Monday, August 24, 2009

Six Things Chris Carter Would Have To Do to Make Me Give "X-Files 3" a Chance

As you may have heard, some rumors surfaced this weekend about a possible third "X-Files" movie. Now before I start my rant, you should know that I am a HUGE X-Files fan. It was my passion all through college and well into adulthood, something to which my former co-workers and fellow members of the "Let's Talk X-Files on Our Lunch Hour" club can attest. I truly believe that "The X-Files" changed television for the better and that without it, shows such as "Lost" would never exist.

But over the years, my trust in series creator Chris Carter has waned. He still owes me a hug and a pony for that two-hour series finale that may just as well have been a clip show for all the resolution it provided. And I still get a rage-induced ringing in my ears when I think of the most recent "X-Files" movie, "I Want to Believe." Yeah, I wanted to believe, too, Chris -- I wanted to believe the movie wouldn't be crap and I wouldn't feel like you'd just run into the movie theater and stolen $9.50 out of my hand, you weenie!

Still, though, like Charlie Brown and his damn football, the idea of a third "X-Files" movie makes me happy. But a few important things need to happen before I'll believe it'll be good. To wit:

1. Hire a professional screenwriter who will spend more than 10 days writing the script. -- I remember when the first "X-Files" movie came out, Carter boasted that it had only taken him 10 days to write the script. And then for this most recent movie, he used a script that had been lying around unused for a few years. Please, for the love of all things holy, take time and write a good script. It's important. It's what those in the travel business might call "a road map." It helps you get from point A to point B without running over two-headed dogs and transsexual Frankensteins on the way. Why not bring James Wong and Glen Morgan back? They wrote some of the all-time classic "X-Files" episodes and all they're doing now is making "Final Destination" movies over and over again. Give 'em a call, buy 'em a beer, give 'em a pencil!

2. In fact, why not hire a whole slew of professionals? -- Sometimes, it pays to hire a professional. Like if I need to remove my appendix, I'm probably not going to do it myself. I'll hire someone who's read about it thoroughly online. Same with Chris. The first "X-Files" movie was half-way decent because he got a real, live director to put the thing together. That avoids things like the chase scene in "I Want to Believe" which was so pedestrian I actually checked my watch and started praying for it to end. I've never done that in a "Bourne" movie, which I've heard are directed by directors. Crazy.

3. Lay off the religious symbolism. -- Chris Carter cannot do religious symbolism without putting giant hams in both fists and making every high school freshman embarrassed at its obviousness. We know Scully's Catholic. We know Mulder loves a good stigmata. We know you like to give your pervy yet redemptive priests names like Joseph Crissman but just stop it already! We get it: religious imagery, belief versus reason, religious fervor versus monomaniacal fervor. In fact, let's just not give this next movie any attempted depth at all. Just make it fun -- we'll all be better off and you won't make the Baby Jesus cry.

4. While we're at it, let's stay away from "The X-Files" mythology. -- I'm nearly 100 percent certain that not even Carter knew what the hell was going on at the end of "The X-Files." And I absolutely forgive him for that. When you're trying to keep a show going and the network wants you to stretch it out over nine long seasons, there's going to be some missteps along the way. But now that the show's over, can we just forget about it and pretend all that craziness ever happened? Please?

5. Make it scary but make it funny, too. -- It goes without saying that "The X-Files" could be truly frightening when it wanted to be. I still hesitate before reaching under my bed, wondering if legless, armless Mrs. Peacock is lurking under there. The best episodes, though, always injected a dose of humor into the mix as well. Every Darin Morgan episode, for example, managed to balance some real thrills with some real laughs. And there's no denying that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson shine when they have a range of emotions to play -- who wants to see Gillian moping and weeping for two hours when we could be watching her crack wise about Mexican goat-suckers? Not me.

6. On a related note, give Duchovny and Anderson something to do. -- Duchovny and Anderson were the only redeeming part of "I Want to Believe." They're both good actors and they're even better when you give them something interesting to do. Play up that teamwork, don't split them up for half the movie. They're one of the great duos in contemporary fiction, up there with Holmes and Watson, Batman and Robin, Wooster and Jeeves, Steed and Peel. Audiences like to see them work as a team. Let 'em be awesome together!

Thus endeth my rant.

What do you guys think? Are you keen on another "X-Files" movie? What would you like to see done differently, if anything?


Lissy said...

