No one could have predicted that The X-Files would have become such an ingrained part of our culture. Scary monsters, conspiracies and the evenly-paired duo of Mulder and Scully opened the locked recesses of our imaginations and turned a generation of viewers into “I-Want-To-Believers.” As new as The X-Files seemed, at the time of its original release, one man tried, 27 years earlier, to create a show for which it could be said formed the basis for The X-Files, that show was Ultra Q.
Cue Spooky Music
In 1966 Japanese television produced Eiji Tsuburaya dreamed of creating an anthology series based around odd events and bizarre monsters; he hoped his creation would rival The Twilight Zone. In order to move the narrative of the stories along he created a team of characters that would investigate each mysterious event across every episode. The name of the show was going to be Unbalanced, but due to a Gold medal winning gymnast who popularized the word “Ultra,” Eiji Tsuburaya renamed the program Ultra Q.
The Q stood for the word “Question”
At that time, in Japan, there was a growing love of giant monsters, Godzilla, Gamera, etc. so each half-hour episode of Ultra Q is a “monster of the week” episode. The main characters of Ultra Q were Jun, an Aviator and science fiction writer, and Yuriko a newspaper reporter. Every so often in the series there are threads that seem to imply a large secret government conspiracy as well as a pending takeover by beings from outer space. Other characters include Jun’s friend Ippei, who is mostly comic relief, and Yuriko’s editor named Seki who does a good job of being a pre-J.Jonah Jamison boss with hints of Walter Skinner. The first episodes in the series were shot with growing shadows, strangely lit streets and camera angles that often boggle the viewer’s eyes. But, as the series progressed the film-noir style was dropped for ever-bigger and ever-crazier monsters.
The Q-Files go missing
Eiji Tsuburaya was also the creator of a much more popular show called Ultraman. Distribution rights for Ultra Q and Ultraman were sold to the U.S. and both shows were set to be released to the larger American audience. Unfortunately, Ultra Q was shot entirely in black-and-white while Ultraman was shot in color so networks never aired Ultra Q.
Seriously, these monsters were weird.
You think a guy squeezing into a drain-pipe is strange?
Eugene Victor Tooms has nothing on this head-squirting giant carrot alien.