The X-Files review round-up: Spoiler-free look at what the critics are saying

The truth is out there... in review form

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The Independent Culture

It's been 14 years since The X-Files left our TV screens and - despite a brief return in 2008 film I Want To Believe - fans probably assumed that was the last they would see of one of the biggest cult phenomenons of all time.

They'd have been wrong; last night saw the beloved TV series return for the first of six new episodes with both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returning as FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively.

First-look reviews from US TV critics initially surfaced a fortnight ago and were unanimously negative, with The Hollywood Reporter describing the opening episode as "messy," "tedious" and "limp" and Variety stating the premiere felt like a "missed opportunity."  

With the premiere episode now unveiled to US audiences, a flurry of reviews landed with many echoing the sentiment that series creator Chris Carter's nostalgia-heavy episode was, overall, a disappointment.

The Telegraph - Jonathan Bernstein

Reminding audiences of decades-old disappointment probably wasn’t the sort of nostalgia that was intended when the notion of reviving The X-Files as a "six hour-event" was conceived, but, sadly, that’s the impression left by this first episode.

The Guardian - Brian Moylin

As you watch the opening credits, it all comes flooding back. Those outfits! That hair! Those cheesy graphics! You remember them fondly without necessarily wanting to go back. That feeling pervades for the entire (dreadful) first episode of Fox’s six-episode resurrection of the show,

The A.V. Club - Zack Handlen  

It’s kind of a mess. But it’s a clean mess, if that makes sense, one that at least shows the courtesy of cauterizing most of its loose ends as it goes. And yes, there’s some nostalgia at play, even in the quality of the mess itself.The main difference here is a lack of immediacy, and a paucity of memorable images. 

Deadline - Dominic Patten

Strikingly serious and silly at the same time, the six episodes are actually a lot like the original X-Files — you either go with it or you don’t. And if you want to believe (to paraphrase the poster Duchovy’s Fox Mulder had up in the duo’s FBI HQ basement office in the original series), this X-Files is well worth opening up.

Vulture - Matt Zoller Seitz

It’s wise not to give away too much more about the latest iteration of the show’s Über-conspiracy; suffice to say that it feels like a setup for a doubling-back fake-out non-twist, in the manner of Carter’s most brazen pirouettes from the ’90s. The writing is alarmingly clunky, less a coherent story than a pastiche of beloved catchphrases, iconic images, and exposition dumps, as well as blatantly gif-ready moments.

USA Today - Robert Bianco

As the show’s oft-repeated catchphrase goes, the truth is out there — and the truth may be that The X-Files no longer has any new tricks to show us. It may seem unfair to criticize X-Files for being overly familiar: the show, after all, popularized many of the tropes so frequently copied today. But that’s the way the world works: What is new becomes old, and X-Files just seems old — proof that someday, we need to learn to leave well enough alone.

Critics have promised, however, that the next few episodes are a vast improvement with The Guardian even claiming that episode three "is one of the best The X-Files has ever done."

Less critical were the fans who voiced their excitement of The X-Files' return over Twitter.

The X-Files airs on Channel 5 in February.