When The X-Files originally aired in 1993, it opened to generally positive reviews and reception. Still, it would have been difficult to predict then how a show originally dubbed a cult classic could have become such an icon of mainstream popular culture over the course of its nine season original run. A cross between science fiction, horror and procedural drama, the original stories of FBI agents Mulder and Scully exploring the FBI’s fabled X-files would keep us both entertained week after week, and have us wondering if there really was any truth out there at all.
Like other hit series that have spawned further productions, such as 24 and Full House, The X-files reboot is highly anticipated by fans both new and old. In the new miniseries, fans find themselves back in the world of conspiracy theory and government cover-ups, albeit updated to reflect current times and conditions within the government and the rest of the world. As with the original series, which is still regularly played on cable marathons, this new season promises both mythology arc episodes and standalone “monster of the week” episodes, with said premiere falling firmly within the former with the conspiracy theory to back it up.
After the 14-year television hiatus, fans of the original series quickly find themselves plunged back into the familiar world of Mulder and Scully, while new and old fans alike are brought up to date fairly quickly on the events of those intervening years. The pilot episode “My Struggle” finds Scully still working in medicine, although not for the FBI any longer, and Mulder living in a remote cabin in an unknown location, but also far away from the FBI.David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return to their roles as Mulder and Scully and are brought back to the FBI fold by their previous boss and FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, reprised by Mitch Pileggi. Skinner calls the team after being contacted directly by internet conspiracy theorist Tad O’Malley, played by Joel McHale, who seeks to meet specifically with Mulder.
Mulder is both older and far more skeptical than ever before, but his skepticism is quickly dispelled when O’Malley introduces Mulder and Scully to Sveta, a girl who claims repeated alien abduction and incubation of alien babies. Played by Annett Mahendru, both she and O’Malley share information that has Mulder questioning all of his prior beliefs about government cover-ups and alien abductions - but soon, Mulder is convinced of a new conspiracy that he sees as more widespread and dangerous than anything he previously believed. Scully is, as usual, skeptical until the end of the episode when she hints at test results that at least partially back Mulder’s new convictions.
By the end of the episode, thrilling action, mystery and the surprising return of beloved characters from the original series, had die-hard fans (including me) shouting praises of the rebooted series. On the other hand, critics of the show have dubbed it “a very underwhelming hour” and a slow start to the season - and it’s easy to see why.
From jumbled conspiracy theory rantings, odd pacing and forced storylines to dicey special effects and subdued performances, even fans from back in the day will agree the season 10 premiere was not on the same level as the original series. Fans and critics alike were disappointed in the lack of well known TV trends that the show helped usher into popularity like slow-burn tension, artful horror and visual storytelling; and many have even compared it to the arguably highly unimaginative second X-Files movie.
No matter how dodgy the premiere episode turned out to be, most fans were overly ready to enjoy the revival no matter what. With critics assuring viewers the storyline picks up if they stick around until episode 3, it’s obvious the overwhelming majority were blindly caught by the nostalgic bate - and for a show taking place in 2016, it still very much feels like the 90s classic most of us began with.
Whether Fox and Chris Carter are planning any further developments within The X-Files universe beyond these six new episodes remains to be seen. But for now, the mini-series shows promise of keeping up the quality standards set by the original and will likely leave diehard fans still longing for more.
Contributed by Maria Ramos.