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[Unknown]: Find out all you need to know about 'The X-Files' on Sunday night

Find out all you need to know about ‘The X-Files’ on Sunday night
Rob Lowman

What: David Duchovny returns for the final two episodes of the series.
Where: Fox.
When: 8 to 10 Sunday night.

Chris Carter was trying to do his last bit of juggling for “The X-Files,” which ends its nine-year run on Fox tonight with episodes 200 and 201. He had already been interrupted once because of a call from the set as they were finishing up the final filming. Did David Duchovny leave again? One of the show’s original stars, Duchovny had tired of the grind of a long TV-season shooting schedule and left two years ago but is returning for the finale tonight.

“Nothing that dire,” the 45-year-old creator of the series said with a chuckle, “but there’s always something.”

The something includes monsters, aliens, the paranormal, government conspiracy, more aliens and an elaborate mythology, which for “X-Files” fans has always been the heart of the show, along with the complicated (sexually repressed) relationship of FBI partners Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who have been looking for the truth out there since the series went on the air Sept. 10, 1993.

On a gradual descent

At its height, during its fifth and sixth seasons, “The X-Files” averaged more than 18 million viewers each week. This season, the numbers are down to around 8.5 million.

“I feel this year we’re doing great work, but the ratings have gone down,” says Carter, adding, “I feel like it’s almost a new show and needed to build an audience. I don’t know how interested Fox was in doing that, and I wasn’t interested in watching the show suffer the indignity of what I felt was the mood out there to start taking potshots at it.”

What Carter was referring to was how, after Duchovny left after the seventh season, the show was retooled with the addition of Robert Patrick as FBI agent John Doggett as a new partner for Scully and then Annabeth Gish as agent Monica Reyes.

But nine years for a show is a long time, and it takes its toll. Even Anderson, who on one hand has stated she was sad about the show ending, told the Hollywood Reporter recently that she’d like to find a film role with a character who doesn’t give a “rat’s ass” about the truth.”

With Mulder gone — though, as Carter points out, his character always has had a presence — and Scully carrying a lesser load, the series has tried to generate sparks between Doggett and Reyes this season. But their pairing never had the low-burning intensity of the original pair’s relationship.

When discussing what made “The X-Files” successful, Carter simply says, “I think that what I had that no one else had was Gillian Anderson and Dave Duchovny. I think what we had was something fresh and new on television that was hard to clone. It was, in a weird way, a perfect little television idea with a believer and a skeptic.”

Out there … on DVD

Out this week on DVD is the complete fifth season of the series, which led to the 1998 movie “The X-Files: Fight the Future,” the height of “X-Files” mania. “You can look at the show before the movie and after the movie,” says Carter. So the fifth season, while it was filmed after the movie, was the season that led to the movie.”

That’s right: The movie was shot first.

“It was very tricky. If we would have failed with the movie or failed with the season leading up to the movie, we would have failed going forward. Everything had to be done right,” says Carter. “If season five had not been good, we would have headed into the movie with less than a head of steam. It was a miracle to me that we hit all our marks.”

Certainly, the success of “The X-Files” changed the landscape of television. The series has been hailed since the beginning. TV Guide critic Matt Roush recently noted that it helped TV grow up. No better proof of that is the television landscape over the past several years, which seems to be littered with shows dealing with the paranormal, and it was Carter’s smart writing that helped give legitimacy to the sci-fi genre. Until “The X-Files,” that genre had mostly been relegated to television’s back benches.

However, “The X-Files” also generated many failed attempts to clone its success. Even Carter’s two tries — the ominous “Millennium” and the loopy “Lone Gunmen” — ultimately ended up on the scrap heap. But the faithful are still out there. “X-Files” fan Web sites are speculating that “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”/”Angel” creator Joss Whedon is turning into “the new Chris Carter.” Whedon has a new sci-fi series coming next year called “Firefly,” which will be on Fox.

And they are also guessing as to how “The X-Files” will end up tonight.

True to the series’ motto — “Trust no one” — Carter wouldn’t reveal any specifics on how he was going to wrap up the show, except to say there will be an explosion and some familiar faces would return.

They’re baaaack

Web sites speculate that the finale, written by Carter, will bring back Nick Lea as the eerie Crick and Laurie Holder as Marietta Covarrubias, who, when we last saw her, was infected with weird alien oil. And there may be “at least one kiss and some affection” between Scully and Mulder, who will be on trial for murder.

But, as they say, trust no one.

Carter would add this, though: “We are not so much answering all the questions as we are going to make it all make sense, if we can.”

Still under contract to Fox for another year, Carter says he has another idea for a show and is in talks about a second “X-Files” movie.

“I think it will happen because I know that David and Gillian want to do it, and if they want to do it, it will happen,” he says.

The pair have both publicly declared that they would like to do another film, but getting any movie off the ground is tricky business.

“I have kind of an idea (for it), but I don’t know how much it will cost,” says Carter. “It would be better if it cost less rather than more, because movie budgets have grown so big that the expectations of what the movie is going to do at the box office is sometimes too great.”

He added that the movie would be like a stand-alone episode and not part of the mythology, which should wrap up tonight.

“I keep saying to people, ‘I’m not sad, I’m not sad,’ but … maybe I’m not admitting I’m sad,” says the series creator. “I feel this year we’re doing great work, but the ratings have gone down. I decided to call it a day … and end on a strong note. ”

To paraphrase another series motto, the fans want to believe.

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