Thursday, May 7, 2015

The X-Files: Favorite Episodes

I started watching The X-Files late.  It wasn't until mid-2006 when my professor/advisor recommended the show that I seriously considered it.  I started watching reruns of the series in 2007. In 2008, I started buying the DVDs (seasons 3-6).  This past Christmas, I got seasons 1, 2, and 7.  I generally reject seasons 8 and 9.  There's decent stuff but I just need my Mulder fix, even though I like to pick on him (sort of).

When selecting my favorite X-Files episodes, I naturally started with the episodes that stayed in my memory years after seeing them.  To round the list out, I then read over IMDb episode synopses to refresh my memory.  Then I reviewed some of those specific episodes from my DVD collection.  Kept some and passed on others.

First off, I'm not a big fan of the mythology episodes; I appreciate the complexity and the ingenuity of these episodes, I just don't enjoy them as much. I'm a fan of the "standalone"/"creature of the week"/"monster of the week" episodes.  I love the hardcore thrillers as well as the ones with ample dark comedy.

I may add some pictures at a later date, or later tonight (5-7-15).

In Chronological Order:


Squeeze/Tooms: I'm grouping these two together.  The premise is exceptionally well thought out and these are arguably the most thrilling yet fun episodes in the whole series.  I find "Squeeze" to be a little more satisfying, but the naked Tooms (in "Tooms") pursuing Mulder through a confined space counts for something.



Shapes: I love screen depictions of Native American mysticism, and werewolves are my favorite traditional monster.  Both elements are handled in a thrilling manner here.  Unfortunately, this episode gets the details about Manitous wrong.  Manitou, from the 1970's, provides a much better depiction of what manitous are all about, and it's a pretty cool and far out film in its own right: imagine a Native American The Exorcist with not great but still creepy/cool special effects and Tony Curtis as a charlatan.  Lalo Schifrin also provides some wicked Native American tinged 1970's orchestral score that may inspire a road trip in search of a shaman.



Jose Chung's From Outer Space: Jesse Ventura's speeches are the highlights of this episode.  It doesn't hurt to have Alex Trebek and many other fun elements but Jesse's speeches give new meaning to "Ventura Highway."

Jose Chung's From Outer Space.

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man:  This is the only episode here that can broadly be categorized as a mythology episode.  It sort of blew my mind how they weaved 1960's history, especially assassinations, into this.  Part of the allure was that my World Music teacher, from years back, recommended this.  I was ecstatic when it happened to come on TV during my initial X-Files phase. In hindsight, it's not that brilliant per se, but I'm a sucker for film footage and audio recordings from the 1960's.

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man.

Leonard Betts: This is in the same league as "Squeeze."  Some of the series' tastier visual effects are here.

Leonard Betts.

Never Again: I love Jodie Foster as the outspoken, possessive, bitchy tattoo. Even more, I love that this tattoo has a love triangle with Scully.  I also enjoy seeing Scully date.  There are great moments of feminism in this episode as well, arguably the most explicitly feminist of the series.

Never Again.
Never Again.
Small Potatoes: Metamorphosis.  Babies with tails.  Lots of laughs.  This is arguably my favorite of all. I love the cozy ending by the fire involving some tantalizing albeit false romance.

Small Potatoes.

Small Potatoes.

Folie a Deux: Mood, atmosphere, and premise are all strong.  Visual effects here are crude but extremely creepy.

Folie a Deux.

Runners Up:

Pilot:  You need the pilot.  Plus longer Scully hair and rain!


Die Hand Die Verletzt: Creepy black magic!  Creepy glasses!


Die Hand Die Verletzt.

War of the Coprophages:  Creepy cockroaches!  Comic paranoia!

War of the Coprophages.

Syzygy:  Telekinesis!  High school!  Allie MacDonald reminded me of this recently.

Elegy: Bowling alley!  Creepy nurse!  Redhead vs. redhead.



The Post-Modern Prometheus: Great happy ending, and I love that Mulder insists on a happy ending. Mulder and Scully also dance, a refreshing moment.

The Post-Modern Prometheus.

The Post-Modern Prometheus.
Hollywood A.D.:  They're making a movie within the show about Scully, Skinner, and Mulder.  The Skin Man (Skinner) played by an unseen Richard Gere!  Skinner's gleeful smirking glance back at Mulder in the darkened theater always makes me smirk.  Gary Shandling playing Mulder!  Bubble bath split-screens and other moments of humor abound.  Surprisingly, this episode also has some real emotional depth as well.

Hollywood A.D.

The Truth Parts I and II: Oh my my my!  Mulder returns!  Thank heavens.  Mulder and Scully have some nice moments at series' end.  He has to go on trial first, though.

The Truth.

The Truth.

Creepiest and Most Traumatizing: 

Oubliette: Isolated cabin, flash photography in the basement, flashes in the dark, and that actor who makes my skin crawl.  Let's not forget that this show explores a down-to-Earth abduction.  Creepy as all get out.  Mark Snow takes the music to a whole new level, unbelievably creepy.



Schizogeny: The voice of the killer is so spine-tingling, especially when you see the killer.  This show also had a super creepy isolated house.  (Shivers).


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