Tag Archive | The X-Files

My Top TV Couples!

I’ve recently been rewatching a few old television favourites and it’s become clear to me that the shows I tend to invest in usually have a strong couple at their heart. Some of these are friendships, some are more than that and others morph over time from one to the other. I’m still considering my list of ultimate TV friendships (watch this space), but in the spirit of it being Valentine’s Day, I’m starting with my favourite television couples.

Of course, everyone’s list will be personal, so I’m sure there will be couples I’ve missed who you would choose, so feel free to let me know your choices in the comments! It also goes without saying that this post will contain spoilers for the shows referenced.

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Fox Mulder & Dana Scully (The X-Files)

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To me, Mulder and Scully will always be the ultimate television couple. It was a relationship that grew from their strong friendship and over the years of the series I loved seeing how much respect and love these two amazing characters had for each other. It bubbled under the surface, but never detracted from the series itself and even 20 years later, the incredible chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson remains as powerful as ever. The magic the two of them share does not come around very often and as yet, has not been beaten. You can read more of my thoughts on these two here.

Harvey Specter & Donna Paulsen (Suits)

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I know some people may argue against the inclusion of Harvey and Donna in a couples list, but their relationship has developed so much recently, that I find it impossible not to see them as meant to be, even if they are not quite there yet! Over the last six seasons we have seen their deeply-rooted friendship grow. Yes, they’ve already been lovers once, but they share so much more than that. Sarah Rafferty and Gabriel Macht have a chemistry that is rare on television and I’m sure their long-standing friendship has added to the fabric of Harvey and Donna’s relationship. These characters wouldn’t be so wonderful on screen were they portrayed by anyone else. As with Mulder and Scully, this is certainly a slow burn, but surely these two have to end up together?!

Josh Lyman & Donna Moss (The West Wing)

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I clearly enjoy the slow burn relationships don’t I, as here is yet another one! From the start of Aaron Sorkin’s political drama I always loved the banter between the Deputy Chief of Staff and his assistant and as the series progressed, their wonderful bond became more apparent. Thanks to Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney’s on screen connection, any other relationships each character had just never seemed quite as special as the one they shared together. Josh may have been the political player, but it became clear how much he relied on Donna and when she left to pursue her own ambitions, it gave him the push to pursue his new path and when they did finally get together it didn’t overshadow the series, as by then it was the logical and natural next step.

Alicia Florrick & Will Gardner (The Good Wife)

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I still feel incredibly sad when I think about this ill-fated pair, but there was no way they wouldn’t feature on my list, as they are probably the hottest and most moving couple on TV. The attraction between Will and Alicia was clear from the very beginning (in no large part down to the chemistry between Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies) and along with many fans of the series, I had my fingers crossed for their future. They clearly loved one another and Alicia should probably have picked Will before she ever married her dreadful husband. The time they were together treated us to some of the steamiest scenes on television (here’s one for the uninitiated) as well as some of the most emotional, but sadly it wasn’t to be, with Will being tragically killed in series five (something I still wish the internet hadn’t ruined for me in advance). It was an event I never expected, which still makes me reach for the tissues. The fact their love was cut short in such an cruel way makes their whole story all the more powerful and is probably the couple that has moved me the most on television.

Temperance Brennan & Seeley Booth (Bones)

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Bones is a series I’ve missed over the last few years and I’m slowly playing catch up, but what was clear from day one was the chemistry between David Boreanaz’s Booth and Emily Deschanel’s Brennan. I have only reached series eight (the final season 12 is airing now), but what I enjoy most about this series is how the writers were able to transition the characters from friends, to lovers, to marriage and children. It has enabled fans to see their relationship grow in a more mature and realistic way, which is something other shows could learn from.

The Doctor & Rose Tyler (Doctor Who)

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Since it’s return in 2005 Doctor Who has seen some wonderful partnerships on board the TARDIS. However, there is one that touched the hearts of many fans of the series and that was the love between David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler. Yes, nothing ever happened between them, but their bond was never in doubt and their heartbreaking farewell on Bad Wolf Bay was a classic moment that certainly made me shed some tears.

Kevin Walker & Scotty Wandell (Brothers & Sisters)

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There were many relationships within Brothers & Sisters, but for me the most heartfelt and believable one was that between Kevin and Scotty (played brilliantly by Matthew Rhys and Luke MacFarlane). Through all the Walker family turmoil, they were a breath of fresh air with their loving relationship. They weren’t free from problems (most notably Scotty’s affair), but loved each other enough not to throw their relationship away.

Buffy Summers & Spike (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)

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Some may be surprised that the relationship on my list from Buffy is not the one between Buffy and Angel! Yes, theirs was one of the core elements of the series in the early years, but Buffy and Spike’s short-lived relationship was the one that has always interested me the most. When you think about it (and leave aside the undead aspect!), they were a far better match for each other. Perhaps it was the fact Buffy was older than the teenager who fell for Angel, but her connection with Spike came across as a more mature one. They knew each other’s faults and accepted them anyway and some of the scenes between James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Geller in those later episodes remain some of my favourites.

Doug Ross & Carol Hathaway (E.R)

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E.R remains my favourite medical series (more on that here) and although it had some lovely relationships during its 15 years, one always stood above the rest and that was the love affair between Doug and Carol. The fact it became so iconic in the 90s (and was the first big break for each of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies) is more impressive when you think that Carol wasn’t even meant to survive the pilot episode. They went through ups and downs, split up and got back together more than once, but you couldn’t help but root for them and the icing on the cake was Clooney’s surprise return for the last few moments of the episode which saw Carol leave Chicago behind for the love of her life.

Chuck Bass & Blaire Waldorf (Gossip Girl)

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Chuck and Blaire were the best schemers in Gossip Girl, manipulating situations and characters to their advantage and there were many times when I really couldn’t stand them! However, the writers created something very clever in their relationship. Despite their underhanded behaviour, they seemed to bring out the best in each other, which in turn changed my perception of them and thanks to the acting talents of Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester they became my favourite characters in the show. Had they not ended up together I’d have been thoroughly disappointed.

