Back in the day, The X-Files was my late night show: I would sit and watch it secretly super late, waiting for that gross moment where Scully performs a full-on autopsy on someone, that ridiculous twist/open ending or that one snide Mulder comment I would pretend to get.
Unfortunately I never got the chance to watch the show properly, from the beginning. Now, after finally catching up with the whole of Season 1, I can confirm that The X-Files still holds up well enough. This being the very first season, I'm sure there are much better things to come, and I remember much better things, but this is a solid start to an iconic monster-of-the-week, Twilight Zone-style show. In case you've never heard of The X-Files, the series follow Fox "spooky" Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), two FBI agents in charge of investigating the weirdest cases around. Mulder believes in all sorts of weird shit from aliens to telekinesis to whatever else happens to come along unconvincingly and has a troubled past (his sister may or may not have been abducted by a UFO years ago). Scully's basically in charge of checking that Mulder isn't completely insane, hence why she tries to be the skeptical one during every episode and bring some SCIENCE to more out-there cases. In this first season, the pilot introduces the notion of aliens existing and this remains a thread throughout the series, I guess because it means a lot to Mulder particularly and... because it was in the pilot. The latter is a good episode which gives you a fair idea of what you're in for with the rest of the show but the whole "weird spots" scenario is a bit weak. Surely there must have been a better monster-of-the-week than that to open the show with! After all, this is the season that brought us modern day cavemen (The Jersey Devil), a sex-changing Amish village (Gender Bender), people in fishtanks (The Erlenmeyer Flask) and a full-blown The Thing remake (Ice)!
Other highlights of the season include an episode in which a big, bad computer starts killing people (Ghost In The Machine), one which introduces the idea of ghost aliens (Space), a Silence Of The Lambs-esque one in which Brad Dourif goes ape-shit and in which the skeptic/believer dynamic is reversed (Beyond The Sea), and even one in which a mentally challenged janitor is bring controlled by a twin in a cryogenic tub (Roland). Hard to know which episode is my favourite so far but I did really enjoy Eve, where Frasier's agent (Harriet Sansom Harris) is cloned multiple times and starts protecting a couple of evil, murderous child twins: it was ludicrous but loads of fun. The Native American werewolf episode (Shapes) was also enjoyable, mostly because it incidentally invented Twilight... There are other enjoyable episodes and even the occasional not-so-good one such as Fire which not only makes Mulder afraid of fire (worst. FBI agent. ever.) but manages to not only be boring but make no sense whatsoever. Overall, though, this first season does a great job and delivers many memorable episodes while making you look forward to what comes next. Anderson and Duchovny make a great team, even if the latter has an off day sometimes performance-wise, and you just know that the more goofy the cases get, the more fun the show will, in turn, become. Based on this first season, I get what I liked about the show back in the day even if I've seen better series since. It's surprising I still enjoyed it, to be honest, seeing as the arc is so very slight and, with some exceptions, episodes rarely have any impact on each other.
X-Files Season 1 is a solid first stab for a series that still has the best of it to come. The 90's new Twilight Zone is off to a good start and brings the main ingredients of the show together very well. It may not be an overwhelmingly amazing season but it's fun: if you're at all interested in The X-Files, do check it out. It might just reel you in.
The truth IS out there.
And it's very, very out there.