News of an X-Files reboot coming to television has been steadily gaining momentum almost every day since Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman announced the possibility at the winter TCA conference. According to Newman, X-Files creator Chris Carter has been in talks with Fox to create a new run for the show. The fact that the show’s original stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny were reportedly onboard was also a great sign. As icing on the cake, Duchovny got even more specific about his positive feelings towards coming back to the (probably limited) series in a recent interview. Do you want to believe?
On Tuesday, Duchovny spoke to USA Today about his potential returning role, saying he is “more than happy and excited to bring it back.”
“I’m assuming that it will happen sooner rather than later now. We’ll see what form, how many (episodes). Certainly I can’t nor would I be interested in doing a full season. It will be in some kind of limited form. We’re all old, we don’t have the energy for a full season,” he said with a laugh.
“Limited” series are all the rage, now that networks and PR groups have figured out it’s essentially a no-risk endeavor. The built-in short run allows the series to build up excitement, with the expectations that it will be wrapped up quickly, like a miniseries. Instead, it’s just a way for networks to test audience interest without committing to a full series order (but leaving that option fully in play). Cable networks do this fairly often with one-off specials that will act as “backdoor” pilots. If they are successful, they’ll go to series. If not, the show can fade quietly into the mist.
Of course, on broadcast, the stakes are always higher, especially with such a well-known brand. The tepid response to 2008’s theatrical release The X-Files: I Want To Believe may give Fox some pause when considering bringing the series back. But given the success of 24‘s recent return, the gamble may be that The X-Files returning to its original format will bring in more viewers.
Having said all of that, Duchovny isn’t wrong that a limited series is probably the right format for an X-Files reboot. Since limited series condense episode numbers from 22 down to 8 or 13, it also means that series can be more theatrical in their storytelling, and less procedural. Basically, it opens the door to creativity through its restrictions. And for The X-Files, that might be a beautiful thing.