Comic Relief - X-Files Most Funny
The Top 10 Funniest Episodes List...
The X-Files is overall a serious television show focusing on murder and supernatural monstrosity. However, the writing team are a clever, witty and talented bunch who infused many episodes with dry humour allowing for the main characters to be developed into well-rounded personalities. Additionally, some episodes emphasized humour as a means of relief from the more intense aspects of the stories. This list is my selection of the top ten most funny episodes in the series. The list is in chronological order.
1. S02E03 Soft Light
This episode was not intended as funny and the humour will be lost on most viewers, however, if you are familiar with the work of character actor, Tony Shalhoub, then you will understand why this episode is in my list. Shalhoub plays a meek physicist whose experiments with dark matter have gone awry in the most deadly way. His shadow now attacks anyone within its path killing them instantly, perhaps even banishing them to some other dimension. It is classic Shalhoub with him panicked, frantic, frazzled and sweaty for most of the episode. Shalhoub playing a character that is chased by his own shadow epitomizes his contribution to Hollywood roles, making for an amusing portrayal to anyone that understands the nuances.
2. S03E04 Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose
This episode deals with the topic of clairvoyance and psychics. As we know, psychics are confidence tricksters who at best connect with their clients on a highly intuitive empathic level. Most of the time, they simply employ techniques such as hypnosis and cold reading providing false information in exchange for money. In this episode, Peter Boyle plays the eponymous, Clyde Bruckman and he is a legitimate psychic able to perceive the mode and moment of death for those around him. He is amusingly casual about his gifts and how he relays the details of their manifestation to the authorities. His banter with Scully is very funny and his wit has the ability to render the portrayal of those around him rather caricaturesque.
3. S05E11 Kill Switch
This is another episode that likely wasn't intended as comedic, but for various reasons has a lot of humour. The opening sequence involves an ironic twist of fate that is played out with comedic timing. Later, as Mulder and Scully investigate a haywire computer AI, they have to enlist the knowledge and talents of supreme hacker, Invisigoth. Invisigoth is a tech geek who takes herself way too serious which Scully is happy to point out at every turn. Invisigoth rubs Scully the wrong way from the onset leading to some humourous back and forths. Later, the hacker is introduced to the Lone Gunmen nerds that are familiar with her work and reputation. They shamelessly drool over the obnoxious hacker. Even, Mulder seems slightly enamoured. Once Mulder is captured by the AI, his Matrix-like delusions of reality induced by the computer have additional funny moments.
4. S05E12 Bad Blood
Bad Blood was intended to be comedic. The opening sequence of the episode sees a teenager being chased through a forest. Once the assailant catches up, the teenager is tackled, flipped over and executed with a stake to the heart. Mulder turns out to be the killer and when Scully catches up, Mulder appears quite proud of his deed. He pulls open the teenager's lips, revealing sharpened incisor fangs. Then Scully knocks them loose to prove that they are a Halloween trinket. Mulder seems devastated. The episode involves recounting the events that led to the murder through both Mulder's recollection and that of Scully in turn. Luke Wilson plays the local sheriff and his treatment from the memory of each agent is a priceless hilarious juxtaposition. The theme of "getting one's stories straight" is a wonderful premise for creating unexpected humour.
5. S06E04/E05 Dreamland
This two-part episode provides lots of laughs through another amusing juxtaposition. This time, when Scully and Mulder make a drive out toward Area 51, they run into the illustrious M.I.B.. Morris Fletcher is the head of the group and supported by a military detail. The M.I.B. are also investigating the area because there have been strange happenings that confound the laws of physics, time and space. Fletcher and Mulder end up seeing a bright light from what would appear to be a UFO above them. Once the aircraft passes, Mulder and Fletcher start to realize that something improbable has occurred - they have switched bodies. Fletcher is very satisfied with the younger, more attractive body and proceeds to avail himself of its advantages. Scully doesn't know what to make of the change in "Mulder". Mulder on the other hand is starting to realize why Fletcher isn't making attempts to remedy the situation - Fletcher's job is so shadowy that none of his colleagues can actually form sincere bonds with him while at home his kids suffer from teenage angst and his wife is completely neurotic. Eventually, Fletcher and Mulder have to accept putting things right, but both are provided with a great amount of insight professionally and personally. The dancing sequence in the mirror is priceless.
6. S06E07 Terms of Endearment
This episode stars Bruce Campbell which right off the bat means that it will be hilarious. The story doesn't disappoint either. Campbell plays, Wayne, a mincing bigamist that may be suspected of prenatal infanticide. His various wives appear to have no sense of his duplicity as a husband. Mulder on the other hand is onto Wayne from the onset. He tracks him and makes his intentions clear. Wayne may be some kind of ancient demon looking for a human wife that can produce an offspring with all of his strengths and none of the weaknesses of his kind. Wayne is distracted by the FBI investigation and fails to notice that one of his pregnant wives is actually of his kind and has conceived a baby for their race. The irony is quite amusing.
7. S06E15 Arcadia
Mulder and Scully go undercover as a married couple moving into a gated community where multiple reports of missing couples have occurred in previous years. The hokey marriage provides many amusing moments and Mulder's attempts to rouse neighbours into revealing information escalates from subtle to completely destructive. The quiet, picturesque neighbourhood is rendered into a chaotic mess much to the delight of Mulder who correctly anticipates that those conditions will draw out the parties responsible for the missing couples.
8. S07E03 Hungry
Rob Roberts is seemingly a normal young man, grinding through life as a server at the local burger joint. However, his hidden pleasure is brains, preferably those of human beings. Roberts turns out to be some kind of genetic mutant whose true appearance is quite ghastly. One of his victim's corpses (a fellow employee at the burger joint) is found with its brain missing leading to the arrival of Mulder and Scully. There is a more appropriate suspect than Roberts, but slowly Mulder is realizing the truth. All of the burger joint's employees are instructed to visit a psychologist after the murder of their coworker, which leads to Roberts attending a meeting for those recovering from food binges and addiction. Roberts is a sympathetic character whose secrecy is unveiled amusingly prior to Mulder confronting him.
9. S07E06 The Goldberg Variation
Henry Weems is a man with uncanny good luck. He is attempting to use his gift to attain the money to pay for a friend's expensive life-saving surgery. Knowing that his gift comes as a curse for those interacting with him, he decides to play a high-stakes poker game against mobsters. Weems gets lucky when he is thrown off the roof of a building by the gangsters who don't appreciate him cleaning them out. This draws the attention of Mulder and Scully. Mulder quickly pieces together enough information to conclude about the nature of Weems's abilities. Weems's low-key, meek demeanor makes for an amusing juxtaposition with his epic deeds.
10. S07E19 Hollywood A.D.
This episode is extremely self-reflexive as the X-files department at the F.B.I. becomes subject for a Hollywood movie. Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni play themselves as actors for the roles of Mulder and Scully. Meanwhile, Assistant Director, Skinner, is enjoying his James Bond treatment in the script and his fifteen minutes in the limelight. Mulder is less comfortable finding the Hollywood version of his reality to be nothing more than infantile mockery of his blood, sweat and tears on the X-files. This might have been the series closer and an appropriate "valentine" to the fans had the series been based in episodic structure alone.