Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

7 Groundbreaking 'X-Files' Episodes To Celebrate UFO Day

By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire July 2, 2014 at 3:02PM

While the series had its uneven patches, it featured some moments of truly ground-breaking television, which paved the way for the revolution in quality that came in later years.
4
'The X Files': 'all things'
'The X Files': 'all things'

Today marks the anniversary of the Roswell UFO crash in 1947, and whether you believe in flying saucers or weather balloons, there's no denying the event sparked something profound in the American imagination. 

Perhaps most importantly for TV fans, the alien conspiracies triggered by the event were a direct inspiration for "The X-Files," which spent nine seasons following Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they searched for The Truth. While the series had its uneven patches, it featured some moments of truly ground-breaking television which paved the way for the revolution in quality that came in later years. Below are some of the episodes that best encapsulate those ideals. 

"Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" (Season 3)

Writer Darin Morgan only contributed a few episodes to "The X-Files" during its second and third seasons, but the four credited to him are some of the most landmark of the series. "Jose Chung" may be his most notable accomplishment, a bold experiment in point-of-view. Charles Nelson Reilly gives Anderson and Duchovny a bit of a break by starring as the eccentric writer Jose Chung, who's trying to uncover the truth behind a series of strange abductions but instead encounters half-truths, conflicting stories and Jesse Ventura. One of the series' funniest episodes, yet ends with a montage that is still moving in its sincerity.

(Liz Shannon Miller) 

"Home" (Season 4)

For a 10-year-old kid, "Home" was not just the scariest episode of "The X-Files," but a scarring experience ruining the quaint idea of country life and Pennsylvania as a whole. The Peacock family and their twisted little lives left enough of an impact to continue scaring people today -- as well as earning rave reviews across the board. For all the horror revivals happening recently ("Penny Dreadful," "American Horror Story," "Hemlock Grove"), very few could rival the violence and terror found in "Home" -- and this was on network television. It aired in October of 1996 on FOX as a much more frightening Halloween endeavor than the horror film "Hellraiser: Bloodline" (though equally as unnerving as "The Ghost in The Darkness"), helping to set the stage for what modern television is still striving to replicate today.

(Ben Travers)

'The X-Files'
Fox 'The X-Files'

"Post-Modern Prometheus" (Season 5)

When you run your own TV show, and it's one of the most popular on your network, you can get away with a lot -- up to and including an elaborate "Frankenstein" pastiche filmed entirely in black-and-white, set to the music of Cher. Viewed today, there are some questionable consent issues that come up, but it was a bold diversion from the standard "X-Files" format, one that showed the show's willingness to take chances and experiment. The ending is easily one of the strangest and most random in the show's history, but somehow its weirdness proves charming. (Liz Shannon Miller)

"Triangle" (Season 6)

After the mythology-heavy movie "Fight the Future" came out in the summer of 1998, the series' sixth season explored a bit more humor in its monster-of-the-week episodes. "Triangle" was the season’s third episode, and the first to explore this increase in comedic content. When Mulder heads to the Bermuda Triangle to check out the recently reappeared Queen Anne, a luxury liner that had disappeared in 1939, Scully and the Lone Gunmen head after him. But as Mulder and Scully simultaneously explore the same ship, it becomes clear that they’re not in the same time. "Triangle" was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's film "Rope," and utilized editing techniques that make several scenes appear as if they had been shot in one long, singular take. The episode also used its spectacular cast in double roles, having William B. Davis (The Smoking Man) and Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) play Nazi soldiers and Gillian Anderson as a wise-cracking OSS spy with a mean right hook. "Triangle" paved the way for the series to take more comedic risks which resulted in episodes like "Dreamland Parts 1 & 2," "Arcadia" and "Hollywood AD." 

(Casey Ciprani)

"The Unnatural" (Season 6)

When you reference the Robert Redford baseball drama "The Natural," you better bring your best stuff. It's no light task tackling the best sports film ever made, but David Duchovny, who wrote and directed the Season 6 episode, stepped up to the plate and knocked one out of the park. The idea of using aliens as a metaphor for racism seems slightly outdated today, as "District 9" (unjustly) absorbed all the acclaim for using it to mainstream effect. But "The X-Files" did it first while also paying homage to the baseball history in Roswell, NM. Also of historical note: this marked Duchovny's directorial debut, a real achievement for television as he continued -- and excelled -- in the role on "The X-Files" and later on "Californication." 

(Ben Travers)

X-Files

"Hungry" (Season 7)

"The X-Files" developed a solid formula of mixing plot-heavy mythology episodes with stand-alone "monster of the week" installments, but as future "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan proved here, there was plenty of room for creativity within that format. Instead of Mulder and Scully investigating the monster, "Hungry" is told through the monster's point-of-view -- making the monster into the episode's extremely sympathetic anti-hero. Imagine Walter White, except he eats brains. (Actually, that's not too much of a stretch.) 

(Liz Shannon Miller) 

"John Doe" (Season 9)

Season 9 is rarely remembered fondly by hardcore "X-Files" fans, but it does include a few highlights -- including the directorial debut of Michelle MacLaren, who graduated to the directing chair with this visually stylish one man show for Robert Patrick. Set largely in Mexico, "John Doe" features some innovative cinematography that sets it apart from other episodes of the series, and proved to be an able launching ground for MacLaren's career: She's since gone on to direct episodes of "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones," "The Leftovers" and "The Walking Dead." Without "John Doe," today's TV landscape might look pretty different.

(Liz Shannon Miller) 

This article was updated to correct the year of the Roswell sightings. 

This article is related to: The X-Files, David Duchovny, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Gillian Anderson, Vince Gilligan, Vince Gilligan, Michelle MacLaren






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More