Monday, February 1, 2016

The X-Files: Episode 1 review

“We have a small problem…they’ve reopened the X-Files,” says the nefarious Cigarette Smoking Man at the end of the new X-Files’ first episode.

For Smoky, it’s news that spells trouble. But for legions of fans eagerly anticipating the reboot of a beloved television program, it’s as if the mothership just landed.

This updated version – with David Duchovny and Gillian Andersen reprising their roles as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully – shows The X-Files to be as much in keeping with the spirit of 2016 as it was responsible for seeding the current pop culture zeitgeist a generation ago.

Indeed, I suspect it won’t be long before much of the new show’s intricate, paranoia-laden dialogue filters onto ‘alternative media’ webcasts, radio programs and videos; content which itself is often premised on ideas pioneered, or at least popularized, during the initial run of The X-Files (1993-2002).

Such appropriations should come as no surprise, as the stories spun by Mulder and his new accomplice – an Internet broadcaster and ‘truther’ named Tad O’Malley (played by Community alum Joel McHale) – blend the disparate elements of conspiracy culture with such aplomb that their accounts are almost compelling enough to believe.

Scully, of course, isn’t buying any of Mulder’s shenanigans. She joins him for an initial investigation, but soon resumes her work as a surgeon, operating on children born without ears, a condition known as Microtia,

It’s an ironic metaphor, since Scully is the one who is unable or unwilling to hear her former partner’s argument for conspiracy, accusing him and O’Malley of irresponsible fear-mongering when they plan to take their theory public.

But Scully, too – like a skeptical viewer presented with an intriguing plot twist – is forced to rethink her stance after discovering she and another woman are carrying alien DNA.

And just like that, they’re off!

After his extended run on Californication, it was good seeing Duchovny back in a less hedonistic, but no less irreverent role; doing ‘smart’ as well as he did ‘sleaze’.

Andersen, as the ‘yin’ to Mulder’s grizzled, impassioned ‘yang’, brings grace and gravitas to the part she made famous in the ’90s. The truth is out there, and these two were made to find it.