On The X-Files Revival...


By now you've heard the news: The X-Files are returning to Fox for a limited series. David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Chris Carter have signed up. Best of all, the City of Vancouver has been enlisted as the shooting venue for the episodes.

Longtime readers know how badly I wished the series never left Vancouver, with its moody atmospherics and deep pool of talent. The series lost something vital when it left Canada after Season Five, and that may have a lot to do with losing executive producer RW "Bob" Goodwin, the man on the floor who made the magic happen.

I was watching some episodes in Season Eight (read my epic post on the season here), specifically the episodes I had given the lowest ratings to. And it surprised me how well they've aged and how obvious the effort to recapture the magic of Vancouver was.

I was just telling my wife how I seemed to tune in with Season Seven at the time (aside from crapfests like 'First Person Shooter' and 'Fight Club'), how some of the mystical themes seemed to synch up with my life at the time. But I feel that it's aged quite badly, that all the comedy and high concept may have been novel at the time but now it just seems like they were squandering the show's hard-earned mystique. It's actually my least favorite season now.

Of course, disenchantment had happened the season before, a season I definitely did not appreciate at the time. But I didn't know then that the producers were struggling to keep their star engaged in those seasons, even after he unilaterally forced the entire operation to move to Los Angeles.

But aside from some of the really broad comedies ('Rain King', 'Aqua Mala', 'How the Ghosts Stole Christmas') and the paint-by-numbers eps ('The Beginning', 'Alpha') I think there's a lot of high-quality work in Season Six, even if the show seemed hellbent on running away from itself (it certainly seems to be the favorite of a lot of fans online).


As I've said, Season Eight is by far my favorite season of the LA years and the truest reflection of what the show might have been had there not been so much creative interference coming from outside the writers' room (hence the record nine Carter/Spotnitz Mythology episodes)

But it's the Vancouver era where the magic really lies (particularly seasons Two, Three and Five). Even the weaker episodes (and there are no shortage of those) retain a certain charm because the machine was so well-tuned, so efficient at telling compelling stories.

I'm of mixed feelings about this reboot, not because I don't have faith that the people involved can't still do excellent work, but because of my alienation from the world it is reincarnating into. No matter what goes on screen there will endless bitching on the Internet. I am going to do my best to tune the negativity out, as I've tried to do since, oh, Season Two (I'm still totally mystified by the bitching about the second XF movie, which to me was a classic 1994-vintage standalone, replete with a host of familiar 1013 faces).

But part of me wants it to remain an indelible part of another age, a better age. An age when everything didn't seem so totally fucked-up. It's the same impulse you get when an old band reunites. Part of you wants them to remain as a totem of another time, not this time. As much as I want to see some new material, I don't know if I want The X-Files to be a part of 2015.

Or I only want to see The X-Files if it exists to defy 2015, with its superficiality, narcissism and Balkanization. Certainly the show is more relevant than ever but it will also be reaching an audience to whom "conspiracy" is a four-letter word, thanks to incessant media conditioning. I've already seen Millennials bitching about The X-Files' distrust of government and corporate power. Sigh.

But maybe The X-Files will strike a nerve once more and make it cool again to question authority. Stranger things have happened.

UPDATE: Excellent interview with Chris Carter where he takes some of his critics head on.


21 comments:

  1. 'The X-Files' in 2015 is like an x-file itself...but I'm still beyond excited. My bored, gullible and painfully conservative peer group (Millennials) may turn on it once it moves from fun retro 90s conspiracy and starts cutting too close to today's sacred cows (cue the THINK PIECES!!)...but, dear god, we'd benefit from a little cultural dissent.

    My hope (and my guess) is that it'll thumb its nose and go the hardcore conspiracy route. The brand has always seemed to take joy in spooking a too-comfortable audience and making them sweat a bit. It didn't exactly become shy post 9/11 or during the dreariness of late-era Bush with 'I Want To Believe' so I can't seeing it pulling punches now...not with so many punchable things to choose from.

    Unless Fox completely defangs it and forces some soft focus semi-reboot ('lol remember how this was a thing in the 90s!??!') I can't see how even a mediocre 'X-Files' effort wouldn't be worth the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Chris Carter certainly paid the price for holding a mirror up to 2008 America, who wanted escapism at the movies and the election booth. There's so many people saying so much of nothing these days about everything, why should the X-Files escape, right?

      Delete
  2. I loved the X-Files and am excited for the reboot. However I don't have high expectations for it. I was in my early twenties when the show was at its most popular and while I have always been a conspiracy theorist my views have naturally evolved since then. Mulder and Scully would have had to have experienced the same things that anyone who has aged goes through in the course of their lifetime. I hope they deal honestly with those changes and how it might affect a person's understanding and interpretation of the unknown. Still, I am really excited to see what happens with it.

    As for the Millennials- Don't even get me started! I don't even know how to articulate my feelings about this group. I think they are experiencing (suffering from?) a protracted adolescence from which they will one day have a rude awakening. Maybe everyone is.

