On a quiet Friday night in 1995, I saw an episode of a TV show that simultaneously freaked me out and carved an indelible mark in my fragile teenage brain. At the time, I didn’t quite remember the show’s title nor its premise. All I knew was that this particular episode featured two FBI agents who were investigating a Satanic cult in a small town in New Hampshire.
In the course of the episode, these two FBI agents—some dude and a redheaded chick—get help from a high school substitute teacher named Mrs. Paddock, whom we later learn is apparently an incarnation of the devil himself. Mrs. Paddock, displeased with the way cult members had “lost their faith” (ha ha), creatively offs the faithless Satanists one by one. In the episode’s closing moments, the camera pans to reveal a message on the chalkboard left by Mrs. Paddock for the agents: “It’s been nice working with you.” Ominous music plays and the screen fades fade to black.
The show, of course, was The X-Files, the groundbreaking cult 1990’s show that featured FBI agents Mulder and Scully’s investigations of aliens, mutants, and serial killers in their unending quest for the truth. The show redefined the supernatural genre, introduced cinematic photography to the small screen, and spawned so many pale copycats in future seasons.
Let’s just say that first episode I saw propelled my inner geekdom to new heights. What followed throughout my high school and college years was a veritable display of my utter nerdiness: weekly VCR recordings; VHS (then later, DVD) collections; action figures; posters; newspaper clippings; weekly episode reviews; regular postings on the alt.tv.x-files newsgroup; and even the presidency of the X-Files Club at Boston University.
After the show petered out in the early 2000’s (lots and lots of squandered potential there—but I’m not bitter at all), I lost the drive and retired most of the fanaticism. I still own all the show’s seasons on DVD, but I quickly moved on… to Law & Order, of all things.
But every once in a while, it’s good to have old friends back in your life:
That’s right. The second X-Files movie (the first came out in 1998 and was among the pioneers of films that continued the storyline from the TV series onto the big screen) is coming out later this summer.
My inner nerd is grinning.