Mulder and Scully entered a dark apartment, their flashlights on. They were searching for, what else, the truth. Scully went off by herself. "Mulder!" she shouted from off camera. She found something. Mulder turned and walked toward her voice. End scene. I was there. And I was verklempt. Yes, I'm talking full on tears in my eyes, hand clutching my chest. I was on set of The X-Files; Mulder and Scully are back and I was there to witness a piece of TV history.
When The X-Files premiered in 1993, I was six years old. I knew it existed because my dad was a loyal viewer. He was in front of the TV every Friday night or with a VHS tape ready to go on the rare occasion he'd miss an episode. I recall my dad excitedly finding the action figures that came out for the first movie while we were in the mall one day. He was (and is) a true X-Phile. Over the years, I remember watching bits and pieces of episodes, but I always hesitated on committing to a full episode, scared at the thought of something frightening happening on screen. I don't think I watched an episode in its entirety until Lucy Lawless guest starred in 2001 (I am a dedicated Xena fan), but I was very much aware of Mulder, Scully, the world they inhabited and the significance of the show in pop culture.
It wasn't until many, many years later that I watched the full series (and both movies) from start to finish with my boyfriend. His late father was a fan too, and through viewing we were able to share something together, not just with each other, but also something with our fathers. We were experiencing something they had once held dear.
Now Mulder, Scully and The X-Files are back, and these episodes feel like The X-Files for a new generation (while maintaining the original spirit that made The X-Files so great). The show is now a generational one, passed down from parent to child. Now this revival is something that is for all—for me, for my dad, for fans of all ages. It's not something borrowed, it's something shared that father and son, mother and daughter, grandparent and grandchild, etc. can truly experience together.
"It's interesting because so many people have come up to me at comic-cons—I'm sitting and signing stuff and a mom and the kids come up and they've handed over [the show], like a rite of passage…There's a lot of generations that have had that experience. But it's interesting that you say that about these new ones and the new tribe of watchers getting to have it for themselves, rather than it having be, 'Oh, I know more than you do because I'm your parents and I saw it before you did,'" Gillian Anderson told me on set in Vancouver.
To be there, watching David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Mulder and Scully investigate a doctor and mutated children—that's something I never thought would happen, meaning I never thought The X-Files would come back to TV with Anderson and Duchovny in the signature roles and that I'd somehow be there, on set of the beloved series and covering it for work.
There was an air of excitement on the set. Not just emitting from me, but in general. It was palpable. James Wong was behind the lens as writer and director, openly showing his excitement when the sweat ran down Duchovny's temple and into his eye at the perfect speed. Anderson was inquisitive about the direction and blocking, mainly how Scully would greet cops with her FBI badge, laughing as they went through the motions of staging the scene. The crew, a mix of veterans and younger people who grew up with the show, like myself, were happy to talk about the show's past and present. Can you say that about every show? Can you say that for a show that first premiered 23 years ago and initially ended 14 years ago?
The thrill of the show, whether it was watching it for the first time or being there on set, made me feel closer to my dad. I felt like I was standing there on set for him, for my boyfriend's dad, for every fan.
Whether it's deemed a success or not, The X-Files revival will be legendary. Because the show is legendary, unlike anything that came before it and with copycats paling in comparison now. Yes, everything is getting a reboot or a revival on film and TV these days, but certainly not every show has the history of The X-Files, the dedicated fan base that has wanted to believe for 23 years, and the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson that ignites something in viewers, not only across continents, but across generations.
We, the young and old, still want to believe.
The X-Files returns on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. on Fox before moving to its regular timeslot, Monday at 8 p.m., on January 25.