Scott Hardie | January 27, 2016
Is anyone watching the new X Files series airing now?

Samir Mehta | January 27, 2016
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Scott Hardie | January 27, 2016
[There will be big spoilers in this discussion, I'm sure.]

Yes, I had pretty much the same reaction to the first episode. I'm glad to see it back, and I cut it some slack for being rusty after so many years away. But it tried to cram way too much exposition into 43 minutes (it should have been double-length), and there was some really awkward dialogue (particularly in the front porch argument) that sounded like someone who was only familiar with the show's broad outline would write, rather than someone who knew these characters inside and out for years. Mulder and Scully sounded like archetypes of themselves, as if the script was fanfic. But I appreciated the jokes and loved the advances in special effects, and I'm glad to see the show heading in a new narrative direction even if it essentially retconned away the first nine years. I'm also hopeful that the somewhat rushed and incomplete nature of the first episode will benefit from follow-up later in the season, as the whole series was conceived together.

Of the second episode, I'll say only that I liked it and that it too felt like it should be longer. I must have been spoiled by too many 60-minute episodes from other series because these feel really short.

Scott Hardie | January 29, 2016
Vulture took this occasion to rank every X Files episode and their list is pretty solid, though I'd put "Closure" and "Anasazi" and "War of the Coprophages" much higher on the list.

Samir Mehta | January 29, 2016
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Scott Hardie | February 4, 2016
I loved the third episode, as did many critics. So many callbacks! I caught many of them, like the grave markers and Queequeg and Scully being immortal. Until I looked it up, I did not recognize the two stoners, who previously appeared in "War of the Coprophages" and "Quagmire." Tyler Labine has become a star (well, a C-list star) in the intervening years, but Nicole Parker remains as unknown as ever, so they had to go out of their way to track her down and bring her back for a cameo as the same unnamed one-joke bit player from twenty years ago. That takes dedication!

Scott Hardie | February 26, 2016
The fourth episode was decent, better in its strong moments than as a whole. Petula Clark's "Downtown" joins Johnny Mathis's "Wonderful Wonderful" as one of the creepiest uses of a classic song on this show.

The fifth episode was quite strong. Do you know what makes The X Files better than most shows on TV? Most shows on TV -- I'm looking at you, SVU and NCIS and other factory-churned procedurals -- would have rolled the end credits once the terrorist cell was arrested and the heroes got their vindication. Not this show: It merely went to commercial, and then had another long segment where Mulder and Scully took a walk in the country and talked about philosophy and religion and language. This show actually cares about that stuff, and expects its audience to care too. That's remarkable.

Critics and fans are savaging the sixth and final episode for being a crazy mess and violating what the series is supposed to be about. I agree that much of the dialogue is cringe-worthy and anti-scientific, and the episode feels rushed (it should have taken two hours), and the Reyes appearance (though welcome) was superfluous to the story. But the episode provoked the intended emotions in me, too: Thrills at seeing a global conspiracy actually play out for a change, and tension at whose lives would be lost in the process. I really liked it in spite of its flaws, and I look forward to seeing where the series goes next.

Bottom line: To me, there were five strong episodes, and one weak episode. I'm very pleased.

Samir Mehta | February 26, 2016
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Scott Hardie | February 26, 2016
Agreed about the fakes, though "Miller" needs more definition if he's going to stick around. A friend of ours thinks the show is going to get a full 26-episode order with Einstein and Miller as the new lead characters -- I think that's way too big of a stretch, but they'll be back for sure if the actors remain available.

Erik Bates | February 28, 2016
I watched the original run back when it was on, for a few years and then lost interest for some reason.

Now, I'm slowly going back through from Season 1, Episode 1.

I'll check back in sometime in 2019 when I finally catch up.

Scott Hardie | February 28, 2016
Some parts have aged quite well, particularly the drama and the mythology narrative that's easier to understand while binge-watching than spread out over so many years. But the special effects and the cheesy season-one story ideas? Definitely not.

The first time I watched the series through, alone, I was struck by how fatal it was to appear on the show: So many characters are quickly introduced and then murdered by some monster or killed in some freak accident that the series seemed to be obsessed with death. The second time I watched it through, with some friends, I started counting the deaths. We got up through season 7 episode 6 before we stopped. The tally: 320 on-screen deaths, 568 off-screen deaths during an episode, 725 deaths said to have happened before an episode started, and only 4 episodes without any death. (Yes, I am a dork for counting, but I was curious.)

Scott Hardie | January 5, 2018
Beware, there are season 11 spoilers ahead.

Season 11, episode 1, newly out this week, is... wow. Just awful. Shockingly bad. Maybe one of the bottom five episodes this series has ever done, and it's had some real stinkers over the years.

I'm willing to forgive the episode some of its huge retcons, since the series has always revised its own narrative as it went along. The fact that the series even remembers some of the minor episodes of its own convoluted history well enough to revise them is impressive. The fact that the writers had to retcon season 10's cliffhanger ending because they wrote themselves into a corner is not so impressive.

But the tone of this episode is just way, way off for this series, and aggressively off-putting too. It's so rushed! And so manic! What the fuck happened? It's like they wrote and filmed a two-hour opener, and then Fox told them they were only going to get one hour, so they trimmed every fraction of a second of pause between dialogue or action in order to squeeze it all in, and finished it with a really hyper soundtrack to fit the new mood. You just want to scream "slow down!" and have some time to process the information coming at you so quickly.

And that's another thing: The episode is bizarrely explicit for a series notorious for keeping secrets for far too long. The villain openly discusses his plan with a subordinate, and the people opposing him lay their cards on the table to Mulder. The information could be false, in light of the subsequent assassination attempt and the "I want to lie" tag line, but the episode is so badly written (Mulder smells smoke on Skinner and shoves him, Skinner pauses and -- shoves him back? was someone paid to write this?) that it doesn't feel like the writers are clever enough to have thought of multiple levels. In fact, I think it's revealing: The series made up lots of its mythology as it went along, but it was usually so slow and moody that we couldn't quite tell, pulling off an air of mystery about whether it had a grand plan. But this shitty episode rushes by at ninety miles per hour and the illusion is broken: We can tell that they have no plan and are just desperately improvising. It feels like this episode was written an hour before they filmed it.

Ugh. I forgot that to be a fan of The X Files is to tolerate a lot of bad with the good. This episode gives us much to tolerate.

Scott Hardie | February 12, 2018
I was so hard on the premiere that I thought it only fair to mention that the next few episodes since then have been much better, still in the mold of the original X Files but acknowledging the series's (and characters') age. Any season that reimagines the entire show with a third agent named Reggie, and that has a single episode that combines hypnagogia, Slenderman, Dr. Chang from Lost, and a surprisingly affecting character turn that builds on season nine's least-popular subplot, is not lacking in ambition.


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