Of all the notable film and television projects that are due to arrive in 2016, it is safe to say that The X-Files event series is among the most highly anticipated. Thankfully, with a premiere date set for January, the wait will not be overly torturous – but 20th Century Fox still likes to tease. Having already set the tone with a number of tiny snippets previously released, the most recent episodes of Gotham and Minority Report saw the debut of a pair of trailers for The X-Files (presented together, above), which took an innovative episodic approach.
Trailer one is the weaker of the two, because it incorporates a somewhat cheesy voiceover introduction from Agent Mulder. This is clearly designed to get the necessary exposition out of the way, and bring everyone up to speed. The X-Files is over twenty years old, after all, so there’s a whole new generation of viewers waiting to be enthralled. It doesn’t stay cheesy for long, though. We’re soon back in that iconic basement office – which may have been trashed long ago, but still has Mulder’s pencils stuck in the ceiling. Then, we’re off and running, as the trailer takes on a ‘getting the band back together’ vibe. Scully appears, Mulder arrives – obviously meaning business, because he’s put his suit and tie on – and then we get a genuinely unique ‘To Be Continued.’
Trailer two picks up at that point – a very effective ‘the call is coming from the doorway’ gag – and we finally get into the belly of the thing. It’s about the government. It’s about the growing culture of surveillance. It’s about the increasingly heavy-handed approach to policing. It’s about the curtailment of personal freedoms. It’s about all those dark, conspiratorial things that The X-Files was always about, back in the day. It even ends with a cautious Scully issuing a verbal warning to Mulder, which Mulder immediately dismisses – just like old times.
It is the dynamic between the two lead characters that is the most interesting aspect of these trailers, and it highlights what was always interesting about the show and its two movies. Back in 1993, the pilot episode of The X-Files framed the story from the point of view of Agent Scully. As a young and idealistic medical doctor-turned-FBI agent, she took us down into the basement office and, with her, we met Agent Mulder. She had essentially been assigned to ‘de-bunk’ Mulder’s work, and so the action was generally seen from her perspective.
This remained largely the case throughout the series – with perhaps the exception of her abduction, her cancer storyline, and the occasional standalone episode – and helped the show survive when David Duchovny stepped away during seasons seven and eight. These most recent trailers suggest that the new event series will take a different approach, however, and possibly frame the narrative from Mulder’s point of view. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be seen.
The series will consist of six episodes – three of which will be written and directed by Chris Carter, with the remainder written and directed by returning legends Glen Morgan, Darin Morgan and James Wong. Confirmed as returning alongside Duchovny and Anderson are Mitch Pileggi, Annabeth Gish, William B Davis, Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, Nicholas Lea, and Michael McKean, among others. They will be joined by newcomers Lauren Ambrose, Joel McHale, Robbie Amell, Annet Mahendru, Rhys Darby, and Kumail Nanjiani.
The cast and crew list of the event series raises two points. Firstly, these six episodes will have a directing, writing and producing team that is entirely male. This reflects the male-dominated original run of the show, which had just two of its 201 episodes directed by women (one of which was series star Gillian Anderson), and only seven female writers among a group of 47.
The second point is plot based, and centres on the presence of Sheila Larken on the cast list. It seems that Larken will appear in two episodes of the event series, raising the question as to whether this is why Agent Scully is sitting in an intensive care unit when she receives her call from Mulder during these new trailers. Of course, Scully is a doctor, and previous movie plots have seen her move back into medicine, after leaving the FBI, but the tone in which Mulder declares, “I’m here,” suggests more of a call for support on the part of Scully, than a demand for attention from her former partner.
As expected, the official synopsis for the series reveals little in the way of plot, but whets the appetite, nonetheless.
“Thirteen years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of The X-Files is a thrilling six episode event series from creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson re-inhabiting their roles as iconic FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Mitch Pileggi also returns as FBI Asst Dir Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully’s boss, who walks a fine line between loyalty to these investigators and accountability to his superiors. This marks the momentous return of the Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest running sci-fi series in network television history.”
All will be revealed when The X-Files returns on Sunday January 24th at 10pm ET, continuing on Monday January 25th at 9pm ET.