'You okay, Mulder?'
'Yeah, it's alright, my ass broke the fall.'

Title: The Goldberg Variation
Season: Seven (1999)
Duration: 43m
Written by: Jeffrey Bell
Directed by: Thomas J Wright
Rating: ****

Okay, if I'm being really honest here then The Goldberg Variation isn't one of the 18 key X-Files episodes, or even one of the greatest... it's probably not even in the top one hundred. But if its inclusion here is more swayed by the fact that I needed an episode to fit the track 'Casino Boogie' than any intrinsic value, it must still be acknowledged that it's a fun, jaunty episode in its own right.

In fact, in capturing 'key episodes' then The Goldberg Variation serves its purpose as an illustration of how season seven, David Duchovny's final full season, was still able to produce solid television on a consistent basis. It doesn't warrant inclusion in the same way X-Cops from the same season does, but it has a detailed, intricate plot and some nice musings on the nature of luck and the interconnectedness of all things. The equally clever and vaguely casino-based The Amazing Maleeni could also have got the nod.

One notable thing about season seven is that it's stronger than the somewhat bland sixth season, even if it still falls within the weaker second half of the series' lifespan. Out of 22 episodes only half a dozen are below par, and usually by virtue of being dull rather than especially terrible. However, there's also a notable increase in the number of overtly silly episodes, with even William Gibson and Tom Maddox writing a fun-but-way-outside-the-show's-remit virtual reality script. Before a mythology finale the season ends with a trio of comedy episodes where Duchovny writes an indulgent but diverting Hollywood pastiche, an OTT doppleganger tale and a story of a real life genie. It's fun if inessential stuff, but episodes like The Goldberg Variation straddled the line between extreme comedy and more serious cases.

Select A Track
1 Rocks Off: Never Again

2 Rip This Joint: Redrum

3 Shake Your Hips:
The Post-Modern Prometheus

4 Casino Boogie:
The Goldberg Variation

5 Tumbling Dice: Improbable

6 Sweet Virginia: Small Potatoes

7 Torn and Frayed: Home

8 Sweet Black Angel: One Breath

9 Loving Cup: E.B.E.

10 Happy:
Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man

11 Turd On The Run: Tooms

12 Ventilator Blues: Anasazi

13 I Just Want To See His Face:
Clyde Bruckman's Finale Repose

14 Let It Loose: Humbug

15 All Down The Line: X-Cops

16 Stop Breaking Down:
Jose Chung's From Outer Space

17 Shine A Light: The Pilot

18 Soul Survivor: Beyond The Sea

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