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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

X-Files: the 00s are over. Bring back the show!!!

It will not be long until the first decade of the new millennium is over. The beginning of this decade one the greatest television shows was canceled. The X-Files marked the 90s but could not withstand a changing world and a new audience in the new millennium. I am currently finishing re-watching the whole series and I am getting incredibly convinced now that the series had many years of quality episodes left in them when they ended but was axed nevertheless.

When the show first aired in 1993 the world was entering in new phase after the end of the cold war. The american audience did not have a standardized enemy anymore to fear or hate. Conspiracy Theories where on the rise and everyone was on the look for new threats. Mid-90s saw an increase in cult groups, a rise of far-right extremist groups and alien sightings. This was a perfect time to introduce X-Files into the world. The show dealt with a government that people "should not" trust, the inherent fear of the unknown, occult interests and used a streamlined mythology arc with twists like no show before it.

After rewatching the series I have to say that its strength though was not the mythology episodes. It was the monster of the week episodes. The mythology episodes were interesting had a lot of twists and turns but it was in the standalone stories that the series really shined. The chemistry of Mulder and Scully was strongest at these episodes and it was where these characters were better defined by their actions. These episodes introduced us to many paranormal themes. Most of them were really well done and some were really creepy. On the other hand the mythology episodes were full of uninteresting, and some times plain stupid repetitive, dialog. The characters were caricatures of their own existence with Mulder being a passionate 1-dimensional bozzo and not the witty open minded guy we liked and Scully...well Scully was...Scully but was just refusing more things than usual...

In Series 7 (aired 1999-2000) it becomes apparent that the show is in trouble. It is like the producers are not sure which direction to take. The 90s are over and with them many of the social aspects that gave birth to the show's success. It was a very mediocre season to say the least. In season 8 though, the whole show reestablishes itself with excellent episodes, a new turn in the mythology arc and a new interesting likable protagonist alongside agent Scully. Many were afraid the X-Files cannot exist without Mulder but agent Dogget proved them wrong. Yep, it was X-Files alright and it was very good.

Series 9 started in whole different world than when the season 8 had finished. Season 9 started 2 months after the attacks of 9/11. Even though the episodes of these series were very well done much like series 8 it had to win an audience that was told that had a new very well-defined enemy. It had to win a audience that was supporting a far right, fundamentalist government and was arguing about supposed safety over rights and freedom. You could not win that audience with government conspiracies, horror stories and the paranormal. The people behind the show did their best but it was an unwinable battle. The show was canceled.

From then on the TV is full of beautiful people, fast paced action, incomprehensible scripts and more "cool" upperclass characters than you can count. X-Files could not survive in clean-cut, boob-jobed, fast-car-driving, tough-guy, trendy television world. As we approach the end of this decade, and we hear less phrases like "axis of evil", the economy is on the decline, people are starting to get bored of the clean-cut approach and again we started to have as a society more question than answers, maybe, I say maybe, a show like X-Files can still find a place in the prime-time television world. I sure hope that it does.


ebenet said...

I am very glad to see a post like that, being an avid X-phile myself, and often an apologist.

Although the socio-political analysis is intriguing, I have to disagree: I believe the Bush-era would be perfect for a conspiracy show like the X-files, but other factors (too long on the air, Duchovny's semi-absence, convoluted mytharc episodes) led to its justified demise. Although nowadays the economic crisis is well on hand, people's mistrust of their government has more turned into a generalized apathy than a direct protest. I fear that intelligent writing does not belong in today's world (one could refute that by citing Galactica, but its appeal was extremely limited compared to the X-files).

I have to agree that 7th season was by far the weakest, with many silly and/or self-referential episodes. Season 8 tried a whole lot to rectify these issues, with a constant serious tone and a season-long quest that engaged viewers. Season 9, while sold, unfortunately lacked the chemistry between the leads.

And what of the future? A third and final movie is on the talks for a late 2012 release, although nothing is set in stone. I hope it finally turns out and gives a proper send-off to the characters, because "I want to Believe" was too low key...

mastorak said...

Actually i think Duchovny's absense was a good thing. During the end of the 7nth season I was bored. The series starting anew with fresh cast and a serious tone was a welcomed change for me.
The early series' chemistry between Mulder and Scully was absent between agent Reyes and Dogget, or Dogget and Scully, or anyone with anyone really. That, though, did not stop the series from offering pure X-Files entertainment.
Albeit the whole baby, love affair thing was boring as well.
Ehhh...i long for the days when Scully was refusing the existence of Vampires, Aliens, Ghosts, mutant worm men, Golums and many many other phenomenons.
When everything were established not as possibility but as a fact it lost some of the magic...

rs99092 said...

Ok, for sure we are talking about one of the most important as well as controversial shows, all time.

But keep in mind that hadn't we lost Fox Mulder we would never had got to known... Hank Moody!

And this is totally unacceptable!