‘X-Files’ conspires brilliant return to TV

 

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television Originally running from 1993 to 2002, “The X-Files” followed FBI agents Mulder and Scully who attempt to solve various paranormal cases.

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television
Originally running from 1993 to 2002, “The X-Files” followed FBI agents Mulder and Scully who attempt to solve various paranormal cases.

By Joseph Guzy | Photo Editor

Call it a revival. Call it a continuation. Call it whatever you want. It works.

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are back on the case with two new episodes of “The X-Files” in under 48 hours.

Even though the show aired until 2002, it surprisingly never explored life in a post-9/11 world – one filled with paranoia, doomsday scenarios and a whole lot of conspiracy theories that would be right up Mulder’s alley. Luckily, this is where it begins with “My Struggle.”

After a chilling monologue from Mulder and the iconic opening credits, we’re introduced to conspiracy talk-show host Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale). Even though his character practically mocks well-known conspiracy theorist Alex Jones with a fear of drones and a bulletproof car, he’s ultimately the reason the duo reunites.

An admirer of Mulder and Scully’s work in the past, O’Malley convinces them to help him reveal one of the biggest conspiracy theories of them all.

Despite the sometimes awkward and jolting transition to modern day, the episode quickly tears down pre-conceived notions of the past and poses new questions while acclimating fans to seeing Mulder and Scully in the present day. It’s far from the best episode of “The X-Files,” but it did a great job catering to fans old and new.

If there was any doubt on either side of the fan spectrum, Monday night’s “Founder’s Mutation” made both sides believe.

The second episode teeters between the show’s new overall mythology and the classic “monster of the week” episodes fans came to know and love over the nine previous seasons.

The plot sits in an uncomfortable gray area that would make it very hard to jump in and watch like previous standalone episodes. But with so much time dedicated to breaking down the previous nine seasons in the first episode, it almost acts as a sidebar to the task at hand.

Mulder and Scully have plenty of room to take jabs at being agents in the present. Corny one-liners about Google, Edward Snowden and even Uber are hysterical coming from characters who fans remember pulling antennas out of cell phones and chasing down floppy disks. Considering the duo entertained being puzzled by modern technology during a short skit on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” while promoting the show a few weeks prior, the jokes hit even harder in a real episode.

Before the show had its largest audience thus far (29.1 million viewers), there was plenty of skepticism surrounding the brief reboot of one of the most beloved shows of the ‘90s. How on Earth could creator Chris Carter recreate the magic of the baby blue rental cars, cell phones with pullout antennas and “jazz pattern” disposable cups 14 years later?

Carter didn’t have to make an attempt at any recreations. As long as he has David Duchnovny and Gillian Anderson at his disposal, the show will continue to be successful.

If this brief revival is a success, it will have nothing to do with how Carter sculpted a new mythology; it will have nothing to do with how stomach churning the first real “monster of the week” episode will be; it will have nothing to do with questions asked or questions answered; it will be because of the perfect chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson, just like it always has been.

The final two seasons of the original run of “The X-Files” featured agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) in place of a “missing” Mulder. This is also the reason the final two seasons of the original run are the worst-rated by fans on Rotten Tomatoes. No Mulder and Scully? No success.

Directors, writers and even actors on the show admit that the sexual tension between the two agents is what kept the show chugging along throughout the 90s. Even during some of the most painful episodes, fans could hope for a moment between the two characters to keep things fresh.

And while the two (OK maybe just Duchovny) have aged well beyond any steamy moments, their chemistry remains the same as when the show first premiered nearly 23 years ago.

“The X-Files” is on FOX Monday nights at 8 p.m.

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