I never even watched the second movie. After this post I'm definitely not going to, lol.

When the xfiles was good, it was really, really good, and that's what a movie should be. Not something just thrown together to make money. So sad.

Kathe said...

Gotta say, I just recently watched X-Files Part Deux and I wasn't totally revolted as most of the devoted fans were. Now I will tell you I was a FAN NUT when the show was on. So much so that I just could not muster any sort of love for the show unless both DD and GA were in the episode, hence I missed a lot of the last 2 seasons. I was pissed at Carter for dragging that shit on and on and on! ENOUGH ALREADY! WE GET IT! End it with dignity!

I actually liked the series finale. I know, shoot me, but I followed it and it made sense to me. I am probably one of the few. Which is why I really hope they only do a X-3 if they wait till 2012 (12-12-12) when Cancer-man said colonization is supposed to happen...but alas we have that John Cusack movie "2012" coming out next year...decisions, decisions...

I'm rambling...maybe that's why I get Chris Carter so much! ;) But Liz, I agree, there was not nearly enough humor or DD and GA doing what they do best as Mulder and Scully in the last movie.

Tracy said...

I think it would be hard not to do a mythology movie ... although I have serious concerns about that given that the mythos have become increasingly incomprehensible over the years. Not surprising given that Carter has bragged that he pretty much made it up as they went along. But to do an extended MotW story ... which is how many fans are going to perceive any non-mythos plot ... is damn risky especially after the 2008 film.

I liked Morgan and Wong's work on the X-Files ... and LOVED Darin ... but there were other decent writers involved with the series: Howard Gordan, Vince Gilligan and so on.

It might be helpful if they actually really sat down and thought about what works and which elements made people love the show in the first place. I have never been convinced that Carter really understood what he created!

@winterone51 said...

Great post! I'm a huge X-Phile as well. I still haven't watched the newest movie a second time, I was so heart-broken by it.

With the previews and promotions of "I Want To Believe," I was definitely excited that we were looking forward to a religious good-vs-evil apocalypse. Instead we got a stand-alone Monster-of-the-Week, which, I know they did say it was going to be, but seriously. It has my vote for one of the worst episodes ever, let alone being a movie! Grr. I think the idea of a 12-12-12 film would be brilliant. I also think it would be a great idea to employ the creative genius of Kevin Anderson, who wrote several X-Files novels, including my favorite- Ruins- about Quetzalcoatl. I don't think he's got script-writing under his belt, but he'd help make a far better story than "Believe!!"

Wow, you have everyone ranting...

Mike said...

Another X-Files movie is needed in order to salvage the good name of the franchise. I say this as a long time fan of the show, but also as someone who didn't see the last movie. I didn't want it to ruin my good memories.

A good writer and director can do wonders. Just ask George Lucas about The Empire Strikes Back.

Sara Jo said...

I started watching The X-Files in high school and LOVED IT. As time went on, watching the show became less of a priority, but I blamed that on the absence of David Duchovny in the final seasons. I go back and try to rewatch old episodes and I just can't do it. I don't know if it's the dated wardrobes or shooting styles or if maybe I outgrew it just like I outgrew my obession with Care Bears and Rainbow Brite. I kind of think that may be why I was underwhelmed by the 2nd movie. I've become a more sophisitcated tv/movie consumer. What used to enthrall me just doesn't cut it anymore and Chris Carter's storytelling/moviemaking skills haven't matured to keep up.

That being said, I still have a GIANT crush on David Duchovny (and the Fox Mulder character) and will probably see a 3rd X-Files movie with no expectations other than getting to watch him. And I definitely agree that there should be more time spent with both DD and GA!

Sarah Blue said...

I loved the x-files. I never missed an episode. My hubby and I were faithful followers and could talk conspiracy theories with the best of them. But then Mulder mysteriously went away, with not a very plausible explanation. And Scully, it felt like, was reduced to a side character. And things just kept getting weirder and weirder, but not in the normal cool weirdness of the X-Files. I kept plugging along, hoping that all the craziness was leading to some big reveal! Some giant conspiracy by the CSM and his cronies or some other secret group. And it never came. I agree that the conclusion of the series was lacking. The only redeeming factor of the last couple of seasons was The Lone Gunmen. But even they were killed off eventually.

