The X-Files means a great deal to me. Beyond being my favorite TV show, it represents a certain period in my life when discovery seemed less just a possibility and more of a promise. The show’s key catch phrase of “I want to believe” held something particularly poignant and powerful for me during the most difficult period of my life and the series will forever hold a very special place in my heart because of this.
I wish I could say that I was a fan from episode one but, unlike say Twin Peaks which I was with from the pilot on, it took me awhile to find The X-Files. I was of course aware of it from the get-go but I didn’t really fall in love with the show till probably around the release of Fight the Future in 1998. I became totally entranced by the series and the characters of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in that fairly dreadful period of my life and submerged myself in the show, revisiting every back episode and collecting every book, comic, trading card and any piece of memorabilia that I could.
The Season One DVD set came out on my birthday in 2000 and that’s when I finally got to catch up and watch the series in order and really soak it all in. It corresponded with a particular healing period in my life when I got the opportunity to move back to my favorite town of Frankfort, KY for a few years and really get myself back in shape physically and spiritually. The show became a sort of beacon for me and I considered those amazing sets that landed every five or six months to be godsends.
For many people the show lost its edge by the time David Duchovny left and while I agree that it wasn’t as transcendent as it had been without him, I really came to admire both Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish who were both given the near impossible task of filling in for one of the most iconic characters in television history. The final couple of seasons of The X-Files has its fans and I count myself among them. I also adored The Lone Gunmen, the doomed spin-off series that was deserving of much more than the measly one season Fox granted it.
I think perhaps the falling of the series in many people’s eyes from a cultural phenomenon to something rather passé was somehow inevitable. The new film I Want to Believe finds itself in an odd bind. The show isn’t old enough yet to culturally have that nostalgic hazy glow about it for most people but it is just past the point where it is on the cultural radar of a lot of younger people. Whether it succeeds or fails this weekend remains to be seen but I promise that in fifteen or twenty years when an entire new generation is discovering the magic of this very special series, this film will be more than a footnote.
For me, The X-Files hit its most majestic moment in the very last shot of The Truth, the much maligned and admittedly flawed final episode of the series, when the phrase “I want to believe” took on an entirely new spiritually meaning that was simultaneously shocking and touching. For many fans, this subtle and minimalist ending was a deal breaker, a sign that the show had lost its course, but for me the moment cemented everything I loved about the show. What The X-Files finally had to say about the power of faith, skepticism and what the very meaning is behind the word ‘believe’ was in a very simple word, special.
David Duchovny recently released a statement asking fans of the show to see the film at theaters because he wants badly to play this part again. I Want to Believe is under a lot of pressure as the studio is looking for a certain figure to greenlight the next film everyone in the project seems to want to do. I get the feeling that Duchovny has grown to feel about Fox Mulder the way myself and a lot of other fans do about the character, that he represents a particularly special and pivotal point in our lives. I hope I Want To Believe isn’t the final chapter for Fox Mulder and Dana Scully but if it is then they had a hell of a run. Regardless of whether I Want to Believe succeeds or fails, I will be there opening day and I know it will be a special and emotional experience for me.