This interview on the CBC's Afternoon Show (broadcast within B.C.) took place on Thursday,
MK: Hi, this is Mark Forsythe, I'm in our Kelowna bureau... We're starting a new weekly feature, it's about pop culture: the strange, the absurd, the unexamined to the overexposed, and we begin this week with the growing popularity of a TV show called The X-Files. For those of you who haven't actually seen The X-Files, think of it as a kind of cross between Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone. It's shot in Vancouver, it's into the second season now, the show has attracted something of a cult following throughout North America and joining me now are some X-Files fans, Mike Quigley and Alexa Deans. Good afternoon to all of you. [various greetings exchanged] Well, Alexa, I haven't actually seen it yet, I have to admit this publicly, I'm going to after this, I know. Can you describe a typical show to me?
AD: There's no such thing as a "typical X-Files show".
MK: Which is why you like it, right?
AD: Exactly. You just don't know what's going to happen next, other than the two FBI agents having to deal with a situation of some kind or other every week, there's nothing typical about it.
MK: But what's the basic concept?
AD: The unexplainable, anything that regular FBI or regular investigative agencies can't deal with, or write off as being silly or unfounded. This is what gets fobbed off onto Mulder and Scully.
MK: This duo...
MK: One's a doctor, right?
AD: Yes, the woman, Doctor Dana Scully.
MK: And her life is based in fact.
MK: She's the critical one.
AD: She's the scientist.
MK: And who's the other guy?
AD: Fox Mulder, whose nickname is "Spooky" because he is open to anything, he keeps an open mind about everything, all possibilities.
MK: So, Mike, tell us how you got hooked on this.
MQ: I didn't really get into the show until the repeats from the first season. It was a show that I kept missing every week when it was on, but finally when I did get to see it, I was hooked.
MK: And... there has to be a reason there. Is it something you can put your finger on?
MQ: I heard about it on the Internet where there's a huge discussion group about the show, so I thought I should check it out.
MK: Alexa, were you there from the very beginning?
AD: Right from the beginning. As soon as there was any advance press, any publicity about the show, I was paying attention, leaning towards the darker side of things and being interest in that aspect of life. And then lead actor David Duchovny, I had particularly enjoyed his performance as a transvestite FBI agent [sic] in Twin Peaks, and the lead role in the film Kalifornia.
MK: Are there other reoccurring characters in there too, Mike, that you enjoy?
MQ: Yeah, there's a couple. One is called Deep Throat, unfortunately he's not with us any more. He was in the first season.
MQ: Well, you never know! [laughter] He's a character who would appear from time to time to give Mulder little tips and prompt him to investigate certain things, often putting his own life in danger. Another fellow is The Smoking Man. He's usually seen in the background when Mulder meets in the FBI offices with the high-ups. He's a person of whom little is known but he does hold a position of power, even though much of his job entails storing top-secret items in the Pentagon. [Note how I shamelessly quote from the FAQ here ";-)]
MK: I guess I should get a better idea of how bizarre some of these "files" are that they try and crack, Alexa. What are some of the situations they find themselves in?
AD: There was one this past fall that was particularly frightening. There was a half-human, half-worm toxic sewer creature that appeared and was killing people. It was the most wormy, slug-like thing with a semi-human head that lived in the sewers that played on everybody's fears of what's deep down in the water.
MK: Yeah? You like that, do you?
AD: Oh yes!
MQ: It was sort of like the alligators in the sewers of New York.
MK: Right! What's a favorite of yours, Mike?
MQ: My favorite was the show called Irresistible, which was about this serial killer similar to Jeffrey Dahmer. This show was very disturbing. The killer would pick up or kidnap women and then mutilate their bodies. Mulder and Scully were brought in to check it out because people in the FBI originally thought this was the work of aliens. The way the show was done, there was some suggestion that the guy was an alien because he would seemingly transform into different characters.
MK: Hmmm... it gets very dark.
MQ: You didn't know whether he was transforming, or that was just the way people were seeing him when they were being terrorized by him.
MK: What is it, the relationship between the two characters that you like?
MQ: I like the chemistry between them and the relationships that they have with other people that they deal with on the show as well.
MK: And it's made in Vancouver. It must be a kick to try and spot Vancouver scenes in it.
MQ: Yeah, that's part of the fascination with the show, the nitpicking or, as they call it on the Internet, the "netpicking". For example, in the Irresistible show, the killer was driving down Hastings Street by the old Woodward's location in Vancouver and a bus passed him on which the sign clearly said "UBC". So we had a little blooper there.
MK: Is it true that SFU doubles as FBI headquarters?
MQ: Yeah, but they have stock footage of the real FBI building that they integrate into the show with that.
MK: Alexa, from the sounds of it, this show had the appeal that Twin Peaks had a few years back. But that faded. Are you fearful the same thing might happen with The X-Files?
AD: I think it's like any program ... how far can they go. But the way Chris Carter has been keeping a rein on it and keeping it so interesting -- the writing is just unbelievable -- I think they would probably end the show before it got to the point where people were tuning out. I think they'd be able to anticipate that. I think that a few years down the road, it's still going to become a cult favorite.
MK: Uh-oh. Are we going to have conventions like Trekkie [sic] Conventions?
MQ: They already do! There was a show in Vancouver recently which was actually a Star Trek convention and the fellow who played Deep Throat was supposed to appear there. There's another big convention in the American Midwest in the next while which is concentrating on X-Files material.
MK: What do people talk about back and forth on the Internet regarding the show?
MQ: There's actually two Internet newsgroups. One is called alt.tv.x-files, the other is alt.tv.x-files.creative, which is where people can upload their own stories which they've based on X-Files type themes. In the main group, which is mostly a discussion of the show, for the first three days of this week, we've had an average of about two hundred messages a day. And this is a week following an episode which was just a repeat.
MK: Well, what do they talk about?
MQ: Oh, everything from "Can I get a copy of the show that I missed last week?" to Mulder's supposed obsession with pornography and the sexual preferences of the stars and characters.
MK: Oh, I see ... it's starting to "peel back the layers of the onion", so to speak!
MQ: Yeah, it gets pretty bizarre, and some of it recently has been quite tasteless.
MK: Oh, that's too bad. Alexa, is it true that you won't go anywhere on Friday nights because you have to be there for this?
AD: Oh, very true. Several of us plan our schedules so Friday nights, that's where we are, watching it, and if, for some unforeseeable reason, we can't be home, someone tapes it for us.
MK: Well, I'm going to give it a try now because so many TV series are shot in Vancouver and sometimes they're not the best. But it sounds like this is a perfect combination and you have a well-written, well-performed TV series, and it's worth giving a watch.
AD: It's like no other show shot in Vancouver.
MK: OK, thanks to you both! [various farewells] Mike Quigley and Alexa Deans, they are X-Files fans. [He gives the address of the Vancouver X-Files club which is 4404 Perry Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5N 3X5.]