The Spreadsheet

A couple of weeks ago I was watching D.P.O., when I noticed that Scully was wearing sunglasses. It occurred to me that we don’t see that very often, so I took this pic and posted it on Twitter, commenting about how unusual it was.

Scully wearing sunglasses, in D.P.O.

That started a discussion about the many recurring details in The X-Files, and a lot of folks chimed in about the ways they’ve tracked them. Some use a journal or their phones to jot down noteworthy details as they watch. Some look for recurrence of just one or two specific items. A few of us suggested that a spreadsheet would be an effective way to keep track of all this data, and I decided that was exactly what I needed for my next rewatch.

I should mention that I’ve never created a spreadsheet before in my life. My brain isn’t really wired for that kind of information organization, and my eyes typically glaze over when I come across charts and graphs. So I guess that’s why this seems like a pretty big deal for me and why I felt compelled to blog about it (writing about my experience comes much more naturally).

I began collecting details to include and got LOTS of suggestions. I had over a hundred items on my list! I knew I’d never be able to track that many details in a single viewing, so I had to narrow it down a bit. I took out details that were sufficiently tracked elsewhere, such as recurring characters, and others that occurred too often to be considered noteworthy, like Scully’s cross (although times that Scully wasn’t wearing her cross could be an interesting detail to track…). Since my goal was to create a list of items I could track while watching every episode without stopping to analyze each scene, I removed items such as facial expressions (Scully’s eyebrow lift and Mulder’s eyebrow wag, various lip/tongue activities), tone of voice, and innuendo, which would take a closer examination or were subject to interpretation.

I ended up with 56 details on my list. That’s a lot, I know, but they’re all easy enough to spot so I think it’s manageable. I grouped them into categories to make tracking easier as I watch. Here’s the list:

Mulder it’s me
Scully it’s me
Mulder voiceover
Scully voiceover
Mulder “Dana”
Scully “Fox”
Medical doctor
Spooky Mulder    
sunflower seeds
Mulder’s porn
green acid blood
Scully autopsy
Scully doesn’t see
Mulder profiling
Mulder is shot/attacked
Scully is shot/attacked
Mulder in hospital
Scully in hospital
Scully saves Mulder
Mulder saves Scully
Mulder sport
Mulder touch/taste evidence
Mulder cries
Scully cries
sharing umbrella
Mulder loses gun
slide show
Mulder ditch
Mulder’s rolled sleeves
Mulder sunglasses
Scully sunglasses
Scully’s robe/pjs
Mulder’s pjs/sweats
Mulder turtleneck
Scully turtleneck
Mulder leather jacket
Scully leather jacket
Mulder t-shirt
Scully casual wear
Mulder topless
Mulder shorts/boxers  
Platonic activity
hand on lower back
forehead touch
forehead kiss
hair touches
random touches
Mulder’s apartment
Scully’s apartment
basement office
rental car
parking garage  

I scored a few random episodes to test out the spreadsheet, and I was able to track everything pretty easily. Moreover, it was really, really fun to do (admittedly I don’t get out much). So I’ve started my complete rewatch. I’m about halfway through Season 1, and one initial observation I’ve made is that the two most commonly occurring details are “random touches” and “Mulder’s rolled sleeves”. That’s really no surprise. I mean Mulder touches Scully a lot. A lot a lot a lot. And Mulder’s rolled sleeves are almost as ubiquitous as Scully’s cross. In fact, that’s a difficult detail to track since it’s so common.

Random touch, in Shadows

Mulder’s rolled sleeves, in Deep Throat

I’ve also thought of some details I wish I’d included in the spreadsheet, such as “1013” or “1121”, Mulder telling Scully “always”, a call to Danny, a trip to the forest, anyone saying “I want to believe”, a scene in a cemetery, an Elvis reference, a scene in a stairwell, and a reference to cattle mutilation. I guess those will go in a spreadsheet for my next rewatch!

So what will I do with all this data once it’s collected? The possibilities are endless!!! First thing that comes to mind is creating episode- or season-specific drinking games. That’s always fun. And imagine being able to answer whether Scully saved Mulder more often than Mulder saved Scully, or whether Mulder really lost his gun often enough to justify the ankle holster, or whether there was ever an episode where they DIDN’T touch in some way. Seems like essential information for an obsessed Phile, so it’s high time I started collecting it!

I’ll post periodic updates and share observations as I go along. I might even make some predictions and then report on how accurate they were. My goal for Season 1 is to see whether these details can be used to pinpoint the moment Mulder and Scully went from being just professional colleagues to friends. I’m also interested in identifying any details that seem iconic but really don’t occur very often. I’ll let you know what I find out.

I’d love some feedback on this project, so if you have thoughts or suggestions please let me know, either here or on Twitter!

Here’s a link to the spreadsheet for anyone who wants to follow my progress: