The X-Files Miniseries (2016) “My Struggle” Review

The X-Files 2016 David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

Here’s a quick review on the premiere episode of The X-Files Miniseries entitled “My Struggle”. No Spoilers.

After more than a decade the X-Files revival is now a reality. A lot of the key ingredients are in place to recapture why the X-Files was a highly influential, cult classic television series. You got the main cast returning. You got the promise of a mix between mythology and standalone episodes which the original series is known for. And this is a revival where the fan base are genuinely excited for. The times have changed over the years which the revival can tap into the current cultural anxieties and paranoia. Plus, that classic intro credit sequence and music is back! What could go wrong?

I really wanted to like the first of the two-part premiere which aired Sunday. It wasn’t bad but overall it missed the mark for me. I do give points for the effort in trying to push the alien conspiracy in a different direction. Writer Chris Carter went with some big ideas off the bat, I can’t blame the guy for wanting to start things off boldly. But I think X-Files works better when it keeps its cards a little closer to the chest, then gradually reveal and unravel the mystery. A good mystery is where you have some of the pieces and you try to figure how to put them together.  Instead, “My Struggle” felt like a lot of information was force-fed. I realize today’s audience are more prone to wanting answers immediately rather than waiting. And there’s validity to that especially in a short 6 episode mini-series.

Further, I did not like that the explanation behind the conspiracy is heavy-handed. I’m more of a Scully or skeptic when it comes to these super intricate, hard-to-believe conspiracies. Whenever Scully gives an incredulous frown and eye roll, which Gillian Anderson does very well, that’s how I kind of feel. I also felt that Chris Carter would have something more interesting to say about what’s happening in the world now. Maybe the stand alone episodes would be better suited to taking one element of the grand conspiracy such as government spying drones and explore that in a classic X-Files way.

The positive is that the chemistry between Mulder and Scully doesn’t miss a beat. Sure, some of the dialogue is clunky, but it’s pretty clear that as actors, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are able to pick up where they left off. I’m also liking Mulder’s dry humor. However, I wasn’t overly fond of guest star Joel McHale’s performance as an anchor to an online conspiracy network. But I do kind of like the twisted idea that someone could profit from people’s paranoia which is all too real. 

“My Struggle” is a shaky start albeit a watchable one. It’s probably most enjoyable through a nostalgic point of view. The good news is that critics who have watched the other episodes says it does get better. Let’s hope the second part of the premiere is an immediate improvement. 

What did you like or dislike about the X-Files premiere? Do you prefer the case/monster of the week or the mythology episodes?

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Posted on January 24, 2016, in Television, TV Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. It was a messy episode for many of the reasons you outlined here. I think it had to move too fast to get these characters where they needed to be and set up a new direction for the mythology. But I found myself enjoying it anyway. Maybe nostalgia was affecting me. Maybe I am giving it a bit of a pass because this first episode had kind of a tough task getting the series going again. But there were also some things I liked and just seeing these characters again was fun.

    While it took some gymnastics to get here, the idea of Mulder and Scully just working some genuine X-Files as partners is so exciting. I imagine it will be stronger in the monster of the week outings because of getting back to that structure and being able to pare down to a more basic story than this first episode was tasked with. Really excited to see more tonight! Great review!

    • Hello Matthew! That’s a very good point, this episode had some heavy lifting to do and getting characters where they needed to be.

      I’m excited too that Mulder and Scully are working together, nice to see them on screen again.

      I agree, I think a more basic story such as a monster of the week could help keep things focused and tight.

      With the set up in the initial episode out of the way, hopefully that paves the way for stronger stories to come.

      Thanks again for the awesome comments!

  2. I never watched the X-files when it was on. I didn’t have a TV (or a place to put one) I binge watched them later and that was fun but I don’t have the same nostalgia as everyone who had these characters for a decade. I thought this episode was weak. But there is this one scene where Mulder and Scully are arguing and I swear it felt like they were speeding through nine seasons of X-files cliches in one scene. She would say one. He would answer back with one. And he would yell out another one. I’ll keep watching but it was crazy cheesy.

    • Binge watching must have been fun, especially the first several seasons. I don’t remember much of the last few seasons, I didn’t keep up, you probably remember more than I do.

      I really wanted to like this episode but too many things kept it from being enjoyable all the way through.

      I did like seeing Mulder and Scully together on screen but I do agree about the arguing part. There was some cheesy lines alright like when they shouted the show’s slogans, I want to believe and the truth is out there. I was like really?

      I still like it enough to keep watching and I hear the 2nd part is a slight improvement.

      Appreciate the comments!

      • No. With binge watching they start to blur together after a while. But you can totally see the evolution of the characters and the series. Yeah that scene was so cheesy they were shouting each season’s taglines at each other. It was awful. Obviously Chris Carter did that on purpose but it was so cheesy. I’m gonna watch tonight’s episode tomorrow. I’ll tell you what I think.

        • Yeah I can imagine especially with 9 seasons, plus the movies. It’s almost like those lines were put in so they could be used as a soundbite for the promo ads. Plus points for nostalgia. Let me know if the 2nd part works better for you, I won’t be doing a separate post on it.

  3. I enjoyed this episode overall. It wasn’t the best but had enough in it that made me happy. I didn’t like McHale’s character either. He didn’t seem to be the right fit character wise for the show.
    Do agree the conspiracy is heavy handed but I think the new theory is a logical progression, especially when you factor in the Syndicate’s past maneuvers. But who knows how it will actually play out. I think the six episode run limits the episodes and is why so much was packed in to this first one.
    I’m just happy to see new episodes of this show and even mediocre ones are good with me 🙂

    • I’m excited that the show is back. I also like that Duchovny is open to doing more miniseries. Based on what I’ve seen of part 1, I’m hoping to get some improvements and I hear the more standalone episodes do that.

      I think, like you said, there was a lot to pack in this first episode. Also, I understand why they couldn’t keep things in the shadow so to speak. They needed to show things and progress with the conspiracy stuff. Also, since as viewers we get to see things that Mulder and Scully don’t, we probably have a different scope of the conspiracy. And Mulders is always right haha. I think maybe I should take heart that X-Files is a sci-fi TV show, that a lot of things don’t translate into the real world (at least I hope not) haha. 😉

      Looking forward to part 2 tonight!

  4. Hey man, how’s it going? Cool review yo, well-written and informative as always. I know there’s a massive hype surrounding The X-Files, but I’m not one of those fans. I mean I watched it on and off as kid because of that crazy theme song and freaky images that came with that intro, plus I was interested because I thought it was focused on aliens, but then I found out it wasn’t and my interest just disappeared altogether. Seems like this show hasn’t return with a great start, but a lot people have liked what they’ve seen so far and there’s still room to improve.

    • Hope all is well over there! I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, but I’m a bit better now. The first episode was a so so start for me, I guess I was super excited and was expecting to be blown away. The good thing is that I thought the 2nd episode was more of what the show is good at. Plus it had more humor, some gross moments and a couple of great dream sequences. That crazy theme song is back and it still works haha. Yeah, I’m not sure if this revival will hook that many new viewers, there’s just so much TV out there right now. 😀

  5. Great write-up. I was brought up on X Files, so it will be a bit uncomfortable for me “to go back”. Still, I think it’s a good idea to revive this “classic”, at least it brings attention to the fact that this series did exist once.

    • Thanks so much for checking out the write-up and commenting! This revival seems to be doing very well in the ratings, a good chance we’ll see more episodes after the miniseries is over. Yeah, it’s good to bring this cult classic back and remind people it’s still worth watching. 😀

  6. Thank you for the non spoiler review 🙂

    I miss this episode because all things that happened in my life…but I will soon catch with everything.

  7. What did you think of the third installment, the parody, the were – wolves?

  8. I was a casual viewer of the series but I’m digging the revival so far. I think it’s high time they actually wrap up the mythology and end the story rather than tease about a third movie or an 11th season but if everybody is enjoying themselves…. the second episode worked for me. Strong imagery, a neat horror story and addressing William. If part of the heart of the show was Mulder’s search for answers to his sister’s disappearance then it makes sense for these two now middle aged heroes to be haunted by their missing child. The third episode though was brilliant. Not just because it was insanely funny although it was. No it was the insight about life itself which got to me.

    • Hi Lloyd, nice to hear you’re digging the revival so far. I heard that the 2nd episode was originally the 5th, aside from some loss in continuity, I thought it was a solid follow up to the premiere. I really enjoyed how they addressed William and the use of the dream/nightmares. I think the third episode worked because it wasn’t really a “monster” episode per se, like you said it gave insight about life and the human experience … all done in a funny, entertaining way. Great comments, hope to connect with you again and thanks for stopping by! 😀

      • I heard that too, it makes sense since William is brought up in the fourth episode. Yet the move allows you to bring up William sooner, do essentially a monster of the week earlier and save The Lone Gunmen for the back end. I guess when we see the fifth episode we’ll know if it was a good idea but most critics are citing the second and third as the best.

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