Archive for September, 1993

St Petersburg Times: ‘X-Files’ goes to extreme

1993-09-10
St Petersburg Times
X-Files’ goes to extreme
Jennifer L Stevenson

Grade: B+

Tonight at 9 on Fox, WFTS-Ch. 28

David Duchovny has just discovered something terrifying, more disgusting than the paranormal junk he finds every week on the X-Files.

“Have you ever heard of someone who eats just the top of the muffins then leaves the bottom half?” he asks during a phone interview from his set in Vancouver, Canada. “It’s gross.”

He bursts out laughing and his assistant – the evil muffin eater – yells in the background. “You do it, too!”

“I think it’s worse than finding two bodies hanging in the air,” Duchovny declares.

Which is what he has to do right now on the set of Fox’s new suspense series. He’s already discovered a Bigfoot monster, a serial killer who sleeps 30 years between each mass murder and aliens who kill teenagers. As FBI Agent Fox Mulder, Duchovny is always called upon to examine the darndest stuff.

“Pretty much everything is fair game,” Duchovny said Thursday. “It’s really anything extraordinary.”

As glib as Duchovny may be, his character believes in UFOs and paranormal activity His partner (played by Gillian Anderson) is a pragmatist who doesn’t believe in paranormal activities. Although it sounds absurd, the series is a clever, well-produced hour of escapist television every week which fits producer Chris Carter’s motto: “The show takes place in the realm of extreme possibilities.”

Carter refuses to say if he believes in the supernatural, but adds coyly “We can’t prove that it happened, but we can’t prove it didn’t.”

Mauled muffins on a set in Canada may also fall into the realm of extreme possibilities. “Gross!” Duchovny says before going off to discover the next body.

The Buffalo News: Fox’s eerie ‘X-Files’ opens with a touch of Stephen King

Sep-09-1993
The Buffalo News
Fox’s eerie ‘X-Files’ opens with a touch of Stephen King
Alan Pergament

Talk about strange sightings. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw “The X-Files,” the new Fox series (9 p.m. Friday, Channel 29). A quality, suspenseful, adult show on Fox that doesn’t have any sexual titillation? What a concept!

In it, FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) investigates some unexplained cases called “X-Files,” which often involve paranormal phenomena. This true believer is teamed with skeptical agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a medical doctor who the FBI expects will debunk his theories.

Friday’s fast-moving premiere has elements of “Twin Peaks” and a variety of Stephen King stories. It isn’t so much scary as eerie.

The two agents are sent to a small Oregon town to investigate a series of strange murders of young high school graduates.

The story opens, King-like, in the forest, with one of the victims being chased as the wind howls and a strong light brightens the landscape.

Soon, the female victim is found dead with some mysterious moles on her back, a sign of the strangeness going on.

The agents eventually dig up old graves, visit a mental hospital and pull over the side of the road when a light flashes and time stops for 10 seconds.

Time will fly watching “The X-Files.” You don’t have to believe in UFOs, but it will help.

Duchovny and Anderson have strong chemistry together and his character has a sarcastic sense of humor that gives the show an unexpected element of enjoyment.

When Scully notes that time can’t disappear because it’s a “universal invariance,” Mulder cracks: “Not in this ZIP code.”

Duchovny is used to being in strange ZIP codes. The Richard Gere look-alike was in “Twins Peaks” but you might not remember him. He played a transvestite. So he is used to playing strange.

Which rates higher on the bizarro-meter, this show or “Peaks”?

“Well, when you’re wearing a dress things tend to get pretty bizarre,” said Duchovny in an interview in Los Angeles. “I would say ‘Twin Peaks’ is an interesting show to bring up when talking about this one. Because it has a kind of an offbeat sense of humor, and it’s definitely dealing with bizarre, extraordinary things. Aside from being scared, you’re going to be entertained with this show as well. But you’re not going to see my legs.”

Series creator Chris Carter prefers a comparison to his favorite show as a child, “The Night Stalker.”

