History Files



The X-Files was heralded as one of the US's best new programmes of the 1993/94 season. Initially picked up by the Fox Broadcasting Company for a thirteen episode run, the series of excursions into the supernatural and unexplained was extended to a full twenty-two episode season. Upon its arrival in Britain, it was described by TV Guide as 'better than it sounds'. Although this may appear to be praise with faint damning, it is in fact a highly accurate observation of the first series as a whole.

It has been claimed that each episode has been based on a true reported incident of the paranormal. These include a variety of UFO sightings and alien abductions, half-human, half-animal creatures living wild. Ghosts who help solve their own murders and alien parasites from an aeons-old meteor buried in the ice. To some extent the series sounds like a reworking of the late seventies series, Project UFO, and the paranormal has been common ground for much on tv and film. Even after watching The X-Files, one still feels that there is little that is new as far as the basis of the story is concerned. However, an old story is still worth telling if it is told well and it is here that The X-Files scores most highly indeed. It tells its tales extremely well.

FBI agent Fox 'Spooky' Mulder, is the main focus of the series. Mulder's own sister was abducted when they were both children. Mulder firmly believes that she was kidnapped by aliens and has searched ever since for proof of the existence of extra-terrestrials. Not the average clichéd UFO nut, Mulder is handsome, reserved, and not without a dry wit. He is well used to his interest in the paranormal being ridiculed, but seldom rises to the bait. He does, however, despair of people's unwillingness to open their minds and at least consider the possibilities of strange activity.

Dana Scully is also an FBI agent with a strong medical background who deals with hard facts and tangible evidence. As such, she is assigned to work with Mulder who is investigating the X-Files, the name given by the FBI to their documentation of incidents which have no apparent rational explanation. The FBI bosses are clearly unhappy with Mulder's predilection with the X-Files but needs a strong case to have him reassigned. Scully is told to report on Mulder's activities in the hope that her more down-to-earth approach will reveal him to be a time waster. Of course, Scully finds Mulder is not at all the person she imagined. Her first experience of an X-File surprises her and although she is unwilling to embrace all of Mulder's theories she is not able to provide alternative explanations of her own. As a result her report is inconclusive, and Scully remains on assignment to the X-Files. Both agents grow to respect and like each other but hold fast to their convictions.

The series was skillfully made, and deftly avoided the clichés and melodrama which traditionally accompany its subject matter. David Duchovny, who played Mulder, is so deadpan that some may find him bland. However, his sensitive portrayal shows a man who is serious, determined, idealistic, and committed to his beliefs without being obsessive. Although rather more up-front, Gillian Anderson's Scully is nonetheless a controlled performance. Anderson's portrayal, which owes at least a little to Jodie Foster's character in Silence of the Lambs, acts as the audience's anchor for the show. Scully asks the questions the viewers want answered, and yet she does not succumb to being a mere cipher. She is intelligent and, although a little stubborn, she is not stupid, and is willing to accept that there are some things which have no readily available answers.

Something that only begins to emerge in the first season, but which is greatly expanded later, is the background conspiracy. In true JFK manner it is strongly implied that there are those in the FBI and US government who are more in the know about UFOs and such things than Mulder is himself. One particular individual seems to have his own hidden agenda, and wants Mulder to remain in place, despite the protests of the FBI. In sporadic meetings, he appears to be helping Mulder, pointing him in one direction, steering him away from others.

Like many 1990s US programmes, The X-Files took a long time to appear on network tv, the first-screening rights being bought by cash-laden BSkyB. It started out on Wednesdays on Sky One, being repeated on Saturdays, and was later moved to Mondays, where it clashed nicely with Bravo's screening of The Avengers. Despite this obstacle, the series slowly built up a following, and eventually became a front-line programme on both satellite and network stations. A special 44-minute documentary on the making of the series, The Secret Of The X-Files, was made in 1995 and screened on Sky one on 26th September that year. More Secrets Of The X-Files followed in 1996. A big-budget movie was released in 1998, its story dove-tailing nicely from the end of the fifth season.

Season Eight saw a large shift in the programme as David Duchovny moved on temporarily to his film career and Terminator 2 actor Robert Patrick was drafted in to replace him. Scully took on Mulder's role of the believer while Doggett was even more unbelieving and less scientific about explaining his disbelief than Scully was before him. Rearranged opening titles saw Mulder falling away from the viewer and into darkness as Scully tried to keep an eye open for him throughout the season's early episodes. By now, much of the previous seven years' story arc seemed to have been abandoned, or even worse, contradicted, and viewing numbers had dropped from the series' heyday in the UK between seasons three to six. Mulder's reoccurring appearances in the series were always announced by his name being displayed in the main title sequence.



Special Agent Fox Mulder David Duchovny (Seasons 1-7)
Special Agent Dana Scully Gillian Anderson
Special Agent John Doggett Robert Patrick (Seasons 8-9)
Special Agent Monica Reyes
Anabeth Gish (Season 9)
Deputy Director Walter Skinner
Mitch Pileggi (Season 9)


Creator/Executive Producer: Chris Carter
Co-Executive Producers: Glen Morgan 
  (Season 1 Only), R W Goodwin 
(Seasons 1-3), James Wong (Season 1
  Only), Howard Gordon (Season 3 Only)
Supervising Producers: Daniel Sackheim
(Episode 1 Only), Howard Gordon and 
  Alex Gansa (Episodes 2-24), 
  Charles Grant Craig
(Season 3)
Producers: Paul Brown (Season 2 Only),
  Joseph Patrick Finn, Kim Manners, 
  Rob Bowman
(Season 3)
Co-Producers: Paul Rabwin (Seasons 1-3),
  Paul Barber and Larry Barber (Season 1
Line Producer: Joseph Patrick Finn
Music: Mark Snow

All details are trademarked and copyrighted by their respective producers. All character and location names are also copyright. No infringement of any copyright is intended.