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Horroronline: Chris Carter Interview

Chris Carter Interview
Ian Spelling

[typed by Alfornos]

“I think that when we get to the musical X-Files,” Chris Carter opines, “it will be over my dead body.”

Fortunately, matters aren’t that grave yet over at The X-Files, which begins its eighth season on November 5. It does so after a fairly decent seventh year that was arguably more memorable for its behind-the-scenes intrigue – Would the show return? Would David Duchovny come back? Would Carter or Gillian Anderson return if Duchovny didn’t? – than for the episodes themselves. And it does so, after the dust settled, with a great deal of promise. Duchovny signed on for a limited number of episodes. Carter inked a one-year deal and Anderson agreed to stay on for a ninth year. Adding to the sense of renewal, Carter and company tapped Robert Patrick – of Terminator 2 and The Sopranos – to partner with Anderson on the show as the search for Mulder (Duchovny) builds to a crescendo following his abduction by aliens and Scully’s (Anderson) post-abduction blockbuster revelation to Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) that she’s pregnant.

“Fox asked me very late in the season last year to do the show (for another year) and I said to them, “I really just don’t want to do this as a matter of commerce,'” Carter recalls. “I wanted it to be a good show. I wanted it to be special. I want this to be a great season of The X-Files. I want the event of Mulder’s disappearance to be an important event. I want the possibility that the show could go on. I wanted it to go on for all the right reasons. And there were business considerations because there was a lawsuit (filed by Duchovny, who sought a larger piece of the syndication money pie). There were business considerations because there are always business considerations when people don’t have contracts. So the reason the show is still on the air is that there were people that wanted to do it and still felt they could make it good. And that’s really the reason.”

So what happens in season eight? How is Patrick’s character, Agent John Doggett, woven into the fabric of the show? “Doggett is brought in to head up the investigation into Mulder’s disappearance,” says Carter, who had auditioned Patrick for the D.B. Sweeny role in the short-lived Harsh Realm and tapped Patrick for Doggett over the likes of Lou Diamond Phillips and Bruce Campbell. “He is an FBI agent and he was a (New York City) cop, and that’s actually not atypical for FBI agents. He is not assigned to the X-Files to begin with. He is not Scully’s (Anderson) partner to begin with. There is a gradual, hopefully realistic integration of the character into the series. He’s a skeptic. Unlike Scully, who really had science (on her side), Doggett comes at it as kind of a knee-jerk skeptic. He’s a person who is doubting by nature and he really is one of these people who needs to see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, in order to believe it. As simple as that sounds, hopefully we can make him a nice, complex character.

“When Mulder comes back to the show, that will be the interesting dynamic. How does it work between the three of them? I don’t know necessarily that it will be competitive (between Mulder and Doggett). In fact, it might be a symbiotic relationship. These are things we have to explore and, certainly, we look forward to exploring Scully and Doggett through the first half of the season. We’re not constructing the show for David and for David’s disappearance. I could have used him more and I could have used him less, to be honest. So, really, I’ve got to make it interesting for the audience and for myself and then, ultimately, make it interesting for the actors, too.”

Looking to the future, Carter expects The X-Files to return to the kinds of scary stand-alone episodes that made the show a keeper early on. Thus, expect fewer light-hearted episodes and perhaps fewer mythology hours. As for the bigger picture, the long run, it remains to be seen what the future holds for The X-Files. “Well, I don’t have a contract, so I’m right back where I started,” Carter says. “But I think there’s a terrific opportunity to (go beyond season eight) now that Robert Patrick is aboard. It’s really just figuring out how to tell the stories, and who to tell the stories with. David doesn’t have a contract past this year. It really becomes a contractual thing, and I wish it weren’t that way, but that’s the way the business works. It wasn’t a good situation to be in last year. We were writing (the season finale, “Requiem”) and filming the episode and not knowing whether or not we were coming back. Now, whatever happens, I’ll have a chance to plan it out. (Whether or not there’s another season) really depends on us doing good shows this year, making Doggett interesting, introducing new characters. Whether it goes on with David and Gillian, Robert or whomever, I really only want the show to go on if it’s going to be good.”


Season 8 Preview

The truth is out there…for at least one more season.

After last year’s season finale fans of The X-Files were left to wonder if the show would return, and that had nothing to do with the final episode. David Duchovony was embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with Fox and didn’t appear he’d be back. Gillian Anderson was contracted for another year, but what would The X-Files be without Mulder? Well we’re going to find out, sort of.

Duchovny came to terms with FOX and signed on for 11 out of the 22 eighth-season episodes, a development that prompted series creator/boss Chris Carter to make up the difference by casting Robert (Terminator 2) Patrick as FBI Agent John Doggett. New characters and missing mainstays make this the most unpredictable season to date.

With the quasi-departure of Mulder, it falls to Scully, the natural skeptic, to find the truth. Doggett, a no nonsense, career-minded guy, will help after initially being in charge of locating Mulder. Look for Scully and her new partner to rub each other the wrong way right off the bat. Scully’s skepticism was always rooted in science; Doggett just doesn’t believe. After all Scully’s been through, like it or not, she’s a believer, but Doggett is cut from the “have to see it to believe it” cloth. It should be interesting to watch how Scully deals with the ambitious Doggett, who’s suddenly surrounded by paranormal investigations. Clearly, we’re in for a different kind of dynamic between the show’s main characters – and that’s not even factoring in the rebellious, often flighty Mulder.

Beyond the addition of Doggett, expect minor characters to grab more screen time. A.D. Walter Skinner, played by Mitch Pileggi, will become deeply involved in the X-Files after witnessing Mulder’s abduction last spring. Skinner’s attitude toward the paranormal will be more open since his close encounter last year. Newly appointed Deputy Director Kersh, played by James Pickens Jr., will spearhead tension at the Bureau between Scully, Skinner and Doggett. It’s Kersh who assigns Doggett to the X-Files as a smack in the face, to put him in his place, to reduce the threat that Doggett could one day vie for his chair. Then there’s Gibson Praise (Jeff Gulka), the young clairvoyant genius introduced in season 5. Expect to learn more about his alien physiology and origins.

If Cigarette Smoking Man really took his last puff in the season finale, count on others to start some trouble. Most likely we’ll see Krycek, played by Nicholas Lea, and Marita Covarrubias, played by Laurie Holden, become a little more active. And just because Bill Davis isn’t signed to a contract, that doesn’t mean CSM won’t be back. I’m pretty sure we’ll see those nicotine stained fingers again in the shadows.

Further, X-philes can look forward to more day-to-day activity from Chris Carter. For the first time in years, Carter’s plate is rather clean. Millennium is long gone and Harsh Realm barely hit the radar. So, until the Lone Gunmen spin-off really gets going, Carter will assume more creative control of the golden goose that got him started. As a result, expect the show to return to its roots with more one-shots and horror themed episodes, as well as fewer comedy-driven hours or gimmicky episodes. The search for Mulder will run throughout the season and, yes, he does show up in the season premiere, albeit briefly. By episode two, though, he and Doggett will have an explosive encounter to get things started and questions flying.

The truth used to be about alien invasions and paranormal occurrences. Going into season eight the truth is about very different subject matter. Can the X-Files reinvent itself after seven seasons? Will Robert Patrick be accepted by the hard-core X-Files fans or rejected by Mulder lovers everywhere? Can bulking up minor characters make up for a part-time Duchovny? The truth is out there, but just like every other X-File mystery: you’ll just have to wait to find it.

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