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TV Series Review

Modern television, meet your maker.

The original X-Files was the oddest of odd ducks when it premiered in 1993. It dared to dive deeply into science fiction—an absolute ratings no-no at the time. It was a serial when TV bigwigs knew success was built on easily interchangeable, stand-alone episodes (which also played better in syndication). The Fox series created by Chris Carter was as quirky and weird as some of the monsters it gave us. Most experts—while smoking lots of cigarettes, perhaps—thought it'd die a quick death.

Surprise! The X-Files' original run aired for 10 years and 202 episodes. Its success paved the way for such sci-fi/fantasy hits as Lost, Supernatural and even Game of Thrones. Its serialized format blazed the way for prestige TV. Its writing rooms fostered the likes of Howard Gordan and Alex Gansa (Homeland), and Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad). The X-Files was the first binge-worthy show 20 years before anyone knew what that was.

But it must also be said that it opened the door for today's more disturbing television landscape. Don't believe me? Consider the 1996 episode "Home," predicated on a trio of deformed serial killers who breed with their "monstrous" mother.

Now, in a twist worthy of the show, The X-Files has traveled to the future—our future—with what has become a full-tilt relaunch starring the original players. And what was once revolutionary about it feels like old hat.

The Truth Is Out There

A great deal has changed, of course. And we're not just talking about the size of the cellphones. Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are older now, if not altogether wiser. The pair consummated their "will they or won't they" relationship some time ago, and they believe that they had a son together. And the latest conspiracy they're tackling isn't so much about alien abduction as it is about dastardly governmental and oligarchical forces enslaving or destroying the rest of humanity.

OK, so maybe that does sound similar to a past X-Files conspiracy or two—particularly since these shadowy forces are using alien technology to commit their nefarious acts of evil. And even though Scully and Mulder haven't been a professional tandem for lo these many years, they seamlessly slip into the same patterns—deepening the ruts with each pass by the Smoking Man diner. Mulder, showing the years in a face full of grayish stubble, no longer just wants to believe. He almost compulsively has to believe in these terribly depressing conspiracies. And even though he's probably right (because, in The X-Files, Mulder almost always is), Scully must reel him back into some semblance of normalcy.

Ah, just like old times.

The Gore Is Out There, Too But that cliché applies to the show's content as well. If anything, in fact, the onscreen negativity here feels a lot like Mulder: getting a little more extreme all the time. People (and things) get shot and killed, often graphically so. Horrific experiments perpetrated upon the innocent are only partly obscured. There's nudity, too (though only alien so far). And the Smoking Man—still somehow alive after all these years—hasn't given up his filthy habit.

Mulder may sum things up best when he punctuates a gruesome, alien-influenced attack by saying, "I blacked out after Goldman's eyes popped out of his sockets. Believe me, you can't unsee that."

Truly this has always been, while revolutionary, a deeply uneven, problematic show in terms of quality, themes and discomforting content. And some things never change, even if old fans—now years more mature and discerning, and probably with families of their own by now—wish they would.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

The X-Files: Jan 8, 2018 "My Struggle III"
The X-Files: January 24, 2016 "My Struggle"



Readability Age Range



David Duchovny as Fox Mulder; Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully; Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner; William B. Davis as the Smoking Man; Joel McHale as Tad O'Malley; Robbie Amell as Agent Miller






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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