Archive for September, 2000

Entertainment Weekly: ‘The X-Files’: Fighting the Future

Sep-22-2000
Entertainment Weekly
‘The X-Files’: Fighting the Future
Mike Flaherty

[Original article here]

Robert Patrick will take David Duchovny’s spot on the Chris Carter sci-fi show

They appear like sentries every hundred yards or so on the dusty, winding back roads of Southern California’s Ventura Farms. Pink Day-Glo signs, stapled to telephone poles and trees, bearing one word: ”Patience.” A five-minute drive to the end of the line reveals this to be the title of an upcoming X-Files episode, the placards showing the way to a suitably eerie wooded lakeside, where a crew is lensing a few location scenes. But they might as well be advisory signposts, their message a watchword for X‘s upcoming season, which holds an uncertain future for the Emmy-winning drama, its reeling network, and, most of all, a legion of leery fans.

Much like some of the less fortunate creatures who have populated its paranormal tales, The X-Files enters the 2000-01 campaign a mutant, largely due to the phasing out of beloved costar David Duchovny and the attempt to fill his sizable gumshoes with journeyman character actor Robert Patrick. Patrick will star as FBI agent John Doggett, a hard-nosed career climber charged with leading the search for Duchovny’s Agent Fox Mulder (abducted by aliens in last season’s finale), but who could very well come to — gasp! — replace him as the gun-toting, flashlight-waving partner to Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully.

”I hope you write some nice things about me that will help win over the fans,” says Patrick, ”’cause I’d kind of like to help keep the show going, you know?” That’s not just Southern-fried humility coming from the Georgia native; it’s an acknowledgment of the extreme skepticism the actor faces from the show’s more, um, custodial supporters. ”I don’t expect the fans will like him right off the bat, because Scully certainly doesn’t,” says executive producer Frank Spotnitz. ”David is a terrific actor with a huge amount of charisma, so no matter who you put in there, some segment of the audience is going to be hostile.”

Mulder and Scully, Scully and Mulder — they go together like plausible and deniability. And certainly with the show’s more passionate followers, Patrick runs the risk of joining Bewitched replacement Dick Sargent in the annals of TV infamy. On the other hand, it might just help make a name for him other than ”that Terminator 2 guy.” Despite a tragicomic arc last season as a sicko gambler on The Sopranos and a résumé boasting 55 feature films, the 41-year-old actor has yet to escape his most infamous role as a cyborgian assassin in the 1991 Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster. ”A character like that is great because it gives you a career,” says Patrick, who lives in L.A. with his wife, Barbara, their daughter, Austin, and newborn son, Samuel. ”But it’s also like this thing.”

Ironically, Patrick’s emergence on The X-Files is largely due to Duchovny feeling that very same way — about Mulder. So Patrick could be trading one straitjacket for another — not that he or his new colleagues are complaining. ”There were a lot of actors who were suggested to us, but not a lot who fit the character we were writing,” says X creator Chris Carter, ”which was this hard-boiled cop, salt-of-the-earth Everyman, who was going to be a nonbeliever to the core.”

Not surprisingly, the Hollywood trades spent the spring abuzz with casting scuttlebutt. Among the actors who vied for the gig: Hart Bochner (Apartment Zero), Lou Diamond Phillips (Courage Under Fire), Bruce Campbell (The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.), Gary Cole (American Gothic), and D.B. Sweeney, costar of Carter’s short-lived Fox actioner Harsh Realm. None, according to Carter, communicated Doggett’s blue-collar essence like Patrick; the steely-eyed actor imbues his FBI agent with a Dirty Harry-esque sense of righteous menace. As stand-up as Mulder is flaky, this G-man is not likely to be seen thumbing through Adult Video News or traipsing off to Graceland for a kitschy holiday. ”There’s heat,” says Carter, who remembered Patrick from a 1999 casting meeting for Realm (coincidentally, the actor’s brother Richard Patrick plays guitar with Filter, a band that has contributed music to Files as well as to the 1998 feature film, Fight the Future). ”Robert’s got a very masculine quality.”

Heat. Masculine. Just what’s being implied here? ”David’s and my chemistry has been a topic of conversation for a long period of time, and it’s valid and tangible, and so is the chemistry between Robert and me, thank God,” says Anderson, whose Scully will now be the show’s resident believer. ”I hope that people can open their minds enough to allow a natural progression to take place.”

