Monday, 25 January 2016


[Possible minor spoilers] The X-Files, one of the most popular and influential American television series of the 1990s, returned yesterday on American network Fox (with its original stars David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Mitch Pileggi) for a limited six-episode run. 
Created by Chris Carter, sci-fi/horror/procedural drama The X-Files aired from 1993 to 2002 for 9 seasons (202 episodes) on Fox. It starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, two FBI special agents charged with what the bureau called "X-Files", cases that defied conventional explanations and often dealt with paranormal. Mulder believed in aliens and paranormal, whereas Scully was (initially) a skeptic. Mitch Pileggi played their boss, Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi). Their frequent antagonist, simply known as The Cigarette Smoking Man, was portrayed by Canadian actor William B. Davis. The X-Files was divided between its "mythology" (a series-spanning story arc) and "Monster of the week" episodes.

The series spawned two feature films, in 1998 and 2008, and The Lone Gunmen, a short-lived spin-off aired on Fox in 2001. Beyond their talented contribution to a pop culture phenomenon, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Mitch Pileggi kept working on prominent projects. The versatile Duchovny played Hank Moody in Californication (2007-2014) and he's Sam Hodiak in Aquarius on NBC since 2015. Anderson moved to London and became one of the classiest actresses of the British television industry while also working in US series like Hannibal. Pileggi played in Stargate Atlantis, Sons of Anarchy and in the revival of Dallas. Since The X-Files and besides his important work for stage in Canada, William B. Davis appeared in shows like Stargate SG-1, Supernatural or Continuum.

« But now people only laugh, and only Roswell is remembered. But we must ask ourselves. Are they really a hoax? Are we truly alone? Or are we being lied to? »

My Struggle, the opener of this new mini-series, is written and directed by Chris Carter. A three-minute crash course on The X-Files by Fox Mulder himself precedes the unchanged intro and the famous theme by Mark Snow. This first hour brings back the characters and relaunches the mythology in an era of internet social networks and video platforms where everybody can be a conspiracy theorist. « My life's become a punchline, » says Mulder to Scully.

The trigger of their reunion is a conservative internet talk show host doubling as a well-informed conspiracy theorist named Tad O'Malley (excellent Joel McHale). The man needs the expertise of the duo about something (right out of X-Men) and someone (Annet Mahendru) related to "the most evil conspiration the world has ever known". Mulder has a discussion with his former boss, Walter Skinner, and later he meets with an old man (Rance Howard) at the National Mall in Washington DC. Towards the end of the episode, things accelerate in the pure X-Files tradition and a bit of typical cruel irony. Then a familiar shadowy and dangerous figure reappears.

At some point Chris Carter should really take a breath to avoid drowning in his own conspiracy (the heavy use of news clips and headlines doesn't help). Although the post-9/11 update of the mythology is relevant. Past the undeniable pleasure to watch David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi (and a certain guest star) back in their respective roles, My Struggle allows to presume that everything we liked in the "old" X-Files will be in the mini-series. So it's a welcome return.  

The X-Files is produced by 20th Century Fox Television in association with Chris Carter's Ten Thirteen Productions. M6 will air it in France. It was the French home of the original series.

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