Tuesday, April 14, 2015

So Why Re-Boot the X-Files?

So why are the powers that be eager to bring back The X-Files? (and about 20-30 other popular geek shows)

1) Built-in fanbase.  Networks are quickly getting paranoid that fans are nitpicky and won't hook up on new, potentially good shows.

2) Over-saturated market.  About twenty years ago there were four major channels and not that many cable networks able to offer original programming.  Today, there's hundreds of cable channels out of which half of them can afford a handful of original dramas (and sitcoms), meaning there are over a hundred new television shows competing for eyeballs.  Making it worse are the streaming services: Netflix in particular is actively creating direct-download television series, some of them extremely popular.  And some of them are reboots (or carried over shows from the original major networks).  To guarantee at least an early round of profitable viewership, bringing back familiar series is the safest move to make.

3) Some shows are/were open-ended enough to allow a continuation of their narratives.  The X-Files in particular can jump right back into the alien seeking, monster chasing, conspiracy fighting plotlines with little or no exposition or back-history.

3a) On the other hand, some series did not end well or ended in a confusing fashion (hello, Heroes reboot!) and so need another go of episodes before the creators can feel comfortable they've entertained the fanbase.

4) The creators - producers and show stars - may feel comfortable again replaying their roles (or need the money).  There's been enough time in Gillian's and David's lives to look back on the stress and hassles of having played iconic characters like Mulder and Scully and feel good about reprising roles they'd gotten tired of playing.

5) We have yet to hit Peak Geek.  The market for science fiction and fantasy entertainment remains shockingly high.

6) Production values have improved.  Once-expensive SFX is now relatively cheap enough for big-budget programs like The X-Files to return at even better cost-to-effect ratios.

7) It doesn't hurt to keep brand items fresh on the market.  There's talk about trying to bring the Star Trek series back on the air after the massive collapse of fan interest in the shows post-Voyager and Enterprise.

This article from Entertainment Weekly discusses the surge in rebooting with a little more whimsy.

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