Anderson is convinced that, like her character, fans will come to appreciate ”the way Doggett is protective of Scully, the way that he respects her journey, the way that he is mindful of her relationship with Mulder. We were fortunate enough to get an actor who knows exactly how to play that.”

Mulder’s abduction? Scully’s pregnancy? Cancer Man’s could-be death? Those revelations from last spring’s season finale were nothing compared with the truly scary real-life X-Files cliff-hanger: whether Duchovny would return for another year. Carter, who at the time had not signed on for season 8, balked at the idea of continuing without Duchovny. The show’s producer, Twentieth Century Fox, and its affiliated network Fox were within their rights to keep the show on the air without its mastermind or marquee costar, but, as Carter understates, ”it would have been very hard for them.”

Finally, on May 17, a mere day before Fox was to unveil its fall lineup to potential advertisers, Duchovny agreed to a limited role in X‘s eighth season (he’ll appear in 11 of 22 episodes — the first two, the last six, and three more in between, and not always in a lead capacity); his salary renegotiations plus the settlement of his lawsuit will reportedly total nearly $30 million. (The suit alleged that Fox had forged a sweetheart deal wherein X-Files reruns were sold to Fox’s cable outlet, FX, rather than offered up for competitive bidding, thereby depriving Duchovny of millions in syndication profits.) ”The lawsuit created a certain amount of rancor,” says Carter, who nonetheless tied his own return to the show to Duchovny’s. ”Right down to the end, I was saying ‘I don’t want to do this without David,’ and finally everybody figured out a way to do it with him.”

Carter claims that in Fox’s negotiations with Duchovny, and subsequently with himself and Anderson, the network was ”incentivized” by the fear of airing a compromised version of its popular series. Though X‘s ratings have fallen off 26 percent in the last three seasons, it’s still Fox’s highest-rated drama and a perennial cash cow for both the network and the studio. Compounding the network’s woes was a dismal 1999-2000 season that yielded a solitary hit (Malcolm in the Middle), the end of two signature dramas (Beverly Hills, 90210 and Party of Five), and diminishing returns from its other hour-long hit, Ally McBeal. The words over a barrel come to mind. ”We are obviously in a building phase,” concedes the network’s new entertainment president, Gail Berman. ”We don’t have the next X-Files yet, so getting the show back is a tremendous asset for the company.”

But the network was not without its own negotiating gambits. ”There was a lot of leveraging going on,” says Anderson, who admits that while Fox’s need to deal was a ”huge” factor in the talks, she had to make a significant concession herself — signing on for a ninth year with the show — as a trade-off for a salary jump that would amount to ”fair compensation.” ”Because they have me on contract for this year,” she adds, ”I basically had no bargaining chip unless I agreed to do the next one.”

Why bargain at all? The truth is in Duchovny’s lucrative deal. ”There was a gulf for five years,” says Anderson of the longtime pay disparity between her and Duchovny, ”and then we narrowed the gulf. And then, based on what was being offered for the few episodes that he was doing [this year], we were back in the caveman ages … It was ludicrous.” Anderson will now make between $200,000 and $300,000 an episode.

Still, in light of previous comments Anderson has made (in an October 1999 Access Hollywood interview, she spoke of being ”physically, psychologically … spent,” and said of a then-projected eighth season, ”It would be a big mistake to try and draw it out. It would be great to go out with a modicum of respect”), that she re-upped at all seems an attitude adjustment drastic enough to do any of X‘s morphing villains proud. She attributes those grousings to a long-running ennui on both her and Duchovny’s part. ”David and I kind of settled into a rhythm of just showing up and doing the work,” she says. ”We’d get little bursts of stuff here and there, but it was dragging.” Now, having worked with the fleshed-out Doggett character, she reports, the show ”has got a whole new life.”

And not a moment too soon. With the series’ sprawling conspiracy having wound down over the past couple of seasons and its declining Nielsens, Carter is taking a decidedly hands-on approach to season 8, having written or rewritten five of the season’s first seven episodes, and directed the aforementioned ”Patience.” ”This is the most involved I’ve ever been,” he claims, adding ”I’ve been somewhat facetious about being a prisoner of [the show], but my feeling is, if I’m going to be doing it, I want it to be good, so I work hard.”