    I didn't comment on your previous post but I want you to know that I am truly excited for your novel. Take your time and write the hell out of it! I know that you can, and will. If it is as intricate as some of your blog posts I am sure it will be wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that is wonderful of you to say- thank you so much. In many ways I am trying to write a new X-Files, something that fits this time the way EXF fit the early 90s. Everything now is so impermanent and so provisional, I wonder how long it is before people just start to say "no."

      Delete
  3. I can't really add anything but a hearty endorsement to everything you've said.

    Except perhaps that Millenials might just be too willfully stupid to appreciate "X-Files" at it's best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it's always a tough task trying to nail down an entire generation. And let's hope they can't all be judged by some of the nonsense we see on BuzzFeed or whatever. Independent thinkers are a minority in every generation.

      Delete
    2. My 23 year old brother in law texted me yesterday..."Dude...X -Files is coming back!" hope still stirs

      Delete
  4. I wish I hadn't read that tor link at the end of your post. How depressing. How, exactly, would you peer review conspiracy theory?? These people have lost the magic of life, and it threatens to destroy us all.

    As to the X-Files "reboot", I'm not sure what to think. I'll reserve judgement until I see it, but I suspect disappointment. Still, I'm hoping for the best anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I seriously debated not linking but the article was so egregious and so inane I felt I had to. It's one of those times you just have to see how grim it is out there...

      Delete
  5. Where do you think the 6 shows will lead ? Are you on there writers list of possibilities? I have noticed many spandex synchronicities after your spiel, with other speculators. So synchro guru, are you being asked to the phenom of x files. Or perhaps they will manufacture your ideas without your consent? Me thinks your extreme knowledge will get you more fame and fortune in such matters. You are the master of your craft. Let it be known! Shineforth brave souls. Respectfully Dennis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no idea what they will do. I think they'll pull it off. There's too much at stake not to.

      Delete
  6. The biggest hurdle for 2015 will be selling the idea of an even remotely benevolent FBI- I always liked Skinner because he was a believable hard ass where one was needed; adult supervision as it were- Today a guy like that would get one taste of "a drill flipped live" and storm out, becoming a corporate security consultant in the private sector or some such- I don't know if Mitch Pileggi survived the first version ( have only binge watched over the years and missed the Patrick/Gish seasons) but if he did I hope he comes back-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the original series got pretty down on the Bureau towards the end there- Kersh and Follmer and the rest. Then you had lines like this "Oh, you'll do it, Deputy Director. You and I both know there are forces inside the government now that a man would be foolish to disobey."

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's interesting- people complained about the first movie because it was a Myth story and hence had too much exposition. And then the big complaint with the second movie seems to be that it wasn't a Myth story, even though it require all the more exposition six years after the series ended. People complain about this, they complain about that. They complain because the Internet is a complaint machine and not a communication device. My philosophy is that when you look at the people complaining you realize you should believe the opposite of what they are saying. Automatically.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I read that review you linked. Don't worry about water headed chumps like that. The latest now generation has no shortage of wyrd seekers. And little Lindsay Ellis can go on to write PR for Archer Daniels Lockheed someday. I can see that's what she's angling for. Keep the faith.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Left used to be suspicious of science, rightly seeing it as a tool of corporate hegemony. Now they are the most submissive little Kardashian lapdogs you can imagine. Which goes to show there really is no Left in this country, just Goldwater Republicans and Rockefeller Republicans.

      Delete
  10. This has been a long fought journey for many, and if this can bring back a little of it's legacy, and they really get things right, then it will generate a lot of good will that was indeed squandered. But the signs are good thus far. Mulder, Scully, and Vancouver just sounds so nice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that's what they had in the second movie, star-crossed as it was. So you wonder if there's pleasing anyone anymore. I've spent years trying to figure out some of the ridiculous nonsense poured on that movie and I realized it was the religious stuff. Which is a sad statement on our culture but no surprise to anyone familiar with the current thinking in fandom. Or among movie critics. It's interesting to note that critics like Roger Ebert and David Cox gave it very good reviews and they are/were people who are serious thinkers when it comes to religious topics.

      Delete
    2. Point taken, I'm not disputing the issues with IWTB and I agree the negative reviews were overboard. I thinking more about how things were handled in season nine, and how evident it became that the powers at Fox didn't get the show, had they listened to Chris's original plan and ended it a couple of seasons early, the show's legacy would be very different now. I also suspect that after Vince Gilligan's great work on "Breaking Bad", it might have given Chris Carter the kick in the pants to make certain it could be done well.

      Delete
  11. Well, Chris wanted to end it at Season Five. But I have to maybe side with Fox here. I don't know if The XFiles is a movie franchise. I love the second movie because to me it's a dark, Season Two, back to basics standalone. Which is to say it's basically an episode of television. The show's legacy suffered because of the move to LA and after that the ninth season. Chris and Frank fought the move to LA, and knew it was going to hurt the show. The ninth season was more complicated- the show rallied in the 8th season and remained Fox's top drama. But no one foresaw 9/11 which just made everything impossible. The zeitgeist was coming down on it like a tidal wave, and despite all that they still did some good work.

    ReplyDelete