So The X-Files is finally coming back. But what kind of X-Files will we get? There was the originally series, which increasingly got tangled in its alien conspiracy mythology and then pretty much everybody agrees went a couple seasons too long. There were two movies. It’s been 13 years. There’s no details yet on what to expect other than Fox has ordered six episodes with original stars original stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson signed on to revive their iconic roles as paranormal investigating FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
But here is our seven hopes for the revival:
1. Stand-alone episodes: Fans are very divided between those who prefer the mythology episodes vs. the stand-alone hours. I usually go the other direction on this issue, wanting shows to be more serialized. But The X-Files often (not always, but often) worked best when telling singular stories — like “Ice,” “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and the infamous “Home.” This would also make it easier for the show to attract new viewers. Creator Chris Carter may have hinted in his statement about the series order today that stand-alone episodes could be the plan: “The world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories.” Or maybe not. Count this as the first of many bits of cryptic information we’re likely receive.
2. Focus on Mulder and Scully: Sort of a no-brainer, but let’s hope there isn’t an effort made to introduce new agents to potentially continue the franchise (no John Doggett and Monica Reyes, in other words).
3. Return to Vancouver: X-Files will start production this summer, but Fox won’t say where. With so many shows on TV filming in budget-conscious Vancouver nowadays — from ABC’s Once Upon a Time to The CW’s Arrow — there’s a temptation to want a fresh environment for the revival (like we saw in the globe-trotting first The X-Files feature film in 1998). And yet, it would be hard for X-Files to feel like X-Files if shot anywhere else.
4. Ditch Mulder and Scully’s romance: Mulder and Scully were awesome as investigative partners with some romantic chemistry. As actual romantic partners … not so much. Some will disagree, but if we’re picking up this story years later and we learn their relationship hadn’t worked out, it would add some playful tension and be more interesting if they’re back to being professional again. And you know, there was something that felt even more like kissing-your-sister than anything on Game of Thrones whenever this happened:
5. Bring back the great writers: X-Files is known for having launched the careers of some incredible TV writers, such as Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), James Wong (American Horror Story), Howard Gordon (24), Darin Morgan (Fringe) and Alex Gansa (Homeland). It’s can be tricky to get certain names while they’re attached to existing projects, but hopefully Carter will be able to tap some of his original dream team to contribute an episode (who wouldn’t want to see a post-Walter White episode of X-Files by Gilligan?). On the other hand, ideally the show would seek out fresh names for other positions, such as a…
6. New supporting cast: I know most will disagree on this — as will the producers, I suspect — but hear me out: Is it better for Mulder and Scully to have a new boss they have to prove themselves to, or to be partnered once again with the supportive clench-jawed Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) who’s seen it all? Would it be better to have new villains, or to go back to Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis)? (Surely he’s died of lung cancer by now?). Nostalgia makes us want to keep things the same, but it just wouldn’t make much sense to have all the same secondary characters still hanging around and they would make it tougher to leave behind the show’s cumbersome backstory and move forward.
7. Know when to stop: The X-Files became a cautionary tale for dragging out a series too long. With an order of only six episodes, there’s almost zero chance of that this time around. But could there be more episodes beyond this initial order? If the show does really well, it’s hard to imagine Fox wouldn’t make it happen. This is broadcast TV — success means more. But hopefully if the show does begin to feel exhausted again, Carter will know when to wrap things up.