The X-Files returns to Fox this Sunday, a mere 14 years after leaving us with a healthy fear of Port-a-Johns and without adequately explaining much of anything about the vast alien conspiracy threatening the very existence of mankind.
The shit — a.k.a. the impending colonization of Earth by malevolent extraterrestrials — was supposed to hit the fan on December 12, 2012, not coincidentally the predicted date of the Mayan apocalypse. Obviously, this deadline came and went and we're all still watching The Bachelor and eating Hot Pockets, so unless the Colonists changed their invasion strategy to "watch mankind slowly succumb to type 2 diabetes," Chris Carter and the gang might have some explaining to do.
Unless they don't. It'd be perfectly in keeping with X-Files tradition if they failed to mention that at all. The show was notorious for its salad bar approach to plot, so the real question is: What exactly are we hoping to see in the new series? A satisfactory resolution of the so-called "mythology" involving Samantha Mulder, Scully's abduction(s), BEES, alien bounty hunters and the rest wasn't in the offing after nine seasons and two movies, so don't hold your breath that six episodes will solve all the show's mysteries.
What am *I* hoping for? Besides the return of Dr. Bambi Berenbaum? Well...
1. Mulder investigates reports of sex robots achieving sentience; somehow forgets to call Scully.
2. The Smoking Man finally gets published. By InStyle.
3. Ghost Adventures crossover, at the end of which, Zak and the crew are messily slaughtered by alien bounty hunters.
4. Scully goes on Maury Povich to discuss the paternity of her 800 in vitro children.
5. Lord Kinbote gets his own reality show: Sexcapades at the Center of the Earth.
I know I'm probably setting myself up for crushing disappointment. Because while The X-Files is one of my all-time favorite shows, similar attempts to revisit the beloved entertainment of my youth have usually resulted in heartbreak (or maybe I was expecting too much from that Hardy Boys rewatch). Having checked out a decent chunk of the original series in that past few months (thanks, Netflix), I can see how it might age poorly. Technology has advanced almost immeasurably since the antenna phones and chat room serial killers of the original, and as I've mentioned before, alien conspiracies are downright pedestrian in an era when serious academic consideration has been given to both 9-11 "truthers" and those convinced the two-term President of the United States is some kind of "Muslimchurian Candidate."
But there is a possibility the new series may actually be, well, good. Carter has brought back some of the show's biggest guns, including Darin Morgan, who wrote several of my favorite episodes ("Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Jose Chung's From Outer Space"), James Wong, and Glen Morgan, who just may be writing a follow-up to season four's superlatively disturbing "Home" (S10E04 is titled "Home Again," so it didn't exactly take Hercule Poirot to figure that out).
The show also returned to Vancouver and British Columbia, where the first five seasons were filmed. Maybe I'm biased, but location was a big part of the initial attraction: that Twin Peaks-ish sense of atmosphere you can get only from shooting in the Pacific Northwest. Canada: it's like a whole 'nother country.
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Carter has also all but verified the return of the Smoking Man and the Lone Gunmen, despite the fact they're both stone dead as of the ninth season (like, collapsing mountain and lethal biological agent dead). Carter's on record as saying, "No one really dies on The X-Files," so whether the characters' returns take the form of hallucination, flashback or shapeshifting alien remains to be seen.
Nothing matters if the principals don't click, though. Let's not forget that the last time we checked out agents Mulder and Scully, in 2008's I Want to Believe, there was a distinct sense of finality (you remember the scene). Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny have certainly given the requisite amount of lip service to being happy the band is back together, but how much of the first episode(s) is going to be spent explaining why they're not living on a secluded island anymore?
Nostalgia is dangerous only when you can't distance yourself from it. If you spend too much time reliving the so-called glories of your past, it negatively colors your perception of the present. Similarly, getting your hopes up because of how strongly you identified with some aspect of your past, be it entertainment-related or other, almost never pays off (holler at your boy, fellow midnight viewers of The Phantom Menace). I've got my eyes open for the return of the F.B.I.'s "least wanted," even as I know I'll feel that same thrill when that theme plays.