Thursday, November 26, 2015

Top 24 Hours of The X-Files

A Thanksgiving Marathon!

I'm afraid I may be jumping the gun on this feature, as I still have about two and a half seasons of the show left to watch, but I feel like it's worth going forward for two reasons. First, all reports indicate that the final seasons of the show do not live up to its earlier promise. This does not, of course, mean that there will definitely not be any episodes in the last few seasons worth putting in a favorites list, but I'm fairly confident in producing a list that favors the show in its prime years; and I can always add a footnote later, if I feel it necessary, amending my selections. A lot of good, quality episodes from the early years are going to have to be passed over, anyway, since I can only pick so many before I've filled up the list.

The second - and most important - reason I want to do this now is because it's Thanksgiving! When I was younger, and immersed in my first watch of The X-Files, I remember there being a marathon on TV (probably on FX) held on the day of Thanksgiving. The details in my memory are foggy, but I think it was a 12 hour marathon, held from noon to midnight - the best 12 episodes of the series, as voted on by fans. Events like that have excitement built right in to them! So I wanted to honor my memories of those marathons during my grand rewatch of the series, which I am currently in the midst of. And if you want to host a marathon of your own this Thanksgiving, here is a list of episodes to get you started!

(Feel free to skip ahead. The next three paragraphs describe the logistics of how I decided to split up the freak-of-the-week and mythology lists).

Now, I decided early on that I would have to separate the freak-of-the-week episodes from the mythology episodes, and do two separate lists (luckily, there are 24 hours in a day!), because there's really no easy way to do them both together, while still doing justice to those mythology episodes, and not having to split the various arcs up into their constituent parts. And because of the fundamental differences between those two kinds of episodes, I had to approach their selection in different ways. I'm going to stick to picking the Top 12 freak-of-the-week episodes, in honor of the format of the original Thanksgiving marathon.

But it wouldn't be fair to pick only 12 individual mythology episodes, since they so frequently come in two- and three-parters. You'd get to pick only about 4-6 self-contained mytharcs to fill up the 12 hours, and that just isn't enough. On the other hand, stretching the rules to pick 12 different enclosed mytharcs is a little too extensive. Since there are a lot fewer individual mytharc stories than there are standalone freak-of-the-week episodes in the series (the ratio is generally about 3 to 1), it wouldn't be fair to include a significantly greater percentage of the series' mythology episodes than its freak-of-the-week episodes (in spite of my bias towards the mythology episodes). Besides, it would kind of defeat the point of winnowing it down to just the best of the best.

So here's what I came up with. I'm still going to pick 12 freak-of-the-week episodes, but for the mythology list, I'm going to dispense with the concept of "TV hours". Each episode is about 45 minutes long (or slightly less). On TV, that amounts to an hour, after you add in commercials. But in this day and age of commercial-free Netflix binges, you can watch a 12 hour TV marathon in only about 9 hours' time. So, in addition to our Top 12 freak-of-the-week episodes, that gives us another 15 hours left in the day to watch approximately 20 more episodes, which sounds to me like a good compromise - about 8-10 mytharcs. On to the lists!

You know what, I'm going to split this into separate blog entries, for easier reading:

Top 12 freak-of-the-week episodes
Top 15 hours of mythology (or Top 10 mytharcs)


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