Carrie Bradshaw & Mr. Big (Sex And The City)

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The Mr.Big debate was a big one during Sex And The City’s run, with fans divided as to whether Carrie should end up with him or not. He may have been an idiot for the majority of the show, but I was always of the view that deep down they were soul mates. Despite all the pain and hurt, they always seemed to come back to one another and he would do anything for her. I also loved the fun they seemed to have and Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker sparkled in their scenes together.

Sydney Bristow & Michael Vaughn (Alias)

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J.J Abrams’s spy drama was a highlight of American television at the time of its original run and the will they won’t they dynamic of Sydney and Vaughn captured the hearts of its fans (including me). Yes, there were some utterly bonkers plot developments along the way, including Vaughn’s faked death, but Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan always ensured the relationship between Sydney and Vaughn was genuinely lovely to watch right until the end.

Ross Poldark & Demelza (Poldark)

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Yes, Aidan Turner’s torso has generated a great deal of attention since Poldark was brought back to our screens in 2015, but the best character in my view is the fiery Demelza, superbly played by Eleanor Tomlinson and their romance is what keeps me tuning in each week. They may be from different backgrounds, but they are undoubtably stronger together and do truly belong together. I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead in series three after the ups and downs of the last series.

Lizzie Bennet & Mr Darcy (BBC, Pride & Prejudice)

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Colin Firth may be a successful Oscar-winning actor, but he’ll always be best known for his iconic portrayal of Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. The British public fell under his spell and that of his counterpart Jennifer Ehle. In my opinion, they created the definitive Lizzie and Darcy and every scene they had together sparkled, making them one of the TV couples of the 90s in Britain.

Ianto Jones and Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood)

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The relationship between Captain Jack (John Barrowman) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) in Torchwood was hugely important for British television and remains one of my favourites of recent years. What was lovely about the pairing was that they may have been very different personalities, but were in fact perfectly suited. They were playful, affectionate and stood by each other through all the crazy happenings in their lives and Ianto’s emotional death in Children Of Earth was heartbreaking for fans of the show. We felt his loss as much as Captain Jack. Heck, does any other fictional character have a shrine like Ianto’s in Cardiff?!

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So, those are my top fifteen television couples. I look forward to hearing about who you would choose!

2016 Review – My Top Television of the year

It’s time to look back on 2016 and I’m starting off with a review of this year’s television offerings. Personally, I think it’s been a fantastic year for television across all channels and online platforms. There have been some fantastic new shows, which have drawn us in and have us anticipating their return, while other series have continued to keep us tuning in for yet another year.

It’s always hard to choose the highlights of the year, but below are the programmes that have really stood out for me over the last twelve months.

The Crown (Netflix)

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If any series has impressed me the most this year it’s been The Crown. I’d heard the rumours about how expensive it had been to make, but on seeing it, it was clear to see it was worth every penny Netflix had invested in it! Taking us through from the wedding of Elizabeth and Philip in 1947 to 1955, I became absorbed by the world it created on screen. Everything works in The Crown, resulting in a drama of the highest quality. The acting ensemble is superb, with Jared Harris making me cry as King George, Claire Foy’s award-nominated performance as Elizabeth and actors such as Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby bringing people we feel we knew to life anew. Combined with strong scripts and direction, gorgeous sets and costumes and a wonderful score, this really was a television highlight.

Line of Duty (series 3, BBC Two)

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Line of Duty is a rare series for the simple fact that every series it just gets better. After the excellent second series in 2014, I really didn’t think it could impress me any more. How wrong I was! With the perfect balance of new story and continuing threads left lingering since series one, this was a taut, nail-biting drama that genuinely had me on the edge of my seat (and indeed jumping out of it too). Jed Mercurio’s scripts are a joy to watch and the cast continue to deliver. Take your time writing series four Jed, I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait. If you have yet to watch Line of Duty, catch up fast!

The Night Manager (BBC One)

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The BBC drama department didn’t hold back with this adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel. Made in partnership with AMC and The Ink Factory, the additional budget available to the series meant that the result was a hugely impressive, movie-quality production. Heck, I actually preferred this to the latest Bond film! Hugh Laurie was on top form as the charming, yet dangerous Richard Roper, a pregnant Olivia Colman kicked ass as Angela Burr and Tom Hiddleston demonstrated to a new audience outside of theatre and Marvel films what a great actor he is as Jonathan Pine. It was tense, thrilling, visually stunning and superbly acted. Some are sad it will likely never return. I actually think that’s a good thing. Sometimes a series should go out on a high.

Game of Thrones (series 6, HBO/Sky Atlantic)

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Game of Thrones series 6 was a bit of a mixed bag, with a few episodes in the middle slowing down in pace somewhat. However, as is always the case, it opened with some strong moments, including the return of Jon Snow (as if he was going to stay dead!) and ended with two of the finest episodes of television I’ve ever seen. The Battle of the Bastards was utterly incredible, showcasing battle scenes worthy of any film (and indeed better than most of them!), while The Winds of Winter took the show further down its darker path as Cersei Lannister shows everyone what a mistake it is to get on her bad side! With only two shorter seasons left, it’s all starting to get very exciting indeed!

Stranger Things (Netflix)

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I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy Stranger Things, but I’m so pleased I gave it a try, as I loved its mix of dark creepiness, humour and 80s nostalgia (right down to its brilliant title music and sequence). As a kid I loved The Goonies and watching this show took me right back to that era. Indeed part of the fun of watching it was spotting the nods to the films of that decade, whether ET, The Goonies or another. The strength of the acting of its young lead actors was also a surprise and surely Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven has now become an iconic character. Plus I’ll never hang Christmas lights again without thinking about this show!

Planet Earth II (BBC One)

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I admit I don’t watch many nature documentaries, but I couldn’t miss David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, which surely brought some of the most incredible sequences to television this year. Whether the iguana escaping the snakes, the monkeys pinching people’s food in India, the bowerbird with its love heart, or the majesty of the eagles to name just a few moments, the series was breathtaking and really made you remember how much more to life there is on the planet that we all take for granted.

The X-Files (series 10, Channel 5)

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As a lifelong X-Phile, the return of my favourite duo to television was bound to make this list! Yes, I admit some of the episodes weren’t as strong as the original run, but as a set of six, I thought they did a great job of showcasing everything that made The X-Files such an iconic series. There was mythology, creepiness and Darin Morgan’s brand of craziness in my favourite instalment “Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster”. The series was always able to switch between these different genres and it was fantastic that by re-assembling the old writers it was able to do the same again and of course it was a thrill to see David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back together. Was it perfect? No. It was however a revival that made me smile in 2016 and I have my fingers crossed that there will be more to come.

Happy Valley (series 2, BBC One)

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Series one of Happy Valley was a highlight of 2014 and this year the second series proved again that Sally Wainwright’s gritty drama was worth tuning in to. Set 18 months after the previous series, we see Catherine Cawood (the excellent Sarah Lancashire) moving forward with life as Tommy Lee Royce (superbly played by James Norton) sits in prison. However, his influence was still felt through the eerily brilliant performance of Shirley Henderson as classroom assistant Miss Wealand, a woman who has become besotted by Royce and manoeuvres herself in to young Ryan’s life. Cawood also had her day job, as we see her working a case that crosses paths with a detective (Kevin Boyle) who finds himself in a terrible situation following an affair. If you have yet to catch Happy Valley, put it on your to-do list for next year.

Olympics 2016 (BBC coverage)

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Summer 2016 saw us all tuning in to Rio to watch the finest athletes in the world competing for Olympic honour. I always find the Olympics inspiring, as we see true role models who have worked hard to be there. You can keep all of your shallow footballers and reality stars in my view. Thanks to the BBC’s multi-channel and multi-platform coverage, I literally watched sport for two weeks and it was fantastic. Whether watching Team GB succeed in the velodrome, Bolt making history or Simone Biles’s incredible floor routine, it was a truly satisfying summer and I genuinely missed it once it was over.

The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses (BBC Two)

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The first series of The Hollow Crown took us from Richard II to Henry V and this second series moved the Tudor story along through Henry VI, culminating in the iconic character of Richard III. Shakespeare may not be on everyone’s must-see list, but the BBC’s efforts to make these famous plays appeal to a modern audience deserve attention. Henry VI as a play can drag in places and so this adaptation was able to tighten up the story without losing any of its power and emotion. Hugh Bonneville was on top form as the Duke of Gloucester, Sophie Okonedo was a force to be reckoned with as Margaret and Tom Sturridge’s Henry was a much more emotional and less petulant portrayal than I’d seen before. Then of course there was Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard. It’s a superb performance, that was both chilling and charming and with support from Dame Judi Dench and Keeley Hawes this series really does showcase the strength of the British actors working today.

Victoria (ITV)

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This list started with one Queen and so it seems only right that it ends with another. The first series of Victoria took us in to the early years of the reign of Queen Victoria. Jenna Coleman (best known for her role in Doctor Who) was excellent as the young woman taking on the role of monarch in a world ruled by men. Her chemistry with Tom Hughes’s Albert really sold their blossoming romance, but it was her close relationship with her first prime minister Lord Melbourne, played by the superb Rufus Sewell that I truly loved and I admit I was very sad when Lord M’s time in her life came to an end. Hopefully series two will be just as strong as the first.

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So that was 2016 for me and there were so many shows I didn’t manage to watch (The Night Of and Westworld to name just two). The good news is that 2017 is already shaping up to be just as strong a year. For some suggestions of shows to tune in to next year, feel free to read for post on 17 shows to watch in 2017.

 

Television Review – The X-Files, Founder’s Mutation (season 10, episode 2)

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Despite being ahead thanks to US iTunes, as a loyal X-Files fan based in the UK, I thought I’d save my reviews until the episodes air here. Tonight saw episode two arrive on Channel 5 and in my view it’s an improvement on the season opener, seeing Mulder and Scully back out in the field investigating a brand new strange case.

Founder’s Mutation is a standalone-style paranormal mystery of the week, which always proved so popular in the earlier seasons. The mysterious apparent suicide of a scientist brings Mulder and Scully to the crime scene, freshly suited and booted for a new stint as the FBI’s most unwanted. What unfolds is a case involving a strange piercing noise that seems to affect anyone at any moment and mutations on young children, possibly the result of genetic manipulation by scientists, the latter bringing to the surface our favourite duos’ own feelings about the child they gave away, one who may or may not not have had unique abilities.

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A case involving pregnancies and possible genetic tests on unborn children stirs personal emotions for Mulder & Scully

The episode works well in tackling both a standalone case and the overarching backstory of Mulder and Scully, in this case focusing on William. James Wong (who together with Glen Morgan was behind so many classic X-Files) manages to fit both threads together in a way that doesn’t feel forced and is able to move the overall Mulder and Scully relationship forwards without compromising the mood and tone of the case they are investigating. This is no easy task and in my view works very well here, especially when compared to episode four, which attempts to do something similar (more on that in a fortnight).

For avid long-term fans of the show, Founder’s Mutation has some great Easter egg moments – we have the actress who played Scully’s therapist Karen Kosseff in seasons two and four (Irresistible, The Calusari & Elegy if you were wondering) playing a nun, the return of the glorious torches, a mysterious government suit sitting in the background in Skinner’s office and a witty wink to the show’s most well known catchphrase. We also get an insight in to how each of our lead characters feel abut the loss of their son and what their deepest fears are about what could have happened to him, each clearly influenced by their own experiences. Despite this sad tone however, there are also touching moments of what could have been, as we see the parents they wished they had been if things been different.

