While The X-Files is indeed returning for an eleventh season on Fox, it will concentrate more on standalone stories rather than its own convoluted mythology which resulted in some of the most polarizing aspects of the tenth season.
One of the most influential series of all time, The X-Files originally limped to an unsatisfying series finale, followed by an even less satisfying movie, The X-Files: I Want To Believe. And while fans were delighted when it was announced the series would be revived for a six episode run in 2016, the finished product was largely viewed as a mixed bag, consisting of a few good episodes, one classic (“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”) and a lot of murky storytelling involving the show’s long running, labyrinthine mythology.
It appears Fox has heard the complaints, and are attempting to course correct. At the Television Critics Association this week, Fox president David Madden shed a little light on what audiences should expect from the eleventh season which will premiere in 2018. The season will consist of ten total episodes with a much stronger emphasis on the standalone stories that made the show what it is. Only the season premiere and season finale will be mythology-driven episodes, with everything in between only touching on the mythology in minor ways.
This is encouraging news for fans who were frustrated by season ten’s shortcomings. While some of the writing was decidedly subpar – particularly the episodes written by series creator Chris Carter – David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were still impossibly charming as the dynamic duo of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. And the episodes that worked, like the aforementioned “Mulder and Cully Meet the Were-Monster,” proved the show is still capable of telling thoughtful, creepy, deceptively funny stories.
The X-Files’ original run was a breeding ground for some of the best writers in television. Vince Gilligan, the mastermind behind Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, got his start on the series, as did other television mainstays like 24 mastermind Howard Gordon, regular Gilligan collaborator Thomas Schnauz, and the elusive genius Darin Morgan. While Carter tended to dig in on the mythology driven episodes, those writers began finding their creative voices by telling self contained stories in the world Carter built. Somewhere along the line, Carter lost perspective on the show’s inherent appeal, crediting it to its ongoing conspiratorial mysteries rather than it’s character work and subversive storytelling. That the network is acknowledging a course correction is needed is a good sign that The X-Files might be getting back on track.
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