Thanks to the twice-yearly Television Critics Association Press Tour, the past two weeks has brought a lot of television news.
From countless renewals including Empire, Gotham, Arrow and Supernatural, to NBC handing out a 13 episode series order to the Eva Longoria fronted comedy Telenovela, and The Fall creator Allan Cubitt expressing his confidence that there would be a third season, with cash investment from Netflix.
But, arguably, the biggest news of the marathon two-week event came from the Fox executive session, when Dana Walden and Gary Newman told the assembled reporters that they were in talks to bring Chris Carter’s iconic series The X-Files back to the small screen.
The internet, of course, exploded. In between the accurate reports from those organisations with staffers or freelancers on the ground came poorly sourced articles claiming that either 1) OH CRAP THIS IS A REBOOT or 2) THIS IS DEFINITELY HAPPENING and in one case 3) ITS BOTH, CUE FAN FLAIL.
To clear a few things up, let me say this plainly; none of the above three statements are true. So here is what we do know, from both the TCAs and other sources, about this new X-Files series:
This proposed series is not a reboot. Now, let me repeat that because it bears repeating: THIS IS NOT A REBOOT. What is being considered here is, for lack of a better term, a revival. (And, no, unhelpful Twitter trolls, a reboot, a remake and a revival are NOT the same thing). This would be a limited series revival (8-13 episodes) in the same vein as Fox’s successful 24: Live Another Day.
It would be a lie to say that the network has never considered a reboot, but at each and every point it was discussed, execs came to the conclusion that they didn’t know how the “core principals” of the show worked in a post 9/11 world.
But Walden and Newman, who as heads of 20th Century Fox Television are intimately familiar with the show, see potential in bringing it back. But only if Chris Carter, and original stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny return to the fold.
That in and of itself may prove to be problematic and contrary to some reports this revival is not a done deal. Fox insiders are reluctant to say much of anything on the record, but I hear that Walden & Newman’s comments that talks are at an “early stage” may have been something of an understatement.
Discussions between Chris Carter’s camp and Fox have been taking place, off and on, over the past few months but aren’t remotely close to closing, with the two “far apart” on an agreement. That said, both sides are said to be optimistic about reaching a deal in the coming weeks/months.
Once that has happened, it will become a matter of scheduling. Both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are very much in demand. Gillian is a regular on NBC’s Hannibal, and is the star and executive producer of BBC Two’s The Fall; while David Duchovny plays the lead in NBC’s Aquarius.
David Duchovny has already publicly stated this week that he is very much on board for an X-Files limited series, while sources close to Gillian Anderson have assured me that she is also eager to return to the role of Scully. And while scheduling is a BIG issue, it should be possible to find a work around.
But scheduling issues do not end there. Chris Carter may be free and clear since the demise of The After (his AMC project Area 51 has all but stalled, sources say), but another key player is not quite as unencumbered. That player is Frank Spotnitz, who, one source suggested, would be “instrumental” in making this work.
I haven’t been able to confirm if any feelers have been put out directly to Spotnitz, who has been keeping busy with numerous projects including Transporter: The Series and Man In The High Castle. But given his close relationship with Carter throughout the series and on both feature films – having him return for a potential limited series makes sense, especially given his “key input” in the colonisation storyline, which is widely rumoured to be what the revival will focus on.
If indeed true, that may well mean that Fox is talking about doing a limited series to cap off The X-Files in lieu of a third feature film, which fans have been campaigning for since 2008. Regardless, it would seem that if things go as insiders believe they will, X-Files fans will be getting their series back on-air by fall 2017.