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Just like old times – back in A.D. Skinner’s office!

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have so easily slipped back in to these characters and the partnership between Mulder and Scully is as if they had never left the basement. There is the witty banter, the intellectual back and forth and the deep bond, which always burns off the screen. You really cannot imagine them apart, personally or professionally. Yet they have also grown as people and bring to the screen a credible version of who these characters are 15 years later. One of the things I’m most happy about when watching this revival is that their individual characters, as well as their partnership, feel very true to the Mulder and Scully we knew and loved in the 90’s. Things have changed and yet things have stayed the same too. It was always going to be a tough balance to strike, but it’s one I believe the writers and actors have succeeded in getting right.

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Back in the field for Agent Scully

Adding to the mood of there series as usual is Mark Snow’s eerie and atmospheric score, so distinct to The X-Files that is feels as if it’s an additional character. This story enables him to deliver some creepy pieces, as well as some more emotional beats when touching on the William arc.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It’s not a classic, but it delivers an interesting case, some creepy moments and pushes Mulder and Scully’s relationship forward during this new phase of their lives. Hopefully it will highlight to newcomers to the show that it was always about more than just aliens and that there are always going to more files in the basement office that need investigating.

I can’t say it any better than Skinner himself says in this episode: “Welcome back you two.” Well said Skinner, well said.

The X-Files series 10 continues next Monday on Channel 5 with Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster. Make sure you tune in, as in my view it’s the best of the series so far. Series 1-9 are available to stream on Amazon Prime and all the usual stockists.

 

Television Review – The X-Files – “My Struggle”

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The X-Files is back! I admit as a fan since the age of 12 I never thought I’d get to write that again let alone review a new series! Thanks to an American friend with a US iTunes account, I’ve been able to start watching the series before it airs here in the UK. The fact it is still yet to air here (starts 8th February) or Germany, two of its strongest fanbases originally, still seems crazy to me, but next week UK viewers will finally be able to tune in on Channel 5 and continue the search for the truth.

As I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to start watching already, I thought it was time to review the three episodes aired so far, starting with the series premiere. If you’ve yet to watch, then be warned there will be spoilers.

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Gillian Anderson & David Duchovny are reunited at last as Mulder & Scully

My Struggle is a traditional mythology story to kickstart series 10. Written by Chris Carter, it’s a bit ridiculous and in my view the weakest of the first three episodes. It is however, an enjoyable reintroduction to the finest partnership on television (for more of my thoughts on that click here) and the basis on which the subsequent stronger stories can be built. My message then? Don’t give up if you don’t enjoy episode one!

Where are they in 2016? Still where they were at the end of the last (somewhat disappointing) film – Scully is still a doctor, assisting at a hospital with complex surgeries on young children and Mulder is still holed up in the little house we found him in the last time we saw him. The catalyst for bringing them back on to the investigative track is a call from Skinner, informing them that a internet/tv conspiracy theorist is keen to talk to Mulder, who of course refuses to go without Scully joining in the fun.

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Ted O’Malley (Joel McHale)

The said conspiracy theorist Ted O’Malley has some out there ideas about the government’s involvement in a greater conspiracy and over the course of the story manages to change Mulder’s beliefs yet again and refuel his desire to find out the truth once and for all. The latest mythology strand is back to the government, not aliens, being behind it all and it is them who wish to destroy mankind as we know it, not little green/grey men or super soldiers (although their reason is unclear, or at least it was to me!). I admit over the years it’s taken a lot of concentration to keep track of the mythology and it seems this complex web is clearly set to continue.

The vital puzzle piece in the story is a young woman, Sveta, who was apparently taken and tested on by the government. She, Mulder says, is the key (so the new Gibson Praise then). However, who she is and her part in the search for the truth is perhaps a bigger mystery than Mulder realises.

Overall, I enjoyed many aspects of this episode, but it also frustrated me as well. Acting-wise, David Duchovny effortlessly steps back in to Mulder’s shoes and I realised just how much I’d missed him. He’s still paranoid (taping over the webcam on his laptop), but seems to no longer know what he believes. The episode at least gives him the spark to get back to work. Gillian Anderson is just as brilliant as ever as Scully (although the wig drove me mad). Older and wiser, she clearly misses her work with Mulder and is still the equal to him on the screen. Their characters may have separated in the romantic sense when we meet them again but, crucially their chemistry is just as electric as ever and there was always so much more to their relationship than romance. It was always the show’s finest element and that’s certainly the case in this story. It’s also wonderful to have Mitch Pileggi back as Skinner (still an A.D after all these years, the poor guy) and I hope he continues to pop up over the series.

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David Duchovny & Mitch Pileggi (AD Skinner) back in the basement office

The visual effects are better then ever thanks to the modern technology available. The UFO crash in the teaser looks great and seeing Mulder up close with an ARV (alien replica vehicle) is quite a thrill. There is also the return of Mark Snow’s eerie musical tones, underscoring the scenes just as perfectly as before. Plus I loved that they have reinstated the original title sequence with the 1993 badges for David and Gillian and simply added Mitch in. It gives the series a classic feel, which will no doubt make long-term fans happy.

However, there were weak aspects to this story. Ted O’Malley (played by Joel McHale) is a rather two-dimensional character, who I found an unlikely catalyst for bringing the duo back to work and felt weak against the two of them. Would Skinner really have taken this man seriously enough to contact the agents about meeting him? The scene in which he and Mulder set out the latest conspiracy theory does feel incredibly far fetched too. Yes, I know this is part and parcel of the show, but I preferred earlier arcs where things didn’t seem quite as OTT. Also when Mulder returns to his office the cases are meant to still be there. Really? After 14 years? Then there is Scully’s revelation about her genetic makeup – surely she would have run such tests before, after all she’s been through? I find it surprising to know that she hasn’t.

