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Why The Animated X-Files Spin-Off Goes Against The Concept Of The Original Show

The X-Filesis a formative television series for both fans of horror and serialized storytelling, but after two feature films and a brief return to television, The X-Files is set for its wildest project yet: an animated spin-off that goes against the show's original concept.

The X-Files ran for over a decade and helped push supernatural narratives into the mainstream on television, as well as introduce audiences to Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), two character who are still some of the biggest fictional characters from television. The X-Files has tried to rejuvenate itself in the past few years, with the results being very mixed. The latest take on the property charts especially unexplored territory as it spins off the drama series into an animated comedy that looks at the humor in something as absurd as The X-Files. 

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The X-Files' Chris Carter will executive produce the animated spin-off, The X-Files: Albuquerque, but it's Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko of Netflix’s Paradise PD that will write and showrun the project. X-Files: Albuquerque is supposed to dig into the more obscure and less important X-Files cases that Mulder and Scully don’t have the time for. This is a cute premise that can work in something like Star Trek: Lower Decks, but when it comes to The X-Files, such an idea actually rebels against The X-Files’ mission statement and what Mulder and Scully’s work represents.

The main appeal of the upcoming X-Files: Albuquerque is that it’s going to step away from Mulder and Scully and instead focus on a new breed of agents that are even wetter behind the ears and represent the “b-team” lackeys that are lower down the chain of command than Mulder and Scully. This angle is a decent way to do an ­X-Files show without involving the signature characters. However, any innovation that’s gained with this new angle is lost by the fact that it runs counter-intuitive to what The X-Files is all about. There’s no need for the X-Files division to have a lowly “b-team” because the X-Files were the “b-team” for the FBI. This department is the laughing stock of the academy, and they were handled the cases that nobody else took seriously. To go one step further in that department is pointless.

Another reason that this idea doesn’t work with The X-Files is because Mulder’s character never rejected a case or thought anything was too weird or irrelevant. It’s exactly the reason why a show like The X-Files works when it tackles a global alien invasion or something as miniscule as a talking tattoo or killer trees. If The X-Files deemed these cases worthy of investigation, then everything should qualify. Mulder is such a believer that the idea of him laughing off assignments and passing them to other employees feels impossible for his character. These are often the cases that excited Mulder the most, if anything. Unpacking the minutiae of a vast universe like Star Trek actually makes sense, but there’s nothing new gained by using this approach on The X-Files. 

Additionally, The X-Files tried to skew to a younger and less serious angle with the X-Files: Origins miniseries comics, which applied a bright and animated-like veneer to classic X-Files characters, but it failed to catch on with audiences. This doesn’t mean that an animated X-Files property is doomed to fail, but the uphill battle that’s previously been faced in this area indicates that this may not be the best look for an ­X-Files spin-off. Ultimately, the success of a show like X-Files: Albuquerque is going to come down to the quality of the writing, but with the premise and aesthetics already working against The X-Files, this is going to be a difficult project to renew interest in the famed property.

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