4 Signs The New Season Of 'The X-Files' Will Be Terrible
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:
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a super stretchy pedophile -- meaning that any success the new show could resuscitate would be from repeating the same outdated bits over and over.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 ...
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.
Surprisingly, this WASN'T Vince Gilligan's fault.
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 ...
The Show's Ending Was Completely Irreversible
Spoilers: The Mayans were right and we're all going to die. In fact, we're already dead. In the show's series finale, Mulder escapes a military trial (and execution sentence) to discover that the Earth will be mass-colonized by alien life on Dec. 22, 2012.
It's still 2012, though, so people were probably relieved for salvation
from "Gangnam Style" and "Call Me Maybe."
This was, of course, an episode released in 2002, seasons after the series also solved the burning question as to Mulder's sister's kidnapping and killed off the show's most popular villain, Krycek. The latter also takes place in the same episode that Mulder and Scully finally kiss on camera, burning out the remaining "will they, won't they" fumes the show had been running on. What else is left? The only likeable conspiracy theorists in the world, the Lone Gunmen? Sorry, they died from a biological weapon in the final season. The Cigarette Smoking Man? Blown the fuck up from a black helicopter missile after smoking himself into looking like that guy at the end of Last Crusade.
"He chose ... poorly" applies to both the smoking and the screenwriting.
Just to be clear: When I say "blown the fuck up," I mean that (after a long list of fake-out deaths) the show went out of its way to show his flesh searing off of his skull.
"Sweet Ghost Rider cosplay."
It was a perfectly brutal death, inexplicably voided by the news that they are somehow bringing the character back. So, along with Zombie Smoking Man, that leaves Skinner, fugitive Mulder, and a no-longer-skeptical Scully.
In other words: The final episode of X-Files did a bang-up job at actually concluding the show. The only tiny loose end being the entire destruction of mankind, which could easily be addressed if they were to, say, make a movie about it. Unfortunately ...
They Already Blew Their Goddamn Chance
So after building up an elaborate alien invasion plot, our trenchcoated lovebirds made a triumphant return in the sequel movie I Want To Believe -- a film about a transgender serial killer trying to surgically transfer his head onto women while being hunted down by a psychic child-molesting priest. It was so aggressively shoddy that Xzibit's role in it could be considered his rock bottom. And to add insult to injury, at no point did the film address the fact that the freaking alien apocalypse is coming in four years.
Realistically, Mulder would be locked away in a bunker with 900 issues
of Penthouse and a barrel of lube.
The effect was so glaring that it felt like a generic script someone scribbled Mulder and Scully's names into -- but, in reality, Chris Carter simply decided to ignore canon and revert the movie to a "monster of the week" motif. The only problem being that none of the most popular of those types of episodes were actually written by Carter himself, but rather people like James Wong, Glen Morgan, and Darin Morgan. And instead of getting those guys, he used later-season writer and executive producer Frank Spotnitz to scrawl a taint-slap story with zero monsters or aliens in it. They could have gotten a better result by adapting that X-Files Duke Nukem expansion pack level instead.
The X-Files isn't the only thing from this image that got ruined.
This is why our nostalgia-lust for The X-Files is so misguided: With the exception of the two stars, pretty much everyone who made the show special isn't working on it anymore, at least not in the same capacity. And Chris Carter is a writer-producer whose last project was deemed too shitty for even Amazon to run it. This failure, combined with the Twin Peaks revival, is no doubt what led to digging up the already road-hauled carcass of The X-Files for another go. And the worst part is that we'll have no choice but to watch it. Because our want to believe will ultimately be our downfall, just like it was for Agent Mulder.
Either that, or the inevitable autoerotic asphyxiation.
Dave is happy to talk about how awesome The X-Files was on Twitter.
While you're here, also check out 5 Iconic Characters That Were Only Supposed To Be Bit Parts and 6 Classic Series You Didn't Know Were Made Up On The Fly.