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The sets and visual effects now available to the series look great

By the end of the episode The X-Files are open again, with Mulder and Scully back on the FBI payroll running them. I’m sceptical the events of this episode would have resulted in the reopening of a division of the FBI. Plus would our duo be able to just walk back in to their old jobs years later? This is where Carter’s writing is a bit lightweight for me, with so many unlikely elements that stand out, but I suppose ultimately we’re not meant to care about the how – the fact is the basement office is back open for business and after watching episodes two and three (reviews to follow), I can safely say it only gets better from here.

Yes, “My Struggle” is a little silly and doesn’t make complete sense, but it’s an enjoyable hour in which the key strands of the show are reintroduced, old characters re-established (who didn’t love seeing the CSM at the end like old times?!) and a new course is set for the remaining stories to be built on. From what I have already seen the show is still more than capable of brining both creepy and comedic classics to the screen. Welcome back Agents – I have truly missed you and can’t wait to see where the journey takes us next!

The X-Files begins in the UK on 8th February on Channel 5 at 9 p.m. Even if you’ve already watched it, tune in to get its ratings as strong as the US to show there is still an audience for the show here! If you’ve yet to see it enjoy (and even if episode one seems silly, stick with it, as so far the rest have been fantastic)! For a flavour here’s a trailer.

 

 

My Top Television Choices for 2016!

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After looking back at my television highlights of 2015, it’s time to look at what television treats we can expect in 2016. There are exciting dramas returning to the screen, as well as some new offerings which I’m curious to try. So, here are my top choices of programmes to tune in to this year. As I’m in the UK, this list refers to dates and channels on which the shows will be aired here (if known).

The X-Files (Channel 5 – early February)

Anyone who knows me will have expected nothing else to be top of my teleevision choices list for 2016! The X-Files was my first addiction and would probably still be my category if I were ever to go on Mastermind. Therefore, it’s fantastic that it is returning to our screens, albeit for only six episodes. With David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back in such iconic roles, Chris Carter back at the helm and stories also from Glen Morgan, James Wong and Darin Morgan, this is already very promising. I sincrely hope this delivers for all the fans, but also pulls some new viewers in too. Remember, The Truth is Still Out There!

The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (BBC Two)

untitledIn the hope this would air in 2015, this was also on last year’s list, but we can expect the second series of the BBC’s Hollow Crown some time in the next few months. Entitled The Wars of the Roses, this captures Henry VI and Richard III, with some of Britain’s brightest acting talent involved. Alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard, there’s Dame Judi Dench, Sophie Okenedo, Andrew Scott, Tom Sturridge and Michael Gambon to name but a few. If the quality is as high as the first series (recommended if you missed it), then we are in for a treat.

Happy Valley (BBC One)

timthumbI came late to Happy Valley in 2014, but it impressed me almost immediately, with Sarah Lancashire playing such a strong and complicated character as Catherine Cawood. After the traumatic events of the first series, it will be interesting to see what writer Sally Wainwright has in mind for her next. I’m sure it will prove to be just as exciting and engaging as before and especially when the teaser trailer just released includes James Norton as the awful Tommy Lee Royce!

Line of Duty (BBC One)

Broadchurch__Ripper_Street_and_The_Missing_stars_to_play__pivotal_roles__in_Line_of_Duty_series_3Line of Duty quickly became a success (with help from social media fuelling interest) and with two strong series, both with separate stories, the possibilities are endless of Jed Mercurio’s drama. After focussing on Lennie James’s Tony Gates in series one and Keeley Hawes’s superb multi-faceted performance as Lindsay Denton in series two, the bar has been set very high for the next instalment. With Vicky McClure and Martin Compton being joined by Daniel Mays and Will Mellor, I’m already very excited to see this and will be going to a BAFTA preview screening of episode one on 8th February, so we can expect this some time in the near future.

Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, 25th April)

Game_of_Thrones_Season_6Although the last series was a bit of a mixed bag (but made up for with Hardhome!), I’ll always look forward to my return to Westeros. Now that we are in uncharted territory, with the majority of characters past book positions, anything could happen in series six and in a show where no one is safe, that is very exciting indeed. Filming photos suggest there will be some wonderful sequences in the new series and I’m looking forward to finally moving forward with the story (seeing as who knows when we’ll get book six from Mr Martin)!

Grantchester (ITV)

Grantchester-1920X1080James Norton will be back on our screens again for the second series of Grantchester, in which he plays the lovely vicar, turned detective Sydney Chambers, in stories based on the novels by James Runcie (the opposite end of the spectrum to his character in Happy Valley thank goodness). This was a lovely drama when it aired in 2014, with some interesting charcater relationships and a great partnership in James Norton and Robson Green. Anyone mourning the end of Lewis can take comfort in this series as a worthy replacement.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix, 15th April)

12137941I admit to being a person who prefers dramas to comedies, on both film and television, but after two friends raved about this Netflix series last year, curiosity got the better of me and I’m so pleased that it did. You cannot fail to warm to the ever optimistic, innocently naive Kimmy Schmidt, as she adjust to life in the real world after 15 years spent in an underground bunker. The scripts are witty and sharp, the characters are fun (who doesn’t love Tituss Burgess’s loveable Titus Andromedon!) and the acting is very good indeed. If you haven’t been tempted yet, give it a go – I guarantee you’ll be humming the theme tune all day.

The Crown (Netflix)

“Two houses, two courts, one Crown.” The first trailer for this upcoming, ambitious new Netflix series has just been released (see above) and it looks very promising. The Crown will chart the two key istitutions of Britain – the monarchy and the government, from the 1950s onwards. Written by Stephen Daldry (writer of the acclaimed play The Audience), with a huge £100 million budget and starring some excellent actors, particularly Claire Foy as the young Elizabeth II (last seen playing Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall), Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Alex Jennings as Prince Edward, Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and John Lithgow as Churchill, this could be a historical drama to rival the BBC if the quality is there.

