Here's the thing about X-files. It's always been occasionally great but mostly feeble. I granted it historic significance as the first modern show to marry quality drama to imaginative fiction -- current attempts at which are too numerous to count. That is not intended to excuse the enormous amount of crap episodes -- and there were plenty of them that were manipulative, overwrought, and little more than the characters making dire, expositional speeches at each other. The great, groundbreaking ones usually had the names of Wong, Morgan, Spotnitz, or Gilligan associated with them. The others, the crap, usually had the mark of Chris Carter on them. The six-episode mini-series that just concluded is exactly the same.
First, let me say that I have no doubt that Chris Carter is a top tier showrunner. Folks who work for him seem to think highly of him and he can clearly spot talent and get out the way enough to let it flourish. But he should never be allowed to write another script for as long as he lives. Of the six episodes he wrote three, two of which bracketed the series and connected it to the wearyingly mindless mythology that was at the core of the old series. They are not just weak, they are truly -- even offensively -- awful. They are abominations of screenwriting. One weeps for the poor actors trying to make something of the soul-crushing dialogue.
The series brought in big enough audiences that we'll likely get more, but in reality it was a disappointment. Beyond Carter's writing, the productions themselves were anachronistically staid. Did they think to experiment with camera angles, mood, lighting, pacing, or anything at all? Production was pure cookie cutter -- have they not seen an episode of Daredevil? Redemption came in the form of a couple of typically sharp scripts from James Wong and Glen Morgan, and a standout from the divine Darin Morgan -- though his script was the weakest he's submitted for X-files it was still a cut above, with his signature melancholy irony and humor.
Cliche of cliches, Carter ended it on a cliffhanger of a plotline no one cares about. Honestly, back in the day you had to crank out 20+ episodes a year so hack work was expected, but you had 14 years to generate six hours of quality and you got three; that's a sorry effort. The real cliffhanger is whether Carter will get a clue for the next set of episodes and turn all the writing over to others.
The sad state of the X-files dramatics is further emphasized by their most successful alum, Vince Gilligan, head cheese behind Breaking Bad, who just kicked off the second season of his prequel follow-up Better Call Saul and it's really turning into a Mad Men level character study. We are really getting ever deeper look at the demons and forces that push the essentially good-hearted attorney Jimmy McGill into the crooked drug lawyer Saul Goodman and then into a manager at Cinnabon. If you're not on to this yet, get there.