Space Ramblings

The Death of the X-Files and Babylon 5

There’s an odd kind of cyclical harmony to things sometimes as the two most noted SF series of the 90’s, the X-Files and Babylon 5, seem to have reached their terminating point, even as Star Trek might have a shot at a resurgence with a splashy new movie.

You might say that the X-Files and Babylon 5 had gotten worn out in the same way that Star Trek had, going through multiple spinoffs and movies under the eye and hand of tired creators. Chris Carter has few excuses, considering the amount of power and latitude he had and just how badly he screwed it up. I remember watching a late season two part X-Files episode that simply never made any sense. Not in the “I’m confused here” but simply consisted of nothing but an incoherent jumble like monkeys had put it together in the editing room. That was what the X-Files became. X-Files 2 was simply the belated nail in the UFO’s coffin as an aging Mulder and Scully tried to reunite with no one but the fans caring anymore.

Babylon 5 was more of an anomaly, a SciFi series driven by its creator and a small fanbase, motivated at least in part by its antipathy to Star Trek, that never could extend itself into the Star Trek like franchise that it tried to be. The game fell through, the novels sold weakly, the audience for the TV movies dropped off, two series were launched and quickly canceled and even the direct to DVD solution that resurrected shows like Futurama proved to be inadequate, as JMS announced that it’s a big screen movie or nothing. While remake fever is underway, it’s more likely to be nothing.

Of course it’s possible that years from now someone will come along to reinvent the shows, more like the X-Files. Or maybe not.Reinvention is a tricky thing and while the X-Files has a simple enough premise, it also requires matching the zeitgeist of an insecure period where people are more willing to… believe.

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