I recently rented the first few seasons of the X-files when I was sick. It was one of the more interesting series on TV, and had a fairly fanatical following. Personally I enjoyed some of the episodes while others left me cold. But usually the plotting and the writing were solid, without too many bloopers, and Mulder and Scully were interesting characters..
Here are a couple of incongruities or synchronicities that I found kind of cool:
- The last two people in an Arctic outpost commit a simultaneous suicide with pistols. You see the building from the outside with the wind and the snow howling through the night, then you hear the two pistol shots go off. Five to ten seconds later you see the light in the window go out. While dramatically compelling, who turned out the light?
- An executive goes into his state of the art washroom off his sumptuous office. Some of the facilities malfunction and he tries to leave after the lights go out. He swipes the card reader for the lock on the inside of his private washroom which only has an entrance to his office. When he swiped his card he electrocuted himself, which was the plot hook to the rest of the episode. But why does the bathroom in his private office have a lock, and why is it on the inside of the bathroom door, and why do you need a special ID card to operate it?
- Mulder’s apartment number is 42! I guess his apartment is the answer to….
- There is an amazing number of faulty light switches in the series. I know it’s an accepted deux ex machina, but it would be nice to have something horrible happen in glowing incandescence or at least fluorescence. Daylight might be even better (but I think they saved it for the movie).
- They always have flashlights, the flashlights always work, and they are always weak lights. I would have liked for a case where a flashlight died in a time of possible peril, and then Scully would say, “Just a second, here’s some spare AA’s”.
- There was a suspect in a small town who had some brain damage. Scully ordered a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan to check on the actual damage. Usually this is done only at major universities or hospitals, because you need a cyclotron in the vicinity to make the short-lived radio-isotopes (about a two hour half-life) required to perform the scan. I guess there was a convenient particle accelerator in the neighborhood?
- One of my favourite episodes was the three part sequence Anasazi, The Blessing Way, and Paper Clip. However, one unique element was the longest sequence of telephone tag as a plot element that I have ever seen. It lasted through most of The Blessing Way and part of Paper Clip. They kept missing each others calls, and never had time to check their answering machines.
- There was a really cool episode that made light of itself. It was called War of the Coprophages, and basically made fun of the main characters, the classic plot of insects invading and destroying a small town, and a few other aspects that I will leave for your enjoyment. One classic element that brought a smile to my face was the panicked populace raiding the drug store. During this there was a quick clip showing a U.S. Navy sailor grabbing chocolate bars and packages of nylon pantyhose; it brought back a nostalgic World War II feel for those who noticed, and it also indicated the motivations of the sailor in a nice way.
- In the episode Jose Chung’s From Outer Space they made fun of abduction stories. One sequence that was surreal involved the two Men In Black, played by a disturbingly articulate and insightful Jesse Ventura and a strangely silent Alex Trebeck.
- In Quagmire they were investigating the possibility of a Nessie called Big Blue in a lake, after the deaths of several people on the lake shore. In one sequence they were searching in a boat at night and were hit by a large object that they observed moving towards them on the fish-finder. The boat sank and they were stranded on a rock at night in thick fog. While they were sitting there waiting for the light (for some reason they didn’t want to go into the water) Mulder started this conversation:
Mulder: Hey Scully, do you think you could ever cannibalize someone? I mean if you really had to.
Scully: Well, as much as the very idea is abhorrent to me, I suppose under certain conditions a living entity is practically conditioned to perform whatever extreme measures are necessary to ensure its survival. I suppose I’m no different.
Mulder: You’ve lost some weight recently, haven’t you?
Scully: Yes, yes I have. Thanks for n– (Scully glares at Mulder and he laughs)
In the next sequence, they heard something moving towards them in the fog. They draw weapons and tensely wait for attack. They see a dark object barely poking above the fog. Then they hear it. “Quack, quack, quack…” and they relax, wondering if it will get close enough for supper. A few moments later they hear a massive movement of the water:
Scully: What was that?
Mulder: It ain’t no duck…
Then through the mist they see one of the citizens approaching them through the water. He tells them he’ll guide them to shore. They ask where he put his boat. He tells the intrepid FBI agents that they are 20 yards from shore (the fog was thick…)
My only other comment is that I’m starting to enjoy the series again, partially for the humourous episodes I’d never seen before, the often surprisingly subtle dialogue, and the compelling yet very understated acting. Also, it’s kind of neat to see the clothing styles, cell phone styles (they’re really in love with them), and hair styles evolve surprisingly swiftly from season to season. Of course there are the unchanging constants of Mulder’s messiness, Scully’s neatness and 80’s professional power look, the generally wet scenery, and the low lighting costs in every episode. Finally, I would argue that Mulder does smile and have an expressive face. I usually see him smiling at least once per episode, and Scully once per every second episode.
End quote from the opening credits:
The truth is out there