The X-Files has returned to FOX after a fourteen year break from regular, serialized television. The show has returned as a limited series event with six episodes, rather than a full-length season. The series will follow the exploits of former FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they exist now, years after the events of the original show and feature films.
Wicked Horror was able to sit in on a conference call interview with series creator Chris Carter where he shared some X-Files secrets and insight into the show’s new storyline. He also let us know what we can expect from the agents now that a decade has passed and they are coping not only with their new relationship dynamic, but with the technological advances that have developed since the series went off the air.
The question many fans have been dying to ask is why now? After so many years, what makes now the proper time to bring The X-Files back to tv? “The question kind of answers itself,” says Carter. Anyone who’s picked up a newspaper recently, or gone on the Internet, knows that we live in an era of tremendous amount of suspicion and distrust of not only our government leaders, but world government. So that’s an interesting time to tell an X-Files story. When we went off the air in 2002, there could not have been more trust in government and institutions and we allowed a lot of our rights and liberties to be abridged in the name of security. I think that we’ve all witnessed now the abuse of that trust and The X-Files wants to point a very bright light at some of those dark corners that have developed.”
Carter went on to explain that he wants to make sure that existing fans as well as viewers who have never watched the series can get into the story line fairly easily. He knows that not everyone is a die hard fan at present, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be converted. Carter explained, “It’s not something that will insult hardcore fans. I think it’s done in an interesting way and it certainly ends provocatively…It was important to us to actually be mindful that there’s an audience out there that we know, they know the show. They know it better than I do, to be honest, and this series is for them. But if there are to be more of these episodes, we have to be inclusive of a casual viewing audience, people who may have seen it, may have known about it in the past, but we also—I have to tell you that I’ve had a number of times kids say to me that they loved the show and I look at them and I realize that they weren’t even born when the show was on. Maybe some of them were not even born when the show went off the air, so we’ve got another audience out there that we need to make sure that we don’t forsake going forward.”
When the conversation turned to how much control FOX had over the run of the new miniseries, and if they provided any guidance or pushed any agendas, he was very clear that he had free reign. “No, nothing,” Carter confirmed. “They were very respectful that the producers know what they’re doing and what we’re doing. That said, they were very specific about where they wanted to do it, which was Vancouver, which was music to my ears. So I was happy to hear that. Of course, when they called me they said David and Gillian wanted to do it. I wouldn’t have done without David and Gillian. I think there’s this idea that I own the show and I don’t. I’m one of the, I would say, a stakeholder in this show but Fox can do anything they darn well please.”
He continued this by saying that there was a great deal of respect this time around, as opposed to when the show was first filmed. “You know, when you first get up and running, everyone is very nervous because you’re spending millions of dollars,” Carter explained. “Everyone is prepared for you to be a big failure. They’re prepared for you to waste all their money, so everyone–there’s a tremendous amount of nervousness. This time out, there was a tremendous amount of respect. Fox was very hands-off in almost all respects. That’s not to say they didn’t have notes, they didn’t have ideas, they didn’t have suggestions, they didn’t have good direction… They have done a fantastic job marketing this show, but it’s funny that we came back to do six episodes which, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t seem like very many. I can tell you that I’ve worked as hard on these six episodes as I ever worked on this show and my involvement with Fox was as—even though, as I said, it was respectful, it was as collaborative as I’ve ever experienced.
As for the third X-Files movie he has already written, and whether or not he would like to continue working on the show past the six episode revival if he were given the opportunity, Carter had this to say: “I like doing the television show because it gives me a chance to tell a lot of interesting X-Files stories. I probably wouldn’t want to do the third movie that I wrote. I think I would have to rethink it. I might use some elements of it. I can tell you that if and when we do a third movie, I wouldn’t do it if it were not the proper budget and the proper release date. I feel we didn’t have either in the last movie, so I’d be looking to do something more like the first movie.”
One promising thing for this miniseries, in addition to having talent like Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny on board, the show also secured many of the original writers and other individuals who made the series a favorite for so long. James Wong, Darin Morgan, and Glen Morgan were three mentioned specifically, and Carter noted that all three became part of the project organically. “You know, it’s funny,” said Carter. “I don’t remember specifically calling them and asking them. It kind of happened—Glen and I share an agent, so it kind of happened through our agent and then the same agent told me that Jim was interested. Glen told me that Darin was interested. The band kind of folded back together in the most natural way. Everyone had good ideas. Jim and I are tennis players. We played tennis one day, sat down and talked about his episode, but Glen and Darin both had very worked-out ideas when we first met in Glen’s backyard way back in the spring of last year. So the band came back together as if no time had passed at all.”
