'The X-Files' reboot: Why a limited-run TV series is a good thing

Are other 'X-Files' original cast members coming back for the new episodes? Fans will have to wait and see. Those who were frustrated by the series' original run should be encouraged by the fact that the new episodes have a set beginning and end (for now, anyway).

Fox Broadcasting Company/AP
'The X-Files' stars Gillian Anderson (l.) and David Duchovny (r.).

Will more original “X-Files” actors return for the new version of the series? 

Fox recently announced that six new episodes of the sci-fi TV series will be created and actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will play their original roles, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Chris Carter, who created “The X-Files,” is also coming back. 

Now Duchovny says more cast members will be joining them. Actors William B. Davis, who played the Cigarette Smoking Man, and Mitch Pileggi, who portrayed Walter Skinner, the assistant director of the FBI, will be coming back, Duchovny said while appearing on CBS’s “Late Show.” 

The original series was a big hit, airing from 1993 to 2002, so it has a built-in fan base already, and the news that the show is airing for six episodes in a limited run is encouraging. Any fantasy or sci-fi show that’s based on mysteries can struggle creatively if the answers to mysteries aren’t known to the writers themselves at the outset or if the show goes beyond what seems like a natural creative end. The original “X-Files” series itself is one of the prime examples of this problem for some fans. In writing about the series finale, A.V. Club writer Zack Handlen called the show’s backstory “murky [and] half-improvised… That’s the problem with trying to give answers… We need the mystery, and the shadows, to bring this stuff to life. The mythology should be a means to an end, not the end in and of itself.” 

The popular show “Lost” ran for 2004 to 2010 and, like “X-Files,” centered on various mysteries – for Lost, they involved an island on which various people became stranded after their plane crashed. However, fans got frustrated when answers to the show’s mysteries didn’t come fast enough or were, some fans felt, unsatisfying when they did arrive. In terms of tying it all up, New York Times critic Mike Hale called the series finale “more than a little mawkish… [it] felt forced and, well, a bit of a cop-out... After years of insane complication of plot and character, no ending could have 'explained' the show in a wholly satisfying way, and it might have been better not to try.” 

With network and some cable shows, those behind the scenes often don’t know how many episodes they’ll be creating. And if the six-episode version of “X-Files” is a giant hit, Fox will no doubt want more. But since this time those creating the “X-Files” episodes have a definitive beginning, middle, and end for this storyline, it seems likely the plot will be satisfying for viewers. 

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