Queen Victoria (ITV)

victoria_itvStaying on the historical theme, ITV will later this year be casting a light on the young Queen Victoria in their new eight part drama series. Fresh from her time on Doctor Who, Jenna Coleman is the young Victoria, as the series charts her life from accession at 18, through to her marriage to Prince Albert. It has a fantastic cast including Tom Hughes (as Prince Albert), Rufus Sewell, Peter Firth, Eve Myles and Nigel Lindsay. I still really only know about Queen Victoria’s later life and reign and therefore I’m looking forward to seeing a new aspect of her story.

House of Cards (Netflix, 4th March)

House-Of-Cards-Season-4Everyone loves Frank Underwood right? Or is too scared not to?! In the series which undoubtedly helped Netflix become the success it is now, Kevin Spacey has become so iconic in this role and his partnership with Robyn Wright is always glorious to watch. Now occupying the Oval Office, it will be interesting exactly what lies in store for them in the next series.

Death in Paradise (BBC One –  started Thursday 7th January)

Death_in_Paradise_s_sun_soaked_crime_solving_is_the_perfect_cure_for_a_case_of_the_January_bluesAnother heart-warming and fun series that blows away the winter blues is Death In Paradise, which returned this week. I didn’t see the first two series, but as a fan of the lovely Kris Marshall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Humphrey settle in to island life. How can anyone not love him?! It’s fun, entertaining and is Sherlock Holmes on a tropical island, as Humphrey seemingly solves murders using clues that no one else can see. Yes, your parents may watch it, but so what? This is a brilliant winter tonic!

The Night Manager (BBC One)

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Coming soon in 2016 is this six-part adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel, in which a former British soldier (Tom Hiddleston) is recruited by intelligence agent Burr (Olivia Colman) to infiltrate the arms trade being run by Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie).  I haven’t read the book, but I love a good spy thriller and with such a strong British cast I have high hopes for this series.

Undercover (BBC One)

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As a fan of the BBC’s legal drama Silk, it’s wonderful that its creator Peter Moffat has a new series coming this year. Sophie Okenedo leads the show as the first black Director of Public Prosecutions, who discovers her husband (Adrian Lester) has been lying to her for years. I’m intrigued enough to tune in!

In the Pipeline / Awaiting a UK network…..

Prison Break

3d5de4f061d24b32cb8feecb460374a5I always enjoyed Prison Break, although admittedly the first series was certainly the best. News that it is the next show to be revived is a bit of a surprise, but I’ll tune in to see what direction the story takes next. I believe it will be set as though the finale (in which we said farewell to one character for good) didn’t occur. After watching them act together in The Flash it’ll be great to see Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell back in the roles they are most famous for.

Of Kings & Prophets (starts in the US on 8th March on ABC)


I imagine the makers of this new biblical series are hoping it’ll attract the same audience as Game of Thrones. Its success will depend on whether it’s decent and can attract an audience fast enough. The pilot has already been partly recast and reshot, but the trailer looks promising. With established actors including Ray Winstone (as Saul, King of Israel) and Nathaniel Parker, hopefully the acting quality will be strong. For me though the biggest attraction is its young, male lead, playing David (as in David vs. Goliath, future King of Israel) Oliver Rix. He was Aumerle to David Tennant’s Richard II in 2013 for the RSC and proved what a fantatstic actor he is. I hope this does well (but doesn’t keep Oli away from the stage for too long)!

Billions 

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Photo: James Minchin/SHOWTIME

Damian Lewis is back on television is this new US series, playing hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, who is trying to be brought down by US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (played by Paul Giamatti). Having just started in the US on Showtime, I’ll be keeping an eye how this series is received. Given the pull of the two stars, if it is successful hopefully it’ll soon appear here in the UK.

His Dark Materials (BBC One)

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I’m quite excited by the prospect of the BBC adapting Philip Pullman’s popular trilogy of books in to a series, especially after the success of last year’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Admittedly, this may not make it on to our screens until next year, but just in case, I wanted to include it here, as I’m sure it will prove to be a wonderful series for all the family, whether a fan of the books or not.

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So those are the shows I’m most excited about watching in 2016 from the ones we know about this early on in the year. Who knows what else could be coming to our screens over the next 12 months! Feel free to let me know what you will be watching. I’m always looking for recommendations!

 

Television Nostalgia – Music & The X-Files – My favourite Mark Snow music from the series

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I’ve very much been in a nostalgic mood recently and no finer example of this is my revisiting of my favourite television series, returning with six new episodes in January 2016. I’ve already discussed on this blog why I loved the show so much and my favourite episodes, as well as talking about my most memorable moments between, in my opinion, the greatest TV partnership. Something else that has been very obvious during my recent viewings of the series is the power and importance of the musical score of The X-Files.

Written throughout the series and the two films by composer Mark Snow, it has a very distinct sound, which became ingrained in the fabric of the series and also a vital part of its atmosphere, tone and mood. The series was always meant to be a little out there and needed to have music which matched its various tones – whether myth arc conspiracies, creepy monsters of the week or more emotional, personal stories centring on the lives of the characters we had grown to know so well. Mark Snow scores all of this brilliantly.

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Mark Snow

Recently his music has been able to be appreciated all over again by X-Philes with the release of two volumes (4 CDs in each) of his wonderful music from the series by La La Records, each selling out very quickly (although you can still locate copies on the web if you keep looking). A re-release of the score to the first film is however still available (see the link at the end to buy). It’s been fantastic to listen to the music on its own and realise just how much certain moments in the series are linked to the music that accompanied them.

Fans are already chatting about what music they’d like to see in a further third volume (come on La La Records, you know you want to!) and it’s made me consider which musical score moments from 202 episodes and 2 films have stood out for me. So, as we await those new stories and new music from Mark to accompany them, here are my favourite pieces of Mark Snow’s X-Files score. I’d love to hear what other fans have on their lists and what they would love to hear on a third CD volume if we are lucky enough to get one.

