler free. However, it may refer to points that have already been brought up in various interviews and media with Chris Carter and company — so if you’ve been avoiding all news of the show, maybe you don’t want to read this. But I will not be delving into any plot particulars whatsoever, so if that sounds fine to you, go ahead and read!

Ladies and gentlemen, the last time both of us had the opportunity to talk to you was last August, when Radhika and I finished rewatching and writing about the 202 episodes and two feature films that made up The X-Files corpus at that time. Earlier that year, all of us got an amazing present. Mulder and Scully were coming back, and they would be appearing in a familiar place — our television screens. Sure, times have changed and our old boxy CRT televisions have been replaced by sleek Internet-connected flatscreens, but that classic Mark Snow theme still sends shivers down our spines. Continue reading

Before and After X: The Mythology of The X-Files

“We didn’t invent it. Charles Dickens invented it, in a sense, and I’m sure there are examples before him. It worked for us, but it was a happy accident. It was something that was instinctual, but not necessarily a conscious decision. When we saw that the stories about Mulder and Scully were best told through the mythology — that they were more personal — it gave the show an emotional grounding, that I think the mythology of a show does. So it’s simply a good way of telling the most personal kind of stories.”
— Chris Carter, on the mythology

The Mythology

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Most people when asked about The X-Files think of three things: Mulder and Scully, freaky monsters, and aliens. Over the course of nine seasons and two feature films, agents of the X-Files division have come face to face with some pretty creepy adversaries, from liver-eating contortionists to sentient machines and the essence of evil. But what captured the attention of those who would consider themselves X-Philes was the developing story of a race of extraterrestrials bent on retaking the planet, and the people who endeavored to keep this a secret (The Syndicate) and those who wanted to bring their misdeeds into the light (Fox Mulder, chiefly). The result was a sprawling, highly complex, somewhat messy but mostly compelling narrative that served as the backbone of the series and informed the wonderful character work which made things memorable for audiences worldwide. The X-Files — writ large — became then a template that influenced countless television series in its wake, an object lesson for writers rooms and the next generation of showrunners.

It wasn’t always going to be like this though. In fact, Chris Carter scarcely had the idea in his head of a long running story when conceiving of The X-Files and later during the initial stages of its production. Alien abduction was the topic of the very first episode, but it was only one of a panoply of ideas that Carter and the writers had. Continue reading

The Lone Gunmen: Extreme Government Watchdog Group for Hire

“Oh, I love you guys. I really do. I mean, you’re the ‘Lone Gunmen,’ aren’t you? You guys are my heroes. I mean, look at this crap you print.” — Morris Fletcher
“We uncover the truth.” — John Fitzgerald Byers
“Oh, the truth. Well, see that’s what’s so great about you monkeys. Not only do you believe this horse pucky that we create you broadcast it as well.” — Morris Fletcher
The X-Files, Episode 6×05: Dreamland II

We’ll soon be reviewing “Jump the Shark,” an episode that brings The Lone Gunmen’s story to a close. The episode also concludes the storylines presented in The Lone Gunmen’s short-lived spinoff program, which we’re taking a look at in this post.

The Lone Gunmen

20th Century Fox

Thirteen episodes of network television is not really enough to make any kind of real impact in the media landscape at the turn of last century, let alone in today’s oversaturated cable and streaming megalopolis. This was the case in 2001, when Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, and John Shiban cooked up the idea to have a show about The Lone Gunmen. Sure, we’ve hung out with the characters many times since their brief introduction in “E.B.E.” (most notably in TLG-centric episodes in the fifth and sixth seasons), but Carter and company were in expansion mode, even when Millennium and Harsh Realm were canceled.

