There are those Godless heathens that have no respect for the majestic history of the small screen. However, we are not among them. A cornerstone in the TV monument that set the stage for several current trends was The X-files. Now, in the eyes of many that was an “alien show that happened once” but in truth it was so much more. Scully and Mulder ushered in a new kind of television experience. Spanning nine seasons and over two hundred episodes and two movie adaptations the show’s success with the home audience is not in question. Plotting its return to primetime this show earns a moment of not so quiet reflection. Thus for our time together we will be discussing but a few of the movements within the medium that the show started.
The beloved FBI agents have been wrongfully resigned to the alien only genre. In actuality they covered space, the supernatural, the paranormal and the mythological all the while reminding us that “The Truth is Out There”. This bold undertaking needed a champion to bring it to the viewers and that hero was the brand new Fox Network (Mulder’s first name is Fox. Coincidence?). Founded circa 1986, FOX was looking for new and interesting content to compete with ratings veterans NBC, ABC, and CBS. Along with The Simpsons and Married With Children, The X-Files was one of the tentpole productions that gave the network staying power. The content of the show is what set it apart from its more sitcom friendly contemporaries.
For the first time since the 1960s there was a pulp show on air as gripping as The Twilight Zone. Both discussed a variety of serious issues throughout the guise of fantasy. For example, in the Zone we learned the ills of pride and obsessing over being the best in the episode, “A Game of Pool“. Meanwhile, the Files taught us to be carful the choices we make as the sins of our past are present in the shadows that trail us daily in the episode, “Soft Lighting“. Most importantly and obviously due to the writing the X-Files gave birth to the television fan fiction/participation craze. In the early days of the internet the show inspired write in comments from the viewers. One of the first fan fiction posts to the internet was X-Files inspired. Moreover message boards exploded and discussions of possible series twists and turns were bandied about in a proto-blog fashion.
It was that visceral interest that made it the ever so rare critical, cult, and ratings success. As the internet grew a new avenue opened phasing out the fanzine and corner store ” meet up” discussion. In our current world the Networks now use and in some cases compete with the internet. Being able to binge watch your favorite shows has provided renewed awareness of old classics and the television giants want to cash back in.
The time has never been more right. With the popularity of X-Files inspired shows like Supernatural and American Horror Story the stage has been reset. Those shows have seasonally independent story lines that make it binge watch designed. My two favorite Feds would fit right in creating a paranormal centric season followed by science fiction (Aliens) oriented second and so on till the end of days (which would make a great episode). It makes perfect sense as they started and mastered the exploration of the weird providing what the Twilight Zone lacked, consistent characters to root for. Scully and Mulder could show this modern world a thing or two.
All those fans that built what the internet has become today desperately seeking to share ideas with like-minded individuals are ready to believe again. Its the perfect “Cops and Robbers” police drama, if the cops are neurotic and the robber is Dracula or Predator.
I want to believe the hype…Do you?
The truth is out there and coming to a screen near you.
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