“It was this fantastic show and I was scared out of my pants,” said Carter. “And so I said there’s nothing scary on television anymore. Let’s do a scary show.”

Carter said the (idea) for “The X-Files” came from talking to a Yale psychology professor who made him aware of a study in which Americans were asked if they believed in UFOs.

“Believe it or not, they found that 3 percent of Americans believe they’d actually been abducted by UFOs. That means if there are 100 people in this room, there are three of you who have actually been abducted. Please raise your hands.”

Actually, out of 100 TV critics, 10 may have been abducted. But that’s another story.

Carter doesn’t plan to have Fox appear to be right every week.

“They’ll uncover hoaxes,” said Carter. “There will be more traditional FBI cases that involve what seems to be paranormal phenomenon and we’ll have evidence and MOs (methods of operation) that seem otherwordly. But they won’t always be alien abduction.”

He doesn’t want the show classified as science fiction because he feels that reduces the scare factor.

“I’m going a long way to try to make these scientific possibilities . . . that indeed something could happen genetically with someone. Or there could be some experiment gone wrong. Or there could be biologic anomalies that could cause these cases to be paranormal in that way.

“I think that’s much more interesting if it’s believable. I think it’s much more frightening. You could look at Michael Crichton’s ‘Terminal Man’ or his ‘Jurassic Park’ or his ‘Andromeda Strain’ and the most frightening part is that you actually believe that it could happen.”

Naturally, Duchovny was asked if he believed in paranormal phenomenon.

“Personally, I’m the kind of person who needs to be shown something before I believe it,” said Duchovny. “And I haven’t had any personal experience with UFOs. Paranormal activity seems to be all around me. I grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan so I’m used to that.

“It’s hard for me to believe that we’re the only sentient life in this universe. So I think there’s got to be something else out there. I just don’t know why they seem to choose people in North Dakota all the time. So I’m waiting. I’m waiting to be contacted. Now.”

He was kidding. I think.

The Hollywood Reporter: FBC’s “The X-Files” holds some interest despite its labored premise

Sep-08-1993
The Hollywood Reporter
FBC’s “The X-Files” holds some interest despite its labored premise
Miles Beller

As shepherded to us here, we get FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), an Oxford-educated psychologist with a glib tongue who tackles those cases the agency hasn’t been able to crack. These unsolved mysteries are known in the trade as X-files. (At show’s start a notice is posted: “The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts.”)

However, Mulder thinks something more than the usual skulduggery is afoot when it comes to these crimes. In fact, as Mulder sees it, these situations are the results of paranormal events, happenstance having to do with otherworldly things and forces. Why, his own kid sister disappeared one night and was never heard from since. Moreover, as Mulder sees it, the government knows about all this crazy stuff but ain’t talkin’.

As a means of keeping tabs on what Mulder is up to, his superiors at the bureau have partnered him with a Doubting Thomas named Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a young, cool, crisp M.D. with a bias toward the scientific, someone who doesn’t believe that things go bump in the day or night without plausible explanation.

So into this new series Mulder and Scully go, sparking an undercurrent of attraction, at least as scriptors would have it.

It’s a notion that gets a skeptical workout in “X-Files'” premiere, paired to a story line concentrating on the inexplicable deaths of high-schoolers in an Oregon hamlet tied to some odd occurrences that Mulder suspects are alien abductions. When a suspicious fire destroys nearly all the evidence Mulder and Scully have collected, the spooky gets spookier, causing Scully to wonder if maybe Mulder is onto something.

“Twin Peaks” gone ersatz reality-based, “The Twlight Zone” taking it down home, that’s the direction this series goes. And though the show works with a certain unintended camp kick, at the moment “X” doesn’t mark the spot where viewers can find involving drama by way of Stephen King-esque actions.

San Francisco Chronicle: Tracking the Paranormal

Sep-05-1993
San Francisco Chronicle
Tracking the Paranormal
John Stanley

Strange lights flashing in the night sky, mysterious, alien-like shapes hulking in an eerie forest, an inexplicable force disrupting mechanical devices, motorists disappearing for a few hours and waking up to find their bodies covered with odd punctures . . .