1. Ending from Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (series 3)

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This is a fairly surreal episode by fan favourite Darin Morgan (hard to believe he only actually wrote four episodes!), but more than anything I love the music written for the final few minutes. It’s a genuinely beautiful piece of music, which is able to be both melancholy and hopeful at the same time. This is a very distinctive musical piece from the series and it’s no surprise it was included on the first volume of music released.

2. Scully remembers her sister in Piper Maru (series 3)

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This is only a short music cue from Piper Maru, but it’s always been one that I’ve remembered and I was thrilled to see it included on volume 1 (within the track “Back In The Hood”). As Scully returns to the naval base she grew up on, we see her remember happy childhood times playing hopscotch with her sister. With Melissa’s death still very recent, this moment is very touching and this cue from Mark Snow truly adds to the emotional depth of the scene.

3. Dark revelations in Grotesque (series 3)

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Grotesque is one of the series’s most chilling episodes and required a darker, more disturbing musical background to enhance the atmosphere we were seeing on screen. Mark’s loud, intense score, heavy on the piano and its relentless pounding is absolutely perfect to depict the frightening events of the story as the viewers start to worry that Mulder may have truly fallen over the edge of sanity.

4. Home Again (I Want To Believe)

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Although it disappointed me in many ways, the music for the second film I Want To Believe was not one of them and Mark Snow proved that years later he was still perfect at capturing the magic of Mulder and Scully (and indeed David and Gillian) on screen. The stand out piece for me has to be what is effectively their love theme from the film, captured in “Home Again.” It’s a beautiful piece of music, full of love and emotion and marks this deeper connection now shared between them.

5. On a bridge between life and death for Scully in One Breath (series 2)

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One Breath was bound to be in here somewhere as it’s my favourite episode and it’s another which highlights the variety of music needed over the course of the series. Unlike darker, moodier music such as for Grotesque, the music for One Breath needed to be more delicate, in order to reflect Scully’s fragile life and how close she was to death. Mark Snow’s score is very touching and feels, in parts, rather spiritual and I particularly love the music chosen for scenes in which Scully sits in her boat, which at any point could be set adrift. Thankfully volume 1 of the CD collection has captured this score in both “Reanimation” and “Guardian Angel”.

6. Unwavering love and friendship in Momento Mori (series 4)

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Momento Mori is one of those episodes that always manages to bring a tear to my eye and remains, for me, one of the finest hours of the series. It’s certainly some of Gillian Anderson’s best work (in the year she deservedly won an Emmy) and this scene at the end of the episode, in which she deals with Penny’s death by resolving to come back to work as she has things to finish, is truly wonderful and contains one of the series’s most emotional and heartbreaking pieces of music. The fact this has yet to be released on the CDs surely means a 3rd volume is a necessity?!

7. Sweeping conspiracies in Gethsemane and emotional depths in Redux (series 4 & 5)

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The music of the fourth series finale and indeed the start of series 5 has always stayed fresh in my head and for me is one of the most memorable sections of score written for the show. These episodes were quite epic in story, both on a myth-arc level, as Mulder searches to prove the ultimate proof of a governmental deception and on a personal level, as Scully’s cancer seems to finally be too strong for her. Mark’s music is very impressive, with grand, sweeping sections, moving seamlessly through to the more fragile moments. Although most of the music from Gethsemane and Redux has been captured on volume 2, I was sad that the beautiful short cue from Redux II, played as Mulder visits a sleeping Scully was left out. Surely this is another must-add piece for a third volume?!

8. Beware Eugene Victor Tooms! (series 1)

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Tooms remains one of the most memorable and indeed terrifying characters of the series and the music written by Mark in his two episodes was fantastic. With brilliant use of plucked strings and synth, he truly conveys an eeriness that was essential to the effect the episodes were designed to have on the audience. The creepy music from the beginning of Tooms, when we are within the Druid Hill, stands out for me as being some of the most frightening music on film or television (captured on volume 2’s release). It’s a perfect example of how crucial music is to something – no matter how well written and acted, I think Squeeze and Tooms would not have had the same impact without Mark’s score.

9. Maybe there’s Hope in The Truth Part 2 (series 9)

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It was a sad day when The X-Files came to an end and the final scene of the series was a lovely way to end the show. It left Mulder and Scully with hope for the future, one that saw them reunited and stronger together. Mark Snow’s delicate music, with echoes of the main theme within it was a lovely way to say goodbye to our favourite FBI agents and no doubt brought a tear to the eye of many fans when they first watched it.

10. At the crossroads (Fight The Future)

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The release of the first feature film was an exciting event and Mark Snow created a grand score to accompany this big screen outing. I could have picked a number of pieces, but I’ve always loved the piece of score that accompanied the scene in which Mulder and Scully drive across country after the tanker trucks and instead of going left or right, drive straight ahead in to the barren wasteland.

11. The influence of the Navejo (Anasazi trilogy, series 2 and 3)

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In what for me is the strongest mythology multi-part story of the whole series, there is the strong influence of the Indian tribe and their ancient traditions. Mark Snow did a great job of creating a score for the episodes that managed to capture this within the sound, giving the episodes a fresh and distinct sound. It’s such an intrinsic part of this story that you can see the moments in your mind as you listen to it.

12. Little Box of Sand (Emily, series 5)

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The season five two-parter which revealed the existence of little Emily as Scully’s daughter is one of the most poignant stories. You had a sense that this could never have a happy ending. The score is delicate, haunting and filled with a tragic sadness and this piece from the soundtrack, brings this beautiful music together. It’s one of the best examples of Mark Snow creating an emotional depth in his music to enhance the power of the storylines on the show.

13. The End – Closure (The End, series 5)

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As the show’s time in Vancouver drew to a close the creators gave us a finale that brought certain answers, while also setting the course for the show’s new path. It felt like an ending of sorts and the music was epic and with a sweeping grandeur to match the occasion. I especially love the score that accompanies the last few moments as Mulder finds his office and life’s work has literally gone up in smoke.