The show runners set up The Lone Gunmen’s namesake show as one about a type of high-tech detective agency, with the trio using its expertise to uncover decidedly non-paranormal activity. Continue reading

Dana Scully: Badass Damsel in Distress

“Why do you always have to drive? Because you’re the guy? Because you’re the big macho man?” — Dana Scully, Episode 3×13: Syzgy

Bad Blood

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Dana Scully is a name you often see on lists outlining the top female characters on television. Despite being a fictional character, Scully has inspired women for years, with many admitting that they were driven to pursue careers in the sciences because of her. The majority of TV viewers remember Scully as a tough, no-nonsense FBI agent, often the one bringing her male partner down to earth. But she has also been in perilous situations and suffered a number of tragedies, including her abduction, cancer and the loss of children. Scully has suffered the way countless women and fictional female characters have over the course of centuries, yet she remains in our minds as one of the strongest TV characters in history. And it can even be argued — even though Fox Mulder was the springboard behind The X-Files — that the series was really her story all along. Continue reading

Fox Mulder: Stubborn Idiot or Hero?

“I have lived with a fragile faith built on the ether of vague memories from an experience that I can neither prove nor explain. When I was 12, my sister was taken from me, taken from our home by a force that I came to believe was extraterrestrial. This belief sustained me, fueling a quest for truths that were as elusive as the memory itself. To believe as passionately as I did was not without sacrifice, but I always accepted the risks to my career, my reputation, my relationships, to life itself.” — Fox Mulder, Episode 2×16: Colony

Chinga

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Fox Mulder: It’s a name that has gone down in pop culture history as one half of a dynamic duo that helped propel The X-Files toward becoming a worldwide phenomenon. It’s also a name synonymous with a staunch belief in paranormal activity and extraterrestrial life — sometimes to the detriment of others. And yet, despite having some rather stubborn and even insensitive moments on The X-Files, Mulder became a character loved by many — the underdog everyone was rooting for and the character many people didn’t want to watch the show without during his absence for a season and a half. After all, Mulder’s quest to find his sister and to uncover the truth about the paranormal was the spark that fueled the series. So what was it about Mulder that drew the fans in? Continue reading

Writing with Flashlights: The Fan Fiction of The X-Files

Leyla Harrison, the green FBI agent introduced in the last episode we reviewed, was named after a longtime Phile and prolific writer of X-Files fan fiction. Given this, I thought it appropriate to delve into this segment of the fandom.

Fanfiction

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

It may seem a bit outmoded nowadays for fans of genre fare to not be aware of the concept of fan fiction, which is a reflection of how enmeshed these tales are within the fabric of various fandoms. A big part of this has to do with the rise of the Internet, which gave people in disparate geographic locales a chance to meet and connect over their shared interests. I devoted a whole piece to this concept last year; for The X-Files, the spread of the World Wide Web went hand in hand with fans taking to the medium to write tales featuring their favorite characters.

Fanfiction

Star Trek fanzine.

I could go on about the historical origination of this phenomenon, including takes on Sherlock Holmes and the tales of Lewis Carroll, but I know you faithful readers would rather not engage in dry academia. Rather, the modern concept of what you and I consider fan fiction really originated with the pioneering science fiction show Star Trek. Fanzines about the program began to spring up, and many of them included stories about the USS Enterprise crew, penned by the show’s devotees. This was a natural and mutually beneficial combination — fanzines needed content, and the dissemination of these publications gave fan fiction writers an audience for their work, encouraging others who may not have done so otherwise to take up writing fan fiction as well.

The X-Files, as we all know, launched the Fall of 1993, and with it the opportunity for people to plug into a new and burgeoning fandom. Continue reading

Surly and Supportive: The Rise of Walter Skinner

We here at Apt. 42 Revisited recognize that this post is going up the same day a six-episode X-Files revival was announced. Needless to say, we are ready for it and fully intend to write about those new episodes here on this blog. In the meantime, please enjoy this post about Skinner.

Memento Mori

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

There have been numerous occasions where we’ve mentioned that the allure of The X-Files didn’t just lie in its creepy stories — much of its appeal was also thanks to the main characters, Mulder and Scully. The two of them were the heart and soul of the series to everyone from casual to obsessive fans, but let’s face it — there were a few side characters that also became integral to the show. And one of them, Assistant Director Walter Skinner, went from being someone who could have simply dropped out of The X-Files universe altogether to being someone whose role only grew larger on the show, while other significant characters faded away. Continue reading