The return of The X-Files and what it means to my storytelling

Tonight Mulder and Scully return to FOX for a six episode run of The X-Files. I fell in love with the show during college watching the new episodes every Sunday night. I did bail on the show after David Duchovny left but I did turn up for the theatrical releases.

Why is the X-Files so great in my opinion? Because it combines a few of my favorite things.

  1. At its heart it is a detective story.
  2. It is science fiction.
  3. Aliens
  4. Funny

I have come to believe that the final one is the most important. In season five of the X-Files there is an episode that aired almost twenty years ago. It is an episode where Mulder and Scully both are retelling what happened on a case to their boss. In the episode they contradict each other in various ways all to great comedic effect. She thinks the sheriff is good looking while Mulder refers to him as a goofy looking. This illuminates the mutual chemistry between the two and the maturity of their characters. By this time in the series we had come to know the two so well that an episode about potential vampires could be turned into a half hour comedy and still hold true to the show.

Why is this important?

A quote comes to mind:

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” Joss Whedon

By this time in the series there had been many hard, straight episodes. The viewers needed a joke thrown in to relieve some of the week-to-week pressure of the show. It didn’t lessen the series at all, if anything it made it fuller and richer. Why is this important? Because as an author I have responsibility to my reader. If I’m going to take them down the dark road, every once in a while we need relieve the stress. Whether that is a small humorous anecdote told by a character or simply one of their (hopefully) many quirks that the reader is aware of. Let the reader have some fun every once in a while before you drop the hammer.


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