“The truth is still out there”…and it kinda sucks. “I want to believe”… otherwise, but nope. Yes I know I’m making bad puns on The X-Files, sue me and just roll with it. Also this is my first TV review, so yay? Funny that this episode was called “My Struggle”, because MY struggle is trying to find anything good in this thing. To quote Ben Yahtzee, “yes I am quite bitter”, because thanks to postgame football bullshit, my DVR kinda screwed up recording this (I was recording it and not watching it right when it premiered due to getting rid of snow on my driveway, of which there’s A LOT of, so bite me if anyone says “well why didn’t you just watch it while it premiered and do the snow later?”, because I’m not friggin psychic and couldn’t know how long football was gonna air), and yes I will count that as part of the review, because honestly airing this after football, regardless of how long it ran, was kinda stupid and annoying (as if football couldn’t get more annoying for me, though I don’t hate it), so there might be some plot details I’m not certain about, and if anyone knows what happened in the remainder of this episode, like the last 20 minutes, please let me know, and yes I know there’s Wikipedia and other sources but I tend to double-check. Though then again maybe that was the original intent for this “conspiracy” of screwing up The X-Files coming back, who knows?
Being born in 1992, I didn’t exactly watch The X-Files growing up. It wasn’t til I was about 8-9 that I started watching it, and even then it was kinda hard to, with it playing late at night and I had bedtime (and here I am, years later, watching it late at night and now reviewing it; funny how time flies, ain’t it? lol). Before DVR was invented, there was VHS (remember VHS? again funny how time flies) and my mom would record it for me from time to time, and I’d watch it and got hooked on it. Sure, I didn’t exactly grow up with the awesomeness of David Duchovny as Fox Mulder and his pairing with Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully, though I would find that out years later thanks to reruns and buying some of the season DVDs, there was the awesomeness of Robert Patrick as John Doggett that drew me to it, as well as the stories, the mythology, the conspiracies, plotlines, the “man-bat” episode that made it hard for me to sleep at night sometimes and left me with a fear of the dark for years on end, and other things. Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Annabeth Gish, and everyone else were all great too back in The X-Files heyday. It kinda sucked the way it ended, but it was also okay. I didn’t see The X-Files: I Want to Believe, but from what I heard about it and reviews I’ve seen, probably glad I didn’t, though I might watch it at some point if I got nothing to do.
When I first heard about The X-Files coming back, I was excited. Mulder and Scully, back on the case after so many years, The X-Files being modernized more than ever in a paranoid, cynical, post-9/11 world that somehow allows DONALD TRUMP to run for president. Chris Carter was involved as executive producer and co-writer, Joe Harris writing the main plotline with consultation from Carter himself. The artwork was excellent, the pacing decent, the characterization done right, good subtlety and buildup, some exposition but it was okay since it was a comic after all, and everything being acknowledged up to this point and continuing forward, with some old favorites returning, like The Lone Gunmen, Doggett (my favorite character btw, if that didn’t come across before), X, Deep Throat, Alex Krycek and Monica Reyes, as well as popular Monsters-of-the Week such as Flukeman, and the alien mythology back stronger than ever, with the dubious Smoking Man being a part of it, naturally. The X-Files was back and awesome again, for both diehard fans and even newcomers, though it’d be a bit confusing for them.
Wait, what’s that? Oh I’m sorry I was talking about The X-Files Season 10 comic book continuation, which is awesome and a must-read, I’ll probably get to reviewing that soon, and sorta got rendered iffy canon (I say “iffy canon” because I refuse to call it “non-canon” as deemed by the “powers-that-be”, if what I hear is true at all) by either Fox or Carter or both due to the “actual” miniseries revival, which is kinda crappy so far. Not awful, but not great either. It’s funny that Carter went from being Joss Whedon to either George Lucas or Disney on his own comic continuation, when Joe Harris and IDW had to seek approval from both him and Fox in order for the comic to happen at all and to keep it in-line with existing and new canon, and then he says that the miniseries “won’t follow the comic’s plotlines”, which kinda makes sense but also confusing as to whether it’s still canon or not. I get that the average TV-viewer may not go and read the expanded universe material, but still. What’s next, the Millenium comic (yes, that happened and I’d like to read that too, as well as watch Millenium and The Lone Gunmen) is non-canon or iffy canon too? Great, as if fucking up Fantastic Four AGAIN wasn’t enough for things that Fox could fuck up on.
Yes, The X-Files is back, or “reopened” in this “case” (get it?), thanks to another Fox series getting a miniseries revival previously, which was 24: Live Another Day (never really watched 24, though I might at some point). Though really in my opinion it was The X-Files Season 10 comic that led to the revival, since it got good reception and even an Eisner award, and while it finished its run that started in 2013 and ended in 2015 at 25 issues, also spawning a Season 11 comic which is only 8 issues (I’ve also yet to read that), and I’ll admit I haven’t finished it yet, it was better than this half-baked live-action revival. Also, I refuse to call the miniseries “Season 10” and just “the miniseries”, if that didn’t come across before.
