I probably haven’t mentioned this before, but I am a huge fan of ‘The X Files’. Huge. I’ve watched the series through about five times and considering I only started watching it properly in 2013, I feel like that is quite an accomplishment.
So you’ll probably be a bit surprised to hear that I am not that excited about the revival. It’s shooting now, due to air in January 2016 and whilst a lot of the fans are going crazy for it, I am not one of them. I believe very strongly in finishing a series properly, and ‘The X Files’ did not do that. It wasn’t even close. The sudden departure of David Duchovny at the end of season 7 meant and the renewal of the show’s contract with FOX meant that that they had to carry on without our main man Mulder. Considering ‘The X Files’ is pretty much all about Mulder and Scully (with aliens sprinkled on top) it felt pretty strange that he wouldn’t be there. There was a distinct feeling that the series had overstayed it’s welcome, and even with the fantastic performances of Gillian Anderson (Scully), Annabeth Gish (Reyes) and Robert Patrick (Doggett) the final two seasons fell a bit flat. Chris Carter didn’t take this as a sign to end it all however, and released the franchise’s second film in 2008 – ‘I Want To Believe’. Listen, I literally love the ‘The X Files’. It’s my thing. But, ‘I Want to Believe’ is the worst film I’ve ever seen in my life. So you can understand why I am little bit skeptical about the revival.
Chris Carter, if you are out there and you stumble across this post then please take note. From a phile to the creator – here’s a few things you should think about. I’ll start with the bad.
Things We Don’t Want To See In ‘The X Files’ Revival
Mulder & Scully: ‘Will-They-Won’t-They’
For a long time, TXF lived off Mulder and Scully’s not-so-platonic chemistry. The first five seasons at least bought them close together, but always managed to taper off before anything serious happened. However, it’s pretty clear that they ended up together and any pretending that it didn’t happen will definitely not help the revival. Philes are often divided on whether Mulder and Scully should be romantically involved but guess what guys? It happened. They have a kid together. You can’t ignore it. So let them be together and see how it pans out.
Scully & the mother thing
One of the things that irked me some about TXF was the tendency to have Scully mother every child she ever met throughout the series. Even before she met her own freaky alien offspring (and then conceived another), Scully was always relegated to child minder in episodes dealing with children. It’s not that Scully wouldn’t have felt responsible for the kids (she is an FBI agent after all) but the idea that because she is a woman she must have innate maternal instincts. So why don’t we let Mulder take of the kids sometimes and let Scully focus on doing what she does best. Being awesome.
Sexism in the FBI…
“She’s a woman trying to survive in the boys club, Mulder”, says Scully to Mulder in ‘Soft Light’ (02.23) – an episode which sort of attempts to tackle the sexism ingrained within the patriarchal FBI structure (and is also one of my favourite episodes, by happy coincidence). TXF does a great job of showing just how male, white and old the FBI’s major players are. The Syndicate, a group of people who basically rule the earth, are all white, aging and male and it’s a great analogy for the society we live in. However, there’s too few women of power in the show – the FBI might be male dominated, but women still exist don’t they? With the exception of Scully, most of the other women we meet are distinguished by their roles as girlfriends, mothers, sisters or wives. As it is now 2015, we’ll be expecting better.
…and Equality in the Show
Interesting trivia; in the first season Scully is always seen walking a step or two behind Mulder. Subtle sexism? Maybe. Even more interesting trivia; Gillian Anderson was paid a considerable amount less than her co-star to begin with. Not so subtle sexism? Probably. Anderson stood up to the execs however, and demanded her paycheck be equal. Is it a coincidence then, that after this, Scully began walking beside Mulder onscreen? Read what you will into it, but there is a lot to be said about equality in film and television – to see it on the TXF would be a nice start.
Terrible Special Effects
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved and lamented over the terrible SFX in ‘The X Files’. Some are so bad that it’s good, and then some are so bad that well…. Have you seen ‘Teso Dos Bichos?’(03.18). Case and point. Killer sewer kitty cats were always going to be hard to make realistic, and TXF shows that sometimes things are better left to the imagination.
