X-Files Outfoxed?

As a Geek I will admit to many fandoms and one of my longest addictions has been as an X-Phile. The first 9 Seasons have been welcome companions on many of my travels, including helping keep me together when I was working overseas. To this day I smile when I see Mitch Pileggi, William Davis or Nicholas Lea in shows like Sons of Anarchy or Continuum.

Having found the original Series Finale horribly unsatisfying, and suffered the train wreck of the Lone Gunman Series the 2nd X-Files movie “X-Files: I want to Believe”  was a joy and a wonderful return to form, especially seeing Billy Connolly’s brilliant portrayal of disgraced priest Joseph Crissman. Seriously, if you’ve only ever caught his comedy stuff this performance is genuinely moving.

So when Fox announced a run of 6 new X-Files episodes I was, cautiously, optimistic. Original cast, Chris Carter at the wheel, the backing of Fox and, with James Snowdon and other Wikileaks, a public that should be very receptive to the X-Files style of storytelling. So, having caught 5 of the 6 episodes what can I say?

Much like the original series, this reboot is not a total success. The 1st Episode set out something with HUGE promise, an expansion of the original vision and setting out a variation of a moneyed elite looking to take over the world and enslave humanity that it is remarkably easy to believe. Episode 2 saw the theme continued in classic style but from here we end up on shakier ground. Now, I love the X-File comedy episodes; the fact that a show that was so hugely successful, with a gritty core concept and was able to parody itself and not lose the dramatic tension so key to the show is quite a feat. I enjoyed “Mulder & Skully Meet the Were-Monster”; it was funny, well acted and it was great seeing Rhys Darby (after I first came across him as Anton the Werewolf in “What we do in the Shadows“) but the result, of putting this episode and then following it up with a typical stand alone episodes like “Home Again” and “Babylon”, has been an X-Files microcosm rather than a balanced season.

So, on the positive side, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are still able to work the Mulder and Scully vibe very well. Seeing them and Mitch Pileggi on screen is like a big hug if you’re a fan. The performances are comfortable and full of familiarity, the relationships come across as warm, familiar and deep. Sitting down to watch the show is much like putting on a warm, comfortable pair of slippers.

However, if you’re not familiar with the what has gone before or enjoyed the repeats of the original 9 series then there is a complacency and lack of urgency that can be off putting. With only 6 episodes to play with, and with shows like Person of Interest and Blacklist playing with taut, conspiracy driven plots, there needed to be a clearer plan. 6 stand alone classics, or 6 episodes with an arc of taut conspiracy as Mulder and Scully sought the truth would have been ideal.

It’s great to see old friends back on the screen and doing well, but for people new to the show the 6 episodes come across as a little self indulgent. With the event almost over for fans in the UK,the possibility of more episodes is tantalisingly still on the table. So we’ve had a taste of the new and it has much to hold and reminisce about, but we’re going to need a bigger and better balanced entree to hold the attention of this X-Phile.

I still want to believe

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