Hubby and I stood in line for the midnight showing of the first movie, eager for any answers the X-Files writers could give us. It was a good show, but not as fulfilling as I was hoping for. That was kind of it for me and the X-Files. I still love the first few seasons, but after that...well, it went downhill. :(

We voted not to see the second movie and Unless Chris Carter pulls a major rabbit out of his hat, we won't be seeing the third movie either.

@winterone51 said...

It's interesting to see how people who all love the show feel about its different elements. I could re-watch old episodes over and over again, even if they are dated- anything up until 7 I adore. They were a part of my life and still are a part of me. I don't feel I could "outgrow" it! And I LOVED the first movie. I felt that it worked brilliantly as both part of the canon and as a stand-alone. The second movie can't compare!

Steph said...

Sadly, I know that like Pavlov's dog I will dutifully wait in line, buy my ticket, and then leave the theater ranting and raving about how Chris Carter screwed me again, and how there are no new ideas in movies these days, and why is everyone so unwilling to suspend disbelief at ALL?

(Seriously. It's like BSG and even Lost for some; people foam at the mouth when there isn't a "rational" explanation. It's called believing and I WANT TO BELIEVE DAMN IT!)

Ahem. Sorry. I got a little carried away. Oh, X-Files, how I miss the good old days.

Gabrielle said...

I'm torn as to the mythology-or-no-mythology question.

Part of the reason why I enjoyed the first movie a lot more is that it tied into the show a lot. Part of the reason why I lacked interest in the second movie is that without the mythology element, it felt like any of those slightly-supernatural-procedural out there (albeit in film format).

Then again, will the casual viewer be interested in a movie about XF mythology?

As for the rest, I completely agree.

BlitzWing00 said...

Maybe if he made it about Frank Black from Millennium...oh and throw in some Space: Above & Beyond in there somehow. Okay I was kidding about Space.

I think I've seen every episode of X-Files, it was a show that I tried never to miss when it was on. But I felt it really degraded after they left Vancouver to go film in LA because Duchovny pretty much forced them to move. And then they got rid of Duchovny for Robert Patrick for a season....what happened there? Funny thing is I felt Robert Patrick (Doggett) did a better job and the episodes got slightly better at that point.

But for me, I think the above mention reasons ruined the X-Files for me, I've never seen any of the movies. But if they really had Frank Black from Millennium in the next movie, I'd watch it. I felt Millennium was better written and had more character depth, if you can get past the grimness of the plots.

Kafka said...

Look, I can recognize that the first movie was flawed and the series finale was a cavalcade of craptastic half-assery, but I still have to agree with Gabrielle. If a third movie's to be made, then it must be convergent with the show's through-going plotline(s) and released in conjunction with Earth's long-scheduled subjugation to the Black Oil. If humanity's going down, then I'd at least like to see Mulder making snide comments about Rapture-believers while Scully hyperventilates with fear for the child she gave up.

What doomed the second movie to mediocrity was its Monster-of-the-Week formula. As much fondness as a person might have felt for the characters, none of their actions or outcomes were unexpected. On the other hand, if a person sent Mulder and Scully to kidnap their daughter from her adoptive parents, counteract the rebels' inoculation, and use her psionic powers -- along with a heel-to-face conversion by the Syndicate -- to thwart the Black Oil, well, you might not even need to put that in HD. Oh, who am I kidding? Everything should be in HD.

Tracy said...

Kafka wrote:

Maybe if he made it about Frank Black from Millennium...

Already did that in the episode "Millennium". Besides, I thought Carter et al managed to do more to screw up the series mythology for Millenium in that one episode than they did in seven years on the X-Files.

But I felt it really degraded after they left Vancouver to go film in LA because Duchovny pretty much forced them to move.

He wanted to be closer to his wife ... I can't completely fault him on that. Her show was filmed in LA. But as much attention as that story got, Gillian Anderson was also eager to return to the states so probably should bear at least part of the blame.

And then they got rid of Duchovny for Robert Patrick for a season....what happened there?

"They" didn't get rid of Duchovny. He wanted to make movies ... he was at the height of his popularity then. He was also fighting with the Carter and FOX (a lawsuit was actually filed) over how his share of syndication royalties.

Funny thing is I felt Robert Patrick (Doggett) did a better job and the episodes got slightly better at that point.

The ratings drop-off was substantial. There was huge resistance to Doggett and Reyes ... and especially the pairing of Doggett and Scully.

But for me, I think the above mention reasons ruined the X-Files for me, I've never seen any of the movies.

