Review: X-Files: Cold Cases by Joe Harris, Chris Carter and Chris Maggs


The truth is still out there. The iconic hit that had millions searching for UFOs back in the 90s is now an exhilarating audio event, only from Audible. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reunite as FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, joining an ensemble of original cast members in an out-of-this-world production.

When a security breach allows a mysterious, sinister group to access details from the uncrackable X-Files cold cases, Mulder and Scully—alongside favorite characters such as Assistant Director Skinner, the cryptic and elusive Cigarette Smoking Man, and the comically conspiratorial Lone Gunmen trio—uncover an extraterrestrial conspiracy dwelling beneath the surface.

Featuring creative guidance from series creator Chris Carter, writing from graphic novelist Joe Harris, and a dynamic soundscape (think the opening pop of a hypodermic needle or the hiss of a sewer-dwelling alien) brought to life by aural auteur Dirk Maggs, Cold Cases is both an electrifying addition to the science fiction pantheon and a cautionary tale of what lurks beyond the stars.

X-Files: Cold Cases by Joe Harris, Chris Carter and Chris Maggs.  X-Files Audible Original  # 1.  Published by Audible Studios in July 2017.  4 hours and 4 mins.  Performed by cast of X-Files TV show.

I used to watch the X-Files religiously back in the day when the TV show first aired.  I absolutely loved the idea of people who investigated the weird and unusual unsolved mysteries and conspiracies.  The show lasted for a long time but I stopped following it after Mulder and Scully left and new agents took over.  It just wasn’t the same without them.  While I loved the show, I had never been interested in books or comics based on the series.  I don’t know why… it would seem like totally my sort of thing, right?  I guess I’ve always been too busy trying to find the next horror read instead.  Who knows…

For more than 20 years, we’ve (Audible) been creating rich, audio-only experiences—stories so powerful we believe they must be heard. Audible Originals bring together celebrated writers and performers from worlds as diverse as theater, literature, journalism, and more, and we are excited to share some of our favorites with you. Each month, choose two of six unique Originals to enjoy, included as part of your Audible membership—no credits needed. Come back every month for fresh voices, new stories, and even more star power. We hope you love what you hear.

Last month, Audible had a big notice about how if you were an Audible member, you could now pick out 2 Audible Originals out of 6 spotlighted selections.  I have only been a member for Audible for about a year now and I’ve only been listening to audio books, so I wasn’t exactly sure what all an Audible Original was, or how it was different then an audio book.  I thought they were the same thing, just an Audible Original was ONLY available for audible.  Honestly, I’m still not entirely sure what the difference is, but anyways… I went ahead and checked it out.  I saw 2 that appealed to me.  One of them was X-Files: Cold Cases.  I thought, “hmm… that could be interesting…”  and then I saw how it was done.

Now before I get in to the specifics of how it was performed, let me take a side note to talk about something I absolutely love.   I am a huge, HUGE fan of the old 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s radio dramas,  now widely known as OTR or Old Time Radio.  Yes, I am under the age of 40 and I love these old time shows.  Trust me, I get plenty of blank looks whenever I talk about them to anyone around my own age.  I even have a tattoo of an old 1940’s radio to represent my love for this old form of entertainment.  I stumbled in to back in the late 80s or early 90s when my family stopped at a Cracker Barrel on a ridiculously long car trip.  We each got to pick out an audio book.  I was maybe 10 or 11 at the time, and drawn to all things dark, mysterious and spooky, I immediately fell in love with the cover  of The Shadow cassette tape.  I didn’t know it wasn’t an audio book.  It turned out to be an old radio program from the 30’s.  I was in love with not only The Shadow, but this amazing world of audio delight.  It was like a book… that I didn’t have to read…. that had several actors telling the story…. with sound effects?! :O I was hooked!! Unfortunately it wouldn’t be until the late 90s early 2000s, when the internet really got up and kicking, that I would be able to find much more info about these OTR, as well as get to experience more shows.  When podcasts came around, it was great seeing some people doing modern radio dramas just like back in the OTR days! 😀  Old and modern, I love the noir mysteries and the horror shows.  I mean, it’s the same kind of things I read, so it’s not too surprising that’s what I’d like to listen to as well! Ok, so back to the review….

