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Daily News: Chris Carter looks forward to challenges of 'X-Files' season

Daily News
Chris Carter looks forward to challenges of ‘X-Files’ season
Rob Lowman

Chris Carter is at a crossroads.

His hit series, “The X-Files,” will — after prolonged negotiations — return for an eighth season in the fall, albeit with one of its stars, David Duchovny, only coming back for half of the shows. So now he must rethink the future of the landmark series.

“I’m excited. I think that there are lots of interesting stories to tell,” says Carter. “And in coming back, I think we’ve created lots of interesting problems to solve, which is what we like. We want the problems to solve.”

Through the years the show’s main characters — Duchovny, who plays Fox Mulder, the FBI agent who believes in aliens and other assorted other-worldly phenomenon, and his skeptical partner, agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) — have had nothing but problems to solve, starting with a conspiracy involving the possible takeover of the planet by aliens. The show has spawned one feature film and more may be on the way. “X-Files” fans are hardcore, and two writers publish a weekly newspaper column sent around the country, X-Cursions, dissecting each episode.

Recently, Carter was involved the release of the first season of “The X-Files” on DVD, a seven-disk pack (Fox, $149.98) that includes all 24 of the episodes. Asked if, during that first season, he ever thought the show would be so successful, Carter points out that television is a business where most things fail.

“I knew it was a real good storytelling idea,” says Carter. “That the believer and the skeptic would create a great way to tell science fiction stories, which for me always work best when they come from a premise of hard science and then you apply the what-if questions. And this was a great opportunity to do so.”

Certainly good storytelling and high production values have helped keep the show a highly rated mainstay on the Fox network for seven years.

Carter says he always thought the show was told from Scully’s point of view. It was really Scully trying to keep up with Mulder, who was always three steps ahead of her with his fantastic ideas, he says.

“You really get a sense of that looking at that first year — how characters came to where they are now…. But the first season was Scully trying to match wits with a man who wasn’t playing by the rules.”

Since then their relationship has evolved to where Scully is more of a believer and Mulder is more willing to accept her scientific rigorousness. But you wonder if the series would have been as successful with two other actors in the roles.

Carter says casting Duchovny and Anderson was a no-brainer for him. “I knew the moment I met David he was Mulder; I knew the moment I met Gillian she was Scully. He was relatively easy to cast, but no one saw what I saw in Gillian as Scully. One of the reasons was that she looked much more like a street urchin. Her hair was tousled; she didn’t look like a serious person. She looked a little Bohemian. But she had a seriousness for a young woman that I felt would work great for the character I imagined.”

Part of the problem, says Carter, was that the network was concerned on how she look in a bathing suit. The irony, of course, is that there’s never been a show where Scully needed to appear in a bathing suit.

“Gillian’s sex appeal is very sophisticated as is the relationship between the two of them and the sexual tension,” says Carter.

Last week’s season finale ended with Mulder being abducted by aliens, and Scully pregnant, presumably by Mulder and despite the fact that she was unable to conceive. The revelation here is that up until now Mulder and Scully had kept their relationship platonic, and — perhaps more than aliens or wild conspiracy — it is that relationship that is at the heart of the show. But now Carter must figure out a way to do without that for half the year.

“We’ll bring in some new characters.” he says. “We have some chances here to expand the show yet again. We’re still going to tell great stories. I want to focus more on the character of Scully and tell stories that deal with a more mythological magic realism approach than we have done before.”

Carter, who began as a journalist before moving over to TV to do Disney movies of the week, attributes the show enduring appeal to it elasticity.

“It’s weird.” he says. ” ‘The X-Files’ can expand and come back to shape so beautifully so that you can do these wild send-up episodes and come back and do a mythology the following week.”

Carter doesn’t think there will ever be another show like it on television again for one reason — “it costs too much to do.” And like others, Carter laments being up against “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which scores big ratings numbers with relatively low production values. “The X-Files” has remained a top rated show but like others it has taken a hit.

“We put so much care and imagination into these stories,” says Carter, knowing that the show’s elasticity will be tested to the fullest next season. “Sometimes, I think, we get lost in the Nielsens.”

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