Will a New “X-Files” Series Find the Truth and Its Mark?
As Fox gears up to reissue their classic 90’s series “The X-Files” in miniseries form, we have to admit to being a little curious. The new series’ success will likely depend upon the quality of Chris Carter’s new vision and the ability of his writing and directorial staff to adapt the show and its beloved characters to the passage of time and contemporary culture and technologies. In the long run, revisiting a series that endeared an entire generation to “Truth” seeking could be dangerous to the mythos of the show. If they follow in their own footsteps without making the show seem like a rehash, this renewed “X-Files” might just be able to keep our spines tingling and our chair backs untouched once again.
Any return to the FBI’s maligned paranormal investigation section will face stiff competition—not necessarily from other shows, but from itself. Before lapsing into relative mediocrity during the last couple of seasons, “The X-Files” was undoubtedly the premier horror-sci-fi show on television. Since having their files closed, at least temporarily, shows like “Fringe,” “Lost,” and “Supernatural” have tried to up the weirdo quotient, but few have come anywhere near the successful level of the show. Rather, each modern paranormal drama has found greater success in specialization. “Fringe” worked best as a sci-fi thriller. “Supernatural,” which at times has arguably exceeded its vaunted predecessor, is undeniably excellent at being witty-meets-scary. But few shows could switch from funny to scary to “monster of the week” and still maintain an engrossing story arc like Chris Carter’s FBI thriller.
An archetypal (and successful) episode of the “X-Files” was one that managed to combine creepy settings, vaguely believable yet outrageous paranormal activities or events, and wrap up the show in a semi-successful fashion that left the good guys (or at least the main characters) alive but scratching their heads, just like the viewers. Shows like “Pusher,” about an assassin who’s gained telepathic abilities due to a tumor and uses his ability to cause his victims to commit suicide, or “Home,” an inbred hillbilly thriller that could show the “Wrong Turn” franchise a thing or two, created a veil of plausibility that sucked us into the short-term storyline without distracting us from the agents’ overall arching quest.
Humor, when used sparingly, was also an effective way to keep the fans off-guard and create a fine standalone episodes. When poorly handled, especially in later seasons, some comedic-leaning episodes faceplanted. But when the formula worked, the resulting shows could induce laughter and shock. During the earlier seasons there were several offerings that combined smart, scary, and amusing seamlessly. Episodes like “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” where our astute agents investigate a series of mysterious teenaged deaths in a small town—with a quirky high school named Crowley High (wink wink) and a clutch of satanic teachers—or “Bad Blood” with its trailer park antics and Mulder’s disputed take on reality. Both episodes were great television that kept fans smiling and scratching their heads.
The new six episode series, which airs on January 24th 2016, will be written and directed by Chris Carter. The updated miniseries will also bring back some of the classic writers and directors from the show, including brothers Darin and Glen Morgan and James Wong (of Saw fame). The update will also feature, according to Carter, a broad story arc, humorous and serious “monster of the week” stories, and may (or may not) offer a satisfying conclusion to the long-winded series.
While the show itself won’t be a wormhole into the past, it will be curious to see what our favorite characters—including Mulder, Scully, The Smoking Man, Agent Skinner, and the Lone Gunmen, amongst others—are up to in the present day. The real question is, will this “X-Files” update be lively enough to recapture both the glory of the original series and harvest a new crop of viewers who already wear the square-framed glasses of pop culture skeptics. Capturing the imaginations of a generation born of nostalgia and cynicism might be the most intangible Truth this miniseries will face.
(Originally published on GeekSnack)