The X-Files – 2016: the return, an appraisal by: GF Willmetts (TV review).

The spoilers are out there.

Thirty years ago, it wasn’t unusual that after so many years, there was a ‘Return Of -’, be it shows like ‘I Spy’ and ‘Hunter’ to ‘The Six Million Dollar Man And The Bionic Woman’. Generally, it was a 90 minute TV film, but although having the original cast, these invariably had new people writing the material. With ‘The X-Files’, we get a six episode season and the original creators, which gives a stronger continuity. ‘The X-Files’ was always a complex show and I doubt if 90 minutes would have been enough, especially after two long films.

The preview show has creator Chris Carter saying he called this first episode ‘My Struggle’ although, as usual, no titles are ever given with the show. Mulder is brought in to a new case and realises all that he’s been shown before is a lie. Scully is more suspicious, suspicious enough even of her own and a new witness’ blood-work to order a second test. Before you know what happens, nothing they’ve seen can be trusted and they trust no one. Well, except Skinner. It needs a lot to get them both on-board together, especially as they have split since the last film and need to get together again.


Enough of the story, let’s look at the detail. Finding the original mood of the series was always going to be tough. I’m not sure which director said it, might have Rob Bowman, David Nutter or the late Kim Manners, but they always noted getting the mood of the show depended on utilising the creative use of darkness. In some respects, as a director, Chris Carter hasn’t got that quite right . . . far too much light on the leads when they talk at night, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt of making sure he got his shots and adapting to the needs of today. Certainly, the original run of ‘The X-Files’ never had access to the CGI that gave us the flying saucer crash we saw in this episode. Then again, how much do you really show or a reminder that the budget is out there?

The crashed saucer wasn't CGI but an actual object. Expect to see it again.
The crashed saucer wasn’t CGI but an actual object. Expect to see it again.

Much of this story is build-up and we won’t know where it’s going until next week. In many respects, as I’m typing this, I think this appraisal would be better after the sixth episode when I have the entire picture rather than the tit-bits we have to start off with. Then again, I can’t be the only one writing a review after this episode. Trying to compare to the original series pilot, twenty years down line and you’re bound to spot things that are different. The use of dialogue for one. Then again, it isn’t just the characters that have aged, but also the actors who play them. It’s a lot easier to accept what is shown without interpreting purely from what is shown. After all, nothing is ever as it seems, and someone wants the X-Files open again – and I bet a cigarette that there’s one man who doesn’t want that to happen.


Am I looking forward to the next episode? Of course. It’s ‘The X-Files’. You always want to see what happens next, even if only to see how they explain the resurrection of so many characters who are supposed to be dead, like the Lone Gunmen, without violating the previous stories. Doing that is going to stretch things a lot more. Having said that, Carter is going to ensure that there are enough twists to keep your attention. He might well have done that.

GF Willmetts

08 February 2016



Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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