Harder, for sure, since for the first time in four seasons, Carter won’t be straddling two fall series, as he had during Millennium‘s three-year run and the canceled Harsh Realm‘s intensive start-up (his next project, X spinoff The Lone Gunmen, doesn’t debut till mid-season). Alluding to the automatic-pilot lethargy — and bloated paychecks — that often characterizes TV series in their autumn years, he notes, ”I didn’t want this to be another year of The X-Files as a matter of commerce. I want to make it interesting for the actors and myself so that the show might go on, that we might, indeed, preserve the movie franchise.”

Back in the woods, Scully and Doggett stand beside the murky lake, interrogating a hermitic old geezer about a series of murders apparently committed by a half-human, half-bat creature. In a rare moment of forthrightness, Carter has admitted that season 8 will mark a return to the show’s horror-driven origins and take a break from the ”comedy” episodes and high-concept flights of fancy like last year’s ”X-COPS” and 1998’s cruise-ship time warp, ”Triangle.” For Spotnitz, that retrenchment bodes well for the series’ second wind: ”As it’s turned out, it’s been more interesting and challenging than it’s been in a long time … You find out more about what the show was, and is, in the process of redesigning it for a new character.”

But while Agents Doggett and Scully will be busy pursuing real and imagined bogeymen, says Carter, ”the search for Mulder kind of informs the whole season.” That quest, however, is also connected to a power struggle within the Bureau, as Assistant Director Kersh (James Pickens Jr.), introduced as a nemesis to Mulder and Scully in season 6, is promoted to deputy director. His first act in his new capacity is to send the ambitious Doggett to the basement, literally as well as figuratively, by saddling him with the X-Files.

In other Bureau-related news, costar Mitch Pileggi will get a promotion of sorts, as his Assistant Director Skinner takes a bigger — and friendlier — interest in the agents’ paranormal exploits in the wake of Mulder’s abduction. ”Having seen what he saw in the season finale, he becomes something of an ally to Scully … an inadvertent believer,” says Carter.

Speaking of the finale, how about Scully’s from-out-of-nowhere pregnancy (the other bombshell dropped in that tumultuous hour)? Although an explanation is promised as to how the ostensibly barren agent was able to conceive in the first place, more troubling are recent, near-blasphemous intimations that Mulder may in fact be … Dad. Spotnitz, who says he and Carter had been pondering the pregnancy idea for a long time, points out that in addition to the agents’ New Year’s kiss in the holiday-themed ”Millennium” episode, we saw Scully wake up not once but twice in Mulder’s apartment last season. ”I’ve always said nothing is impossible on The X-Files, and anything is possible on The X-Files,” Carter concurs.

Maybe so, but that (hypothetical, he says) possibility would be durn near apocalyptic for some fans, as Mulder and Scully’s resiliently chaste romance has been an unspoken point of pride for the show, both in its defiance of television cliché and as an essential part of what’s made the soul mates so quirkily endearing. ”These are two people who have maintained a very powerful and respectful relationship,” says Carter, ”but like all relationships between men and women, sometimes feelings are expressed in a physical way. I don’t think it would be dishonest for them to have done that.” In any event, says Anderson, ”I have confidence, and possibly inner knowledge, that the fans will get to see how Scully got pregnant … before Christmas.”

The season premiere (Nov. 5) takes place the day after the events of last season’s finale, so don’t expect to see a telltale tummy bulge any time soon. Viewers won’t have to wait all that long, however, to see the show’s past come face-to-face with its future, as Doggett will catch up with old ”Spooky” in the season premiere: ”I do run into Mulder, and it’s a confrontation,” says Patrick. ”I have a gun, and I basically tell him I’m going to shoot unless he does what I say. He does — and then he does something un-f—ing-believable.”

Wanna know what? Sorry, you’ll just have to sit back like the rest of us and try a little … patience.

