Watching the first episode of the six-part revival of The X-Files is like shrugging into an old coat in winter – there is the warmth associated with nostalgic memories of the past but sometime you look at the frayed sleeves and wonder whether you should get something new.
A monologue by Fox Mulder – the FBI agent obsessed with UFOs, alien takeover conspiracies, his missing sister and porn (not necessarily in that order) – sets up the return after more than 15 years of a TV series that was truly groundbreaking when it popped on our screens in 1993.
This, after all, was the series that introduced the whole of culture of a television show having its own mythology and extended story arcs that spread over its nine seasons. It also paved the way for more ambitious shows like Lost.
Creator Chris Carter, who wrote and directed the first episode of the revival, has his feet firmly planted in familiar territory during the first hour.
There’s a new aliens-taking-over-the-world conspiracy that’s somehow linked to the mythical crash of a UFO at Roswell and the US military’s secret efforts to reverse alien technology, a wealthy and radical internet news show host Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) who wants to use Mulder and Scully to expose the US government’s cover-up of the said conspiracy, and Sveta (Annet Mahendru), a victim of alien abductions who may or may not have been impregnated by the aliens for secret experiments.
And yes, FBI assistant director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and The Smoking Man (William B Davis), the man doggedly working to foil Mulder and Scully, are back for the ride. (No spoilers here, their casting was known for several months now.)
Watch the trailer here
All in all, pretty familiar stuff for old X-Files fans and a great way to introduce new audiences to the mythology and mystery of the show.
And also the problem with the first episode of the new miniseries. Over the course of its previous nine seasons, The X-Files came close to collapsing under the weight of its confusing mythology and storylines associated with alien conspiracies to take over the world.
Watch a behind-the-scenes featurette for the new season here
For my money, the best of the 202 past episodes of The X-files were the ones that focussed on the dynamic between Mulder – the obsessed agent looking for aliens and conspiracies under every rock – and Scully, the scientist sent to debunk Mulder’s theories who has her faith tested by her experiences, and the stand-alone stories that featured the duo taking on the monster-of-the-week.
But wait – the truth may still be out there. Reviewers in the West who have seen episodes two and three in the miniseries have reported that things do get better. So you may want to put the X-mark up on your windows and sign up for all the six new episodes.
The X-Files premieres on 30th January, Saturdays 9 pm on Star World Premiere HD
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