One year ago tonight, it was Geek Christmas Eve as the following night, Geek Santa delivered the ultimate present; The X-Files was back. I couldn’t believe it. The actual X-Files, was back! On TV! After years of a third movie simmering in development hell, there was finally going to be a continuation.
Anyone who knows me well, knows how special The X-Files is to me. Not only does it inspire me as a writer, but it’s a franchise that’s stuck with me from my adolescence to adulthood in a way others haven’t. The main reason for this, and why the revival last year was such a momentous moment for me, is down to one simple reason. Compared to Harry Potter, Buffy, and The Hunger Games, all complete bubbles that’s nice to revisit every once and a while, The X-Files never had closure. The second movie in 2008 was no way for the series to end and after 2012, the chances of seeing the alien invasion, that was revealed in the godawful series finale, looked slim. It seemed The X-Files had been confined to history.
Like many X-Philes, even those who gave up near the end, there was still an appetite for a better ending. When 24 returned for a mini-series revival in 2014, I immediately thought that such a format would work best for The X-Files. Any closure to the mythology would be too much to cram into a third movie and a short run of six to ten episodes might be the way forward.
So when it was announced in March 2015 that the series would return for six news episodes, to me it was never a case of OMG, (I mean of course it was) but more a feeling of, About Bloody Time Too!
A year on and I still have to pinch myself. The moment hit me when I bought the DVD, which sits comfortably with my collection that now feels more complete. It was by far one of my favourite TV events ever.
Having said that, overall reaction was mixed. Some even listed it amongst the worst TV shows of 2016.
The X-Files is one of the shows that I appreciate has many flaws. At its best, it’s some of the most exciting television I’ve ever watched and even its worst episodes are still ambitious. Having watched the series as a kid, I never noticed a lot of the shows evident faults. I loved the mythology, a controversial statement I know, but I liked the concept and individual episodes. Before the revival I binged the mythology to prepare myself and watching them back to back, either by accident or design, it does make a bit more sense and could be very thought provoking. However, it did get increasingly tangled and certain scripts (Redux, I’m looking at you) were catastrophically bad, with some shocking dialogue, particularly those opening, tongue twister monologues. The culprit of these duds is down, unfortunately, to the show’s creator Chris Carter.
Don’t get me wrong, without him, The X-Files wouldn’t exist, and not only would I be deprived an obsession, I wouldn’t be a writer. But compared to his original writing team who’ve all graduated to bigger success, i.e. Vince Gilligan, Howard Gordon and Frank Spotnitz, he simply isn’t as good a scriptwriter. Vince Gilligan created my favourite ever series, Breaking Bad, which IMHO is as close to TV drama perfection as it gets.
He had a huge task with the revival, and overall, I loved it. As a fan I’d have been more than happy with whatever they gave me. It included much of what I wanted but equally, it let me down. Though sometimes its faults, was also its triumphs. And vice versa. Either way, I overlooked many of its shortcomings.
Therefore I thought it’d be interesting to watch each episode on the one year anniversary of its original UK broadcast and with the hype died down, see it from a more objective perspective. And although I’m sure I’ll be more critical by taking off my nostalgic fan hat and admitting when something doesn’t work, it won’t change my overall opinion of it – I’ll still be watching it in years to come.
So join me tomorrow for the first episode, My Struggle. I hope it isn’t.
Image: X-Files Wiki (All credit to Fox)