Everyone’s favorite alien abduction/government conspiracy theory TV show went off the air in 2002 after a nine-season run and over 200 episodes. During the run of The X-Files one feature film was produced and a second was released six years after the series ended in 2008. And against all odds, the show is back on Fox as a short six-episode “event series.”
The first episode has aired and a voice over from Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) helpfully brought us up to speed on what’s happened since the series ended. Of course, the FBI’s X-Files division has been shut down, Mulder and Scully (Gillian Anderson) have entered into and ended a relationship (and don’t forget they have a child together), he’s become a recluse and she’s gone back to working at the hospital. But a request to meet from one Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), a well-known internet conspiracy theorist/nutjob, brings the two together to investigate what could possibly be the key to unlocking all the secrets they had worked on exposing in the past.
O’Malley helpfully presents them with a young woman, Sveta, who has claims of alien abduction, strange scars on her body, and memories of being impregnated with the unborn fetuses harvested from her. O’Malley also bring Mulder to a top secret facility that purports to have a craft engineered from alien technology. It all helps Mulder to buy what O’Malley is selling, but Scully is not so easily drawn in, even when O’Malley asks her out on a date. But are the alien visitations and abductions real, or are they part of a bigger, more insidious government conspiracy to take over not only the country, but the world? (And what O’Malley and Mulder firmly believe doesn’t sound completely out of step with things going on in the world today.)
The first of the six episodes rolls out a whole lot of scenarios for Mulder and Scully while taking us back to the infamous Roswell UFO incident which may be the key to whatever is taking place in the present. Watching a new X-Files episode now is almost as thrilling as seeing a new Star Wars movie, and despite the early negative reviews (which seemed more like sour grapes because Fox only supplied the first episode to the press), I found the premiere to be thoroughly engrossing and entertaining, sometimes heart-pounding, and feeling like hardly any time has passed since we last saw our heroes.
Duchovney and Anderson have not missed a beat, easily fitting right back in to the skins of their characters. It was also nice to see Mitch Pileggi again, as well as the original opening titles. And knowing our favorite series villain would be back at some point, it was a real thrill to see the CSM (William B. Davis) at the very end, concerned that the X-Files has indeed been re-opened.
Earlier this season another series made a brief return, Heroes Reborn, but that one stretched on far too long at 13 episodes and fans eager for more of that story quickly tired of it because the writers just could not sustain it over that period of time. The question with The X-Files is going to be, are six episodes enough?
In the US, we’re just so conditioned to expect a full season of 22 to 24 episodes of a show on a regular basis, but the British model of television, with shorter seasons and sometimes irregular airings (some shows are gone for years before they come back), has been wholly embraced by cable networks from HBO to FX which are happy to produce 10 to 13 episodes of a series each year (and even some shows like The Sopranos and Louie have or are taking extended breaks) which just leads viewers to be eager for more when the shows return. Fox even tried it with a 13-episode season of Sleepy Hollow and then they ran it into the ground by padding it out with an additional five in the second season.
So are six episodes of The X-Files going to be enough to satisfy fans? Of course I’d like to see more, which is impossible because the stars currently have other shows they’re working on, but if Chris Carter and company can turn out a solid six episodes this time around that tell a cohesive and coherent story, and manages to leave us all wanting more at the end, I am perfectly happy with that. I’d rather have six solid hours than even 13 episodes with a lot of padding just to adhere to a schedule. From what I’ve seen so far, I am eager to jump into the next five episodes (airing on Monday nights at 8:00 PM). I really, really want to believe again.
What did you think of the premiere? Tell us in the comments below!