X files revolutionized network television when it hit screens in 1993, with a unique premise and an instantly lovable duo with an excellent cast of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The series, created by Chris Carter, quickly became one of the most popular shows of its time, even having a theatrical release that became the highest-grossing film of 1997.
However, since then the series has lost itself in its own history, failing to reach the heights it was used to and stumbling on a second film, this time not a financial success, and two new seasons. X files should take inspiration from another show that started strong but eventually went downhill, Showtime’s Dexterand reboot to no avail new blood.
Like X files, Dexter arrived as a completely fresh and original show, with a premise unlike any other television or film series. Dexter is a serial killer, but positions himself as the protagonist and an overall likeable person, despite what he does to people. The ultimate reason this works is because of Dexter’s code he follows: he must only kill murderers and needs undeniable proof that they are guilty of those crimes. Anything less than that and he risks killing someone who may not deserve it. It makes Dexter something of a vigilante, cleaning up the streets of Miami and ridding the world of vicious serial killers.
There’s definitely more nuisance to it all, such as the moral of the fact that he seems to genuinely enjoy murdering others, and this is explored further when his family and friends are caught in the crossfire for his actions. Dexter is also excellent with children and young children, another reason why he is so sympathetic, as he seems to have genuine empathy for others despite pretending to have no feelings. Overall, Dexter’s uniqueness as a character is a big reason why this show became so popular in the first place.
Unfortunately, the audience has deteriorated Dexter as time passed. These later outings, such as seasons 6 and 8, have been criticized for their overall lack of uniqueness, an ironic complaint considering the originality of previous seasons. Sure, Dexter season 8 also featured the infamous series finale, now dubbed the first finale by the show’s creators after new bloodthe exit. This episode, Remember the monsters?was considered one of the worst endings of any show, and many claimed that it even ruined the whole show.
Dexter: new blood grew out of that reception of the original finale, with a reboot that channeled many of the best qualities from the early seasons to create a new story. Dexter trying to balance his family life with his murder, such a crucial element of season 4 (the best received of the entire series), was again present in new blood. This reboot had Dexter, sure, but largely featured new characters in the town of Iron Lake, where he’s called home in his years since leaving Miami. The setting is also unique, and practically the opposite of the original show. It gave the show a freshness that helped it overcome some of the messiness of the original series’ final seasons. This is, of course, despite the controversial finale of new blood, which once again greatly upset fans. Globally, new blood is still a successful season and a reboot.
That’s exactly what X files needs, except for a divisive finale of course. In the original series, the show seemed to retreat into itself, especially as the main plot became practically incomprehensible. Season 6 cleared up a lot of the confusion, but it quickly returned in later seasons. The alien invasion that season 8 ended with seemed to mysteriously disappear at the start of the following season and was replaced by a strange super soldier plot that seemed to belong in an entirely different show.
At this point, it was essentially a different show, with David Duchovny leaving his regular role on the show after season 7 and Gillian Anderson only appearing in a few scenes per episode. They were replaced by Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish, and they largely did well whether it was a spin-off or a different show, but a continuation of X files, it wasn’t fair. It ultimately ended in a clip show-style finale, intended to clear up confusion (unsuccessfully) and tease a 2012 disaster plotline that never came to fruition.
The second film was also largely unsuccessful, failing to capture the magic of the first seasons. The new seasons, respectively of 2016 and 2018, clearly suffered from fatigue. It was the same characters in the same setting with the same overarching plot that has been in place since the very first episode. It felt too much like a 90s show, which it is, but it clearly needs to evolve.
This is why a new blood the style reboot could be so beneficial for X files. A new setting would freshen up the show, but in particular, a clear directing style would help tremendously. A more distinct visual style would help move X files away from a procedural spectacle and towards more polished television, much like what happened in Dexter: new blood. Seeing Mulder and Scully in an all-new setting and with a distinct visual style would be a big step forward for the franchise.
More importantly, however, a new center plot line is needed. The Smoking Man, the villain of the entire series so far, has run its course and probably should have gone years ago. It has nothing to do with the performance, but rather a tired central story. It’s also outdated, as it was compelling in the post-Watergate era rampant with public distrust of government, and while many of those feelings still exist, they’ve clearly evolved in a way the history of X files does not have.
One could even make the argument that not having a central story would be better than continuing this one, because X files is still more than capable of making some amazing single episodes. This has always been a strength of the series, because even when the main plot was struggling, they always had one-off episodes to fall back on. Seasons 8 and 9, by far the show’s weakest, still had great episodes sprinkled throughout. Even newer seasons, not the worst of the show but arguably the ones in which the mentioned issues were most evident, might actually be worth it. because of two episodes. Mulder and Scully encounter the were-monster and The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat are two of the best entries in the entire series, swapping the horror and suspense often used in episodes of X files for comedy and genuine emotion.
X files is one of the most successful shows of all time and boasts two of the best central characters in Mulder and Scully. It made the careers of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and paved the way for many modern science fiction and conspiracy theory shows today. However, it has certainly lost its way and needs a restart. Writers should turn to Dexter: new blood for inspiration.
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