Again, ‘Teso Dos Bichos’ is on the hitlist. This time it falls into the category which can only really be named ‘Borderline Racist X-Files Episodes’. If we are being honest, they are less borderline, and more very. The issues is that most episodes which delve into other cultures do so very carelessly. Consequently, they produce (at best) stereotypical, cliched characters and (at worst) quite frankly offensive characters. ‘Hell Money’ (03.19), ‘El Mundo Gira’ (04.11) and ‘Fresh Bones’ (02.15) all pick at the surface of minority and ethnic groups, only to fall back on old Westernised stereotypes in order to complete the narrative. It’s lazy story writing, and considering there are very few POC characters in ‘The X Files’, the whole attitude sits very uncomfortably with me personally. Also, Mark Snow’s tendency to use panpipes when any ethnic character walks onscreen is incredibly irritating. College Humour sum it up pretty well here.
Things We Would Love To See in the 2016 Revival
The Skeptic and The Believer
One of the best (and arguably most reptitive) things about TXF was Mulder believing in everything, and Scully always being skeptical about it. Clearly, a lot has changed between the two agents and they have both witnessed things which pushed their faith, science and beliefs to the very edge. However, the revival really needs to retain some aspect of the skeptic/believer paradigm, as this is the very foundation TXF was built on. I’m positive that Scully can say ‘Seriously, Mulder?’ six more times – she’s said it 202 times already. Even after being trapped inside an alien spaceship at least twice. Cmon Sculls…
One of the worst things about ‘I Want to Believe’ (and there were a few ones to choose from, let me tell you) was the complete and utter lack of aliens! Whilst TXF isn’t solely based around aliens or alien contact, it is a fundamental part of the series. If the revival doesn’t include an alien species or alien contact of some variety, I’d say there will be a few pissed of Philes out there.
Some Skinner Sass
It is confirmed that the Skin Man will be back, and quite right too. Walter Skinner is an integral part of TXF – aiding and assisting our two beloved agents when he can, but also reminding them to tread carefully. He is the link between the Syndicate and Mulder & Scully. He is also a sassy bastard and the show wouldn’t be the same without him.
Top Notch Tension
What would TXF be without the tension? Episodes such as ‘Pusher’ (03.17) and ‘Ice’ (01.08) had us glued to our television sets, squinting at the poorly lit scene, waiting with baited breath to see what was going to happen. TXF mixed just the right amount of spooky with dramatic moments (remember Mulder on that cable car in ‘Ascension’? (02.06)). At it’s best, TXF was about two people against the world – a cold and dark world which was made even scarier by the introduction of technology throughout the nineties. The agents being bugged, tracked and trailed by the Syndicate (amongst others) meant the stakes were even higher. Hopefully the revival will retain the ‘trust no-one mantra’ and make for some spookily tense viewing.
Of course, we can’t forget the Monster-of-the-Week episodes. From demons to witches, from psychics to sinister twin sisters – TXF never failed to disappoint. The MOTW episodes were always a fun deviation from the mythology, which could get a bit too much even for the most committed viewers. The MOTW episodes allowed a little humour and experimentation to creep into the series, without damaging the larger mythology. Unfortunately, with only 6 episodes set to air for Season 10, it seems unlikely there will be any MOTW episodes – but you never know!
Awesome Guest Stars
Jack Black, Lucy Liu, Bryan Cranston, Jodie Foster, Ryan Reynolds and Seth Green are just a handful of the incredible guest stars to appear on TXF. We already know Joe McHale will be a regular in Season 10 *link*, but surely there’s room for cameos? Fingers crossed, guys!
To summarise, ‘The X Files’ was quite possibly the best thing about the 1990s. It was funny, it was scary, it was emotional and it was full of action. Chris, if you follow these simple rules (and simultanousely destroy any evidence that ‘I Want To Believe’ was ever made) I am sure that the revival will be a success.
I have my apprehensions, as I’m sure many Philes out there do. But watch this teaser here, and tell me you’re not at least a tiny bit excited.