Additional reporting by Lynette Rice and Ethan Alter

 

Entertainment Weekly: APOCALYPSE HOW? An Update on the State of The X-Files’ Tangled Conspiracy

Sep-22-2000
Entertainment Weekly
APOCALYPSE HOW? An Update on the State of The X-Files’ Tangled Conspiracy

The biggest revelation about The X-Files’ labyrinthine “mythology” may be that there are so few revelations left. “People who think there are all these unanswered questions tend not to have seen all the shows,” says executive producer Frank Spotnitz. “If you really have paid attention, most of them have indeed been answered.” Nevertheless, we feel a preseason cram session with Spotnitz and creator Chris Carter is in order. — MF

What questions still remain?

Says Carter: “What the aliens are up to, what their ultimate purpose is, when they’re coming, and what they’re doing now that the conspiracy has broken down. What are their alliances? Is there any involvement with them by humans? Also, what is this other race of aliens [i.e., the renegades with the sewn-up eyes and mouths] up to, and what is their connection with the grays [the dominant alien faction]?”

Are we done with Mulder’s sister Samantha?

“I don’t think as long as Mulder is in the series that you can be truly done with her,” says Spotnitz. But, adds Carter, “I think it’s been pretty much resolved.” Based on last season, she’s in the spirit world now, being guarded by the “walk-ins” (the benevolent spirits who watch over the children who Mulder encounters in the woods in the episode Closure).

But her corporeal body is gone, yes?

“That’s right,” says Carter.

Could Cancer Man still be alive…?

Sure, he was reduced to puffing out of a blowhole in his neck and took a nasty tumble in the finale, but this *is* Cancer Man we’re talking about, and it *was* only a flight of stairs. “We didn’t, in fact, say he was dead,” notes Carter, though Spotnitz points out that actor William B. Davis is no longer officially with the cast: “In previous seasons when we’d killed him, he was always under contract.” Our advice: Don’t rule out a per diem return from the Morley Man.

When last we saw Krycek and Marita Covarrubias, they betrayed Cancer Man. Where will they go from there?

“They’re free agents now,” says Carter, “and they’re not necessarily best friends. [But] I think, depending upon what happens with Cigarette Smoking Man, they will become, in a way, the prime movers in the – maybe – reestablishment of a conspiracy. ” As such, according to Spotnitz, they promise to be a lot more exciting than the good ol’ boys of the bygone Syndicate. “It’s a sexier dynamic because these are young, attractive, vital, dangerous people. We expect to use that to the hilt.”

Gibson Praise, the young brainiac we met in Season 5, returns this year. What’s his story? “He actually has alien physiology, which means that he has something turned on in his brain. Mulder’s experiencing the same thing as a result of his exposure to the black oil,” says Carter, adding “we’ll find [Gibson] in a very unlikely place, but a place that ultimately makes sense. We’re going to explore him and how he came to be.”

And what of the alien’s colonization plan?

“I think we know it’s inevitable now,” says Carter. “The original conspiracy was trying to work with the aliens and at the same time deceive them, to buy time and create the vaccine so that they could be immune to it rather than be enslaved.”

If it’s inevitable, what is there for Scully, Mulder and Doggett to do?

“To get the word out,” says Carter.

So that everyone can just sit around and wait to die?

“Well,” Carter responds, “you’re envisioning Independence Day; I’m envisioning something different…”

Which is?

“I think you’ll have to wait…until season 16.”

Entertainment Weekly: Fighting the Future

Sep-22-2000
Entertainment Weekly
Fighting the Future
Mike Flaherty

[typed by alfornos]

Doggett and Scully? X-Files creator Chris Carter and costar Gillian Anderson talk exclusively about the show’s scariest twist yet (losing Mulder), the man who will replace David Duchovny (Robert Patrick), and the spooky doings in season 8.

With Robert Patrick in and David Duchovny (almost) out, The X-Files reinvents itself…and hopes its fans will follow

They appear like sentries every hundred yards or so on the dusty, winding back roads of Southern California’s Ventura Farms. Pink Day-Glo signs, stapled to telephone poles and trees, bearing one word: “Patience.” A five-minute drive to the end of the line reveals this to be the title of an upcoming X-Files episode, the placards showing the way to a suitably eerie wooded lakeside, where a crew is lensing a few location scenes. But they might as well be advisory signposts, their message a watchword for X’s upcoming season, which holds an uncertain future for the Emmy-winning drama, its reeling network, and, most of all, a legion of leery fans.

