When good tv shows go bad: "The X-Files", What Went Wrong? Now that the dust has settled on the finale of one of tv's best shows ever, I thought it timely and appropriate to do an analyis on the decline of this by now classic. I'm trying to develop a theory of what it is about great tv programs that characterizes their decline and The X-Files is a prime example of a show that, somewhere along the line, took a wrong turn on the road to forever. I don't hold with the critics of the show who claim the show "went to hell" after the fourth or fifth year (unless they are speaking solely of the "mythology" thread ). I believe something else is going on, but will restrain myself from commentary on that for now. In any event, it will be seen, perhaps rightly so, as an oversimplification that the show can basically be divided into two periods: (a) the first five years, the period of Vancouver production (or X-Files, V.C.). I would assume most, if not all, devotees will agree that these seasons, or some subset thereof, constitute the heyday or the pinnacle of the show. (b) the last four years, the period of what I will call the "LA Captivity" (or X-Files, C.A.), a time of spottier quality and increasing fan discontent and viewer fall-off. I invite reader participation and feedback in this thread, which is---let's be honest---basically an X-Files gripe thread. But as with the Star Trek gripes thread of not long ago, I would like to construct a systematization of regular viewers' gripes, not just to air kvetching about something in one episode or another that this person or the other may not like. I had sought some time during the weekly discussions of ninth-season episodes of The X-Files to elicit other participants' ideas on what they saw as the markers/indicators of the decline that they so often complained about. I got very little feedback, so I hope a whole thread dedicated to such a discussion will succeed where that failed. I think, in order to present such a systematic view of the decline of The X-Files, one must first state why one liked The X-Files in general during its heyday. What was it about the show that made you at one time a regular, devoted viewer? One might exemplify by citing these qualities in one's favorite individual episode (or two/three-parter, if that is your choice). Go on to demonstrate how that/those feature(s) or characteristic(s) were lost over time. Perhaps cite an episode or two as examples. One might---and this is tough and time-consuming ---compare two scenes from totally different episodes treating the same-type situation; one where the show "got it right", the other where you think it went wrong in handling a parallel or similar situation. Also, if there are things you didn't like about the show from the beginning that only got worse, or more annoying, as time went on, you might state and exemplify them as well. Please try to keep it "generic". In other words, anything you bring up should be part of a trend or be a general characteristic of the show, rather just one flaw in one episode. Ask yourself: can this (in theory, at least) be cited for earlier or later episodes of the program as well? Like any long-running show The X-Files has been subject to certain trends and ailments. Some of the (for me) obvious downward trends: 1. lack of dramatic or situational verisimilitude: ---Just off the bat, a small detail that may be niggling: characters enter dark rooms most often without trying to cut on the lights (now that's a pet peeve!). Not in America! ---The actual likelihood of FBI intervention/involvement in some of the cases investigated. The "Hollywood convenience", as it may be called. ---The too facile giving-up of baby Bill by Scully. (A biggie!) 2. "Haven't we met somewhere before?" or "deja view", that is, seeming repetitiveness of theme and/or presentation: ---"Teliko" : "Squeeze"/ "Tooms" (supple monster after vital human body fluids or body parts) ---"Redrum" (reverse re-living of events) : "Monday" (repeated telling of same events from different camera angles) ---most of the "mythology" episodes ('nuff said!) ---"Demons" (Mulder goes bonkers) : "Wetwired" (Scully goes bonkers) ---"Mind's Eye" (blind woman sees through eyes of a killer) : "Oubliette" (ex-kidnap victim sees through the eyes of present kidnap victim of the same offender) ---"Young at Heart" : "Pusher"/"Kitsunegari" : "Paper Hearts" (super-villains pushing Mulder's buttons and/or those out for personal revenge) This is not to say necessarily that all later episodes with similar themes are bad, just that they tend to remind one of earlier, sometimes better (or fresher-seeming) episodes. The stronger the premise, the less flexible the allowance on its variance (the less "wiggle room"). Sf- or supernatural-themed fiction has, by its very definition, strong premises. Comes with the territory. 3. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall . . .", or ever increasing series self-referentiality. It got really bad in the last half of the final season (e.g., X-Files-history-recounting Agent Leyla Harrison ("Scary Monsters", "Alone" (8th season)); the Brady Bunch (i.e., covert X-Files) references of "Sunshine Days"). When the producers and writers feel the need to talk or reply directly to the "fans" through the script, you know you're in trouble. The story should be about the story, not about fan reaction(s) to the story or to the actors' off-screen lives, or whatever. 4. scientific inaccuracy implausibility. Not too high on my list, since it's the supernatural and horror ---the irrational---elements of the show that appeal to me, and they tend to mix with the science anyway.) It does sometimes beg questions, but, unlike in other places, they are far more easily overlooked. What makes your list? Note: Now that I've (hopefully) set the scene (laid out the premises and bases for the discussion), I ask only that you please, please, please(!), confine your remarks to effects, not (presumed) causes. I can't emphasize that enough. This thread discussion is meant as a descriptive excercise. Although I'm in the process of theory formation, I need others' perspectives on the nature of the decline. At this point, at least, speculation on causation would be futile and useless, as well as counterproductive, in my opinion.