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THE B-LIST: 'The X-Files' — gut wounds AND belly laughs

For a show about alien invasions, government conspiracies and bloodthirsty monsters, "The X-Files" has often been laugh-out-loud funny.

And no, I'm not referring to the show's tendency to make Mulder and Scully monologue melodramatically in cold opens. (Oh, Chris Carter. You've never met a purple-tinged turn of phrase you didn't love.)

Unintentional comedy aside, there's one guy in particular we can thank for injecting much needed humor into the dark world of "The X-Files."

Screenwriter Darin Morgan may have penned a mere handful of "monster of the week" episodes, but he left an indelible mark on the series. His playful balance of the morbid and macabre with sarcasm and slapstick gave us breathers amidst the black goo horror and frequent kidnappings of the leads.

Even if you're not a die-hard X-Phile, chances are you'll enjoy the following episodes. So long as you're in the mood for a laugh — and won't blink at a bit of bloodshed.

7. "The Post-Modern Prometheus." Season 5, episode 5. One of the most stylized episodes of the show, this riff on "Frankenstein" is similarly filmed in black and white. A misunderstood, Cher-loving monster comes to our heroes' attention when he impregnates a lady and, ultimately, gains the respect of his small town — who then arrest his murderous creator. If only more monster stories ended so happily. And with a Cher concert.

6. "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'." Season 3, episode 20. This Darin Morgan-penned outing is a cautionary tale about unreliable narrators, as we're given several versions of an alien abduction. Or it could be a classified military test flight. Or maybe everyone was just drugged. Loaded with references to past episodes and UFO lore, featuring hilarious performances from the leads and guest-starring Alex Trebek and Jesse Ventura as men in black, this is a hoot from start to finish.

5. "X-Cops." Season 7, episode 12. Mulder and Scully find themselves tailed by a determined camera crew from the reality show "Cops" as a series of fear-related murders break out across Los Angeles. The "Cops"-style format of the episode, colorful characters and inventive deaths make this a personal fave.

4. "Humbug." Season 2, episode 20. Something's attacking retired carnival performers, sending Mulder and Scully to Florida to question real life sideshow acts Jim Rose and the Enigma. Morgan's first episode showed "The X-Files" didn't always have to be dreary, and closes with one of the series' best scenes:

3. "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose." Season 3, episode 4. Morgan's Emmy-winning masterpiece. This black comedy about a curmudgeonly psychic — played by the late, great Peter Boyle —who can only see how people will die proves you can mix philosophic drama with chuckles.

2. "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster." Season 10, episode 3. The revival has certainly been a mixed bag, but it did give us this hysterical story of a lizard man (Rhys Darby) struggling with his newfound humanity. Mulder, meanwhile, struggles to operate a smart phone. I laughed until I cried.

1. "Bad Blood." Season 5, episode 12. The ultimate he-said/she-said. Mulder's convinced the man he just killed in Texas was a vampire, and that the sheriff (Luke Wilson) is a bucktoothed yokel. Scully, meanwhile, points out that the victim was merely wearing fanged dentures and finds the sheriff charmingly handsome. Duchovny and Anderson get to play the ham and the straight man in turn, making this one a serious fan favorite.

• ANGIE BARRY is a page designer and columnist for The Times. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers pop culture, history and literature, contact her at

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