Much like some of the less fortunate creatures who have populated its paranormal tales, The X-Files enters the 2000-01 campaign a mutant, largely due to the phasing out of beloved costar David Duchovny and the attempt to fill his sizable gumshoes with journeyman character actor Robert Patrick. Patrick will star as FBI agent John Doggett, a hard-nosed career climber charged with leading the search for Duchovny’s Agent Fox Mulder (abducted by aliens in last season’s finale), but who could very well come to – gasp! – replace him as the gun-toting, flashlight-waving partner to Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully.

“I hope you write some nice things about me that will help win over the fans,” says Patrick, “’cause I’d kind of like to help keep the show going, you know?” That’s not just Southern-fried humility coming from the Georgia native; it’s an acknowledgement of the extreme skepticism the actor faces from the show’s more, um, custodial supporters. “I don’t expect the fans will like him right off the bat, because Scully certainly doesn’t,” says executive producer Frank Spotnitz. “David is a terrific actor with a huge amount of charisma, so no matter who you put in there, some segment of the audience is going to be hostile.”

Mulder and Scully, Scully and Mulder – they go together like plausible and deniability. And certainly with the show’s more passionate followers, Patrick runs the risk of joining Bewitched replacement Dick Sargent in the annals of TV infamy. On the other hand, it might just help make a name for him other than “that Terminator 2 guy.” Despite a tragi-comic arc last season as a sicko gambler on The Sopranos and a resume boasting 55 feature films, the 41-year-old actor has yet to escape his most infamous role as a cyborgian assassin in the 1991 Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster. “A character like that is great because it gives you a career,” says Patrick, who lives in LA with his wife, Barbara, their daughter, Austin, and newborn son, Samuel. “But it’s also like this thing.”

Ironically, Patrick’s emergence on The X-Files is largely due to Duchovny feeling that very same way – about Mulder. So Patrick could be trading one straitjacket for another – not that he or his new colleagues are complaining. “There were a lot of actors who were suggested to us, but not a lot who fit the character we were writing,” says X creator Chris Carter, “which was this hard-boiled cop, salt-of-the-earth Everyman, who was going to be a nonbeliever to the core.”

Not surprisingly, the Hollywood trades spent the spring abuzz with casting scuttlebutt. Among the actors who vied for the gig: Hart Bochner (Apartment Zero), Lou Diamond Phillips (Courage Under Fire), Bruce Campbell (The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.), Gary Cole (American Gothic), and D.B. Sweeney, costar of Carter’s short-lived Fox actioner Harsh Realm. None, according to Carter, communicated Doggett’s blue-collar essence like Patrick; the steely-eyed actor imbues his FBI agent with a Dirty Harry-esque sense of righteous menace. As stand-up as Mulder is flaky, this G-man is not likely to be seen thumbing through Adult Video News or traipsing off to Graceland for a kitschy holiday. “There’s heat,” says Carter, who remembered Patrick from a 1999 casting meeting for Realm (coincidentally, the actor’s brother Richard Patrick plays guitar with Filter, a band that has contributed music to Files as well as to the 1998 feature film, Fight the Future). “Robert’s got a very masculine quality.”

Heat. Masculine. Just what’s being implied here? “David’s and my chemistry has been a topic of conversation for a long period of time, and it’s valid and tangible, and so is the chemistry between Robert and me, thank God,” says Anderson, whose Scully will now be the show’s resident believer. “I hope that people can open their minds enough to allow a natural progression to take place.”

Anderson is convinced that, like her character, fans will come to appreciate “the way Doggett is protective of Scully, the way that he respects her journey, the way that he is mindful of her relationship with Mulder. We were fortunate enough to get an actor who knows exactly how to play that.”

Mulder’s abduction? Scully’s pregnancy? Cancer Man’s could-be death? Those revelations from last spring’s season finale were nothing compared with the truly scary real-life X-Files cliff-hanger: whether Duchovny would return for another year. Carter, who at the time had not signed on for season 8, balked at the idea of continuing without Duchovny. The show’s producer, Twentieth Century Fox, and its affiliated network Fox were within their rights to keep the show on the air without its mastermind or marquee costar, but, as Carter understates, “it would have been very hard for them.”

