Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The X-Files is back after 13 years, and we still want to believe

Mitch Pileggi, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, William B. Davis (Fox)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, January 24. All times are Eastern.

Top pick

The X-Files (Fox, 10 p.m.): Reboots and limited series are all over the television landscape these days, but few of them have been as hotly anticipated as Fox’s reopening of The X-Files. One of the most successful dramas of the last 25 years and one of the most formative influences on television storytelling as we know it (its writers room begat Breaking Bad and 24, amongst others), The X-Files is born again as a six-part miniseries, premiering tonight in its old Sunday night home and then moving to Monday for the successive installments. Once again, David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully are teamed up to uncover if the truth is out there. Alex McCown’s already offered his thoughts on the first few episodes, and to him it’s like an old friend (issues and all) never left:

Both for good and ill, The X-Files is back, and in essentially the original packaging. Even the original opening credits sequence is back, delighting those who prefer their TV intros comically outdated. The show picks up again feeling like it never left, at least in terms of mood and construction. Yes, the intervening years have aged the heroes and the world in which they live, but as far as the scripts, direction, and feel of the series, these may as well be mothballed episodes dragged out of deep storage, because everything you remember about the series is right there onscreen.


Similarly, we’ve dragged longtime TV Club Classic X-Files reviewer Zack Handlen out of deep storage to give each episode the coverage it deserves. For his and all of our sakes, X-Files, as you come back please be the show you were in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and not the show you were in “Fight Club.”

Also noted

Galavant (ABC, 8 p.m): Galvant is wounded in battle, and needs to find a healer who can give him a magic potion. He must get ye flask! Sadly, Dan Caffrey has to let him know “You can’t get ye flask.” Poor Galavant. Exit via north, south, or Dennis.

Downton Abbey (PBS, 9 p.m.): “A former maid comes to Downton for lunch.” Might this finally augur the return of Rose Leslie (a.k.a Ygritte from Game Of Thrones), whose character Gwen departed Downton’s idyllic setting for a career as a telephone company secretary at the end of the first season? Emily L. Stephens hopes so, if only because no one needs a “You know nothing” scolding as badly as the Granthams do.

Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Don’t let anyone say that Frank Gallagher never did anything for his children, as this week he’s passing on to Debbie his years of experience at gaming the welfare system to her advantage. And all he asks in return is a percentage for drinking money! That’s okay with Myles McNutt, so long as the cup he drinks out of is provably full. That’s a real pet peeve of his.


Billions (Showtime, 10 p.m.): It’s almost certainly proximity to the X-Files premiere tonight, but the description of tonight’s Billions episode—“Chuck’s probe is temporarily derailed”—sounds like the show could be taking a sharp sci-fi left turn that the ad campaign kept tightly under wraps. Given how underwhelmed Joshua Alston was by the “woefully thin” pilot, maybe that’s just the thing it needs to stand out from the rest of the pack. And if so, we’re wincing in sympathy for poor Chuck at the thought of just where that probe could be derailed.

Classic coverage (finale edition)

The Simpsons (3 p.m.): It’s been a bumpy road for the TV Club Classic reviewers of The Simpsons, as season nine reminded us that at some point, the show had to stop being perfect. Episodes could miss the point of their characters, of Springfield as a town, and even their version of what reality is. Yet it was still capable of some great highs, one of which—the ninth season finale “Natural Born Kissers”—will be discussed tonight. Les Chappell is ready to look down and admire God’s new parquet floor. Eyes on the floor, still on the floor, always on God’s floor.


Tomorrow in TV Club

There’s three new shows premiering tomorrow, and we’ve got you covered with TV Reviews on all three of them. Alasdair Wilkins would like to introduce you to Fox’s Lucifer, a man of wealth and taste and a hybrid of the network’s two favorite genres: cop drama with a twist (he’s the Devil!) and show about a charming asshole who’s good at his job (which is being the Devil!). Kyle Fowle’s checked into Recovery Road, Freeform’s new drama about teenage addiction and their first new show since the network’s rebranding, and Allison Shoemaker has conjured up Syfy’s adaptation of Lev Grossman’s beloved book series The Magicians. And Will Harris sits down with Peter Jacobson of Colony and House for another installment of Random Roles, where Jacobson’s got thoughts about being cast as a lot of Jewish guys.


