6:27 am ET
Oct 11, 2015
The revival is out there.
Most people will have to wait until January to see the eagerly awaited return of “The X-Files,” the classic TV thriller of strange, unexplained phenomena and government conspiracies. But for 3,000 rabid fans, the future is now: The first of the six new “X-Files” episodes had its U.S. premiere Saturday to a packed hall at New York Comic Con, drawing a raucous, enthusiastic response that seemed to surprise even those who made the show.
Fans cheered everything from the reappearances of the show’s familiar characters — Agents Mulder and Scully, Assistant Director Skinner — to the iconic theme music and the slogan “The Truth is Out There.” Even bits of business like the appearance of Mulder’s old FBI office, pencils still embedded in the ceiling after all these years, were well-received.
“I felt like the pencils got the biggest cheer of the night,” quipped David Duchovny, Agent Mulder himself, speaking to reporters after the screening.
More seriously, he told the crowd he was “grateful to all you guys and to [series creator Chris Carter] for making it possible to come back and play this character again.” He said it “just feels right” to be bringing the show back now.
From the evidence of the first episode, anyone who liked the original show will like the reboot. A (mostly) spoiler-free recap: Since the last time we saw Mulder and Scully (Gillian Anderson), they’ve broken up as a couple, gone on with their lives and put the X-Files behind them — well, Scully has; Mulder not so much. But they’re drawn back in by a Glenn Beck-esque right-wing talk-show host (Joel McHale) as obsessed with conspiracies as Mulder is, and the new investigation that leads Mulder to question just how much he really knows about what he’s been fighting to uncover all these years.
While the episode has plenty of callbacks to the original show, it’s newbie-friendly. The episode opens with a long voice-over from Mulder recapping everything new fans need to know. (Duchovny said his reaction to that speech was, “I don’t have to memorize that, do I?”)
And new fans there are. Mitch Pileggi, who plays Skinner, observed that there were plenty of teenagers in the crowd too young to have seen the original show when it first aired from 1993 to 2002. “We have not only held our fans, but we have new generations,” he said. (Anderson was absent, but she sent a video greeting for the fans.)
The show’s return seems well-attuned to an era when public paranoia and belief in government conspiracies has gone mainstream, from Edward Snowden on down, with an alphabet soup of chatter from the NSA to GMOs. Indeed, Carter said, he’s drawn creative inspiration from it and worked it into the show’s storylines. He’s even been to conventions of conspiracy buffs.
“It’s a perfect time to be telling X-Files stories,” Carter told the fans after the screening. “It gives us a lot of stuff to write about.”
As was the case in the original show, the reboot will mix “mythology” episodes — those focusing on the show’s overarching conspiracy involving alien technology — with standalone, monster-of-the-week-style episodes. The first of the six episodes is a mythology episode, followed by four standalones — written by the original show’s writers like Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan and James Wong — and then another mythology episode will wrap up the mini-season.
The possibility of an “X-Files revival has been discussed for years, but there was no apparent interest in another film installment after 2008′s “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” was unsuccessful at the box office, and Duchovny didn’t want to go back to the TV grind of a 22-episode season. But when new TV models involving shorter runs and limited series began to appear in recent years, he said, “I thought, oh, maybe we can do this.”
The marketing for an X-Files series in 2015 is very different from what it used to be, though, including the very idea of premiering the show for the fans 3 1/2 months early. “I just hope the buzz, if there is any buzz, lasts till January,” Carter said.
Carter wouldn’t say if there will be further episodes beyond the coming six-episode run, but he’s got no shortage of ideas. “Every time I open the paper, I see something that would be an interesting X-File,” he said.
Other items that came up during the panel and interviews:
– The Lone Gunmen, Mulder’s conspiracy-buff friends and allies, “are back,” Carter said. How precisely that’s going to happen is yet to be revealed, since the Gunmen were killed in their last appearance.
– Similarly, the fate of William, Scully and Mulder’s son from the series who was given up for adoption and who would now be a teenager, will be “investigated” and “harkened to,” Carter said.
– Almost dropped in as an afterthought, via an onscreen graphic at the very end of the panel: The original series will soon be rereleased on Blu-Ray for the first time.