TV - It's Just a Case of Mulder And Scully

The X-Files

To round off X-Files week, Steve Taylor-Bryant looks back over the most famous hidden department of the F.B.I...


There's a problem with owning a website like /G-f and it is two-fold. One - It's so exhausting balancing every plate on every spinning stick across the estate and knowing just when to hit the stick again without dropping the best china and...Two - Plagiarism. Plagiarism is a dirty word and a massive offence amongst all us journo's trying to earn our hard earned crust but it happens. There is blatant copy/paste lazy journalism, re-word another site’s article stealing and then there is taking an idea started by another. I am guilty of the last.

Kneel Downe is a renowned author. I know this as I am also his friend and a fan of his work. I love his mind, it thrills me to see genius pour from that shiny bald cranium, but occasionally his words bleed through my work. I make no apology for this, Kneel is the reason my company DreamCage Media Group exists and, let's face it, you don’t get to edit a site as good as /G-f without owning it. Kneel and I share visions. True and bold, bad and dirty, our minds are the same. As I was researching for another Cult TV article, I made the mistake of reading Kneel's Twin Peaks article (here) and came across a sentence that I was, God's honest truth, going to use as an intro to this X-Files one. And in true Stevie style I stole the sentence, wrote 500 words and nearly hit publish. The problem isn’t one of guilt. Kneel wouldn’t begrudge me a syllable of his if it helps me make my point. He is a generous, caring man (despite his shouty manz persona on Twitter) and has always gone the extra mile as a contributor and as a family member. No, the problem is mine. I could have published the article and no one would have been any the wiser. BUT I have morals and ethics. No, seriously stop laughing I do! So, completely re-written...Ladies and Gentlefolk...The X-Files.

The X-Files burst onto our screens on the much maligned (especially at the time) BBC2 in 1993. I was 18 years old, adventurous in my thinking, searching for something clever and new. What I found was something slightly older and more legitimised. I got Twin Peaks US government style.

Chris Carter related to the surreal darkness that David Lynch had created with Agent Cooper et al, took away the weirdness and yet based the entire show on alien mythology. That is a task in itself. To out-Lynch David Lynch yet make a serious drama that the world wants to watch about aliens that somehow is realistic? Blimey Sir! Kudos.

David Duchovny played Special Agent Fox Mulder, the Agent Cooper of Carter's piece, a much maligned specialist with a penchant for the unpopular cases. After his sister Samantha's alien abduction, he specialised in the Federal Bureau of Investigations X-Files, those cases that can’t be explained with normal profiling and logic. Joined by Agent Dana Scully, played by the never ageing Gillian Anderson, a scientist and Doctor and woman of the easily explained, the cases pushed the boundaries of both agents belief and shook the audience to the core week on week with the "Monster of the Week" style of storytelling, taken straight from Carter's love of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Each episode was a different X-File, taking Mulder and his way out theories beyond Scully's understanding, but some recurring characters stole the show, no more than William B. Davis as The Smoking Man, a career politician, murderous, strange dude that seemed to have a finger in all X type pies, and the reason I spent so much money on Marlboro Reds (smoking ain’t cool kids).

Whilst there was alien abduction, people catching fire spontaneously and animals disappearing, the show did something not seen before. It took the audience into a political arena. The show didn’t preach Republican or Democratic, but showed the F.B.I. and more above the "Top Secret" files of James Bond and his peers. The Defence Department, The C.I.A. and the like were all given unprecedented screen time and allowed shows like Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing and even, to a certain extent, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to be taken a seriously as they are.

In real life, without Richard Nixon the X-Files probably never would have been. The "Watergate" scandal opened the world up to secrecy. Long before Wikileaks and Julian Assange there were whistleblowers. The "Watergate" scandal was Nixon being recorded by journalists and the journalists releasing the tapes. Whilst not an X-File in itself, it showed a buried and dark side of politics that finally got nations interested what their governments were doing. The alien conspiracy added on top of corrupt politicians was always going to be a great basis for a show.

Whilst Twin Peaks was Lynchian to the extreme and X- Files would never touch it, Mulder and Scully brought a style of television that the world hasn’t seen since.

Image - XFiles Wiki.