So, years later, with a so-so sequel movie, the cast and crew moving on to new things and some of them now back in this thing, an awesome Season 10 comic, and now a live-action miniseries revival happening, how does it fare out? Well, not that great. I will give it some props in bringing The X-Files back at all in live action and getting most of the cast back for this, though sadly not Robert Patrick [sniffle], but hey if they plan on more after this 6-episode run, maybe there could be more and he could return (yeah I know I’m being too hopeful but still, it could happen). Mark Snow’s music is still creepy and eerie as ever, which is awesome. Joel McHale does a nice dry, comedic yet serious portrayal here as a internet-based Bill O’Reilly analogue (though not as stupid yet just as slimy lol), almost as if Jeff Winger from Community really grew into an even bigger asshat after it got canned again (I’m also trying to catch up on that one). Duchovny and Anderson still got good chemistry between them as Mulder and Scully too. Other than that, not much is good about it.
The episode starts with Mulder monologuing that just sums up the basics about The X-Files as if this was an Arrowverse show on CW, showing some pictures of “good moments” the series had, and then the pictures getting burned up (interesting symbolism of this kinda pissing on what came before). Then there’s a flashback to Roswell 1947 with the UFO crash landing and I guess that scientist/doctor guy, that the trailer tried to make him seem important to all this, appears. Basically him and some government goons find the alien, the goons kill it, and the doctor goes to to try to “help” it despite it being dead, so I’m kinda wondering why he was brought in at all, and even the character himself says so too. The episode constantly switches back and forth between past and present, but doesn’t exactly connect them at all, again as if this was an Arrowverse show only even less connection between past and present.
Scully is working at a hospital being a surgeon or consultant (never exactly clear on that), being called by Skinner to contact Mulder and watch an internet troll, that being Jeff Winger, spewing conspiracy stuff online. Mulder and Scully meet up in D.C., have an awkward conversation, and then have an almost equally awkward conversation with Winger (yeah I know his name is Tad O’Malley, which is a weird name, but I’m just gonna call him Winger anyway). They meet what I guess is an alien abductee, named Sveta, who describes her experiences, while also looking at Winger constantly for approval, as if she’s doing some weird casting audition and looking at her friend who is in the same room and checking with them to see if she’s doing okay. Scully takes some DNA samples from her to test, while also discussing her life and work with her because she’s psychic or something (yeah I know it sounds weird). Winger also shows Mulder an experimental alien aircraft, with Mulder acting as if he’s never seen anything like it before, despite he has seen friggin alien aircraft a bunch of times before in past seasons and the first movie, even been abducted too (and don’t tell me he’s suffering from amnesia brought on by “alien experimentation” or something, no way he forgets all that). Later on, Mulder talks to the abductee who reveals that it wasn’t exactly aliens, but “men” that abducted her and experimented on her. Meanwhile, Scully is talking to Winger, who kinda flirts with her, and they take a drive, and drink champagne I guess, for some reason. Mulder calls up Scully and starts saying that maybe EVERYTHING that has happened so far in the franchise has been a lie (yep, that’s what it’s saying), set up by a government conspiracy or whatever. Winger then trolls the internet some more with news about Scully and her medical stuff, such as doing surgery on a kid with no ears and giving him ears. And then my DVR gets cut off with the last thing being shown is Mulder meeting some old guy who I guess is his informant or something, talking to him as if this guy has been in anything The X-Files-related before or something. From what I looked up, I think government goons kill the scientists, the aircraft, and Sveta, I don’t know what happened to Winger (maybe he “winged it” and got out safely lol), and I think Smoking Man talked about The X-Files being reopened.
I know that it’s probably not best to do a review of this since I only saw a majority of it and not the whole thing, but honestly I just had to do this, and it’s mostly the postgame’s fault that my recording got screwed up, so I take that into account as well. I may not know everything about The X-Files, but I love what I’ve seen of it growing up, watching it now in reruns and DVDs, and I’ve also looked up info on it for when I don’t have time to watch it (still got a few seasons, the ones I missed anyway, the spinoff shows, and the movies, to go). But this just didn’t do it for me. It’s only the first episode, but it’s clunky and awkward, has too much monologues and exposition, the returning actors seem tired and stiff while okay, and it feels like a mix of Michael Bay and George Lucas, in a bad way, because even those guys had their good moments, and it has the balls to piss on what came before and sorta treat it like nothing ever happened, at least that’s the impression I got from it and I hope I’m wrong and it gets rectified later on. I’m sorry if I sound too harsh, and I know I’m being a fanboy on this, but if this is how it’s gonna start off, then I’m gonna give it a hard time. It’s not that good for diehard fans and even less so for newcomers that don’t know much, even with the exposition and monologues. Hopefully it will get better later on, with both upcoming Monsters-of-the-Week and mythology episodes, favorites like Reyes, The Lone Gunmen, and of course the Smoking Man making appearances, as well as guest appearances from Lauren Ambrose, Robbie Amell (which I’m excited for cause he’s AWESOME as Firestorm, so hopefully he’ll be Firestorm again after this, and don’t get me wrong I like the current Firestorm in the Arrowverse, but Ronnie Raymond is my favorite and Amell did an incredible job) and others, as well as the performances of the leads and the overall story getting better with better writing, direction, and tone, from not just Carter but also his other collaborators on this, though sadly not Vince Gilligan and others (hopefully they’ll come back if there’s more after this) joining with them. And if it doesn’t, well then I’ll just “fight the future” (yeah another awkward pun sue me).