I claimed this trailer to review sight unseen, because I have a very soft spot in my heart for The X-Files and I’ve been hyped about its return pretty much since they announced it. After watching it, I’m still excited, but I do have some reservations.
I didn’t watch The X-Files growing up because I didn’t have (and still mostly don’t have) the stomach for anything too spooky, but after giving up on Supernatural a few years ago I figured it was time to take in the classic paranormal series. While it jumped the shark pretty badly after its first six or so seasons, going so far as to replace both Mulder and Scully with new agents, I did really enjoy the bulk of the show. When I heard they were bringing it back for a miniseries in 2016, I was tentatively excited, especially because David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson would be teaming up again under the direction of original series creator Chris Carter.
Aside from Mulder and Scully, we see both Assistant Director Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man (or, well, his hand) in the trailer, so it really does seem like the gang’s all back together again. A glimpse at the Wikipedia page lists the entire Lone Gunmen trio as well as Agent Monica Reyes as returning characters too. While I did harbor some resentment toward Monica for being one of the agents who replaced Mulder and Scully, I don’t really have anything against her character specifically, and I’m eager to see what role she plays here. And although the Lone Gunmen are kind of the founding stereotype of conspiracy theorist nerds in pop culture, I adore them as characters and I’m excited to see them reunited. I also thought I saw Alex Krycek in the trailer for a second, but he’s not among the cast there so it must have just been someone who kind of looks like him.
While I’m excited to see the series make the jump to the 21st century, I’m worried that the trailer doesn’t give us enough of a clue as to what paranormal/extraterrestrial stuff will be going on. While they certainly mentioned aliens, the focus seems to be more on the novelty of the X-Files cast juxtaposed against the ubiquity of modern government surveillance, rather than giving us any really meaty glimpse into the story. The long-form style of the original show allowed us to have file-of-the-week episodes with really freaky monsters or phenomena interspersed with the season-spanning mytharc episodes. I’m worried that, since this is only a miniseries, it may suffer from the lack of character moments those file-of-the-week episodes often provided. I’m also worried that the conflict sounds too general: “the government is doing Bad Things with alien tech”. Given that they’re carrying over so many characters from the original series and that it does occur within the original continuity, I hope that they don’t shy away from too many references to old stuff out of fear of alienating new viewers. I usually advocate for accessibility for newbies, but in fairness, X-Files is one of those cultural juggernauts that you probably know the gist of even if you’ve never seen an episode, and there’s definitely a way to balance being referential and not alienating (ha, alienating) those new to the show.
Partly against my better judgment, I will definitely be checking this out when it airs this upcoming January. Nostalgia is a strong driving force, even if it’s nostalgia for just a couple of years ago, and even if the trailer didn’t grab me the way I expected it would, I’m still invested in what happens to Mulder, Scully, and the gang.
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