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I Want to Believe in The X-Files

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2008-07-07


It makes me feel old to think that the first episode of the TV series The X-Files aired almost 15 years ago. Before The X-Files became a bonafide 90s pop culture phenomena spawning a series of fan conventions, comic books, magazines, toys, a feature film, etc., etc., etc. it was an unknown show premiering one Friday night on FOX. I was excited about that but I figured no one else would watch.

That first episode of The X-Files was, simply put, magical. Up until The X-Files, most sci fi TV was relegated to series like Star Trek or Babylon 5 while horror TV was akin to anthology niche series like Tales from the Crypt or Monsters. What The X-Files succeeded in doing was to blend both the si fi and horror together and deliver them in such a way that the masses could enjoy.

And enjoy the masses did! The X-Files would run nine seasons on FOX – most of them pretty good. The X-Files was so successful that a feature film was released between the fifth and sixth seasons of the show. I’m not aware of any other series as having been successful enough to go from TV series, to feature film and back to TV series again.

Essentially, The X-Files boiled down to two types of shows. The first dealt with an overall arching alien/government conspiracy that tied the series together. Here, the characters of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) tried to uncover why aliens were visiting the Earth and seemingly experimenting on the populous while governments across the globe work together to cover all this up.

The second was a kind of “monster of the week” show akin to the old Kolchak: The Night Stalker series. These episodes generally weren’t tied to the alien conspiracy episodes and dealt with various creatures and phenomenon threatening people across the country.

If The X-Files suffered from anything it’s that the series went on too long. After the sixth season, about the time when most other successful series finish, the quality of the stories started to suffer. Things went from bad to worse in the eighth season when two new characters were introduced to replace mainstays Mulder and Scully and push the series on for a few more years. But the ratings of The X-Files began to slip and the show only lasted a few more seasons.

There were a few attempts by series creator Chris Carter and FOX to parlay the success of The X-Files into other shows but none of them ever caught on. Series like Space: Above and Beyond (1995), Harsh Realm (1999) and Lone Gunmen (2002) lasted just a season or less while Millennium (a sister series to The X-Files) managed to eek out three seasons.

What seems most odd to me is just how fast The X-Files became a nearly forgotten footnote in television history. What once was the biggest show on television is now relegated to airings on SCI FI Channel and early mornings on TNT. But all that may be changing as some six years after the last new episode of The X-Files aired a new feature film is set to premier later this month: The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

According to reports, I Want to Believe doesn’t focus on the overall alien/conspiracy mythology of the series but is a stand alone movie that anyone, not just the devoteers of the show, can enjoy. And that’s about all we know for sure about the movie. Other than fact that Mulder and Scully are back there hasn’t been much released about this new film.

I want to believe that new The X-Files movie is a return to the greatness, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it isn’t. The X-Files: I Want to Believe is due in theaters July 25. The entire run of The X-Files is currently available on DVD while the first film is available for digital download via Amazon Unbox and iTunes. E-mail me at words@dangerousuniverse.com.

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