Sunday, 12 October 2008

Return of the X-Files

For all you young whippersnappers out there who don’t remember The X-Files – fear not! JJ Abrams has re-made it for you in the shape of Fringe. He’s also stolen some of the sillier bits of Flatliners as well, but to be fair, there’s quite a lot to enjoy here – explosions! Joshua Jackson! Anna Torv in her underwear (black and functional, in case you were wondering)! A constant recurring sense of refrigerator logic!

However, do we really need a re-tooled X-Files?

The X-Files of course was phenomenally successful, running to over 200 episodes (something I can’t quite see Fringe doing) and still spawning the odd, uneven film (I Want To Believe). Fringe has a slightly different initial focus inasmuch as there’s a great deal of pseudo-scientific babble floating about the place, but essentially it possesses the same DNA as The X-Files, as both narratives share many of the same underlying building blocks.

Perhaps there’s some merit in re-tooling old(ish) TV shows for today’s audience, something that JJ Abrams seems to be doing more and more these days, what with Star Trek due for a 2009 overhaul (perhaps Lost is an exception. That said, check out Jeffrey Lieber’s – the co-creator of Lost – story here; it really is a fascinating read). And whilst we’re on the subject, how about Cloverfield? A real hoot, but essentially a remake of every Godzilla film you’ve ever seen.

In comparison, perhaps it’s more interesting to look at where X-Files writers such as Vince Gilligan have ended up. A couple of posts back I wittered on about Breaking Bad, written and directed by none other than Mr Gilligan himself – to say it’s the diametric opposite of The X-Files would be a drastic understatement. Fringe, therefore, can’t help having a little bit of a retro feel. Sure, it goes ‘Bang!’ quite a lot and it certainly holds your attention – however, its many plot holes are more reminiscent of cinematic narratives rather than a carefully crafted TV drama such as Breaking Bad.

Seems to me at the moment that all JJ needs to do to re-tool a much loved show and/or concept is to give it a great big ‘War on Terror’ spin – which is fine, until you come up against Star Trek. I have no idea what he’s going to do with it, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to look and sound strangely familiar.


rosamundtearooms said...

Fringe was okay, has some promise. Unfortunately, Anna Torv is an exceptionally mediocre lead - but related, I believe, to Fox supremo Rupert Murdoch in some way. However, if they find a way to strip her down to bra and panties every week I will be happy to reconsider my entrenched position.


Chip Smith said...

Didn't know that about Anna Torv - interesting... That said, Fringe is more plot than character driven, so I didn't really notice that she's not exactly loaded up with charisma. I guess seeing her in her underwear makes up for that somewhat ;-)