So far I've been a little lax with doing posts about my long-awaited re-watch, but as there is a brief lull in my workload, I shall make a start. Be warned, this is long…
At this point I've just watched "Død Kalm" (season 2) so there's still a long way to go yet. However, here are my first few observations about the series as a whole up to now. For the moment this will be general ramblings about the series as an entity (with some obligatory stuff about shippiness, of course :P), though there may be further character / episode stuff later as I get further along.
The first thing I immediately noticed was how dated it looks compared to now. It scares me that the pilot was first aired over 15 years ago, which I suppose explains an awful lot about the way it looks. Despite that, the direction is still as fresh as it ever was, and so is the writing. I'd forgotten, somehow, how crisp the scripts can be, whether that's Scully's medico-babble or Mulder's random lapses into soliloquy, though perhaps the latter seem a little melodramatic. It's a little difficult to take the long-winded voice-overs seriously, even though the writing itself can be quite beautifully worded.
I can remember at the time that the make-up and special effects were the best around, and to a certain extent that high production value is still obvious. The effects may be a little ropey today (I fail to be convinced by the aged make-up effects in "Død Kalm"), but that's as much a part of the show's charm as the plastic model shots were in Red Dwarf (and also why the latter was rubbish when they re-digitised it, aside from the fact it rather missed the point...) Something I'm enjoying is the vastness of the series, and the versatility of Vancouver as a location. Apart from the infamous Dark WoodsTM (which are now instantly recognisable), there has not yet been a single episode where you would recognise location X as being location Y the other week. The only exception is one particular motel which they've recycled a few times and changed the sign slightly, and I only noticed that this time around because I remembered noticing it when I was obsessive and geeky, otherwise it wouldn't have even hit my radar.
It's weird re-watching, especially the first series, because I used to watch it so much in my teens. Seasons 1 to 5 in particular were the point when I was buried deep in obsession, and subsequently there are some episodes I can remember almost word for word (the pilot, for example), some scenes I can remember action for action (oh, penultimate scene of "Irresistible", how we love you), and some entire episodes that I've forgotten. Consequently, this re-watch has been a little like discovering the series all over again, and because my attitude and approach towards fandom has changed so much since those early days, my enjoyment and appreciation are different to the first time around. I can still giggle childishly at the things I used to, but I can appreciate the actual episode ideas a lot more than I probably could before. "Blood", for example, was an episode I would have brushed off as 'boring' before because there was so little Mulder/Scully interaction, but this time I found the idea behind it fascinating.
I've said before that back then, my fandom energy for X-Files was entirely focused on the Mulder/Scully relationship. I am finding it quite difficult to be objective in light of that, because old ships simply do not go away - the Inner Shipper sits on her hands and squeaks at me whenever they share a glance - and also, shipping still forms the majority of my fandom enjoyment. That being said, it is also very interesting to watch the series again and watch the character relationships develop all over again. I was naive in my shipping the first time around and approached it from a very teenage perspective ("OMG they fancy each other!", etc) - my 'ships have developed as much as my fandoms, from the brain-melting to the downright torturous, and these days my favourite 'ships are those which are gruelling but eventually deliver. There is no 'ship quite so gruelling as MSR. It was my first proper 'ship, the one which defined my shipper status, and X-Files was the fandom which eventually introduced me into the mysterious world of online fandom participation - www.thexfiles.com was the very first website I ever visited, if you exclude Netscape's homepage. :P
In that same vein, here's something else I think is interesting to note. Chris Carter has infamously been quoted as saying from the beginning that he would never allow Mulder and Scully to start a relationship. Obviously, by the time we'd reached season 9, to stick to that would have been unfair on the fans and also impossible given the mythology, but let's get back to the present point in time, i.e. season 2. Bizarrely, in the specially-filmed interview for the season 2 videos, Chris Carter is also quoted as saying that the episode "Ascension" is also "about Mulder caring for Scully". And yes, obviously they are friends by this point, and Mulder is coping with Scully being 'taken' in the same way as his sister was all those years ago... but even at this early stage there seems to be so much more to it. MSR was simply NOT just a reaction of rabid fans; it was always there from the beginning, in lingering glances and the brief touch of hands. I can understand now more fully how I - like so many others - latched onto that element of the show so tightly, and it's because these moments are fleeting, yet intense. At the beginning more so than ever there was the sense of it not being allowed, which made it all the more special; the sense that even if these two people DO fall in love, they can't ever acknowledge it.
Which is why it always has been, and always will be, the 'ship I hold close to my heart. Other ships have made me laugh and cry (and sometimes, both at once – I’m looking at you, John Crichton…) and all of my 'ships are special in their own, very different ways... but MSR was my first, definitive and defining 'ship, and even now, many years, fandoms and characters later, it can still produce that same stirring that it always could. That's why Scully's quiet admission in the latest film killed me completely dead. After nine seasons and 15 years, The X-Files can still surprise me. And any series which can do that is worth more than casual viewing...
I think that's more than enough for my first post on the matter. Wow, that was some lull, huh? ;)
Ah, well, an urgent and some bits of work will hopefully kill time until we can leave for the quiz… and at least I can get some flex out of it.
I totally need an X-Files icon... I think it's about time I raided that screencap archive in my Favourites list... :P