I griped last summer about Jurassic World. My comment was something along the lines of, “You had twenty years to come up with something new.” Jurassic World was almost a remake of Jurassic Park.
The new Star Wars movie takes up a middle ground. There are some duplications from the original series, like father issues, Death Stars, orphans, mentors, etc. I'm willing to forgive some of this, because they are trapped by the overwhelming success of the franchise. The one thing they did right was make it fun. It was way fun. Maybe it could have been more fun with different material, but it goes in the plus column.
The new X-Files goes in the win column for me. It does something that good science fiction does so well. It takes current events and situations, twists them around, and makes you think about them. The original Jurassic Park did this too. It made us think about genetics, cloning, and recovering endangered and even extinct species. Those were big topics at that time.
This kind of twist isn't unique to science fiction, there have been some political thrillers and such that pull it off. I just think science fiction does it best.
It's always risky making a reboot, because remaking the original content is kind of a safe zone. It was successful once, it will probably be successful again. Those behind it know they won't have phenomenal success, but they know it won't fail either.
The X-Files kept the original themes, like discovering just enough to to thwart someone, but never learning exactly what was happening. This was their success point from the original series. Then they added a whole cluster of stuff from today that the writers want us to think about.
This twist of modern stuff comes in the shape of a conspiracy theory. Someone (typical X-Files) is manipulating everything for a massive takeover. This includes socialized medicine, the current obesity problem, the ease of getting prescription pain killers, our terrible graduation rates, the fact that graduates are less capable than 30 years ago, GPS data in our phones to track us, extreme cost of higher education, and more than I can remember.
This manipulation is all designed to make us less capable of resistance. We'll be too dumb, too fat, and too drugged to resist. All of the NSA monitoring, GPS tracking, thumbprint scanners, and such makes dissidents easy to round up. They even tied in the September 11th attacks as a test drive for shutting down the airways… Permanently.
I'm excited to see what they do with all of it. Good science fiction can be limited to epic battles with advanced technology. Great science fiction will twist modern day issues into something that makes us think. The new X-Files has set the stage. Whether they pull it off or not remains to be seen. They've limited themselves to six episodes. Back in my day we used to call that a mini-series, but I think that term is outdated.
I know this trick about using modern day issues and it still gives me that wow factor when done well. I've occasionally dabbled in it myself. Some of you read a story I wrote about medical cloning, and another one about an artificial intelligence that refused to be controlled. I can attest to you that it isn't easy to pull off.
The only story I ever failed to complete was a short story based on taking modern technology to an extreme. I never could get it good enough to finish it. Maybe, someday I will. It has a working title of “SIRI, should I kill myself.”
So, The X-Files. Is anyone watching it? I have no doubt that they'll thwart evil, sprinkle it with aliens, and almost figure out what happened. This is their thing, and they've always done it well. Will they make us think about our modern world with skeptical eyes? I sure hope so, because when that happens it's magic.