In honor of Halloween, I present to you a post about something that scared me endlessly in my youth. The show scared me so much, in fact, that I could never bring myself to watch about it and hence could never do it justice writing about it. Luckily fellow blogger and X Files fan Kelly stepped up to the plate to bring you this comprehensive post complete with fun facts and trivia.
About guest blogger Kelly, in her own words: Being born in ‘83, I’m on the older end of the 90’s kid spectrum, but that just means I remember it better! I spent my high school years completely obsessed with Mulder and Scully and, as the proud owner of three separate X Files related tattoos, I still am. I keep a blog of my various misadventures here, and you can find a crappie website I made in college here.
The X Files
Who of us raised in the 90’s can recall a prime time drama scarier or grosser than The X Files? In a pre-CSI landscape, it was surely in a class of its own. The story of two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, working the strange cases relegated to the basement and known as “X Files,” each for their own reasons and struggling against their own demons.
Without the dark example of The X Files, we may never have been able to witness such wonderful shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Reaper, Bones, or even the stomach turning sequences of CSI, on network TV. Plus, nothing else in pop culture has ever done so much for the word “debunk.”
As the defining aspect of my high school experience, I could write pages upon pages dedicated to the mythology and motifs of The X Files; where they came from, what they meant for society, and what they meant to me personally. (And trust me, I have!) However, for today’s purposes, I’ll break down a small sampling of elements and themes that exemplify the huge appeal of the show and the special brand of nostalgia Children of the 90’s is known for. Here we go!
Paranoia, Conspiracies, and all things “Out There”
The 90’s were a prime time for pondering the story behind the story. In a decade that featured Oliver Stone’s conspiracy flick “JFK,” the birth of VH1’s “Behind the Music,”and numerous political scandals, the public was constantly looking for ways to find out what we weren’t being told.
The X Files epitomized this. Mulder’s obsession with the fate of his sister, missing since she was 8 and he was 12, her abduction recalled only through spotty memories recovered under hypnosis, fueled his passion to solve each case that came to him. Young Agent Scully was assigned to accompany him, with direct orders to disprove and debunk his findings. Together, they introduced us to theories about far reaching government conspiracies, investigated urban legends, human monsters, and UFO sightings, and taught us that the skin tone of a Reticulan is actually grey, not green. You could not mention anything vaguely spooky or creepy in the 90’s without someone chiming in with the familiar first notes of The X Files opening theme.
Fabulous, Cutting-Edge Technology of the 90’s
A hallmark of the series were the two agent’s ever present cell phones. A wonderful tool to keep the agents connected while in separate places, the models featured in early episodes are now comically enormous. Note the antenna on Scully’s cell piece above. Also, there’s no touch screen when she turns that bad boy over!
Another technological phenomenon central to The X Files was the internet. Not only did the plot lines of several episodes feature the internet, computers, or video games, fans of The X Files are widely recognized as some of the first to embrace the medium as an outlet for fandom. “X Philes,” as they dubbed themselves, took to chat rooms and online forums in record breaking numbers to discuss their favorite show and post original pieces of fanfic.
Additionally, The X Files was featured in a first person, CD-ROM game for MAC and PC. In the game, you were a new agent saddled not only with the task of finding the missing Mulder and Scully, but changing the CD as you progressed.
What would a 90’s show be without ubiquitous catch-phrases? The X Files certainly had it’s share of mostly serious expressions. I defy you to hear any of the below without immediately hearing the theme music!
I Want to Believe
The Truth is Out There
Trust No One
Of course, the most fun catch-phrases are the unintentional. I present to you “Mulder, it’s me.”
Guest Stars and Crossovers
Casting nine seasons worth of an hour long drama with relatively few recurring characters is sure to result in quite a roster. The X Files definitely had it’s share of recognizable guest stars, (Ed Asner, Lily Tomlin, Tony Shaloub, Peter Boyle, Luke Wilson, Bryan Cranston, and even Tom Selleck, to name a few) but was probably more notable for the bit parts played by relatively unknown actors. It’s a list that could go on for pages, but here are few of the highlights. Look up their episodes to catch a glimpse of these famous faces early in their careers!
Seth Green - As a stoner with a scooter in the second episode of the series. And, no, I don’t know why Mulder is standing like that.
Ryan Reynolds - As a high school hunk murdered by a pair of girls with telekinetic powers in the episode “Syzygy”
Michael Buble - Yes, Michael Buble. As a submarine sailor with no speaking lines in “Apocrypha” and “Piper Maru.”
Lucy Liu - As the daughter of a Chinese immigrant caught in a black market lottery for human organs in “Hell Money.”
Jack Black and Giovanni Ribisi - As a teen with the ability to control electricity (Ribisi) and his friend (Black) who mysteriously winds up electrocuted in “D.P.O.”
Willie Garson - The erstwhile Stanford Blatch was actually in two episodes of The X Files as two different characters, first in season 3’s “The Walk” and then in season 7’s “The Goldberg Variation.”
Shia LaBeouf - Along with Willie Garson in “The Goldberg Variation.”
The X Files also participated in the grand TV tradition of crossover appearances. Detective Munch from Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order:SVU stopped by to arrest Mulder and his pals, the Lone Gunmen, in a flashback episode. Frank Black of Millennium came over to assist Mulder and Scully with a time sensitive New Year’s Eve case. And Mulder and Scully even made a detour through Springfield to help solve the mystery of an “alien” appearing in the woods on the edge of town. (Spoiler, it was Mr. Burns suffering the side effects of a radical anti-aging treatment performed by Dr. Nick!)
Like I said, these are just a few of the things that made The X Files memorable and totally 90’s. Until next time, remember, the truth is out there!