Wednesday, 17 August 2011

REVIEW: The X Files (Entire Series)

Warning: X-Files is bad for your mental and physical health. 

I'm sure, like the rest of the world, everyone was aware of The X Files; a Twilight Zone, B-Movie, Monster-of-the-Week series that got people talking and was full of creative, horrifying and often scary ideas. However, even though more and more people got pulled in season after season, fans became irritated and soon lost interest leaving it to be cancelled after 9 successive years.

As a result, and due to my initial love for The X Files, I decided to go back and start from the very beginning and what a journey it was. Keep in mind, every season has about 24/25 episodes which last 45 mins, sometimes longer and that I've been watching it every spare minute since February until last week. If you've been wondering why there hasn't been many movie reviews, or many of anything on this site, it's because X Files has taken up all my time. I've almost killed myself doing it, constantly watching episode after episode until finally after what seems like a lifetime, it comes to an end. Well, apart from the subsequent films. So let me tell you what I thought.

If you speak to Joe Bloggs about X Files, more often than not he'll tell you that he liked the early seasons and then it all went a bit weird. This, to summarise, is pretty much what happened. When X Files had stand-alone weekly episodes, they worked best - obviously like any show, overarching narratives are what keep people hooked continuously, but it was these storylines, the big 'epic' conspiracies etc. that really killed it. It became the victim of it's own self-belief in a world where EVERYTHING is real. There's no doubting anything and the annoying thing is, after seeing so much, going through everything, Scully still refuses to accept some pretty obvious truths. New characters often glide in with cynicism, but this mix of 'real-world' and X Files world contradicts itself constantly and becomes rather infuriating. Not only this but the sagging middle seasons have very, very few episodes which are alright at best. They take the piss out of themselves way too much as well with parodies, self-aware jokes and nonsensical situations like being the stars of a Hollywood movie, going inside a computer game and more to add insult to injury. By the end of it all, you realise that the whole thing is a bloody joke and completely ridiculous. It's either serious or it isn't, the tonal mix is, at times, a welcome relief but soon wears thin.

However, there are some good points. Duchovny goes from enjoying the role of Mulder to mocking it to hating it and then just leaving, only to continue coming back in what you can clearly see is for just the money. Gillian Anderson however holds the whole thing together - in the face of sheer absurdity she brings a gravitas to it that only a real actress can accomplish. Everyone around her knows it's dumb, that X Files had it's day a long time ago, but still she gives every scene her all and doesn't think anything is beneath her.

In spite of this, there's so much I hated about X Files that it's hard to list. The dialogue is terrible, the storyline is ridiculous and full of holes, the acting can be abysmal and annoyingly, they even use past actors again as different roles. What X Files does best is come up with imaginative stories that are completely out-of-the-box, and when it does it right, it really comes through. It's a shame that looking back at 9 years worth of material, that the lows are so low and the highs so high, it's completely unpredictable.

The main surprise and real highlight for me was Robert Patrick as Agent Doggett. Once he enters he brings a real breath of fresh air to the series and is a brilliant counter-point to Scully, the too few episodes where it is just them two are some of my favourite epsiodes of the entire lot. His straight-talking Jersey boy attitude and downright manliness give the show a macho image that it was crucially lacking. A lot of the time Mulder moans, whines, and is annoyingly constantly correct, so that when he reappears with Doggett on the scene, you can't help but root for Patrick when you really feel the writers want you to side with Mulder. It's very well done and it's a shame that it could never take off properly with Robert Patrick being the main character. Part of this was because they tried to team him up with Monica Seles or whatever her name is, some 'pyschic' FBI agent that lacks both depth, charisma and talent - her crutch in life? Cigarettes. Jesus she's bland.

It's a real shame that X Files didn't continue but with a story so out-of-hand, characters bordering on the ridiculous, acting with a lot left to be desired and it's obsession with moving away from simple, one-off stories to big government conspiracies just confused the hell out of me. It's a perfect example of taking something simple and convoluting it to the point where it's no longer identifiable. The last episode, a final attempt to sum up what the hell had been happening was unfortunately too little too late, it had been surfing on it's initial success for too long and this episode shows how stupid the whole thing had become. I highly recommend The X Files, but instead of watching the whole thing, I'd talk to someone like myself and only watch particular episodes. It's not quantity, it's quality. I just wish someone could have told Chris Carter.

Also, why the hell he decided to do a spin-off on the most irritating people on The X Files, The Lone Gunmen, is beyond me.

Some terrible mistakes were made and the show paid the price. When it worked, it really worked. But in reality it was a broken monstrosity that wouldn't look out of place within it's own realm.

Someone give Robert Patrick a job please.

Rating: 6/10

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