Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The X Files revival

  Is this season ten? Is it just some sort of special revival? Is it a mini-series? It could easily be all of those things or none. I don't think the showrunners were eager to label it, but maybe they should've been. As a long time fan of the show, I feel like I wasn't even remotely part of the target demographic. Which is odd, because... y'know... this show is over 20 years old at this point, long time fans should've been the first people being catered to. Everyone wins when that happens because all the fan favorite stuff has always made for great TV in general. So what the hell was going on with this revival?

  The first episode made it clear that rewatching the whole show to get caught up was a horrible idea because all the established mythology of the show gets taken out behind the shed and beaten to death. No alien conspiracy? Mulder having a brand new crisis of faith? What? Not to mention our dynamic duo get called back into action on the most inert and random shit imaginable. Some youtube personality wants to talk to them, so... they get called back in, and by the end of the episode, reinstated in the FBI? Why? For who? For what? Sigh. It's more like Why not? Who cares? and Whatever at this point. My nostalgia goggles were thick, and objectivity was already out the window, and still this pilot episode felt horribly uncomfortable to me.

   It felt rushed, odd, and anti-climactic around every turn. Things happen... because they do. The inciting events that kick this season off are so null and uninteresting, that it's hard to understand why all the characters are in a fervor. I can't overstate how upset I am about the series' mythos being aped like this. Both in this episode, and in the season finale. The writing should've been airtight and bulletproof on this. They weren't. I wanted to like this, I wanted to be 'into' it, basically... I wanted to believe that it was going to get better. And, for what it's worth, it did. The middle four episodes of this 6 part 'event', were all solid. Mileage may vary for most but I enjoyed them all a lot.

   They felt like throwbacks to early seasons of X-Files that dealt with then-modern topics and issues. These episodes were no exception. However, they're not amazing episodes. Even the best episode out of the entire season was just 'good' by X-Files standards. I can understand why people are losing their minds over it, but once hype dies down, and dispassionate eyes return to this season, they'll see it too. Even at it's absolute best, it's rarely more than good ol' nostalgic fun- packing in the lurid thrills and trademark wit for good measure. But, Fox's Fringe felt more X-Files-y in just one of it's first season episodes than this whole revival did. That's a problem.

   I gotta give all the actors their props. From Mitch Pillegi and William B. Davis, to all the new supporting characters and more- they all did great. They brought their A game and at times captured some of the magic of the old days. David and Gillian were no exception. Some people disagree, but I felt they got back into character perfectly. I loved seeing them back together again, and it was a blast watching them interact- even in the crappy episodes. Fans will put every second of their screentime under a microscope and commit it all to internet immortality. Memes, pictures, posts, articles- this was a big event, and it had some stunning images in there that won't soon be forgotten.

   Unfortunately, the decision to revise the mythos was a really bad one. Like, a historically bad one. It's one that will have to be addressed in a new season or movie, and that's not going to be pleasant. I really think Chris Carter needs to back away from all things X-Files at this point. His episodes of this season were unarguably the weakest, ranging from outright bad to at best- watchable. Whatever episodes did succeed, they seemed to do so in spite of Chris Carter, not because of him. The success was often due in no small part to Duchovny and Anderson. Their chemistry and charisma make this revival absolutely worth watching, even if it's not the powerhouse return-to-form that fans wanted and deserved.

   I can't imagine a follow up season being much better if they keep mucking about with the mythos. This leaves me with a sad feeling honestly because despite a crazy cliffhanger, I'm left mostly indifferent. This whole thing had it's ups and downs, but felt like a weekend with a friend you hadn't seen in years. You two still click, but he's changed- and you don't know how you feel about that. It's so drastic and unpleasant, that you're kinda fine with it just being this one weekend. He'll call and ask, "Hey! Same time next month?" and you're like... hmm... maybe not. So, Fox, Chris Carter, whoever... this is me saying 'Maybe not.' to more X-Files. Something I never thought I'd be saying.

   If more does come out, I'll watch it, but I won't expect much from it. I hope it'll be fantastic, but that's not a hope I'm going to hang on to. 'I want to believe' they'll get their shit together and do whatever comes next a lot better.


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