It's official: The X-Files is coming back to television, albeit in the form of a six-episode, toe-in-the-water miniseries, again produced by Chris Carter and starring America's favorite team-up between a skeptic and a chronic masturbator. I can't lie -- as an X-Files fan (the technical term is X-Phile, but that sounds like someone with a fetish for really mild pornography) it is my abiding duty to be super excited for this television event. However, the unfortunate consequence to watching a body-wrecking ton of X-Files is twofold:
1. I've never been able to un-memorize Fox Mulder's badge number (it's JTT047101111 ... uh, no one use that to try to log into my bank account, OK?).
2. I've watched the show enough times to know a new season is a lousy idea.
Seriously. I know we all want to believe (the revival won't suck), because there are just so many examples of franchises successfully coming back over 20 years later, but let's look at the undeniable facts:
#4. The "Monster Of The Week" Format Is Dead
Quick: Close your eyes and think of your favorite TV shows. You're ... you're thinking of 19 Kids and Counting or some shit, aren't you? Fine, let's just look at this list from Rotten Tomatoes, instead. What do you notice?
Besides the fact that you've been spelling "Downton" wrong all these years.
The most beloved shows out there have long murdered the "story of the week" format so ingrained in '90s television. Game Of Thrones, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, and even more episodic shows like Archer and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. maintain a throughline thicker than The X-Files ever did ... at least until the writers started injecting a longer-running story, which was right around the time people stopped watching it.
It didn't help that Mulder and Scully were replaced by two very disappointed teachers.
While every season usually had a two-parter at the end or the occasional "Oh shit, Gillian Anderson got pregnant, what do we do now?!" story, it was those final, terrible seasons that built up the most character development and the least nostalgia for audiences. Most of our fond memories for this show exist within the first four seasons' "monster of the week" stories about government brainwashing or a super stretchy pedophile -- meaning that any success the new show could resuscitate would be from repeating the same outdated bits over and over. How do I know they will dip into the old well? Because ...
#3. They Clearly Ran Out Of Ideas Years Ago
There's another reason why people tend to shut out the later seasons of this show -- those episodes are circus crazy. Like, the slapstick, shit-your-pants insanity that you'd expect to appear only in a porn parody directed by the Wayans Brothers.
Fun fact: This image is actually Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan's fault.
That's a scene from "Hollywood A.D.," the episode where a slick-talking studio writer decides to make a film based on the plucky duo's exploits starring Tea Leoni and Garry Fucking Shandling. That's seriously an episode that happened -- as was the crossover they did with the show Cops (called "X-Cops," naturally), the one where the agents have a battle of wits with a magician who twists his head off ("The Amazing Maleeni"), Mulder getting trapped in a virtual reality video game ("First Person Shooter"), and the pair investigating doppelgangers that cause people to fight uncontrollably. That last one is just called "Fight Club," because no one was trying at that point.
Not even the makeup people.
It took The Simpsons almost twice as many seasons to reach this level of desperate wackiness. And that's just Season 7! Don't get me started on the Season 9 episode where Agent Doggett digs into the mysterious death of "Cap'n Dare," the extreme stuntman/host of a Jackass ripoff called ... Dumbass.
Look, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy every second of this amazing bullshit -- but it's pretty hard to deny how nihilistically over-the-shark this show got when they actually named an episode "Jump The Shark." The show itself was begging for the sweet release of cancellation; can we not leave it be? The X-Files has nowhere left to go.
No, we mean that literally. There's nowhere left to go, because ...