Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Stuff for the Teen Age

Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: Mulder, Scully, and "The X-Files"


The truth is (probably) out there.

When I was a kid and it was Friday night, I can tell you... I got very excited. Why? The X-Files was on. I was in elementary school at the time, so it was probably wildly inappropriate that I was even watching this show. Those who have seen it know what I'm talking about. If it wasn't one of the overly confusing episodes about the government hiding some sort of sophisticated alien conspiracy, then it was an hour of pure, abject horror.

Like, for instance, the inhuman Tooms. He could squeeze into any air vent or equally small space... the better to feed off human bile, which he needed to live. Maybe it was the menagerie of carnies from the popular episode "Humbug," which also featured a detachable, murderous twin creature that would burrow into people, killing them. Sometimes the villain was deceptively small, as in "War of the Coprophages," when the thing to fear was an army of cockroaches. Despite all this terror, there were at least two FBI agents who would shine a light in the darkness.

Enter Mulder and Scully. Fox Mulder (yes, that's his real first name) is an Oxford educated criminal profiler. As played by David Duchovny, Mulder was on a relentless quest to uncover the "truth" — he hoped to eventually uncover the mystery of his missing sister Samantha, who disappeared after an apparent alien abduction that Mulder himself witnessed as a teenager. Balancing him out was his medical doctor partner Scully, played by the then-unknown Gillian Anderson. Assigned to "debunk" Mulder's work on unexplained phenomenon (nicknamed, you guessed it! The X-Files), Scully was put with Mulder because of her rational, scientific mindset. The two proved to be valid foils for each other, with Mulder begrudgingly admitting that some cases turned out to be elaborate hoaxes and Scully seeing things that, for her, had no valid explanation.

The X-Files has become a franchise in its own right, spawning not one but two feature films and even a few novels. There was even a failed spinoff series. While many X-Files episodes are dear to my memory, my favorite has to be "D.P.O." from the third season. This episode starred an actor named Giovanni Ribisi, who would go on to star as Phoebe's younger brother in Friends. He's also recently starred in feature films such as James Cameron's Avatar and Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp. In "D.P.O.," which also co-stars Jack Black as his best friend, Ribisi is the titular "D.P.O." short for Darin Peter Oswald, his initials which Mulder gleans from an arcade game. The agents are drawn to a small town in Oklahoma after receiving reports of a fifth lightening-related death in the area. This number is unusually high, but upon arriving in the town, the local sheriff shrugs them off. Their town is studied by scientists because it's lightening occurs naturally there; the agents are quick to point out, however, that five deaths is statistically improbable and all the victims were young men relatively close in age. Oswald, the only survivor of a lightening strike, is revealed as having acquired the ability to control electricity. He's responsible for the deaths, so the agents race to stop him.

Need even more science fiction television? Read last week's feature on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Also check out our library's ongoing Wednesday night film program. And be sure to check the main blog for constant Sci-Fi Summer updates.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Post new comment