IMPORTANT DATE IN TV HISTORY: November 30, 1997
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: The X-Files could have easily gotten away with being one kind of show. It might have been a more straightforward procedural, following Mulder and Scully from case to freaky case. Or it could have eschewed the procedural altogether and followed the alien conspiracy right down the rabbit hole. The true beauty of The X-Files was in the ways in which it would hopscotch its way around genres and styles — not in every episode, but in occasional episodes, which make it even more special.
This is all best exemplified in the Season 5 episode “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” a one-off episode shot in black-and-white that plays very intentionally like a storybook interlude. Mulder and Scully are summoned to small-down Indiana by a woman who says she was impregnated by an alien. Guess who believes her. Guess who doesn’t. Our heroes find the small town teeming with the kinds of strange characters and suspicions that would be common in a David Lynch creation. And then we meet Dr. Pollidori, played by Seinfeld‘s J. Peterman himself, John O’Hurley. It’s O’Hurley who really unlocks the arch tone that the episode is going for.