'The X-Files' First Episode: THR's 1993 Review

On Sept. 10, 1993, the first episode of 'The X-Files' aired on Fox. The Hollywood Reporter's critic drew comparisons to 'Twin Peaks' and 'The Twilight Zone' but concluded "at the moment 'X' doesn't mark the spot." Read the original review below:

FBC’s The X-Files holds some interest despite its labored premise.

As shepherded to us here, we get FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), an Oxford-educated psychologist with a glib tongue who tackles those cases the agency hasn’t been able to crack. These unsolved mysteries are known in the trade as X-files. (At show’s start a notice is posted: “The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts.”)

However, Mulder thinks something more than the usual skullduggery is afoot when it comes to these crimes. In fact, as Mulder sees it, these situations are the results of paranormal events, happenstance dancing to do with otherworldly things and forces. Why, his own kid sister disappeared one night and was never heard from since. Moreover, as Mulder sees it, the government knows about all this crazy stuff but ain’t talkin’.

As a means of keeping tabs on what Mulder is up to, his superiors at the bureau have partnered him with a Doubting Thomas named Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a young, cool, crisp M.D. with a bias toward the scientific, someone who doesn’t believe that things go bump in the day or night without plausible explanation.

So into this news series Mulder and Scully go, sparking an undercurrent of attraction, at least as scriptors would have it.

It’s a notion that gets a skeptical workout in X-Files’ premiere, paired to a story line concentrating on the inexplicable deaths of high-schoolers in an Oregon hamlet tied to some odd occurrences that Mulder suspects are alien abductions. When a suspicious fire destroys nearly all the evidence Mulder and Scully have collected, the spooky gets spookier, causing Scully to wonder if maybe Mulder is onto something.

Twin Peaks gone ersatz reality-based, The Twilight Zone taking it down home, that’s the direction this series goes. And though the show works with a certain unintended camp kick, at the moment “X” doesn’t mark the spot where viewers can find involving drama by way of Stephen King-esque actions — Miles Beller

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