I never imagined after nine seasons and two distinctive films, that The X-Files would make its way back to the small screen. Less than enthused, I was highly skeptical of it all. Looking back, I can't really remember why considering almost everyone involved in what made the show so magical all those 1990s years back are returning and rejuvenated. While it's clearly taking the such a nostalgic hostage approach, much of the hum surrounds a lot of freshness to the stories we thought we were all but abandoned in the finale and where the characters we love are now emotionally. For us diehards, I'm now optimistic that this mini-series will be a treasure.
For possibly interested newbs, fret not. If you're into rather dark science fiction with a whole lot of government conspiracy, I encourage you to give it a shot. My own x-phile fandom began with some episodic seeds here and there. Once Fight The Future hit HBO, that spiral of subsquent viewings spawned my immersion in the online fan community and countless marathons thanks to SyFy, TNT, and student loan refunds which allowed for some box-set purchases.
Bottom line: you do not need to watch The X-Files from beginning to end to get a good grasp on the entire series.
I've been asked about X-Files re-watches here and there since the revival announcement and they've all been followed by a daunting sigh. There are 202 episodes and the emotional ride of it all was a lot the first time around. I feel there are a healthy group of episodes one needs to watch to capture an investment in the pending revival's inaugural Janauary 24, 2016 air date.
Below are my personal 25 X-Files Starter Kit episodes that are all you need to get interested and into the brand new season.
Season 1: "Pilot"
Our first introduction to a very enthusiastic Fox Mulder and tough-as-nails Dana Scully.
Season 1: "Ice"
The perfect example of John Carpenter's The Thing in 40-some-odd minutes.
Season 2: "Humbug"
As dark as American Horror Story: Freakshow, but much more interesting.
Season 3: "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose"
A tender exploration of a man burdened with a "gift" to forsee death.
Season 3: "Jose Chung's From Outer Space"
An eccentric science fiction writer takes a keen interest in one of Mulder and Scully's investigations.
Season 3: "Talitha Cumi"
Much ado about Mulder's family secrets that are wrapped very intimately around the government conspiracy to suppress the truth about alien life.
Season 4: "Home"
Striking for its subject matter, Mulder and Scully must put an end to a brutish family that kills to protect their unique lifestyle.
Season 4: "Never Again"
A fantastic demonstration of a rift between Mulder and Scully focusing on the personal thoughts of Scully when she meets a (mysterious) man on an assignment.
Season 4: "Memento Mori"
When Scully finds out she has inoperable cancer, Mulder stumbles upon why this illness may not be so coincidental.
Season 5: "Detour"
Mulder and Scully look to capture a mysterious creature responsible for the disappearance of quite a few people. It's Predator light.
Season 5: "Bad Blood"
The funniest episode in the entire series, Mulder and Scully compare stories of an incident that happened in a small town with Mulder convinced that the community is being occupied by vampires.
Season 5: "The End"
The episode that lead in to the first feature film, Fight The Future, a young boy is thought to have a special ability that proves the existence of alien life.
Season 6: "The Beginning"
A stumbling block for our two agents but a great continuation from Fight The Future with an additional focus on the deepened relationship between Mulder and Scully.
Season 6: "Two Fathers"
More from the tales of the alien conspiracy mytharc: the successful alien/human hybrid.
Season 6: "One Son"
Part 2 of "Two Fathers": old relationships are tested when loyalties are in question which creates more tension between Mulder and Scully.
Season 6: "The Unnatural"
Mulder visits a long retired law enforcement employee who tells him a story about a negro baseball league player who happened to be an alien.
Season 7: "The Sixth Extinction"
A tale of epic discovery, Scully travels to Africa to find the meaning behind a strange spacecraft that's made its way to the surface to help cure Mulder's mysterious illness.
Season 7: "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati"
Mulder is taken from the hospital and put in an illusive state that gives him a "normal" life away from his work.
Season 7: "Closure"
Mulder finds out what really happened to his sister who was abducted when they were both young children.
Season 7: "En Ami"
Scully reluctantly accompanies the Cancer Man on what is pitched as mission to save humankind from the perils of all illnesses.
Season 7: "Requiem"
Mulder and Scully revisit the case from the pilot episode that leads to Mulder's extraterrestrial abduction. And Scully drops the biggest WTF bomb in X-Files history.
Season 8: "Redum"
Papa Pope is caught in a time warp where he's being sucked backwards in order to find out if he's actually responsible for the murder of his wife.
Season 9: "Trust No 1"
The episode that gives all shippers confirmation that Mulder and Scully did in fact conceive William the good 'ol fashioned way.
Season 9: "Scary Monsters"
This is a very cool update of that segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie where the little boy imagined things and they actually appeared.
Season 9: "The Truth"