Fox has been contemplating a lot of things recently, like bringing back Firefly. The one that wounds me the most is them considering to bring back the X-Files (you can see about that here.)
Why should this bother me so much? It’s just a TV show, right?
Yes, it’s just a TV show. It’s a show I religiously watched when it used to be on after TV Nation. I watched it when they moved to Sundays. I watched when they moved filming to Los Angeles. Then I stopped watching. The show wasn’t what I had originally liked about it. I liked how dark it was. The mood was perfect for the series. But as we edged to the year 2000, they changed that.
This is the problem I have with television today. Even though there are plenty of shows that could certainly go there (like Grimm and the might-be-canceled Constantine), but they don’t go there… especially given that Constantine is based on the much darker comic series Hellblazer. They kept trying to justify John Constantine’s behavior when what many liked was the hero was also an asshole. We no longer have anything like Millenium or X-Files. We don’t have anything that genuinely dark.
Frankly, I don’t think Fox could make the same show they did during the 90’s. The one thing that people hate to talk about or admit is that TV has changed. This isn’t about the shortening of seasons (we no longer have seasons that are 20+ episodes long). We now have seasons of 13 (more in line with most of the rest of the world). It has to do with content. It seems that what everyone thought was revolutionary in 2008 (after the writer’s strike) is no longer keeping people watching. Why else talk about bringing back TV shows that had run their cycle?
Maybe it’s because the television networks are afraid to put out television that is a cynical as the world we currently live in, maybe that’s why people are not watching. Maybe people are tired of the formula they’ve been given for years. I’m sure the truth is somewhere between those two.
This is where I generally push Hollywood to take a risk. Frankly, television is one of the few entertainment mediums that seems to be willing to take that leap… more so than motion picture.
At the same time, why do we feel the need to bring back something that had its run. It’s not like X-Files got the axe after once season like Firefly. X-Files ran 9 seasons. It had quite a long run at that.
We need the cynicism that everyone is obviously feeling to be expressed. Our television isn’t doing that. As much as I loved the TV of the nineties, I don’t think we’re in that place again. That’s because we’re not, not even close.
So, do I have any idea where we go from here?
Nope, not at all. I’m just a person who writes and would like to sell stuff in Hollywood, but has no real power to speak of. All I can do is rail against what I don’t like, just like everyone else. And while I run this blog, I, by no means, have any real sway. I would love to see the cynicism back. I think we need it now. Maybe that’s really why Fox is talking about bringing back some of the more dark programming.
I don’t want X-Files to come back. If it does, I hope they make it dark. I don’t think you can capture lightning in a bottle twice. If this starts the conversation on whether TV is dark enough to match the world we live in (at least as Americans), then I’m grateful for it. Otherwise, let’s be honest. The X-Files had its run. It had a good long run. Longer than many shows. Lets find something similarly dark, but new and appropriate for where we are in this world.