So X-Files: Cold Cases isn’t narrated… it is performed… by the original cast of the show! Multiple cast members, music, sound effects.  A modern OTR show of a tv show I used to love.  :O My jaw hit the ground when I read this.  I couldn’t believe it… I didn’t think anything like this existed outside of podcasts and a few BBC shows.  I was so excited! I eagerly downloaded it and began listening to it right away.

The story opens up with the FBI database being hacked, specifically old cases from the X-Files division.   Mulder and Scully are pulled out of hiding when it seems that someone or something is targeting them.  The agents rejoin the FBI in order to look in to who hacked the files and to figure out what is going on.  Cold Cases is set up as 5 different stories that are basically set up like an episode of the tv show.  You have an musical intro, title, and specific story line for each “episode”.   While there are individual stories, there is an over all story arch going on involving alien hybrids, shape shifters, clones and Scully’s baby.  One of the stories has the return of a monster from one of the X-Files fan favorite episodes, Flukeman! We actually get to hear his origins! That was pretty fun.  Most of the stories were easy to follow along with because the writers would clue you in on certain events or characters that had happened in the tv series past.  I did have a slight problem following along with the last story, where it talked about the “black oil” sentient alien substance that infected people.  I remember the black oil stuff was from the movie, but I honestly couldn’t remember much more from that because it’s been a long time since I had even seen the movie and I’m sure it was covered more in depth at the end of the series, which I didn’t watch.  I got the over all gist of the story, but I still struggled along with it a little bit.  I personally loved the stories, but I’m not sure how well this would go over with someone who was not familiar with the tv show and the characters first.  I think it might be a little bit difficult or unappealing if this is your first introduction to the world of X-Files.

I was really impressed with the music and sound effects.  The music had the classic creepy vibe of the X-files music, so you felt right at home immediately.  The sound effects were easy to follow and you knew right away what that sound was.   The echoing dark alley or the static pop of a phone conversation, all these sounds made the story come alive and it basically felt like you were watching a new episode of the X-Files.  Except, you know… with your ears.

I’ve seen a lot of reviewers complaining about the writing.  Basically, some people didn’t like how the writer had to spoon feed you with what actions the characters were taking.  Example- Mulder is going to write a note on the file he is looking at, so he says to himself something like “Now I just need to grab my pen and leave this note in the file” or something along those lines.  Well, people complained about that.  That the characters talked too much to themselves about what they were doing.  Spelling it out for us.  Yes.  They did.  BUT…. that is what an audio drama is!!  The characters have to tell you what is going on because we can’t see it and there is no over all narrator.  It is just the characters.  So if someone is going to make a phone call, they have to say something like “Now where did I leave my phone? Oh, I see it on my desk.” or “Oh, I need to call so and so, let me grab my phone real quick.  Oh, I forgot I left it in my jacket pocket.”  I mean, that’s just the way it is with this format of story telling.  I think some of the people who have listened to this maybe didn’t realize exactly what a radio drama performance was going to be like, thinking maybe that it would sound more like an audio book?  Chris Maggs did a fine job writing this for an audio drama.  It felt just like listening to OTR but with a modern tv show setting!

Another complaint I’ve seen around is that the voice acting was lack luster.  Well… this is where I think it hurts if you are unfamiliar with the tv show.   Scully and Mulder are very dry, deadpan characters.  Their voice acting was pretty spot on to how they are in the tv show.  The same can be said about the other characters from the tv show.  They pretty much sounded just the way they did in the show.  There were some new characters who didn’t have a lot of OOMPH to their voice acting, but those characters were also brain washed or possessed, so…. again, it goes in to showing us something in an audio way.  I thought it was fine.

MY only complaint is that Cold Cases was way too short!! It was only about 4 hours.  I had so much fun listening to this that I wish it had last longer. There is a part 2, called Stolen Lives, that is also just a couple of hours.  I wonder why they didn’t try to combine them in to one audible original?  I would assume they wanted to try and make more money by splitting it in to 2 different AOs?

I really enjoyed listening to X-Files: Cold Cases.  A fun and entertaining story that was performed by the original cast of the Tv show.  I loved how it was a radio drama.  The music and sound effects really made this performance stand out.  If you are unfamiliar with radio dramas or the X-files, this might not appeal to you.



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