Tonight, after a football game that apparently everyone but me was super excited about, the first episode of The X-Files revival premiered on Fox. The episode was called My Struggle, I watched it, and now I’m going to offer up just a few thoughts on it.
Why just a few?
Well, first off, it’s just the first of six episodes. As I watched tonight, I had to keep reminding myself that My Struggle was just the first episode and you really can’t say much about a show based on just the first episode. My Struggle felt rushed but then again, it had a lot to do. It had to reintroduce Mulder and Scully, it had to lay the foundation for the rest of the series, it had to introduce a few new characters, and it had to leave the audience intrigued enough to actually watch the 2nd episode. It was a balancing act that My Struggle often struggled to maintain but I’ve also been told, by people who have claimed to have seen it, that tomorrow’s episode is going to be a lot better.
So, I am going to try to put off passing judgment on The X-Files until I at least see that second episode. When you’re a critic, putting off judgment goes against your every natural instinct but that’s what I am going to try to do.
I should also admit that, unlike apparently everyone else in the world, I am hardly an expert on The X-Files. I’ve seen reruns but I didn’t watch the show regularly when it originally aired. When I think of The X-Files, my first thought will always be laughing at the opening of the first movie, which featured a kid falling into an underground cave in North Texas. (As a resident of North Texas, I can assure you that we don’t have caves and the last thing you’re going to see in Dallas is a mountain on the horizon.)
My Struggle started out well. I enjoyed the pre-credits scene, where David Duchovny explained everything that had happened in the past. Along with telling us about the previous series, he also talked about the history of UFO sightings and Duchovny’s hypnotic delivery was perfect.
I was a bit less impressed with what immediately followed the credits. The early scenes, of Mulder and Scully meeting talk show host Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), felt extremely forced. I found myself wondering how long I was going to have to listen to Mulder and O’Malley debate gun control. The attempt at political satire was predictable and tedious. But I stuck with it because … well, it’s Joel McHale. Who doesn’t love Joel McHale?
For the first half of the episode, I was bored out of my mind. It was too talky and all the mumbling was getting on my nerves. Gillian Anderson — who was so brilliant in The Fall — seemed totally bored and I was not feeling any of that famous chemistry between her and Duchovny.
But then, things started to get better. O’Malley showed Mulder a flying saucer that had been made from alien technology and not only did Mulder get excited but the previously stone-faced David Duchovny finally started to show some emotion. He got excited and his excitement was fun to watch.
And then we got a lengthy monologue from Tad O’Malley, one that basically explained how the military-industrial complex uses alien technology to secretly (and not-so-secretly) rule America and being the lover of history and conspiracy theories that I am, I was absolutely enthralled. (Though, if the show really had guts, it would have featured a clip of Barack Obama during the conspiracy montage, to go along with the clip of George W. Bush.) That monologue really saved the episode for me.
In fact, as I watched, I realized that I may by a skeptic about many things but I am definitely pro-paranoia. Paranoia makes for a better and more thrilling story and, hopefully, that’s what this new version of The X-Files will continue to focus on.
So, overall, this was a very uneven hour of television. But I’m still definitely going to set the DVR to record the next episode.