Finally, on May 17, a mere day before Fox was to unveil its fall lineup to potential advertisers, Duchovny agreed to a limited role in X’s eighth season (he’ll appear in 11 of 22 [sic] episodes – the first two, the last six, and three more in between, and not always in a lead capacity); his salary renegotiations plus the settlement of his lawsuit will reportedly total nearly $30 million. (The suit alleged that Fox had forged a sweetheart deal wherein X-Files reruns were sold to Fox’s cable outlet, FX, rather than offered up for competitive bidding, thereby depriving Duchovny of millions in syndication profits.) “The lawsuit created a certain amount of rancor,” says Carter, who nonetheless tied his own return to the show to Duchovny’s. “Right down to the end, I was saying ‘I don’t want to do this without David,’ and finally everybody figured out a way to do it with him.”

Carter claims that in Fox’s negotiations with Duchovny, and subsequently with himself and Anderson, the network was “incentivized” by the fear of airing a compromised version of its popular series. Though X’s ratings have fallen off 26 percent in the last three seasons, it’s still Fox’s highest-rated drama and a perennial cash cow for both the network and the studio. Compounding the network’s woes was a dismal 1999-2000 season that yielded a solitary hit (Malcolm in the Middle), the end of two signature dramas (Beverly Hills 90210 and Party of Five), and diminishing returns from its other hour-long hit, Ally McBeal. The words over a barrel come to mind. “We are obviously in a building phase,” concedes the network’s new entertainment president, Gail Berman. “We don’t have the next X-Files yet, so getting the show back is a tremendous asset for the company.”

But the network was not without its own negotiating gambits. “There was a lot of leveraging going on,” says Anderson, who admits that while Fox’s need to deal was a “huge” factor in the talks, she had to make a significant concession herself – signing on for a ninth year with the show – as a trade-off for a salary jump that would amount to “fair compensation.” “Because they have me on contract for this year,” she adds, “I basically had no bargaining chip unless I agreed to do the next one.”

Why bargain at all? The truth is in Duchovny’s lucrative deal. “There was a gulf for five years,” says Anderson of the longtime pay disparity between her and Duchovny, “and then we narrowed the gulf. And then, based on what was being offered for the few episodes that he was doing [this year], we were back in the caveman ages….It was ludicrous.” Anderson will now make between $200,000 and $300,000 an episode.

Still, in light of previous comments Anderson has made (in an October 1999 Access Hollywood interview, she spoke of being “physically, psychologically…spent,” and said of a then-projected eighth season, “It would be a big mistake to try and draw it out. It would be great to go out with a modicum of respect”), that she reupped at all seems an attitude adjustment drastic enough to do any of X’s morphing villains proud. She attributes those grousings to a long-running ennui on both her and Duchovny’s part. “David and I kind of settled into a rhythm of just showing up and doing the work,” she says. “We’d get little bursts of stuff here and there, but it was dragging.” Now, having worked with the fleshed-out Doggett character, she reports, the show “has got a whole new life.”

And not a moment too soon. With the series’ sprawling conspiracy having wound down over the past couple of seasons (see sidebar) and its declining Nielsens, Carter is taking a decidedly hands-on approach to season 8, having written or rewritten five of the season’s first seven episodes, and directed the aforementioned Patience. “This is the most involved I’ve ever been,” he claims, adding “I’ve been somewhat facetious about being a prisoner of [the show], but my feeling is, if I’m going to be doing it, I want it to be good, so I work hard.”

Hard*er*, for sure, since for the first time in four seasons, Carter won’t be straddling two fall series, as he had during Millennium’s three-year run and the canceled Harsh Realm’s intensive start-up (his next project, X spinoff The Lone Gunmen, doesn’t debut till mid-season). Alluding to the automatic-pilot lethargy – and bloated paychecks – that often characterizes TV series in their autumn years, he notes, “I didn’t want this to be another year of The X-Files as a matter of commerce. I want to make it interesting for the actors and myself so that the show might go on, that we might, indeed, preserve the movie franchise.”

Back in the woods, Scully and Doggett stand beside the murky lake, interrogating a hermitic old geezer about a series of murders apparently commited by a half-human, half-bat creature. In a rare moment of forthrightness, Carter has admitted that season 8 will mark a return to the show’s horror-driven origins and take a break from the “comedy” episodes and high-concept flights of fancy like last year’s X-COPS and 1998’s cruise-ship time warp, Triangle. For Spotnitz, that retrenchment bodes well for the series’ second wind: “As it’s turned out, it’s been more interesting and challenging than it’s been in a long time…. You find out more about what the show was, and is, in the process of redesigning it for a new character.”

