It can be difficult to compartmentalise nostalgia in these situations. Few series have impacted our consciousness as much as The X-Files. While it always pays to be wary of returns and their potential to be diminished, we couldn’t – and didn’t want to – wait for the new revival series.
For the most part, Chris Carter’s update doesn’t punish us for our love. The reassembled writers included some of the show’s best, and Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan and James Wong deliver episodes that remind us of how good it can be. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s chemistry is still a joy, and the latter powers through some of the less successful episodes purely by the force of her acting.
But what about those less successful episodes? Well, they’re the ones that deal with the plot. With just a six-episode miniseries to work with, Carter decided to spread the main storyline over the first and the last. Mulder and Scully are approached by a right-wing talk show host (Joel McHale, who works better than you might expect), rejoin the FBI and uncover another far-reaching, huge conspiracy.
As much fun as it is to see Mulder rattle off wild theories, there’s no denying that it’s rushed, and in the case of the final episode, kind of awful.
But we’re willing to overlook that for the sake of what’s great about this revival. Darin Morgan’s ‘Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster’ is so good that it justifies the show’s return purely by itself, a hilarious and self-referential hour of TV with excellent guest stars that manages to poke fun at Mulder while reminding us why we love him. Duchovny clearly thinks it’s the best of the bunch too, but he has always visibly perked up for Morgan’s episodes.
The other non-plot episodes are quite hit and miss, but mostly manage to combine fun monster antics with some surprisingly effective emotional moments, and show that there’s a real effort to keep the characters growing. Nostalgia may have powered us through the worst of it, but there’s some genuinely excellent stuff too. We’re anxiously awaiting news of its return.