What a difference 20 years makes. When The X-Files began in 1993, the highest rated show on US TV were:
The CBS Sunday Night Movie
ABC's Monday Night Football
Grace Under Fire
As you can see, not an hour long drama in sight. They were only in the Top 20 and included Murder, She Wrote; Northern Exposure; and NYPD Blue. With that context, no one could have predicted the critical and commercial success of The X-Files. The rise of The X-Files coincided with the development of the internet and was the blueprint for online fandom. I remember waiting at least a minute for the next page to load on my university's DOS computer in the Computer Room. The green screen and limited visuals of the episode reviews on the unofficial websites created and run by fans who called themselves X-Philes was the first glimpse of what was coming up on my favourite TV show. We still relied on magazines in those days for our news, and it was very very hard to get a magazine that had entertainment information, let alone a sci-fi TV show, outside of the US or the UK. Some magazines eventually arrived about 6 - 9 months later in selected shops. Very different to flicking through sites on my iPhone.
20 years later, after two movies, nine seasons, cast changes, two technology booms and the rise of geek culture in the western world, the show will be celebrated this weekend at Comic-Con in San Diego. Comic-Con itself has morphed into something so different to what it started out as. Founded as the Golden State Comic Book Convention in 1970 by a group of four San Diegans, it focused on comic books and related merchandise. The first three day convention had 300 attendees. Now it has over 130,000 attendees. The the long weekend has an annual regional economic impact of US$162.8 million, according to a San Diego Union Tribune article in 2011, so a figure from two years ago. I wonder what it is this year?
The content has expanded from comics to previews, panels and seminars of upcoming feature films and TV shows, so much so that the term Comic-Con is not that relevant anymore. The schedule for this upcoming weekend in San Diego spans four days and includes 22 separate rooms in the Convention Center, ranging from 280 seats to the massive 6,500-seat Hall H. - See more at: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/programming-schedule#sthash.61m2UZc3.dpuf.
The X-Files 20th Anniversary Panel will be tomorrow, Thursday 18 July at 3.30pm in Hall 20 and will be attended by creator Chris Carter and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Nice.
Here is a clip of some of the best moments from the nine year run.