In case you haven’t heard already, The X-Files is getting renewed. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are both on board for a “six episode limited series”.

To me, it’s the six episode part that’s the most interesting.

The original X-Files, while known for its “myth arc” about alien invaders, was pretty much a procedural show. It was good because individual episodes were good. It’s actually one of the harder shows to binge-watch, since modern TV viewers’ sensibilities have shifted so far away from procedural / monster-of-the-week style shows. Usually, when you finish an episode of the X-Files, there’s no compelling reason to move on to the next one, there’s no sense that you need to know what happens next.

The fact that this renewal is only 6 episodes is cause for some concern. It’s great that Chris Carter is on board, but clearly the show’s format is going to change. Will it be just one story, or will they all be stand-alone? The risk with going full-procedural is that nobody likes procedurals anymore, but there are risks with going full-serial, too.

Take Torchwood, the Doctor Who spinoff. Its first two seasons were also mostly procedural, and once it found its groove, they were excellent TV. The third season, Children of Earth, switched to a one-story miniseries format and is some of the most underrated TV ever. The fourth season was also one story, but it was easily the worst season. That’s the thing about a one-story season: if the story sucks, the whole season is ruined. At least with a procedural show, the lows don’t mess up the highs. It can go either way.

From what I’ve seen of Chris Carter’s statements, it seems like the renewal might be a balance of procedural and serial. That’s probably the best decision – there are some great BBC cop shows (like Luther) that have achieved a good balance between the two, and The X-Files was actually one of the pioneers of that format.

In the end, though, the most important thing is that they hire good writers, and the rest will follow. Chris Carter being on board is obviously a good start. We’ll just have to wait and see who else they hire.

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