The series creator also revealed that everyone who took part in the show would be on board for a continuation if the opportunity arose. “You know, I think everyone had a very good experience,” Carter advised. “I think everyone’s happy with the way it worked out. I think, now, it’s waiting to see if we build it, will the audience come? I hope they will. It seems as if there is a viewership out there but, you know, we live in a different world now where the viewership is fractured. FOX has fewer viewers. They are able to market, do on-air promotions, [but that] reaches fewer people. Everyone’s got to get the word out there in order to get the ratings that will promote more episodes.”
Carter also touched on whether FOX (or any other network) would be interested in reviving any of his other projects. “Right now we’re so focused on this that there are no talks about doing anything else,” Carter disclosed. “I can tell you, there is a constant drumbeat to bring back Millennium and I’m just always so taken by that, also that hardcore group of fans out there who would like to see it back. I have ideas how it might come back but, it’s really, once again, it’s a Fox show. They own it. It’s really up to them whether or not they would ever want to go down that road. But, you know, I also think Harsh Realm would deserve another chance. I’m not sure if The Lone Gunmen would ever see the light of day, but Unique would be a show I would love to see done, if not at Fox, someplace else.”
Note: If you haven’t watched the first two episodes yet, read the following with caution.
Carter opened up a bit about how the characters have changed since we last saw them: “It took a lot of consideration because I had to think about the characters and their relationships. I had to think about the characters in a contemporary context, so much has changed. Both personally and professionally. I also had to be mindful that the reason we’re back is because of the hardcore fans but, also, there is another audience out there that I think everyone wants to—doesn’t want to ignore as a possible new audience with more viewers there’s a chance for more X-Files. So we had to be mindful that we couldn’t just intention to upgrade.”
Carter also offered his thoughts how Mulder and Scully’s relationship has changed since we last saw them. “As you see, they’re no longer together,” Carter noted. “They’re not under the same roof, I should say, so that provided an interesting point of departure dramatically and I think that it made the characters interesting to explore because that’s how they began their lives together. Their lives changed. They were a couple and now they’re apart, so as we’ve lived our lives, they have lived theirs. That’s the way we’re playing it.
Learning that Mulder and Scully have split up was devastating for many fans of the show, especially after hearing the jabs Mulder directs at Scully in the first two episodes but Carter offered a logical explanation for the split: “So, it was my thinking and our thinking, the producers, that Mulder and Scully would have had a very hard time living under the same roof based on their personalities and their passions. I see Mulder now as probably, because he’s got Google and the Internet and search engines, he probably spends a lot of time sitting at home in front of his computer in his underwear. I didn’t imagine that would sit well with Scully who is a serious scientist and doctor, so I… believe it would spell a bump in the road for them, which is why you find them not together. But I think you’ll see, through the course of these six episodes, that they begin to be drawn closer together through not just their investigations but through, I would call it, a deep love for one another.”
In addition to providing a few thoughts about Mulder and Scully, Carter went on to reassure long-time fans and viewers that there will be numerous Easter Eggs in the show that they can look forward to. “There are Easter eggs and, you know, when you do a show that has been off the air for 14 years, it’s funny that even with—you do unintended Easter eggs,” Carter pointed out. “There are specific ones and then there are the unintentional ones that come just because the show has to be self-referential in order to tell these stories.”
Fans will remember that in 2002, Scully was forced to give up her son William. (This took place in Season 9, Episode 16) As for how William will impact this new miniseries, Carter said: “Yes. If you remember, they gave up William to protect him. They were afraid that with his whereabouts known, meaning that either one of them would have him, that they would be better to give him up and not know his whereabouts so they couldn’t be tortured into giving him up. So, obviously, William is all important, not to just them, but to others and he will play an important part in not just the episode you saw that aired as Episode 2, but also in Episode 4. But I think he’s always, even though he’s not in the show, per se, he is an absent presence.”
Carter did go on to say that William doesn’t directly appear in person in this miniseries, but is an integral part of the overall story arc. One of my biggest pet peeves with X-Files: I Want to Believe as a film was that they never addressed the child either as a plot point or in terms of Mulder and Scully’s personal reactions, so knowing that this seemingly obvious omission is going to be touched upon in this miniseries is delightful!
Another shocking revelation was the mention of The Lone Gunmen. Although it has been joked about in previous interviews that ‘no one really dies on The X-Files‘, I didn’t expect to see these characters returning in any capacity. Carter surprised us all with the following admission: “I would only spoil it for you if I told you, but I can tell you that they come back in a way that you will absolutely never expect. If I gave you 100 guesses, right now, you’d never get it.”
How’s that for a teaser?! Stay tuned to the site for more coverage on the limited series!