Several years ago, as a new TV season was about to begin, my daughter Katy asked me if I would watch The X-Files with her. I'd heard a lot about the show, of course—Rodney Clapp wrote an interesting piece about it in B&C (May/June 1997, not currently online, alas)—but I had never seen an episode and wasn't particularly eager to start. I almost never watch TV these days, though my brother and I grew up on Perry Mason and Bonanza and other favorites we watched each week with our mother and grandmother. I told Katy sorry, I just don't have the time.
The look of disappointment on her face set me back. She was then in middle school, and our relationship was at an all-time low. We didn't do much together. I told her on second thought, I would give the show a try.
What started as a duty quickly became a pleasure. Unlike Katy, I wasn't swooning over David Duchovny (whose larger-than-life-size photo adorned her wall) or even Gillian Anderson, but the show was much better than I had expected, and Katy and I had a great time speculating about individual episodes and overarching plotlines. We began to borrow, rent, and occasionally buy (when they were on sale) videos of earlier episodes. When I was magazine shopping, I kept an eye out for X-Files stories that Katy would enjoy.
Not that every episode was rewarding. There were too many with crazed serial killers—some of which we skipped altogether. Some of the "funny" episodes were labored. And Chris Carter and his team were cavalier about the elaborate "mythology" at the heart of the show, the convoluted story of aliens and a U.S. government conspiracy, sometimes developing it with a richness that was stunning but too often merely cheating and manipulating the audience.
Still, there were ...1