It has been 14 years since “The X-Files” aired on television and eight years since Fox Mulder and Dana Scully last appeared together on the big screen. On Jan. 24, Fox is reviving the popular supernatural series for a limited six-episode run that reunites actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in their iconic roles as paranormal investigators in search of answers. After 2,739 days of waiting, fans of the original series will be pleased to discover that the truth is, indeed, still out there.
The much-anticipated miniseries begins with Mulder (Duchovny) quickly and efficiently bringing viewers up to speed with what has happened in the nine TV seasons and two feature films since the show’s inception, most notably, his life-long obsession with paranormal phenomena and his investigations into unsolved cases of extraterrestrial nature — commonly known as the “X-Files.”
However, over the years, alien life has become a punchline for comedians and a joke to the world at large, causing Mulder to grow skeptical of his belief in alien life and the work to which he devoted his career. He asks the viewers, collectively, “Are they really a hoax? Are we truly alone? Or are we being lied to?”
That sense of disbelief permeates the premiere episode, appropriately titled “My Struggle.” Mulder and Scully (Anderson) have closed the proverbial book on the X-Files and have moved on with their lives, but the two are reunited in present-day Washington, D.C., after the emergence of an Internet talk show host and well-known conspiracy theorist named Tad O’Malley sparks their interest.
O’Malley, played by guest star Joel McHale, taps into Mulder’s emerging doubts by threatening to blow open one of the world’s biggest conspiracy theories on one of his upcoming broadcasts — and what’s more, he has physical evidence and a witness from Mulder’s past to prove its veracity.
Bolstered by drama, suspense and intrigue, including a wild final few minutes, “My Struggle” is a strong first episode for “The X-Files” revival that firmly lays the foundation of the six-episode arc and will leave viewers with plenty to talk about when the credits start to roll. Plus, with such a limited life span (for now), returning writer/producer Chris Carter has set the bar high for hard-hitting, content-heavy installments. Put simply, there will be little room for “fluff” in the next two months; Carter really hits the ground running.
During the premiere’s 45-minute runtime, Mulder and Scully quickly rekindle the complicated relationship that established them as household names during the show’s heyday in the 1990s. Despite more than a decade off the airwaves, the two haven’t skipped a beat; it’s almost as if they never left.
Adding to the seamless transition between the original series and its companion films and the upcoming miniseries is the clever integration of real topics and people, such as 9/11, global warming, Edward Snowden, a “New World Order” mentality and even American obesity — all of which add fuel to the fire of fictional conspiracy and intellectual weight to the complex mythology of the show. Utilizing such concepts will give the miniseries enough modern-day “oomph” to catch and maintain the attention of today’s media-driven generation of viewers.
Certainly, there are plenty of reasons for hardcore “believers” to feel right at home, with an appropriate dose of nostalgia to satisfy decade-old dreams, but not so much as to make the episode seem like an hour-long rerun. On the other hand, the miniseries has smartly taken steps to ensure that casual fans and curious newcomers are not alienated in the process. While first-time viewers may not catch on to every single Easter egg or nod to a returning character or classic episode, even those with a minimal knowledge of the series will be able to enjoy the story. (As a good point of reference for brand-new viewers, think "Independence Day" meets “The Twilight Zone.”)
It is of note that the episode includes frightening imagery, occasional violence and a dark premise, and that the series, from beginning to end, is intentionally geared toward a markedly TV-14 audience.
“The X-Files” is scheduled to begin its six-episode run on Fox at 8 p.m. on Jan. 24, after the conclusion of the NFC Championship football game. The miniseries will then move to its regular weeknight and time the next night on Monday, Jan.25.
For a quick refresher, the original series can be streamed on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video. Additionally, Fox has launched a companion website for the miniseries, which can be found at doyoustillbelieve.com.