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Toledo Ohio Blade: 'X-Files' reopened: Expect more questions, few answers, over eighth season

Toledo Ohio Blade
‘X-Files’ reopened: Expect more questions, few answers, over eighth season
Elaine Liner

[posted to atxfa by Alfornos]

Every year X-Files creator Chris Carter guarantees answers to the sci-fi show’s many lingering questions about virus-carrying aliens, global conspiracies, and FBI agents Mulder and Scully’s love lives. And every year he and his writing staff wind up the season with a cliffhanger that leaves viewers with more puzzles to ponder until the show returns with fresh episodes months later.

That it does Sunday (9 p.m. Fox) with the first of a two-part story arc taking up where last season’s finale left off. But will viewers really find out if Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) was abducted by an alien spacecraft? Is Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) pregnant and was it Mulder or one of the extraterrestrials who did the deed? And who is this new guy, Agent Doggett (Robert Patrick), who joins Scully to search for her missing partner?

FBI agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick), left, will be the skeptic this season as he joins agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and D.A. Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) on The X-Files.

In its eighth season, The X-Files has a lot to answer for, and, as usual, Carter is coy about what’s going to happen.

Like, about that baby …

“I’m his father and its mother, thanks,” he says.

Carter wasn’t even supposed to be writing and producing the show after last season. His and actor Duchovny’s contracts with X-Files were at an end, and both had expressed desires to move on. Duchovny is still trying to ignite a movie career (Return to Me didn’t return much box office revenue.) Carter wants to continue X-Files mythology in feature films while launching the more lighthearted spin-off series The Lone Gunmen on Fox midseason. Only Anderson was willing to return to X-Files full-time, and her salary bump (to a reported $250,000 an episode) was contingent on signing for both the eighth and ninth seasons.

But Fox couldn’t see doing the show without the X-Files power trio. So with a little persuasion and a big pile of money on the table, bling! Carter came back (for at least one more year) and Duchovny signed to appear in 11 of the 20 episodes this season.

“I really do not want to do this just as a matter of commerce,” Carter insists. “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 important. I want the possibility that the show could go on.”

Carter admits that last year was a tough one. X-Files’ ratings dipped, and the series was shut out of the Emmy nominations. Duchovny and Carter weren’t even on speaking terms after the actor sued over what he considered the producer’s low-ball sale of X-Files reruns to cable’s FX channel, a deal Duchovny thought denied him lucrative residuals from syndication.

After settling the suit (with Duchovny getting millions), the two now are working amicably.

“I think there has been a lot of repair of something that was damaged,” Carter says.

Fans of X-Files might say that what was damaged last year was the show itself. After years of mysterious utterances by the Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Smith) and Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), little has ever really been revealed about the central theme of the series – whether there are space aliens living among humans on this planet, and if there are (as Mulder believes), whether they are good or bad.

At the end of last season, Scully, long the skeptical scientist, had at last been convinced by Mulder of the government’s conspiracy to conceal the existence of aliens.

With her on Mulder’s side this year, Agent Doggett will fill the role of disbeliever.

But won’t keeping Mulder and Scully apart cheat viewers of their favorite aspect of the drama?

“Mulder and Scully – David and Gillian – are the reason for the show’s great success,” Carter says. “But that doesn’t mean that you can’t threaten the paradigm, that you can’t threaten the relationship. You better do that every once in a while or else you’re going to have a very stale show, particularly when you have characters who didn’t kiss for seven years.”

Carter also thinks Robert Patrick’s performance as Doggett will ignite new interest in the show. “I think he is going to strike a chord. And I certainly think the relationship that (Doggett and Scully) are going to have is going to make the Mulder and Scully relationship more interesting.”

And if it doesn’t, The X-Files may be filed away after season No. 8 – with or without answering all the Big Questions it’s toyed with all these years. Carter hints at tying up loose ends before the series heads into permanent reruns. But he’s not promising anything.

“It would be nice to come to some sort of conclusion, but my fear is that when you have a show about the unexplained, to actually try to explain any of that is kind of ridiculous,” Carter says. “The X-Files always leaves as many questions as answers, so I think that’s probably what I would say we would end up with.”

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