Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The X Files Season One: " Pilot" - Should You Go Down To The Woods Today

I Want to believe. I'm sorry but grown ass Mulder wouldn't have that in his office.

This will be an interesting experiment for me, because while I've seen episodes of The X Files here and there I've seen much too little of it, and certainly nothing out of the first season. And while the show's critical reputation is holding, I'm getting the sense that nobody is watching The X-Files anymore. Buffy holds strong, yet the most successful genre series of all time, at least in terms of viewers (nobody watched Star Trek until way after), the colossus of a genre everybody complains is too often marginalized, is apparently not worth watching for the direct subsequent generation? I'm not one to point fingers, I've seen every episode of Buffy at least twice and not a single complete season of the X-Files. So I think its time to put that right, and discover whether this show for all its supposed influence, actually holds up. Without further etc.

- Its easy to understand the show's mass appeal almost instantly. Its essentially a detective show with a twist. We've still got detectives solving murder cases, only they're FBI Agents and instead of the culprits being gangsters and serial killers, we've got Aliens and monsters. Score for one for The X Files as opposed to Law And Order, is that while there's only so many variations on psychopath, aliens and monsters adds another dimension, one where you can be intrigued by the idea even if the episode itself doesn't work all that well.

- The episode's introductory scene couldn't be more alien abduction for dummies though. But that's exactly the point I suppose. Ingratiate you into the world with familiar imagery and all that. Girl in pajamas wondering through the woods, bright lights, she looks up amazed and then we cut to the morning and she's dead. The cops exchange suspicious glances and one of them implies that this isn't the first time. Cue Credits.

- Gillian Anderson has done some interesting work post Files, she was very good in Bleak House, amongst other things, but Scully looks like the worst role in the world at this point. It sucks to be the skeptic in a sci-fi show, because you're always wrong. But Anderson is making it work best she can, selling both the naivete and the intelligence of Scully.

- I love how 90's TV shows don't give a shit about delicacy, just had a 5 minutes scene which not only introduced the show's main character, but also the show's central thesis, the Scully-Mulder dynamic, Mulder's main motivation and the narrative of this week's episode. Working up to stuff is for WIMPS.

- Duchovny is maybe trying a little too hard as Mulder. I think he's capable of being a good actor, in the specifically right circumstance, because he's got an innate roguish charm/douche thing going on, but he is always asked to play intelligent characters and that i find harder to swallow. Call him TV's Keanu Reeves.

- Still as hero names go, you could do worse then Fox Mulder. That's badass.

- So a series of girls are being found with the exact same unidentifiable marks on their back, naturally Mulder thinks some nasty Aliens are afoot. Scully thinks there must be a rational explanation for all this. I think that line should be banned from TV and Movies.

- What I do like, is that its setting up the conspiracy angle nicely, the villains of this show, both alien and human, are unseen. So it has a nice us vs. The World quality, but also a sense that they're fighting a losing battle. I like this tone.

- Mulder's one-liners are having a very low rate of conversion though, When he and Scully exhumed the body of one of the victim's and the corpse looked positively Alien, cracking jokes didn't really seem appropriate. Particularly for a man on a passionate crusade for validation and answers. Still got to be that maverick cop I suppose.

- Suspects are a mysterious cop, a morgue attendant, a comatose boy and his crazy chick friend. I think we all know who its going to be. I mean beside the aliens of course.

- Very cynical Scully shower scene/fake-out. She thought she had the alien mark, but it turns out it was just mosquito bites. As long as we got her in bra and panties, says Fox studios.

- A kind of cool scene, where Mulder and Scully lose 10 minutes of time instantaneously. Something mysterious is going on. Yeah.

- Our second exposition scene is more character based, Mulder explains his 8 year old sister just disappeared one night, no warning, no trace. It's what drives him on his crusade to prove aliens exists, coz you know he hopes they took her.

- I instantly hope his sister disappeared for human reasons, instead of supernatural ones. Would be poignant. Chance of that happening equals zero though.

- Anderson grows on you as the episode progresses. It's a difficult role, but she is likable and a reasonable enough audience surrogate. This episode's plot though is kind of weak. Such is the lottery with stand-alone cop dramas. You roll the dice with that shit every week.

- So it was in fact comatose boy, under guidance from the aliens who abducted him at his graduation, with an assist from his cop dad. Guest characters all drawn pretty broadly though.

- The final confrontation scene was kind of poetic, in its own rough around the edges kind of way. The advantages of sci-fi, in a procedural series. Shit can at least be different.

- Probably a better pilot then it is a stand-alone episode. The world is well established, and I dug the conspiracy element, the final scene of a ominous man who was in a few scenes but had no lines, jacking Scully's evidence and taking it to a top secret Pentagon base was a nice, Good guys lose in this world moment. The whodunit of the week story was a little predictable and rushed but, it had a lot to get through. Potential problems? Well at the moment it seems like an exclusively two character series. Not sure about that. Duchovny and Anderson both have their merits, but I'm not sure they can engage me on their own forty minutes a week.

- I also think the strength of each episode is going to be a monster of the week lottery, but having said that there's promise here. And if it goes a more mythological route then they may be something unique. I guess we'll see. But it set up a dark tone well and right now, intrigued if not invested. But something tells me I may be soon.

Rating: 6/10


Tom Clift said...

I hope you stick with the series - Mulder and Scully will grow on you, I promise

Louis Baxter said...

Yeah, you get the impression there's potential here, even if its a little rough around the edges at the moment. I'll be a huge fan in not time at all.