As Stranger Things has (rightfully) been dubbed the series of Summer 2k16, fans of this brilliant and creepy show have praised the series for its nostalgic nature. The E.T. and Stephen King parallels have been drawn, but the Duffer Brothers (if you’re reading this, I love you) also drew heavily from one specific ’90s show that brought creepy to TV for the first time.
Right before Stranger dropped on Netflix, I finished the entirety of The X-Files canon. That’s nine original seasons, two movies (one shitty, one fantastic) and one reboot miniseries. I’m pleased to announce that, despite some setbacks – how dare academia interrupt my real assignment? – I have completed it all. Two agents, 10 seasons, 208 episodes and no one to trust.
The reboot has shepherded in a new era of X-Philes – I’m a proud Baby Phile – proving the show has held up extremely well for a series that had an episode that aired on my literal birthday. Like, the day I was born. (It’s “Sleepless.” Not the best episode, but it includes the introduction of Nicholas Lea as Alex Krycek, my trash son. If Mama K could have held on ONE more week, I would have been born during “Duane Barry,” the episode most known for the infamous red speedo scene. Come on, Ma.)
The reboot itself was hit-or-miss; critics and fans alike are still cringing at Chris Carter’s misguided episodes (I’d like to forget “Babylon” exists altogether.) Season 10 did manage to bring us a classic episode though, written and directed by Darin Morgan who has contributed some of the best episodes the show’s produced – without Darin, I’d go so far as to say the show wouldn’t be as iconic as it’s known to be today. (Please, Darin. I’m begging you to take over. Or Glen Morgan. Maybe Vince Gilligan? He’s a busy man but I’d be willing to wait for his schedule to clear up.)
While we wait for season 11 to finally be confirmed – get your shit together, Fox – I’ll take this time to provide an X-Files Starter Kit. You may not know it yet, but this show about a tiny, red-haired medical doctor and her spooky FBI partner is the show to watch this fall. If you’re still on the fence, consider checking out these episodes from season 1 (I wouldn’t spoil you with anything past that):
A Millennials’ Guide to the Best Show on TV in 1994
- Season 1, episode 1 “Pilot”– This pilot has everything. Nineties fashion. Pacific Northwest aesthetic. Teens getting murdered. Gillian Anderson. Truly, this show is one of few that truly had me hooked from episode one. Everything from the characters – Dana Scully, the skeptic scientist, and Fox Mulder, the passionate believer, tearing down gender roles one alien at a time – to the setting to the plot is fantastic. Don’t skip the pilot.
- Season 1, episode 3 “Squeeze” – Sure, the pilot was a little scary. But for someone who truly hates horror as much as I do, I got through the pilot and the episode after it with no issues. “Squeeze” was the first time I regretted watching this show alone. This show isn’t just spooky. Sometimes it’s downright scary.
- Season 1, episode 8 “Ice” – This episode is 45 minutes of pure paranoia plus a creepy, murderous parasite (not the last one in the X-Files universe, that’s for sure.) I couldn’t look away.
- Season 1, episode 11 “Eve” – If you ever thought “hey, I’d love to see a whole episode about those creepy twins from The Shining!” this episode is for you. Very Twilight Zone-esque. Bonus: thanks to this episode, we got the band Eve 6. “Inside Out” is still a banger.
- Season 1, episode 13 “Beyond the Sea” – For being so early in the show, Gillian Anderson’s performance is stunning in this episode. Scully, so often the voice of logic and reason, is swayed to believe in a moment of personal tragedy. “Beyond the Sea” helps to develop a more thorough picture of who Dana Scully is, while still managing to be a creepy and thrilling entry for the series.
I’ll stop here, or I’m at risk to continue all night. This is a biased and incomplete list of top episodes – I do encourage you to just watch the whole of season one and fight me on what the top episodes of season one are. I’d love nothing more.
Get going now, new Baby Philes, while fall is still fresh. You’ll fall in love and finish just in time to find a Mulder and Scully couples costume for Halloween.