What else is on?

AFC Championship, Patriots at Broncos (CBS, 3 p.m.): The first of two championship games tonight, pitting prior Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning head-to-head. As easy as it is to root against the Patriots—particularly in the season of Deflategate—we’re throwing our support to New England this year because those Nationwide commercials of Manning’s chip away at another part of our sanity every time they come on.


NFC Championship, Cardinals at Panthers (Fox, 6:30 p.m.): Your What’s On Tonight correspondent is still stewing over that overtime loss his beloved Green Bay Packers suffered last weekend, so he’s torn. Root for the Cardinals and at least take heart we lost to a team that could keep playing, or root for the Panthers to avenge that heartbreak? Tough call, but we’re going with Carolina because Cam Newton’s having a hell of a season and we enjoy how some people get upset at his celebratory dancing.

Mercy Street (PBS, 10 p.m.): “Dr. Foster wrestles with his marriage and career.” Given that Dr. Foster is played by Josh Radnor, you know he’s just marking time until his wife dies and he can go be with a woman who was a past love and also the Civil War equivalent of Robin Sparkles.


Mecum Auto Auctions: Muscle Cars And More (NBC Sports, 5 p.m.): Yes, you can find anything on TV, even three hours of a car auction.

Hoarders (A&E, 9 p.m.): A man lives in a hotel in order to hide his vast collection of sexual paraphernalia from his family. What possible answer do you think he has when they ask him “So why are you living in a hotel?”


Worst Cooks In America (Food Network, 9 p.m.): “Asian street food determines who stays and who goes.” That seems like a lot of pressure to put on Asian street food, though it’s been looking for work since it got turned down to host the last season of American Idol.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians (E!, 9 p.m.): Kris signs the family up for communication therapy, and then winds up missing the session. We’re assuming the end result is a communication breakdown, accompanied by a bad-ass guitar riff.


North Woods Law (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.): Game wardens pursue a bear who is caught diving in dumpsters. This is the only known sketch of the perpetrator and his accomplice:

Known to be smarter than the average bear. Approach with caution.

Cutthroat Kitchen (Food Network, 10 p.m.): “Three chefs have to make pho in a pho-to booth.” We just hope they also brought all the fake mustaches, elaborate headgear, and other accouterments necessary for the true photo booth experience.

Psycho (BBC America, 6:30 p.m.): The film to guarantee you’ll go into work unshowered the next day.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Freeform, 7 p.m.): Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Bridesmaids (NBC, 8 p.m.): Between The X-Files and football, NBC isn’t even going to try counter-programming new content tonight, opting instead to air this Paul Feig comedy that helped make Melissa McCarthy a star. And we’d like to remind you that while you could call it a “rom-com” or “chick flick,” Genevieve Koski has a well-thought argument as to why you shouldn’t.


Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, and Rocky V (AMC, 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 8 p.m., 10 p.m., and 12:30 a.m.): Follow in the footsteps of our own Jesse Hassenger and run the series about Rocky Balboa, the long-shot underdog who’d go on to become heavyweight champion of the world and punch out Communism. And then go see Creed if you haven’t. Or even if you have.

The Heat (FX, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.): Speaking of Melissa McCarthy, this buddy-cop film teaming her with Sandra Bullock does its best to utilize her comedic gifts but falls apart whenever it tries to adhere to that whole plot thing.



College Basketball, Evansville at Indiana State (ESPNU, 4 p.m.)

Women’s Basketball, South Carolina at Mississippi State (ESPN2, 5 p.m.)

College Basketball, North Carolina at Virginia Tech (ESPNU, 6:30 p.m.)

College Basketball, Syracuse at Virginia (ESPN2, 7 p.m.)

College Basketball, Utah at Washington (ESPNU, 8:30 p.m.)

In case you missed it

Mad Dogs: Who let the dogs out?! Whoever it was, Dennis Perkins wants you to get them back in, as all they bring to the table is “incessant bickering and aimless, contrived wandering.”


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