The Truth is Out There – On Watching Every Episode of the X-Files

When we got Netflix about five years ago I was excited that I could now stream every episode of The X-Files.  I had enjoyed the show when I was in high school and I began re-watching it with pleasure.  It took me years, but a few days ago I finished the final episode.

I learned a few things as I watched.  First, I was surprised by how many episodes I had not watched before.  The first couple seasons were mostly all new to me.  Since I had not started watching till season three, I had only caught a couple of these on rerun.  In the same way, I had only seen a few episodes from the final two seasons.  Why did I stop watching?  If I recall, it was a combination of being in college with lots of other things to do and with getting frustrated that the story never reached a conclusion.

That leads me into the second thing, for as great as the X-Files was, I couldn’t help but wonder what might have been.  It was a show that kept the viewer perpetually frustrated.  There would be an episode that revealed a good bit of the alien mythology, opening up new questions demanding an answer…followed by six episodes totally unrelated to the central story.  The show ended with Mulder and Scully on the run and a date for an alien invasion…which only leaves me saying, what happened next?

The X-Files had two sorts of episodes.  There were the ones related to the alien mythology.  These were the ones that form the backbone narrative of the series.  Then there were the monster-of-the-week episodes.  These were stand alone episodes that covered other sorts of paranormal from crazy religious fanatics to ghosts to scary monsters.  A lot of these episodes were great, some were pretty bad.

It makes me wonder what sort of series The X-Files would be if it debuted today.  Shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad only have about 10-13 episodes each season.  The X-Files always had over twenty.  These shows today center on one and only one story throughout each season.  Thus, there are no monster-of-the-week episodes in Walking Dead (there are monsters every week, the walkers!  And the Governor, that guys a jerk!).  Did the X-Files trade quality for quantity?

Would these popular shows today be as popular if they had more episodes each season?  I imagine so, though I imagine it would be harder to produce 22 quality episodes then it would to produce 13.  I would love to see The X-Files produce a 13 episode season focused only on one story-arc, picking up where the series left off.  They could cast the kid who plays Joffrey (scum bag) as the villain.

Overall, it was fun reliving my younger days with Mulder, Scully, the Cigarette Smoking Man, the Lone Gunmen, Skinner and even Dogget and Reyes.  Maybe I’ll watch it again in twenty years.

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