14. Cloning and the alien bounty hunter (Colony/End Game, series 2)

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Colony and End Game marked a shift in the stakes of the mythology of the show, introducing the concept of clones, a deeper mystery surrounding Mulder’s sister and the frightening Alien Bounty Hunter. The music throughout is suitably atmospheric and eerie, giving the story an added other-worldly element, which was able to ratchet up the tension once Scully realises the person before her is not her partner at the cliffhanger end to the first episode. It was gripping television and Mark’s score certainly added to that.

15. and of course…..the now iconic theme! 

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Although this list is more focussed on music from the episodes themselves, it seemed wrong to not include the brilliant theme of the series. Looking back at the show now, I can’t imagine The X-Files without this haunting, otherworldly music cue, which set the tone for Mark Snow’s music for the entire duration of the series. It’s instantly recognisable and one of the best television themes created.

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So those are my favourite pieces from the series to date. No one else would be able to capture the unique mood and atmosphere of the world of Mulder and Scully and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what musical score Mark Snow will create for the new episodes airing next January (I can’t believe how close we are now!). I’d love to hear which musical tracks you love and which you are hoping to see on any future compilation CD.

The official soundtrack releases for The X-Files were released by La La Records. The collection for the first film Fight The Future is still available here. Keep an eye on their website for news of any future releases (fingers crossed). 

The Truth Is Still Out There! 10 Things that should appear in The X-Files revival!

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So today brought the news X-Philes the world over have been waiting for – The X-Files is returning to our screens! After so much speculation and a growing anticipation, it has been confirmed that Fox has commissioned six new episodes of the series, reuniting creator Chris Carter with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

In the hope that the revival would indeed become a reality I started to think about what I most hope to see included in this new run, more so now we have a set of episodes rather than just a film. Below is my top 10 wish list. Do let me know what you are hoping to see!

1. The truth about what happened in 2012

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The mythology became a huge driving force of the series and dedicated fans continued on Mulder’s quest for the truth through nine seasons waiting for answers. The finale hinted at a hugely significant global event on 22nd December 2012. That has come and gone now, so the question has to be – what happened?! I find it ridiculous to think this won’t be addressed somehow! It’s one of the biggest plot points left unresolved and one which was not touched on during the last film.

2. AD Walter Skinner 

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I always loved Skinner. He started out as so by the book and became one of Mulder and Scully’s biggest allies. It was lovely to see him in the last movie, after the uncertain future that awaited him in his last appearance in the finale, but it really wasn’t enough for me. Skinner better be a big part of this revival. Plus, I was lucky enough to get Mitch Pileggi’s autograph and he was a genuinely lovely guy, who I’m sure would love to go back to the show.

3. Some brand new stand alone mysteries

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I certainly hope the initial indications are true that as well as some form of mythology conclusion, we’ll also see some stand alone episodes as part of the six episode run. The X-Files may have started out as a show slanted towards aliens, but with episode 3, Squeeze, a now iconic liver-eating mutant made us all realise that the possibilities of the show were endless. After Mulder’s absence from so much of the last few years and cases of the show, it would be nice to see the duo tackle a brand new, creepy monster on their return to scare a whole new generation!

4. William 

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I wasn’t a huge fan of the William story arc if I’m honest, but it would seem nuts to me if there is no acknowledgement or reference to him during this series. He’d be 13 or so now and so it would perhaps be interesting to see where he is and whether he is displaying any otherworldly characteristics. I also imagine Gillian would be brilliant in some scenes with him, even if it’s just them watching him from a distance.

5. Mrs Scully (just no William Jr!)

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Sheila Larken’s portrayal of Mrs Scully was another highlight of the show for me. She was such a lovely character and so supportive of her daughter and clearly saw the special bond between her and Mulder. After going through so much during the course of the series, it would be lovely to see where she is now and hopefully that she is happy. Heck maybe her and Skinner could be a couple!!

6. The Cigarette Smoking Man is never really dead! 

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No one really absolutely believes the Cigarette Smoking Man is dead do they?! He has “died” at least twice on the show already, so I find it hard to accept that he won’t find a way to return to cause trouble for Mulder & Scully. Plus William B Davis was so brilliant in the role, that it would seem a waste to not see him sparring with Mulder or Skinner once again.

7. A return for some classic writers and directors

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The X-Files always seemed to be like a family for those who worked on the show and those of us who watched it from start to finish came to recognise the names and work of the writers and directors as much as the actors. If we are to have six new stories, I certainly hope Chris Carter has lined up some of the show’s old faithful family to be part of it. I imagine such a short run would rule out a quirky Darin Morgan script, but I’d love to see the return of Glen Morgan and James Wong, whose writing partnership brought us some of the best stories and characters, together with Vince Gilligan, now more famous for creating his own successful series Breaking Bad. As for directors, it would be nice to see Rob Bowman back, as well as R.W Goodwin (aka Sheila “Mrs Scully” Larken’s husband) who directed so many of my favourite stories.

8. A special dedication to Kim Manners

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Since the show ended, director Kim Manners passed away. He directed some great episodes, such as Quagmire and the controversial Home and it would be lovely to see a dedication to him at the end of one of the new episodes.

9. Filming returns to Vancouver, the spiritual home of The X-Files!

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So the series left Vancouver after five seasons but, for me, the tone and mood of the show was always at its best during its years filming in Canada, in a city I’ve visited since and loved. Now the series is coming back, it feels appropriate that it goes back to the place where it all began 20 years ago and that’s Vancouver!

10. Details of filming please! 

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Okay, so number ten is a bit of a cheat and a fantasy request, but why not?! I’d love a comprehensive, detailed schedule for filming, issued in advance, so that geeky fans like me can seriously consider planning a holiday around coming to watch some filming! Even if it’s just a couple of days to accommodate all the loyal fans out there. If you are listening Chris Carter, make it happen!

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So that’s my top ten wish list, although I admit just having my favourite series returning is exciting enough! I look forward to all the debate, speculation and buzz that will occur over the next few months! Don’t forget, the truth is out there!

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