The X-Files (S01.Ep01): “Pilot”

The X-FilesSeason 1 – Episode 1: “Pilot” ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Director: Robert Mandel. Writer: Chris Carter. Stars:David DuchovnyGillian AndersonCharles Cioffi 

My new blu-ray full set of all the seasons of the X-Files has been sitting on the shelf for almost a couple years now, looking at me and asking “when are you going to watch me again?” I thought tonight was as good as night as it’ll ever be.

It’s easy today, 28 years later, to underestimate the impact this TV Show has had, not just on Sci-Fi but on television in general.The X-Files was ground-breaking for the time and I’m pleased to see how a lot of it still works today.. A lot of the ingredients that made the series so delicious are in this pilot episode (though the iconic title music isn’t there yet): the mysteries, the government conspiracies, the flashlight at night, the banter between the sceptic (Scully) and the believer, the smoking man in a corner or the room, the gross stuff, the UFO… This is brilliant stuff already from the outset: tight, smartly written, looking more like a movie than a tv show has hardly ever looked and sounded: yes, of course Twin Peaks had been released a couple of years before, but that was this is the show that really broke the rules of television, keeping people in the shadows, only lit by flashlight or letting the action develop in white shots, as opposed to the usual big close ups. Even the typed-up captions on the screen with location, date and time was fresh at the time.

Of course the X-Files will go on getting better an better and by season 3 and 4 it’ll get as good as TV can ever get with episodes as gripping as any movie out there, attempting things TV had never done before (including an episode with one continuous take). Before Binge-TV became a thing (possibly with “24”) The X-Files was there (including people talking and speculating on this “new thing” called the internet)

But the real secret behind this series can be seen already in this pilot: the amazing chemistry between the two leads, possibly unbeaten still today, as far as TV is concerned is palpable. From the moment the two meet to the first unexpected hug leading to years of speculations on whether the two of them will ever get together. David Duchovny gets a lot of slack for his deadpan deliveries, but his understated performance fits the character so well that it’s hard to see anyone else playing the part (truth is, when he left the show towards the later seasons, the X-Files wasn’t quite the same anymore). But beyond the flat tone of his deliveries you can see how much he’s enjoying himself being Fox Mulder. He has a couple of wonderful moments in this episode, smiling and cracking jokes, but also he somehow manages to make the story about the abduction by alien of his sister believable. And then of course, Gilliam Anderson’s Dana Scully who will become he heart and soul of the series and who still to this day can surprise us and win awards left and right. I loved her at the time and I still do today. Her intensity is so powerful that actually does the work for both of them. I loved watching this episode again tonight and aside from the terrible clothes and huge computer monitors which date it all back to the 90s, everything else is still spot on and it made me want to start watching is all again, especially because I know it’s going to get a lot more sophisticated both technically and in terms of content and stories (and yes, it’s going to lose the plot on the mythology a little bit, I know, but those who have seen it all, know that there are a lot of great episodes even in the later seasons).It’s one of the few shows that was able to bring together adventures, sci-fi, horror, police procedures, mysteries and comedy all in one.

Roll on the X-Files again: the truth is out there! (On DisneyPlus)

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