On Deadline, there’s news that Fox has confirmed talks about an X-Files reboot. There’s been weird buzz about a possible third movie for a few years, but now they’re talking about a possible “limited series” like the one 24 did this past year. I think this is a terrible idea. Put down the pitch forks for at least five minutes and let me explain why.
I have several philosophical problems with bringing back The X-Files, at least in the way it existed in the 90s. They are: after Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, the idea that the government could create vast networks of individuals involved in these high-level conspiracies without substantial leaks is laughable; the spread of smartphones mean that a lot of people now have a camera that takes photos and video on them all the time which would eliminate a great deal of the mystery involved in the supernatural tips they get; and finally, alien invasion now hardly seems like the kind of world-ending scenario that it once did thanks to all the other world-ending scenarios currently fighting for attention. Our conspiracy shows now don’t deal with otherworldly threats, they deal with people making very realistic threats involving very real international conflicts.
As for the paranormal aspect of The X-Files there is some potential there with the success of shows like The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, and Sleepy Hollow, but even those kinds of themes are being shoved off onto reality series like Ghost Hunters. Again, this ties back to the smartphone thing, with cameras everywhere and widespread knowledge of photo manipulation, it’s just harder to believe in these sorts of things without hard evidence.
I loved The X-Files, but I don’t agree that we can (or should) bring back any series we loved just for the sake of doing so. Sometimes you just have to let stories lie, even the ones that maybe didn’t have the most satisfying of endings. And sometimes stories that work in one particular setting don’t really work in another; Mulder and Scully made sense in the 90s, doing what they did. Now, I feel like Mulder would have been sucked into the darker corners of the internet and been completely unfit to become an FBI agent, and Scully would have gone on to have a commendable but mostly ordinary career as a field agent before taking a position at HQ. Revisiting them now, 21 years after they started working together as partners doesn’t really interest me much either as it felt like the more they explored that relationship outside of the work, the more they fumbled it. Besides, Scully’s busy investigating a serial killer over in Belfast.
The last episode of The X-Files aired nearly 12 years ago. The second movie was released almost seven years ago, and overall didn’t seem to be particularly beloved or cherished by the fans. What more could there be to say or do at this point? I’d rather just re-watch my favorite episodes on Netflix. But that’s just one opinion, and as I was 7 when the series started and around 10 when I started watching, I didn’t experience The X-Files phenomena quite the same way as people who were actually adults at the time. So, what say you all? Where could the show go? Would you want to see them revisit old plots, or tackle new stories? Would it be worth it just to see Gillian Anderson out-shoot David Duchovny one last time? And how many of you still have an “I Want to Believe” poster somewhere?