I don’t know if there has ever been a series that flamed out quite like
The X-Files did. And it managed to do it at least three times: once, when
the truth about Mulder’s sister was revealed, again in the final
episode of the series, which was mind-bogglingly bad, and for the
trifecta in last summer’s truly atrocious movie.



So why do I still have some fondness for the series? And can I ever go back to loving it again?



Today’s Hero Complex blog includes info about Chris Carter and Frank
Spotnitz showing up at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove here in LA
for a Q&A in conjunction with the release of Matt Hurwitz’ The
Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, Myths and the Movies (clocking in
at a heft 50 bucks!), and I found myself drawn to the article. And I
found myself considering heading to Amazon and ordering a copy of the
book for myself (and you can order a copy for yourself through CHUD by simply clicking here). I thought about it a lot.



The X-Files, like Star Wars, is a study in just how much abuse a
fanbase can take. By the end of the Prequel Trilogy I harbored a
suspicion that George Lucas would rather I never watch the original
Star Wars films again (a wish I have been all too happy to fulfill for
him). I don’t quite get the same feeling of self-destructiveness from
Chris Carter, but it’s hard to go back to those old stories. The
X-Files
is probably the prototype modern ‘mystery’ and ‘mythology’
show, but the main lesson everybody seems to have come away with from
it is ‘Don’t fuck up your show like they fucked up The X-Files.’



The problem with revisiting the good old seasons of The X-Files (by
which I means seasons 2 through 6, with a couple of season 1 episodes
thrown in) is that you know that the answers to the mysteries presented
will be, simply, shit. You’ll be left wildly unsatisfied when it’s all
said and done, and you’ll have seen what could have been cool ideas
morphed into complete garbage thanks to a writing process that
apparently despised planning. I’m not saying Carter should have had the
end point of his series mapped out exactly, but when he allows a
mystery as vital as ‘What happened to Mulder’s sister?’ to be wrapped
up in a manner so spirit-crushingly bad (seriously. I won’t spoil it
for those who haven’t experienced the entire series (despite the
statute of spoiler limitations having long ago run out), but check out
‘Samantha Mulder’ on Wikipedia. So retarded), you have to realize that
they weren’t just making it up as they went along, they were barely
even trying.



And yet… there’s something at the heart of The X-Files that calls to
me. Despite all of the unmet promise of the early years and the way
that the show was unnaturally dragged out to nine seasons and the way
that the latest movie wasn’t even as good as the first season one where
a computer takes over a high tech building (and that’s a fucking bad
episode), despite knowing that The X-Files is essentially that marathon
runner who shit his pants on the way to the finish line, I’m still
taken with it. Part of it is the big conspiracy ideas at the center (or
at least the big conspiracy ideas with which the show started). Part of
it is the magical chemistry between David Duchovney and Gillian
Anderson. Part of it is the way that the show took itself delightfully
seriously except in those episodes where it simply refused to do so.
Part of it is the fact that the show hit many of the topics of Fortean
interest that resonate with someone like me, who grew up watching In
Search Of…
and devouring the Time/Life Mysteries of the Unknown
books. And I should probably cop to the fact that part of it is that
The X-Files was, for me, the first show of its kind, the first show
where being an obsessive fan would supposedly pay off (spoiler: it
didn’t).



So when Chris Carter makes vague, sure to be unfulfilled noises about a
third movie, something inside of me stirs (I want to see the show’s
2012 predictions come true! Or be stopped!). And when Carter mentions
that there are technical issues keeping the show from Blu-Ray,
something inside of me starts calculating the cost of a complete series
collection. I want to believe, too, X-Files. And although I should know
better, somewhere deep inside of me I still do. And I hope that maybe, with time, I can see past the flaws and forgive the show the fact that it just couldn’t stick the ending and enjoy the shining moments it had, which, to be fair, did outnumber the truly awful.