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The X-Files (Topps) Digest #1 – Big Foot, Warm Heart (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

It is very odd to think that The X-Files has never done an episode about Bigfoot, perhaps America’s most recognisable and iconic mythological figure.

Perhaps there’s a reason for this. The show did a Bigfoot-type creature early in its first season, with The Jersey Devil. The fifth episode of the first season, The Jersey Devil helped to solidify the impression that The X-Files was better at abstract horrors than familiar monsters. It is not too difficult to imagine that the production team looked at The Jersey Devil and decided that Bigfoot was unlikely to be a runner.

Here there be monsters...

Here there be monsters…

Still, the show has waded into cryptozoology on occasion – with somewhat mixed results. Quagmire featured the agents hunting a mysterious reptile in a rural lake. When the show had to relaunch itself during the eighth season, Scully and Doggett bonded over their pursuit of a giant bat-like creature in Patience, the first standalone episode within that new status quo. Even Bigfoot was frequently referenced and cited. Most obviously, the final montage of Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” suggests that Mulder treats the Roger Patterson footage as an almost holy text.

Perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that Mulder and Scully would come face to face with Bigfoot in the pages of the licensed tie-in, as part of the “digest” that Topps released at the end of their first year publishing the comic.

Eye see...

Eye see…

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The X-Files – The Jersey Devil (Review)

And with The Jersey Devil, the first season of The X-Files hits its first major snag. The first four episodes have done an efficient job laying down the character arcs and the ground rules for this new conspiratorial series. The rest of the season – like a lot of first seasons – has a great deal of difficulty trying to figure out a formula that works using those elements.

The Jersey Devil is, by all accounts, an episode that should work. It has a nice pseudo-scientific premise. It is written by the creator of the show, and who – at this early stage – could claim a better idea of how the series works than Chris Carter? It gives us some personal insight into both of our protagonists, and it sort of clarifies that Squeeze is not going to be the exception – that there will be a lot of anthology-style episodes.

And yet, despite all that, it doesn’t quite work. The premise is never as interesting as it should be. Chris Carter confirms that while he is a fantastic ideas man, he is not the strongest writer on his own staff. The best of these insights into Mulder and Scully were already made much better in Squeeze, and the rest feel somewhat trite. Despite the fact that it’s only the show’s second anthology-style episode, The Jersey Devil feels like it’s trying to hard to stick to the framework outlined by the three UFO episodes in the series’ opening quartet.

Casting light...

Casting light…

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