'You're taking off?'
'With that thing still on the loose?'

Title: Humbug
Season: Two (1995)
Duration: 45m
Written by: Darin Morgan
Directed by: Kim Manners
Rating: ****

Season two of The X-Files was a fine season, and indeed I regard the first four as being particularly strong before the show began to lose its way around the time of the fifth. Yet that low-key first season began to get broader and more mainstream – season two gave us shape-changing, Terminator-like aliens that had green blood, while season three often became the 'monster of the week' show, with increased gore. That's not to say it was bad, but the eye towards a broader denominator would eventually see the series burn itself out.

That's poignant here with the first comedy episode of the series (and also a major inspiration on this site's parody album art). Darin Morgan was one of the best writers the series ever had, but as soon as you introduce self-referentiality into a series it's only a matter of time before it begins to eat its own tail. Suddenly The X-Files wasn't existing on cases, but existing on itself, and as other writers began to follow suit the tone of the series varied wildly from week to week. From here it was less than three years before we got a black and white episode with a Frankenstein's monster that was addicted to Cher... an episode with 'post modern' actually in its title.

All of which takes nothing away from Humbug in and of itself, a fine albeit slightly pedestrian comic retooling of Freaks. Yet it opened a direction for The X-Files that saw the series gradually begin to dilute itself way past its original strengths. On those terms Humbug easily earns its place in this list as a key episode... not only as a great episode in its own right, but also as one that changed the nature of the series forever.

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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