Looking back as classic sci fi and fantasy shows that aired from 1949 to 2010.
What Is It? This series follows FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they investigate cases that appear to be linked to the paranormal. In the course of their investigations, they discover a worldwide conspiracy and must thwart the schemes of a cabal that has sinister plans for the human race.
Aired: FOX, 1996 to Present, 10 Season Totaling 208 Episodes (So Far)
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi
Created By: Chris Carter
Is It Must-Watch Sci Fi? Yes. The first season is a rather cheesy, low-budget affair and the later years dragged things on too far. But once the show hit its stride in its second season and through the its fifth, perhaps sixth year, it delivered some top-notch, and often creepy, sci fi stories.
The Skinny: This series bowed on FOX when that rather young net was still trying to establish itself next to the Big Three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC). It seemed like a longshot that The X-Files would last more than a season, and it definitely had some rough edges through its early episodes. But it also had a creepy tone to it unlike anything else on television at the time, and it started to develop some buzz among fans and critics.
By the show’s second season, it approached its material with a bit more confidence and really began to explore its potential, both with its stand-alone stories and by developing an ongoing arc (which was somewhat rare at that time). Within a few more years, this show became appointment television and a bonafide hit for FOX. It made the most of its conspiracy themes and alien / paranormal elements (which have now become genre clichés), while matching those with good story-telling and well-rounded characters. There was also a strong chemistry between the show’s leads (Duchovny and Anderson and the other main/recurring actors as well) which is certainly one of the key elements to The X-Files achieving its level of greatness. It may have overstayed its welcome by about its seventh season, but when this show was at its peak, it gave us some of the best sci fi television had to offer.
Cancelled Too Soon? No, quite the opposite. Series creator Chris Carter envisioned a five to six year run for this series, but that was about the time that it was at the peak of its popularity and FOX wanted to keep the show going. Carter stepped back about that time and let others come in and run the show which led to several mediocre seasons and a feeling that the show had gone on too long. David Duchovny exited as the series lead and only made occasional appearances during the show’s last two years.
Revival: FOX and the show’s producers decided that the ninth season was a good time for The X-Files to bow out, but many felt it ended on a rather sour note and failed to adequately resolve all of the storylines that it had introduced over the years. It did have a second theatrical film in 2008 (the first was released just before the sixth season), but that did little to satisfy fans. It also had a revival in comics that proved there was still a strong interest in the property. Then, for the 2015-16 season, FOX announced that a six-episode tenth season of the show would air to give the series a better resolution. That season drew huge viewership, but failed miserably at delivering the promised resolution. An eleventh season debuted in January 2018, but interest was waning at that point and it ended up being the final season of the show (for now).
Should It Be Rebooted? FOX is certainly considering this and even seemed to be setting up a possible X-Files: The Next Generation with the revival. But they likely won’t do that anytime soon, which is a good thing. The concept does have potential and could return to the small screen at some point. But for now it should probably be left alone.
Interesting Fact: The FOX execs were not on board with hiring Gillian Anderson to play Scully as they wanted an actress who was “taller, leggier, blonder and breastier”. Someone more like Pamela Anderson. And then in the second season when Gillian got pregnant, FOX wanted her role recast. Chris Carter thankfully resisted on both occasions and won out.
Where Can you Watch It? The entire series is available on DVD and Blu-ray, and BBC America airs repeats throughout the week. The entire series is also available for streaming on Hulu.
Available from Amazon.com: