The Resurrection of the Cult.
In 1990, a show called Twin Peaks debuted. Twin Peaks was the brainchild of filmmakers David Lynch and Mark Frost, and seemed designed to appeal to a cult audience. It had a dark tone, odd characters, and a mystery at the heart of it that captivated its audience. Although the show declined in ratings and acclaim in its second season, followed by a much maligned film prequel Fire Walk with Me, the show has influenced virtually every program that followed in its wake.
One of the shows most directly tied to Twin Peaks in influence and tone is The X-Files. Starting in 1993 (two years after Twin Peaks ended), The X-Files, created by Chris Carter, followed FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigated paranormal cases and conspiracies. The X-Files immediately developed a cult following, but also became a huge hit for the FOX network in the late 90’s. The series ran for nine seasons and spawned two movies, Fight the Future in 1998 and I Want to Believe in 2008.
Now both shows are scheduled to return, The X-Files as a six episode mini-series in January of 2016, and Twin Peaks as an 18 episode third season sometime in 2017. The intriguing part is that both series have managed to bring the main creative teams, and stars, back for the continuations (although Lynch threatened to bow out in a play to get more money a few months back; the threat worked). Just a few years ago this would have probably been virtually impossible from creative and budgeting standpoint. So what changed?
Anything “cult” is popular now. From the deluge of superhero movies, to the over-saturation of tech items, anything nerdy and geeky is the shit right now. This is mostly to the detriment of the arts (for every Dark Knight there are five Thors), but the upside is the fact that Twin Peaks and The X-Files can come back. It’s the perfect time for fringe writer and directors, new and seasoned, to get their work out there and to possibly have a shot of getting good talent and a decent budget to go along with it. I’ll deal with all the shitty superhero movies if it means new episodes of The X-Files.
It’s probably a fools bargain (when the money eventually dries up, the fall-out will be massive), but for now genre fans should appreciate it. The last X-Files movie came out in 2008 and it didn’t make much at the box office. I remember reading several reviews at the time talking about how The X-Files was a relic of a different time, and even one that claimed that LOST had built on the legacy of the show and bettered it. I would like to ask that person what they think about that statement now.
The nerd revolution is in full swing currently and shows no immediate signs of slowing down. We will have to prepare for more and more superhero movies over the next half decade at least (with already diminishing creative returns), and maybe even some more surprise revivals. I am greatly anticipating the return of The X-files and Twin Peaks, and maybe their revival will galvanize a new generation of filmmakers to go out on a limb and try some different things. There are more ways to be a geek than The Big Bang Theory would have you believe, and I for one am tired of superheroes. Let’s bring the creepy and the weird back to television and films. I still want to believe.
Until next time…