The buzz (otherwise known as five guys hanging out at Harry Knowles' house) has it that The X-Files is better this year than last, which is impossible; no Garry Shandling so far this year. The buzz also has it that Robert Patrick, as Agent John Doggett, is appropriately severe as the resident cynic now working the X-Files; and that Gillian Anderson, as the fetus-toting Dana Scully, has come into her own as the True Believer now that David Duchovny's turned the show into a part-time gig. So when Fox sent out an advance tape of the February 18 episode, "Per Manum," which, ahem, promises to reveal the mystery behind Scully's inexplicable pregnancy, it seemed like a good time to catch up.
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Too bad The X-Files is still the dullest and, by far, most humorless show on television, more so now that Duchovny's but a specter looming just out of sight. Duchovny's Mulder makes yet another appearance this week, as Scully flashes backbackback to the time she discovered she was, then wasn't, barren; it turns out Mulder may have had something to do with her pregnancy after all. Or did he? The episode opens with a woman giving birth to an alien baby, then suggests, over and over, that Scully's carrying her own E.T.--to the surprise of no one. When she shows up at the hospital with yet another pregnant abductee, Scully informs the docs that this woman "is about to give birth to something...inhuman," and they just shrug and say, well, OK. Swear to God: You swap out the dreary soundtrack for something light and upbeat, and The X-Files plays like a parody, especially when the square-jawed Adam Baldwin shows up insisting, "There's no conspiracy." Dude, have you ever seen the show? Next week: Annabeth Gish shows up in a recurring role. Week after that: I stop caring altogether.