Really? Fight the Future was made at the mid-point of the series. It was actually filmed during the 5th season.

But if they really had Frank Black from Millennium in the next movie, I'd watch it. I felt Millennium was better written and had more character depth, if you can get past the grimness of the plots.

I liked the first season and much of season two but thought it went downhill from there. I particularly disliked how Morgan and Wong handled Catherine Black in the second year.

From what Lance Henriksen has said, Chris Carter is supposedly working on a Millennium movie.

Tracy said...

Sorry ... attributed BlitzWingOO's comments to Kafka. My apologies to you both!

TV Lowdown said...

After the last two movies I'd almost prefer to see a far more comedic outing for The X-Files. They did the "funny" episodes so well, and Duchovny and Anderson both have great timing.

Make it scary, funny, and keep Mulder and Scully together on screen and I'll be a happy viewer.

(p.s. Recently saw Gillian Anderson in Ibsen's "A Doll's House". Absolutely amazing performance.)

BlitzWing00 said...

Tracy wrote:

Already did that in the episode "Millennium".

Oh was about a zombie. Yeah they really did mess up Millennium big time in that episode.

The ratings drop-off was substantial. There was huge resistance to Doggett and Reyes

I don't think it was Robert Patrick's fault...I think people were angry it wasn't Mulder and felt like their beloved characters were being replaced...which I guess they were. Kind of Harsh....oh yeah I forgot about Harsh Realm, LOL. That lasted like 2 episodes or something.

I think I've moved on from X-Files...the current show that has a X-Files feeling to it that I watch is Fringe.

However one dying question I still have about X-Files which I never understood to this day, and maybe you can help answer for me...What really happened to Mulder's sister!? I remember there was an episode that was supposed to explain it, but I never understood it. All I remember is I think at then end of the episode they tried to say she was dead(?), but during the episode they were doing something surreal to suggest she was alive? I don't remember, all I remember is they advertised that episode as finally answering the question...but I never understood it and it felt like they cheated me out of an explanation. =(

Kafka said...

If I remember correctly, BlitzWing, aliens took Mulder's sister as part of an agreement they had with him and the rest of the Syndicate. She died while undergoing experiments, but her DNA was used to create fleets of clones. Thus, Mulder encountered both adults and humans who appeared to be his sister, but the actual sister was long since deceased.

Tracy said...

BlitzWing00 wrote:

However one dying question I still have about X-Files which I never understood to this day, and maybe you can help answer for me...What really happened to Mulder's sister!?

I am not convinced that Carter really has it clear in his own head. There were lots of possibilities put out there over the years. And even at the end, there were plenty of inconsistencies with regards to what Samantha's ultimate fate was.

During the second season, we were introduced to a woman who claimed to be the adult Samantha. This person later turned out to be one of several clones. All of which were seemingly killed by the alien Bounty Hunter. Who also told Mulder at the end of the ep that the real Samantha was still alive.

During the opener for the third series, Mulder's father tells him that Samantha isn't dead during the Navajo induced dream that the wounded Mulder undergoes. In the next episode "Paper Clip", Mulder finds a "recent" tissue sample from Samantha when the agents search the medical files hidden in the abandoned mine.

Then early in season 4, we got a bunch of young Samantha clones at the Canadian bee facility that Jeremiah Smith took Mulder to. Again, all of the clones were seemingly killed by the alien Bounty Hunter. In the later fourth season episode "paper Hearts", Mulder becomes convinced that Samantha had not been abducted by aliens but rather by serial killer John Roche. Eventually, Mulder realizes that he has been tricked abou that at least.

During season 5's "Redux", C.G.B. Spender introduces Mulder to a woman he says is the adult Samantha ... who looks just like the adult Samantha clones we met in season 2 (and of course is played by the same actress). She disappears never to be seen again. Cassandra Spender later tells Mulder that the woman he saw was yet another clone, but that the real Samantha is still alive.

The episode that you referred to came in season 7 -- "Closure". In that story, Mulder finds a diary that indicates that Samantha did end up with the Spender family and was the subject of lots of medical tests. Eventually, we get the whole "walk-ins" plot that suggests that the teenage Samantha did die but that her soul was saved from the horrific epxperiments by spiritual intervention. The episode ends with Mulder's vision in the woods which seems to convince him that his sister's soul is in a better place ... that's what he tells Scully anyway!

In "I Want to Believe", it certainly seems that Mulder believes her to be dead.