It’s been a good last couple years for reviving shows that have long since gone off the air. Soon, we’ll be seeing the return of Reading Rainbow and Entourage, and we’ve already seen the resurrection of shows like Arrested Development. All this goes to show that with enough fans committed for a long enough period of time, anything can come back. The latest in this string of reboots though, may the most exciting one yet, with none other than The X-Files set to make a six-episode return on Fox.
The sci-fi classic first hit airwaves back in 1993, spanning nine seasons and two movies. With its mysterious premise and deep mythology, it forever changed the creativity of network television while spawning a whole generation of imitators. That whole “this show has a secret that we may or may not tell you” idea from Lost? That began in the early ’90s, first with 1990’s Twin Peaks, and then in a sci-fi setting with The X-Files three years later. It’s hard not to see its wide-ranging influence even today, as the small ripples of the ’90s have become a veritable tidal wave of creative ideas.
The shows that have followed in the footsteps of The X-Files may very well be the reason it’ll have its work cut out for it in its return. Back when it first aired in 1993, no one had seen anything like it. The idea of a science-fiction show carrying with it a vast mythos with self-contained stories inside a larger plot arc was practically unheard of in that day and age. It essentially made the rules many shows today still follow, making it a trailblazer that in many ways could do little wrong.
But now that others like Lost and Fringe have followed in its footsteps, the shock and awe The X-Files originally possessed will be far more difficult to earn. The difficulty creator Chris Carter had in finding another similarly successful show post-cancellation should tell us just how treacherous a sci-fi climate the new iteration will be entering into. That’s not to say there’s no hope for the reboot, as much as it’s saying that the playing field has long since been leveled. Whereas before, little to no frame of reference or competition existed, The X-Files is entering back into a game that’s not only learned from predecessors, but produced shows and movies that have vastly improved on them.
In order to compete with a sci-fi genre that in many ways has evolved far past its early ’90s roots, The X-Files will have to do some evolving of its own. Leaning on the devices that made it so great over 20 years ago may not fly with audiences that by now have seen just about everything, from Interstellar to Independence Day. It was a show that in many ways was subtle and smart, and in the face of a decidedly louder climate of movies and TV, it’ll have to find a way to juxtapose against the predominant trends.
According to showrunner Chris Carter, our six episodes will in fact be “stories,” leading us to believe that we’ll be seeing self-contained individual episodes. With the ability to tell more stories in less time than a normal season, we may see the creative playground this show needs in order to resonate with a modern audience that in some ways has no idea how much their favorite TV series owe The X-Files. But will this be enough to carry a new generation of fans for the revolutionary show? We want to believe.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest