The X-Files -- a Look Backward
Good Chemistry, Good Writing
Unlike the "spooky" anthologies that proceeded it (The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, Ray Bradbury Theater, Night Stalker, Boris Karloff's Thriller, One Step Beyond), The X-Files presented a continuous, soap-opera-like depiction of two FBI agents assigned to the paranormal and all things extraterrestrial.
The agents, played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, faced an up-hill battle -- not just against the monsters and ETs but against the FBI itself that saw these investigations as wasteful. It was just their luck that they could never present any tangible or credible evidence to support their encounters.
Like few other shows, The X-Files managed to stay on the air long after the writers had exhausted their storehouse of ideas. Only die-hard fans stuck with the program to the bitter end. The stories either started to seem repetitive, or the alien conspiracy plot became wearisome, or both. Things turned from bad to worse once the agents became romantically involved.
The show had done such a good job of displaying the characters as polar opposites as well as being rather hot-headed that seeing them kissing almost felt like watching some form of incest.
The stand-alone episodes were more engaging than the stories dealing with the alien theme. While Gillian Anderson provided the much needed dramatic depth (and one or more Grammies), Duchovny seemed like an almost comedic character -- spitting out great one-liners along with his sunflower seed shells. The dialogue was difficult -- filled with technical jargon (words like exsanguinated), but both actors were adept enough to whiz through the tongue-twisters seemingly without effort.
Obviously weary of the program, Duchovny left the show and was replaced by Robert Patrick who seemed refreshing and believable (especially after watching Duchovny walk through scene after scene). In an interesting reversal, Anderson (Dana Sculley) became much more of the believer than her new partner -- and why wouldn't she after all that she had already experienced.
Without the popularity of The X-Files, there wouldn't have been the flood of imitators to follow. Thus, it seems fair in referring to the show as a landmark. Taking in the entire body of work, the program was innovative, engaging and (happily) very different, very captivating.