"X-Cops" is the twelfth episode of the seventh season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. Directed by Michael Watkins and written by Vince Gilligan, the installment serves as a "Monster-of-the-Week" story—a stand-alone plot unconnected to the overarching mythology of The X-Files. Originally aired in the United States by the Fox network on February 20, 2000, "X-Cops" received a Nielsen rating of 9.7 and was seen by 16.56 million viewers. The episode earned positive reviews from critics, largely due to its unique presentation, as well as its use of humor. Since its airing, the episode has been named among the best episodes of The X-Files by several reviewers. The X-Files centers on Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal; the skeptical Scully was initially assigned to debunk his work, but the two have developed a deep friendship. In this episode, Mulder and Scully are interviewed for the Fox reality television program Cops during an X-Files investigation. Mulder, hunting what he believes to be a werewolf, discovers that the monster terrorizing people instead feeds on fear. While Mulder embraces the publicity of Cops, Scully is more uncomfortable about appearing on national television. "X-Cops" serves as a fictional crossover with Cops and is one of only two X-Files episodes to be shot in real time, in which events are presented at the same rate that the audience experiences them. Gilligan, who was inspired to write the script because he enjoyed Cops, pitched the idea several times to series creator Chris Carter and the series writing staff, receiving a mixed reception; when the crew felt that the show was nearing its end with the conclusion of the seventh season, Gilligan was given the green light because it was seen as an experiment. In the tradition of the real-life Cops program, the entire episode was shot on videotape and featured several members of the crew of Cops. The episode has been thematically analyzed for its use of postmodernism and its presentation as reality television.
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