X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

Newsweek: 'X' Man

‘X’ Man

When “The X-Files” premiered in 1993, a slick little horror show tucked into a Friday evening time slot, the geeks found it and claimed it as their own. But in the tech-boom 1990s, who wasn’t a geek?

The program became a cult favorite, with hundreds of fan-created Web sites, and its audience grew to a respectable 20 million viewers at its peak. The heroes, FBI agents Mulder (the believer) and Scully (the skeptic) played back our own millennial anxieties about the future, technology and the unknown, managing to stay wry and dry in the process. The best episodes often combined the spooky and the goofy – remember the giant fluke-man, or the alien robot cockroaches? But now the fat mutant lady from space has finally sung … and just when we were this close to figuring out the whole alien-conspiracy thing. “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Adam Rogers about the show’s run, which will end with a two-hour finale on May 19. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: So, you’ve had a long ride. How does it look from the end?

‘In season five, when I was writing the two-part season opener, all of a sudden that two-part episode started writing itself,’ says Carter

Chris Carter:It feels like it happened in the blink of an eye. I’ve forgotten all the pain, all the anxiety, all the late nights, all the sacrifice. It feels good to be at the end of something and bid it farewell, not seeing it ripped out of your hands.

Are you happy with the way the years-long mythology arc worked out?

I’m actually very happy. You always question yourself, second guess yourself. Every step of the way you want to make sure you’re making the right decisions. But it was in season five, when I was writing the two-part season opener, that all of a sudden that two part episode started writing itself. All the choices we had made added up. It was an equation. There was a problem and what appeared to be a solution. It was kind of a wonderful thing.

The show had three types of episodes: the mythology, standalone monsters-of-the-week and comedies that made fun of the other two. Did you have a favorite kind?

I loved the comedy episodes. [Writer] Darren Morgan pushed the show into a new direction and other people followed on his heels, including Vince Gilligan and some of David Duchovny’s episodes. There were softer comedic episodes that I did, and some of my favorites personally are among those. But I think in the end the show worked best as a good, scary standalone show with a wonderful mythology at its backbone that followed the characters’ personal quests.

It also influenced a lot of other television.

You saw a lot of people trying to do dark and scary shows, but they’ve been a product of television for a good long time. It’s just cyclical, and science fiction has been a staple of storytelling for a good long time. We may have raised the bar, because the show’s success allowed us certain freedoms, certain budgets, certain schedules so that we could be ambitious. We could try to make little movies each week, though when I was making the bigger movie I learned it’s not like making television.

‘I wasn’t contractually obligated to come back this year,’ says Carter, ‘but I came back because I was excited about telling stories with new characters’

Did you find that as time went on you had trouble maintaining the quality of the show?

Looking at it from the outside it may look like that, but the truth is, I wasn’t contractually obligated to come back this year, but I came back because I was excited about telling stories with new characters, and I wanted to see if we could make that work. The audience did not come back to the show in the numbers we needed to see if it worked or not. I guess for everybody who didn’t come back, I’m sorry you missed what I think was a very good year of television.

What do you have coming up next?

Something that I may do with Miramax Dimension. I have a novel to write. I have an “X-Files” movie to do. But beyond that I have things I’ve been wanting to do for the last 10 years that I haven’t been able to because I’ve been doing this.

You’re going surfing.


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