May 20, 2002
Voice Over: It was a Monday evening, a cold day for late May. There was no traffic getting home from work, which was not unusual, because I worked at home. Yet I was tired; the anticipation had drained me. All day I had waited for what nine million people had experienced the night before, an epiphany that had eluded me due to some family event I don’t recall. It had been captured, however, on an electronic device created just for that purpose, and, although I could have exposed myself to its effects at any time during that day, I was disciplined enough in my work habits to wait for the night.
So there I was, bathed in the light from the television, VCR remote in hand, only to find…
…that it had not recorded the series finale of The X-Files.
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North Stamford, CT
Voice Over: For over a decade, I have blamed my wife Barbara for not setting the VCR correctly that fateful night. “I watched for nine years,” I told people, “and then I missed the ending.” This was before on-demand, before entire TV series could be purchased on DVD or streamed into your home. I finally rented it from my local video store about a year later, only to realize I had forgotten the events leading up to the finale and had no idea what was going on.
It was nine years of my life, utterly wasted.
Now comes the news that The X-Files will be rebooted, or resurrected, or revived, or sequelized this coming January, and that Gillian Anderson may no longer be a redhead. These were both disturbing pieces of information. After all, if I hadn’t remembered what was going on just a year after the finale, what chance did I have 14 years after it? And how would I recognize Scully?
I had no choice but to rewatch the entire original series, plus the two movies. My daughter Casey volunteered to watch with me. This was only fair, since she had recently watched all 22 seasons of Gilmore Girls with her mother.*
Fortunately, it’s easy to watch old TV series now. Thanks to our Smart TV, all we have to do is turn on the television. And wait five minutes, although we don’t exactly know why. Then click the Smart TV button on the remote. Then wait for it to download new software. Then click on Netflix. Then wait for it to connect to Netflix. Then click on the season of The X-Files we want to watch. Then click on the episode we want to watch, which entails first remembering what episode we watched last. Then watch the loading bar at the bottom of the screen, which is not moving, because it never works on the first try. Then exit Netflix. Then do the whole thing all over again.
Casey and I have been doing this since July. It’s been a little disconcerting for me, since Barbara and I were also watching Aquarius, a new show starring David Duchovny, so I was going back and forth between young David Duchovny and old David Duchovny. But we’re in Season 8 now, and Mulder is gone, replaced by the T-1000 from Terminator 2.
It’s been fun seeing young versions of actors that went on to bigger things, like Ryan Reynolds, who gets killed off before the opening credits of “Syzygy” (Season 3, Episode 13) and Felicity Huffman (“Ice,” Season 1, Episode 8) and Jack Black (“D.P.O.,” Season 3, Episode 3).
But I had forgotten how groundbreaking The X-Files was. Before then, you never heard phrases like “story arc” or “show runner” or “series mythology.”
I also realized I had forgotten a few other things: Every. Single. Episode.
I remembered the people. The first time Alex Krycek appeared, I recognized him and annoyed Casey by mentioning he would be a recurring character. I remembered Skinner, and The Lone Gunmen, and the U.N. chick, and the Cigarette Smoking Man. I just didn’t recall any of the stories. They didn’t even seem remotely familiar. You’d think I’d at least have a sense of deja view.
To this day, I can tell you the starting line-ups of the 1969 New York Mets (both righty and lefty platoons), but it is as if aliens had erased The X-Files from my mind by abducting me, inserting a chip in my neck, and infecting me with black oil. On the plus side, it’s like I’m watching the series for the first time.
But now I have a new concern. At our present pace, we’ll be done with the original series by mid-October. Is that too soon? Will I be able to retain the information until the new series begins in January?
I am doubtful, particularly since Casey and I intend to binge-watch Twin Peaks next, and David Duchovny was also on that. As a woman.
But there are two things I know for sure:
See you soon.
*At least it seemed like 22 seasons.