The X-Files needs Immersive Tie-ins and above all Good Characters

For The X-Files to live beyond David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s desires to return as heroes and William B. Davis’ desire to continue as adversary, new characters need screen-time to develop.  More than fan-service in the episodes, merchandizing and more women behind the cameras will be required to make The X-Flies a going concern again.  The men and women in the creative team need to deliver new characters in whom the audience can invest, who will carry the show forward.  Since Law and Order did it for 20 seasons, The X-Files can, too. Likewise, X-Files creator Chris Carter, and the men and women of the cast and crew, need to develop new characters to pick up the torch of investigating conspiracies and the paranormal.

In The X-Files‘s early seasons, Agent Fox Mulder’s (David Duchovny’s) search for his long lost (abducted)  sister bonded him with the audience.  During the course of seven seasons, that audience-to-character bond grew to include Mulder’s partner, Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a wide ranging mythology, multiple allies and layer upon layer of conspiracy.  The X-Files could broaden to include other conspiracies, the surveillance state, technology run amuck, etc., with proper character development.  The X-Files needs a new team of heroes to carry the brand forward.  The show also needs new ongoing antagonists for the heroes to struggle against.  Also, the audience needs products and experiences outside the episodes to draw the into the adventure.

The prior revival season lacked supporting tie-in products like novels and audio dramas, phone cases, and children’s books for the audience to bring into their lives.  I was listening to audiobooks and looking for good sci-fi anthologies back before and after Season 10.  I would have welcomed the new prose anthologies of The X-Files, but they weren’t out there.  The prior revival season didn’t cash very much of any of the cultural capital in to drive audience participation and interest.

Now, The X-Files audience can experience full cast audiodrams, read tie-in fiction anthologies, wear character tshirts.  There’s even Mulder’s UFO poster — and get this — even a kids book.   Yes, there’s a little kids’ adventure story, with young Fox and Dana, available on Amazon.  I just bought it for my nephew.  We’ll see if my nephew will embrace li’l Fox and young Dana or not.   This merchandising push could just be about making money.  But the right, high-quality merchandise — like the audiodrama and anthologies of short stories — will draw the audience into the adventure.  In turn, drawing the audience in will help them want to come back for more.  But again, the whole franchise must be based on characters the audience loves and hates — for the right reasons.

Nay-sayers, may point to Agents Reyes and Doggett from The X-Files seasons eight and nine, and say new Agents didn’t work before; so, it can’t work all.  The earlier attempted hand-off to new Agents turned out unsuccessful because it required the pervious characters to act inconsistently.

Suddenly, David Duchovny wasn’t available to The X-Files the full run of episodes.  The writers could have started Mulder in the season premier and written a credible reason for him to be away. Then, a few episodes later, the writers could have developed a credible reason to bring Mulder back.  Instead, the writers sent Mulder into hiding.  Mulder, who had braved arctic ice and alien bounty hunters, in his quest for the truth, had gone into hiding from a merely human cabal.  The audience didn’t buy that.  Mulder-in-hiding  completely clashed with the Mulder the audience had embraced for seven prior seasons.  The whole concept of Mulder-in-hiding threw the show off.

The next X-Files season of ten episodes must give the recently added characters time to grow and develop for the audience to love the new heroes and hate the new villains.  If the writers give Barbara Hershey’s character, Erika Pryce, a meaningful role, then the audience will feel interested in her.  If Erika becomes a credible threat or a believable ally, the audience will buy into her.

If the X-Files writers give Robbie Amell’s Agent Kyd Miller and Lauren Ambrose’s Agent Liz Einstein inner lives, hopes, fears, goals and dreads, the audience will embrace them, too.  These are all likeable (or hateable) actors.  But their characters must live, breath, and grow — do something meaningful onscreen — to form relationships with the prior cast and with the audience.  One hopes Hershey, Ambrose, and Miller receive the opportunity to inhabit their characters and portray their inner lives.  Erika Pryce, Liz Einstein, and Kyd Miller should form relationships with other characters and the audience.  Erica, Liz and Kyd should breathe new life into The X-Files.

Present-day conspiracies and emerging realworld technologies beg for exploration and dramatic commentary, in the long science fiction tradition.  The X-Files could join Black Mirror in that media space of exploration and commentary.  The X-Files could fill it effectively with serialized, long-form story telling.  Many stories of conspiracy, paranormal and technology can still fill Mulder and Scully’s file cabinets.  The show could elevate itself to become a mirror of society as the best science fiction does.  Forming relationships with the audience, new characters Erika, Liz and Kyd can pick up the torch and carry it forward.

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