E.T. needs to get his story straight

Proponents of an outlandish conspiracy theory will dismiss counter-evidence as being ‘part of the conspiracy’. Anyone who has ever argued with a person who insists the moon landing was faked, 9/11 was an inside job, or aliens crash-landed as Roswell, will tell you that this makes their claims effectively unfalsifiable.

This is a very easy out of any real argument. Every engineer explaining at length how the towers fell — they’re just in on it.*

One of the original charms of the X-Files was that whatever babble postulated in the series was countered with scientific skepticism in the person of Dana Scully, even though the supernatural answer would always prove correct**.

This makes for exhilarating fiction, but when the ever-expanding nature of the conspiracy is mimicked in the impossible-to-follow mythology of the series, it can become a right bore.

For the uninitiated, the X-Files ran for nine seasons of twenty-two episodes (and a couple of movies), balancing an ongoing mythology storyline with standalone plots.

The ‘mytharc’ episodes as they were called, were concerned with the conspiracy of world governments with extra-terrestrials, human-alien hybrids, various cover-ups, and the revelation of a pending alien invasion in 2012.

Problem was, like real-life conspiracies, once you solve them, you have no more story, so you have to make them bigger. It’s generally agreed that in its later seasons, the show got too twisted up in its own mythology.

Which brings us to the latest season which, trying to play it safe by keeping old audiences and bringing in new ones, glosses over the nine seasons worth of convoluted revelations and introduces a new conspiracy of which all the relevant backstory was simply a smokescreen to keep the show’s protagonists from the truth.

So, folks, there’s a thing called a ‘retcon’. At retcon is a retroactive continuity change expanding upon past events with implications for the present. These are common in comic-book superhero stories.

If used wisely, a retcon can give new life to a story property. If abused to resuscitate a dead franchise . . . . well, it’s like ending a story with ‘and then I woke up’.

The new X-Files feels like the ever-imaginative ranting of a conspiracy peddler whose bubble has burst, whose world has moved on.

Maybe that’s just what they want me to think. I better watch next week.

*For the definitive parody of this, see the South Park episode Mystery of the Urinal Deuce, Season Ten, Episode Nine

*This is the exact opposite of what happens in Scooby Doo. Show should be applauded for this reason.

This has been the forty-ninth publication of Dressing Gown, a daily blog from Ted Janet.

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