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[Unknown]: 'The X-Files' bows out after nine years

‘The X-Files’ bows out after nine years
Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

Thanks to FBI Special Agents Mulder and Scully, the aliens never managed to take over Earth and the mother of all conspiracies never quite materialised, despite many hints and dark suggestions.

That was, of course, all in the fantasy universe of television entertainment. Back in the real world, even David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson could not prevent The X-Files falling from favour in the eyes of Fox Network executives and, after nine seasons on air, the cult programme bowed out in the United States last night.

“Yes, I feel like something is gone, but every day I wake up with the nagging feeling that it’s still there,” the programme’s creator and lead producer, Chris Carter, told reporters last week. It’s an understandable reaction from the man who, for years, played on the American weakness for conspiracy theories and on the notion that nothing is quite as it seems.

It also attests to the deep cultural influence of a programme that inspired passions in a way matched only by the – very different – cult following for Seinfeld, the sitcom whose absence is still sorely felt in the US four years after its much-trumpeted finale.

Last night’s X-Files was a two-hour special with a lot of loose ends to tie up. No doubt the fans will talk long about the explanations given for some, if not all, of the outstanding mysteries. Would they really be the final word, or would there be some truth beyond the truth that will now never be told?

The programme went out too late for discussion here, but Mr Carter gave a few advance hints of what it would contain. It would set the record straight on whether the baby born to Agent Scully (Anderson) was fathered by Agent Mulder (Duchovny). It would tidy up the mystery of Mulder’s sister. And it would give some kind of answer on whether aliens and humans were involved in a government-run conspiracy to take over the planet.

It would be tempting to blame the decline of The X-Files on the paranormal, but the reasons are mundane. Costs jumped when production moved from Canada to Los Angeles in 1998. A lawsuit by Mr Duchovny over profits meant Agent Mulder all but disappeared from the programme and the ratings dipped.

The moment when The X-Files lost its oomph came in 1999 when the simmering, but hitherto platonic, relationship between the principals was broken with a New Year’s Eve kiss. Breaking the sexual tension robbed the show of one of its most fascinating qualities.

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