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No mystery why ‘X-Files’ endures

Fans celebrate 30 years; the truth is still out there

By Ed Condran, The Spokesman-Review
Published: September 16, 2023, 6:04am

Spokane — Chris Carter was always upfront about the inspiration for “The X-Files.” The science fiction drama, which aired from September 1993 to May 2002, was a descendent of such compelling shows as “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery” but the program that most inspired Carter was “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

The short-lived drama, which focused on a journalist, played perfectly by Darrin McGavin, who covered mysterious crimes, was a tremendous influence on Carter, who created “The X-Files” after tiring of working on Disney comedy shows.

Kolchak was a one-season wonder in 1973-74, which employed a fledgling television writer named David Chase. The second episode of “The Night Stalker” featured zombies attacking mobsters, penned by Chase, who went on to create a show called “The Sopranos.”

“The X-Files” focused on mysterious crimes, which were investigated by one of television’s greatest tandems, the skeptical Dana Sculley, played by Gillian Anderson and Fox Mulder, by David Duchovny, who was always up for a good conspiracy, especially if it involved aliens. The opposites made for entertaining television.

There are a number of conventions celebrating “The X-Files” 30th anniversary since the show still holds up. There are so many exceptional “X-Files” episodes. Many of the episodes written by Darin Wagner are stellar. There is arguably none better than “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” which is the fourth episode of the third season.

The episode won both an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series as well as an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, which went to the incomparable Peter Boyle, who played a character who has the ability to see how people will die. When Boyle’s Bruckman asked agent Mulder if he would like to know how he would die, of course the response was “Yes!”

Unlike some of the best “X-Files” episodes, which are softened with humor, Wagner was as dark as possible and he crafted one of the most beautiful but haunting episodes of dramatic television ever.

There are so many “X-Files” gems, such as “The Unnatural” about an alien, who becomes a baseball player. Then there was the incredibly creepy “Home,” which is about an inbred family.

The X-Files, which spawned a pair of movies and a revival from 2016 to 2018, is a special series, that was supported by a rabid fan base.

Those aficionados should consider a trek to Vancouver, B.C., for the Vancouver Film & TV Tours, which covers some of the ground laid by “The X-Files,” which was filmed north of the border for its first five seasons.

Aside from “X-Files,” the tour focuses on films shot in Vancouver, such as “Deadpool,” “Tomorrowland” and “21 Jump Street.” While my son Milo and I experienced the tour in March, we saw why so many sci-fi films are shot in Vancouver since there are so many cool futuristic buildings. We were also impressed with our guide’s knowledge and sense of humor.

There’s no word on another X-Files film or revival but you can always go back and get lost in the reruns of a thoroughly entertaining show that was always searching for the truth.