Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Want to Believe

Friday is a day we X-Files fans have waited over six years for--the release of the second full-length motion picture based on the original television series created by Chris Carter. The X-Files: I Want To Believe is said to be a gift to the long-standing fan base as well as a conduit for a new, younger audience to be introduced to the nine season series.

Yes, Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz want an even younger audience than they've already achieved. What does this mean? I'm assuming the 16-24 year olds. Traditional X-Files fans are a little older than I am, usually those who were in their teens when the show first aired in 1993. College kids who stuck with the show or had just picked it up when seasons eight and nine took an expected turn without the every-episode presence of one of the stars, David Duchovny.

Will they achieve this goal? Chances are with the additions of Amanda Peet and Xhibit to a cast with the series' stars Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, yes, they may.

Had I started watching the series when it first aired, I can't say I would have appreciated the genius of it (I was eight), but when I did start watching the series (in its sixth season), I loved every minute of it and immediately went in search of the earlier episodes. This was long before the TV on DVD push, in fact I believe this show was the first to be released on DVD when the TV on DVD push finally came around. This was when you could find cult hits on VHS or in syndication. If I had started watching the series when it first aired I may have been scared away by episodes like "Tooms" in season one and "The Host" in season two. However, Chris Carter soon grasped the idea of character development and by mid-season two with "Duane Barry" and "Ascension," he had created a storyline with characters that viewers could become attached to.

Of course, some viewers latched onto the storyline associated with Carter's fictional vast government conspiracy to introduce human-alien hybrids to take over the world.

Why did I watch? There was a certain amount of conspiracy in the show (minus the bizarre aforementioned alien conspiracy) that I found entertaining. And it was smart. The writing was superb. They expected you to know something, unlike what they must assume are dimwitted sitcom watchers, and they expected you to question the outcomes.

Following the fifth season of the show, Carter did something that only few successful television series are capable of--bringing in money and a whole new audience with a feature film. X-Files: Fight the Future rejuvenated the show. Traditional fans may have been slightly disappointed in what was put on the big screen, it didn't do justice to the overall theme of the show probably in an effort to Hollywoodize the production and boost the box office numbers, but most of us hung on and were forgiving.

Carter created a franchise untouched by the hopes and attempts of other television shows. At the peak of X-Files glory (around season six) there were action figures, board games, the Lone Gunmen spin-off (albeit, failed), video games, books, VHS then DVD sets, re-runs on SciFi and FX, and oodles of other show-based collectibles. The X-Files infiltrated pop-culture, an entire Simpsons episode was devoted to the Carter creation.

With the second feature film opening tomorrow I cannot help but be amazed at the stretch of this show. It is simply astounding that Carter was able to bring the show back after six years off the air, forced syndication, and many failed attempts to bring the shows two stars back to the franchise (Gillian went to London to do theater work and a few unsuccessful films; David did some films and recently struck gold with his Showtime series Californication).

I'm trying desperately to not get my hopes up for what could be a doomed event. Will Carter answer the questions I've had since the two-part series finale wrapped back in May of 2002? Will I be disappointed with the chemistry, something the show was known for, between the two main characters? Will we see A.D.A. Walter Skinner? And where the hell have these characters been for the last six years?

In an effort to stoke myself up for the new film, I went back and watched quite a few episodes from the eighth and ninth seasons, the two seasons I did not watch weekly as I had seasons six and seven. After season seven wrapped with no idea of whether another season was to come, I forced to accept the finale as how the show would end. Imagine my frustration when they brought the show back and without David Duchovny for most of the final two seasons!

Merely mentioning the show and giving a plug for the new movie would be incomplete without a short listing of my favorite episodes, the creepiest episodes, funniest episodes, etc. Why not?

My Favorites:
  • The Truth I & II (Season 9)
  • Three Words (Season 8)
  • Requiem (Season 7)
  • All Things (Season 7)
  • Millennium (Season 7)
  • Triangle (Season 6)
  • The Unnatural (Season 6)
  • Detour (Season 5)
  • Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (Season 4)
  • Kaddish (Season 4)
  • Pilot (Season 1)

The Kid Brother's Favorite Episodes:

  • Scary Monsters (Season 9)
  • First Person Shooter (Season 7)
  • Millennium (Season 7)
  • Detour (Season 5)
  • Bad Blood (Season 5)
  • Never Again (Season 4)

Funniest Episodes:

  • Sunshine Days (Season 9)
  • Hollywood A.D. (Season 7)
  • X-Cops (Season 7)
  • Fight Club (Season 7)
  • Arcadia (Season 6)
  • Dreamland I & II (Season 6)
  • The Post-Modern Prometheus (Season 5)
  • Fearful Symmetry (Season 2)

Scariest Episodes:

  • Underneath (Season 9)
  • Theef (Season 7)
  • Home (Season 4)
  • Pusher (Season 3)
  • The Host (Season 2)
  • Tooms (Season 1)
  • Squeeze (Season 1)
Yes, you can now tack this onto the growing list of things that make me a nerd. And you better expect that once I see the new movie I will have something to say about it!


Anonymous said...

What took so long?!?!?!
u really can't go to this movie without me!
Whats that episode with the dude who dies in the bank and comes back as the FBI agent? You know what i'm talking about?
Go watch this:

Tara A. Rowe said...

Formatting is a bitch, that's what took so long!

I do know what episode you're talking about, problem is I get the bank episode with Scully's old partner/boyfriend (or whatever) mixed up with the one where the guy is in prison, loses his hand, and has that slimy web-like hand grow back in its place. Don't ask me why the confusion. I'll get back to you on what you're asking.

Okay, this link is too funny. Only you, boy. You're killing me, smalls.

Anonymous said...

As one of the original adult viewers of the series I can say that they will starve before they see me pay to sit a theater to see it.

The concept is alien.

chris said...

I want to too.

Awesome post Tara. As a fan from the beginning I can't wait for this installment. I'm takin' off of work early on Friday to catch it.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Chris, if I could convince my brother that I can in fact see the movie without him, I'd be taking off work early Friday to see it too!

What he doesn't know can't hurt him...

Anonymous said...

So not funny!

Sisyphus said...

Damn girl, you resurrecting the nerd/dweeb/geek debate? Definitely nerd which is a great thing in my book.

I was a loyal fan but the overarching story lines lost me on much of the mythology by the time the last movie came out. I'm a bigger fan of the stand alone episodes. Toombs is one of the creepiest episodes anywhere. Hell I'll go just to see Gillian again.