These recurring themes from reported UFO abduction cases have become the stark, sometimes sinister images for the opening two-hour episode of a new Fox series that dramatizes paranormal phenomena, “The X Files,” premiering Friday at 9 p.m. on Channel 2. If there is any one word that Chris Carter, the show’s producer and creator, wants to emphasize it’s “scary.” However, “I don’t mean scary in the horror-genre sense, but scary in the way that speculation pushes beyond scientific credibility to enter a realm of ‘extreme possibility.’ Films like ‘Coma’ and ‘The Andromeda Strain’ have that quality. It’s the idea that shakes up you and your beliefs, not some hideous Frankenstein monster or a hand clasping the heroine’s shoulder.” Even so, it was the hideous vampire monster in “The Night Stalker,” a highly rated TV-movie of 1973 produced by Dan Curtis, that gave Carter his inspiration to create a show like “The X Files.” “When I saw ‘Stalker,’ with Darren McGavin playing that obsessed newspaperman Carl Kolchak, it really shook me up to think there might be a twilight world of bloodsucking creatures. Of course, that’s the spectrum of the supernatural. Today we’re all more interested in modern phenomena, which has a way of really shaking up that segment of our society that’s come to believe in aliens and UFOs.”

Carter was having dinner one night with a Yale psychology professor and researcher. “When I found out he had been a consultant on Dan Curtis’ ‘Intruders,’ a 1992 drama about UFO abductions, he told me that 3 per cent of the public believed in this syndrome. I was astounded. I realized there was a topicality to this theme of the unknown, and ‘X Files’ grew out of that fascination.”

The series depicts two FBI agents — poles apart in their thinking — on the trail of various unsolved mysteries. In upcoming episodes, says Carter, they will track “biological anomalies, chemical anomalies, twists on genetic engineering and other fanciful spin-offs from modern technological advances.”

Maverick agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is a firm believer in the paranormal, often paranoid in his obsessive search to find the answers to baffling phenomena. His partner Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), with a degree in medicine and a bent for seeking answers through scientific logic, is a total skeptic. Each week they are incompatibly thrown together on a new assignment, unaware that their chiefs are part of a top-secret government project using them to further its own clandestine causes.

In real life, the actors are just the opposite in their attitudes about the paranormal. Duchovny, who portrayed the transvestite detective on ‘Twin Peaks’ and whose ‘Kalifornia’ is now playing in movie theaters, has serious doubts about all those UFO reports. “I accept the possibility of life forms in this vast universe of ours,” he says, “but I don’t understand why, if there are aliens, they don’t land in Manhattan instead of always choosing unpopulated areas where maybe three people see them.”

Duchovny doesn’t believe much in conspiracies, either. “It’s unlikely any high-level conspiracy could last for long. The sheer amounts of people keeping the secret would eventually crack open; somebody’s death-bed confession would expose the whole thing.”

Anderson, an award-winning off Broadway actress whose film/TV career is just starting, admits that “I have this tendency to believe the most outrageous things. After all, this is a large universe we live in, and UFO stories tend to follow a pattern that, in my eyes, gives them validity.”

She finds the role of Scully a challenge to play. “She does everything she can to find a scientific answer to the mysteries, which becomes difficult after a while, because her constant exposure to the weirdest things imaginable eventually have an accumulative effect. Even so, that’s when she turns to her science and physics the most. In a way, she’s shielding herself from the unacceptable.”

Carter, whose screen writing career since 1985 has included several TV movies for Disney, tries to see both sides of each “X Files” enigma. “One half of me wants to have something set before me so I can see it with my own eyes. But another side, and we all have it, wants to take a leap of faith, wants to believe in wild things. I’d like to be driving one night through the desert or a lonely forest and suddenly see something that couldn’t possibly be happening, but is. Then I would know these strange things are going on, and I’d finally be a part of it.”