The X-Files (1995) – Dod Kalm, and Humbug

Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa take Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) to see in their teleplay developed from a story by Gordon. Dod Kalm first aired on 10 March, 1995, and the FBI agents find themselves the rapid onset of a debilitating old age.

When a ship’s crew is rescued and brought ashore, the rescuers are stunned to see that all of them are suffering from old age, despite supposedly being in the prime of their life.

The case comes to Mulder’s attention who thinks the government may be conducting another Philadelphia Experiment, and is keen to investigate the ship and the surrounding area if they can find it. With a captain, Trondheim (John Savage) providing them transport, the agents find themselves aboard an ageing vessel, and soon they too begin to succumb to the ravages of old age.

But they find one man aboard who hasn’t suffered these inflictions, and the pair race against time, and their own bodies to discover the cause of what has happened.

It feels like a bit of a bottle episode, and while there is some good dialogue, and a smart mystery, this one for some reason, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, has never really caught my attention. Either because I’m still recovering from the previous episodes, or after their release to home video, that the next episode is so good!

Either way, it’s a solid enough tale, it just ends up being kind of forgettable trapped between the Colony/End Game story (the same could be said for Fearful Symmetry) and Humbug.

Humbug changed the game for The X-Files. Sure they’d had some funny moments before, and the show specialises in sharp dialogue between its leads, but Humbug, written by Darin Morgan and first broadcast 31 March, 1995 showed that the series could still be faithful to its roots while delivering humorous tales.

And Humbug excels at both, playing with our expectations as well as our perception of those around us, based on appearance.

The duo head to a small town in Florida, to investigate a series of attacks and murders that cross gender and racial lines. The pair find themselves in a trailer park inhabited by sideshow performers, and from there things just go from scary to funny, and back again, all while commenting on how we look at one another.

From the first moment I saw this episode, to my current rewatch of it for the blog, I’ve laughed each and every time, and delight in the fact that the characters are still true to who they are while being thrown into a truly fun situation.

It works. It works so well, and would make Morgan a fan favourite with the fans, who would eagerly anticipate his next effort.

I don’t want to spoil any of it for those select few who haven’t seen it, but treat yourself, I’ll wait here, continuing my search, because the truth is out there…

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