Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The X-Files - Season 1 (1993-4)

The X-Files >>> Season 2 ]

The first season of The X-Files revolves tightly around its two main characters (only three names appear in the credits, and the third, after David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, is series creator Chris Carter). The only other recurring character of any significance is Deep Throat (since the Smoking Man appears only briefly in just three episodes, and other characters such as Skinner and the Lone Gunmen only appear once so far), and he plays mainly a supporting role. But this gives the show an opportunity to really develop the central partnership on which the series hinges.

There are a lot of one-off monster-of-the-week episodes, many of which are more or less forgettable, and the mythology is still pretty basic "government coverup of extraterrestrial contact" stuff, without much development of the details of who the enemy is (besides authority). But the show is still growing at this point, and this season has some memorable highlights - notably, episodes like Beyond The Sea, E.B.E., and The Erlenmeyer Flask. All told, it's a pretty strong first season - more polished than Buffy The Vampire Slayer's first season in comparison - but the show only gets better over the next few seasons (if not beyond that, too).

For your convenience, here is a list of links to my reviews of each of the episodes in the first season (names in parentheses are the episodes' writers):

S1:E1 "Pilot" (Chris Carter)
S1:E2 "Deep Throat" (Chris Carter)
S1:E3 "Squeeze" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E4 "Conduit" (Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon)
S1:E5 "The Jersey Devil" (Chris Carter)
An Analytical Observation on The X-Files
S1:E6 "Shadows" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E7 "Ghost in the Machine" (Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon)
S1:E8 "Ice" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E9 "Space" (Chris Carter)
S1:E10 "Fallen Angel" (Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa)
S1:E11 "Eve" (Chris Brancato, Kenneth Biller)
S1:E12 "Fire" (Chris Carter)
S1:E13 "Beyond The Sea" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E14 "Gender Bender" (Paul Barber, Larry Barber)
S1:E15 "Lazarus" (Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon)
S1:E16 "Young at Heart" (Scott Kaufer, Chris Carter)
S1:E17 "E.B.E." (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E18 "Miracle Man" (Chris Carter, Howard Gordon)
S1:E19 "Shapes" (Marilyn Osborn)
S1:E20 "Darkness Falls" (Chris Carter)
S1:E21 "Tooms" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E22 "Born Again" (Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa)
S1:E23 "Roland" (Chris Ruppenthal)
S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask" (Chris Carter)

Monster-of-the-week Episode of the Season: Beyond The Sea
Mythology Episode of the Season: The Erlenmeyer Flask
Clunker of the Season: A lot of fans pan Space, but at least that was a memorable episode. Personally, I found Born Again to be utterly forgettable.

Heavy Mythology Content (These are the essential mythology episodes).
Light Mythology Content (These episodes feature light or incidental mythology-related content).
Must watch! (If you're short on time, or just want to revisit the highlights of the series, these are the best episodes the show has to offer).
Recommended. (While not being the best of the best, these are quality episodes; I recommend viewing them if you have the time).
Good for a viewing. (These are not essential episodes, but if you want to dig deeper into the series, they're worth sitting through).
Skippable. (Unless you are, like me, dedicated to absorbing the series in its entirety, these are the episodes that you can afford to skip).

A note on spoilers: my aim is not to spoil the climax of each and every episode, so I think that generally, spoilers will be kept to a minimum. On the other hand, I write these reviews mainly for the benefit of those who have already seen the show, and want to reminisce with me (and go, "oh, that's the episode with ______!"), or pick out specific episodes to rewatch. So if you're watching the show for the first time and want to be completely surprised, you'll probably want to read these reviews after you've seen the episode, and not before. Nonetheless, for those pivotal episodes where I feel the discussion requires talking about major spoilers, I will still include a warning beforehand.

A note on quotes: apparently, I'm not the only X-Phile who enjoys mining episodes for quotes, so perhaps I don't need to explain myself, but...pulling quotes from episodes allows me to highlight the great writing on this show. Plus, when I was originally obsessed with the show, and also studying computer programming in school at the time, I once made a program that was essentially a random quote generator that I filled up with quotes from the show. So it serves a nostalgic purpose for me as well: rediscovering which episodes all my favorite quotes came from.

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