Saturday, January 23, 2016

X-Files: The Original Series

I avoided watching The X-Files for decades. I have always been an open believer in UFOs, but I was also one to know the real from the hoax. Little green men? Hoax. That UFO in the poster Mulder had hanging on his wall for so long? Hoax. That's just a prop hanging by a string. The O'Hare UFO sighting? Real.

Something's out there, whether it be government tests or aliens.

Growing up, though, I had the impression that X-Files was about the fake stuff. I did not want the stigma of believing in that brand of UFOs. Also, I was afraid that the show would try to "prove" the existence of UFOs by showing one on screen and having a character say, "See? I told you so." This is pretty much what the recent disappointment, Proof, did on TNT on the subject of life after death. That circular reasoning trope never proves anything.

When I heard of the X-Files revival (which starts tomorrow), and when all my facebook friends talked about how awesome the original show was, and when I learned the whole series was on Netflix, I decided to give it a try. Plus, with the Vince Gilligan connection, it couldn't be that bad, right? (Warning -- spoilers follow for those who still haven't seen the original series.)

I was hooked in one episode. The X-Files didn't try to prove anything, but instead gave us interesting story lines, government conspiracies, a smoking man, and even a love story. It was almost like the writers saying, "Yeah, we know you don't really believe this--or maybe you do--but either way, sit back and enjoy the ride."

And it was great. At least for the first five seasons. We had a consistent storyline about aliens wanting to colonize our planet. There was this black oil virus, and clone people who oozed poisonous green blood who could be killed at the backs of their necks.

Then something happened at the end of Season 5. With the X Files destroyed and with Scully and Mulder reassigned, a cliffhanger was met with ... a in-between-seasons movie? It wasn't just an off-on-the-side story, but rather "required" watching. In fact, the previews of the Season 6 opener included scenes from the movie. I think that if I were a fan back then, I would have been angry having to fork over money to watch something that wasn't free. It was a decent movie, but it didn't feel like an X-Files episode. It didn't start off with the iconic theme. It had cool special effects, though, and a fun ending.

Season 6 was still pretty good. There's a resistance of blind aliens, the syndicate dies. (Did they really, really die?) We learn that aliens created life on our planet. Cool stuff.

Season 7 was also strong, ending with the (second?) death of the Smoking Man and the abduction of Mulder.

But then Seasons 8 and 9 went to plaid. It felt like Duchovny was done playing the role of Mulder, and the writers had to come up with something. The introduction of the Robert Patrick was interesting. The writers made it work, and it was fun to see him do several times his signature Terminator "I'm running after you" look. And what was he being chased by? They were other indestructible Terminators called super soldiers.

That plot line didn't work for me at all. Super soldiers were indestructible, incredibly strong, and they're everywhere. But yet they couldn't take over the world? And the only way to destroy them was to get them near magnetite (which they can't detect until it's too late)? Also, Mulder dying and coming back to life infected with a super-soldier virus that Scully was able to counteract without any alien technology help? And all this came at the expense of the earlier consistent plot. That is, we didn't see any more green-blooded clones, or the resistance, etc.

It felt like the show was losing direction.

Perhaps Carter felt the same. In Season 9, he took steps to end the show--major characters dying and all that. The season finale was decent. It made a really good attempt to tie up and/or explain all loose ends. Though, the super soldiers line is still weak. We got to see the Smoking Man die again (a third time?).

The show ends with Mulder revealing to Scully what he had learned. There's a date: December 22, 2012, when the aliens will enact their colonization. We're all doomed. It can't be stopped. Scully says, "Well, we still have hope," and the music plays the X-Files theme in a major key instead of minor (probably the only time this happens in the entire season).

The 2008 movie was okay, but very disappointing. It answered no real questions, and it had no cool special effects, and definitely no aliens. It would have made a great two-parter TV episode.

Now that the new series is about to start, some big questions remain:

#1) Is the Smoking Man still alive? We saw the skin peel off of his bones! Yet, he's listed in the credits in the upcoming show. Was he a clone? Did he store his consciousness somewhere? Is he still going to have that freaky smoking hole in his throat?

Perhaps we'll only see him in flashbacks? Note that Frohike is also listed in the upcoming credits, who we know can't be brought back to life. So maybe it will all be flashbacks or ghosts talking to Mulder.

#2) What happened to the 12/22/12 deadline? It's 2016 now. Did the aliens cancel their invasion? I hope this is addressed.

#3) Which stories are coming back? The green-blooded clones? The killer bees? The super soldiers (please not them)?

We'll see. Carter says he has some new ideas. We'll see how it pans out. I hope it's good.

No comments: