It was inevitable that the Fox executive session at the Television Critics Association summer tour would yield greater detail about the reboot of The X-Files that is currently in production. The event series is one of the most highly anticipated projects on the Fox Television Group slate, and fans have been poring over every snippet of preview footage already released.
Those attending the session were apparently treated to a whole scene from the first of the new episodes, with Chairman and CEO Dana Walden giving an explanatory introduction.
“You’re seeing a scene from our first episode back. As you may recall, the mix of episodes we did was mythology episodes, episodes that dug deeper into the conspiracy of The X Files, and then there were great standalone episodes. That’s still the mix we’ll be exploring in this run.”
These comments are both encouraging and intriguing. Fans of the show will be pleased to hear that this reboot will continue the X-Files‘ tradition of ‘monster-of-the-week’ stories, in addition to furthering the overall conspiracy tale. Some of the greatest episodes of the show were of the standalone variety – such as Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, Darkness Falls, Squeeze, Humbug, Pusher, Christmas Carol, X-Cops, and The Post-Modern Prometheus. However, with the limited event series consisting of only six episodes, it is difficult to see how a mixture will be achieved.
The last time we saw X-Files lead characters Mulder and Scully (in the 2008 movie The X-Files: I Want To Believe), they were both pursuing lives outside of the FBI. From a storytelling perspective, it can be assumed that the first episode of this upcoming event series will deal largely with catching up with the pair, bringing them back together in a ‘work’ capacity, and drawing them back into investigative action. This is confirmed by the scene screened by Walden at the TCA session, which reportedly had Scully storming to Mulder’s home for some kind of confrontation over his renewed obsession with the unexplained, and some new leads he has received from a mysterious character.
The question is, do those leads relate to the overall conspiracy, or a standalone story? With only five other episodes to play with, it could be argued that the success of the event series in terms of narrative depends on the answer to that question. The history of The X-Files has always had the agents investigating standalone stories first and foremost, with the overall conspiracy gradually revealing itself in the process, throughout. In order to truly honour the original premise, the writing team behind the reboot (consisting of creators of some of the best previous episodes – Chris Carter, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan and James Wong) need to follow that same pattern.
Fox Chairman and CEO Dana Walden continued in the TCA session by discussing the new spate of television revivals – which, for Fox, now includes Prison Break – and how it relates to this reboot of The X-Files. The network is clearly appreciative of the fact that The X-Files, like other shows, has become an episodic drama that has effectively been found by a whole new generation of fans.
“They feel ripe for reinvention and a great opportunity to reunite meaningful characters who people are attached to, tell fresh stories about them. They’ve taken a significant hiatus and they’re event miniseries. We’re not suggesting that we’re rebooting The X Files long term. It felt like there was a great opportunity to bring back two characters who have enormous chemistry together and tell some new stories, now that we have new fans and people that remember it from the original run.”
This is the science of The X-Files reboot – the right mix of chemistry amongst the writers, the right mix of chemistry amongst the cast, and the right mix of fandom between original viewers and new audiences. This is a delicate balance to achieve, but if any project can do it, The X-Files can. That theory will be tested when the miniseries premieres on January 24th, 2016.