Plot: Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is a skilled young agent at the FBI, with a keen, inquisitive mind that can uncover details most would miss. Now she has a new assignment and she isn’t thrilled with the placement, as she is sent to the basement to work with Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Mulder is a brilliant, but eccentric agent who has devoted himself to cases that have been abandoned by others, ones that happen to involve potential supernatural, paranormal, even otherworldly elements. In other words, the cases that normal investigation techniques aren’t going to solve, but he is determined to find answers. He calls these cases the x-files and Scully was tasked to assist him because of her analytical mind, as she will resist Mulder’s theories and look for the truth. Soon the two embark on a series of x-files, with Mulder suspicious of his skeptical new partner and Scully intrigued by the strange cases, but will either of them find the evidence they seek?
Entertainment Value: The X-Files was a phenomenon, reeling in viewers and weaving some of the best “monster of the week” narratives around, while also crafting a larger, intricate arc. This blend of episodic content, where most weeks had a new case and the continued bigger picture narratives is balanced so well, ensuring you’re hooked in episode after episode. But in addition to the one off stories and the Mulder/Scully narrative, we also have medium tier tales that keep popping back up over the course of the show, which adds so much. The foundation for this deep, believable world is laid in this first season and while it blossoms in later seasons, these 24 episodes are on point and stand as a terrific starting line for The X-Files. In other words, even as the show lays down the exposition that leads to ongoing threads, it also tells great stories and hits the ground running overall. These early episodes are fun to revisit, to watch the first interactions between Mulder and Scully, as well as the framework being constructed for their dynamic as the show rolls on.
One of the reasons The X-Files has endured as a popular series has to be the leads, as Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are perfect choices and the two have a great dynamic, even in these early episodes. I think both perform well over the course of the entire series, but I especially like the first few seasons, as the feeling out process unfolds and the foundation is built. Anderson is able to convey the “outsider to the outsider” vibe which is fun, as her interactions with Duchovny in these episodes is distant, but begins to reel in at a brisk pace. Her cool, skeptical persona is pulled off with ease by Anderson, while Duchovny nails the eclectic, obsessed outcast, desperate for answers or at least some kind of hope. The two have great chemistry right off the bat in this first season and it is so fun to watch their bond evolve as the show goes on. William B. Davis is a staple of The X-Files as The Smoking Man and he is present out of the gate, while a number of guest stars also populate these first episodes. Some shows take a while to build steam, but The X-Files is an exception that fires on all cylinders from the jump, so whether you’re new to the series or you’ve been down this road before, this first season is highly recommended.