But while Agents Doggett and Scully will be busy pursuing real and imagined bogeymen, says Carter, “the search for Mulder kind of informs the whole season.” That quest, however, is also connected to a power struggle within the Bureau, as Assistant Director Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) introduced as a nemesis to Mulder and Scully in season 6, is promoted to deputy director. His first act in his new capacity is to send the ambitious Doggett to the basement, literally as well as figuratively, by saddling him with the X-Files.

In other Bureau-related news, costar Mitch Pileggi will get a promotion of sorts, as his Assistant Director Skinner takes a bigger – and friendlier – interest in the agents’ paranormal exploits in the wake of Mulder’s abduction. “Having seen what he saw in the season finale, he becomes something of an ally to Scully…an inadvertent believer,” says Carter.

Speaking of the finale, how about Scully’s from-out-of-nowhere pregnancy (the other bombshell dropped in that tumultuous hour)? Although an explanation is promised as to how the ostensibly barren agent was able to conceive in the first place, more troubling are recent, near-blasphemous intimations that Mulder may in fact be…Dad. Spotnitz, who says he and Carter had been pondering the pregnancy idea for a long time, points out that in addition to the agents’ New Year’s kiss in the holiday-themed Millennium episode, we saw Scully wake up not once but twice in Mulder’s apartment last season. “I’ve always said nothing is impossible on The X-Files, and anything is possible on The X-Files,” Carter concurs.

Maybe so, but that (hypothetical, he says) possibility would be durn near apocalyptic for some fans, as Mulder and Scully’s resiliently chaste romance has been an unspoken point of pride for the show, both in its defiance of television cliche and as an essential part of what’s made the soul mates so quirkily endearing. “These are two people who have maintained a very powerful and respectful relationship,” says Carter, “but like all relationships between men and women, sometimes feelings are expressed in a physical way. I don’t think it would be dishonest for them to have done that.” In any event, says Anderson, “I have confidence, and possibly inner knowledge, that the fans will get to see how Scully got pregnant…before Christmas.”

The season premiere (Nov. 5) takes place the day after the events of last season’s finale, so don’t expect to see a telltale tummy bulge any time soon. Viewers won’t have to wait all that long, however, to see the show’s past come face-to-face with its future, as Doggett will catch up with old Spooky in the season premiere: “I do run into Mulder, and it’s a confrontation,” says Patrick. “I have a gun, and I basically tell him I’m going to shoot unless he does what I say. He does – and then he does something un-f—ing-believable.”

Wanna know what? Sorry, you’ll just have to sit back like the rest of us and try a little…patience.

Entertainment Tonight Online: Chat with Chris Carter

Sep-18-2000
Entertainment Tonight Online
Chat with Chris Carter

EatTheCorn note: article is a selection of the Jul-20-2000 TCA conference

“I’ve had a lot of high school friends call me and thank me for making them dead people.” — Chris Carter

X-Philers who were left out in orbit by the alien abduction of Mulder and the news of Scully’s pregnancy can check in here for the second part of a chat with Chris Carter, who came down to earth long enough to give ET Online the 411 on Season Eight.

ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT: Have you started writing the script for the next movie?

CHRIS CARTER: No.

ET: I thought, from previous things you had said, that it was actually pretty far developed, at least in your mind.

CHRIS: It’s really just a matter of time and timing. I really have to find the time to do it, and then find the right timing because we don’t know where the series is. I’m not looking forward to doing another movie during the series, certainly with Mulder and Scully on the show. That was very hard to do, and sometimes I still can’t believe that we did it.

ET: Can you tell us more about the new character that will be played by Robert Patrick — Agent Doggett? Does Doggett now, by default, become the skeptic?

CHRIS: Unlike Scully, who really had science and an argument, Doggett comes at it as a kind of a knee-jerk skeptic. He’s a person who is doubting by nature, and he really is one of these people who needs to see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, feel it, in order to believe it, and that’s going to be the character. As simple as that sounds, hopefully, we can make him a nice, complex character.

ET: Then is Scully going to end up sounding like Mulder?

CHRIS: No. I’ve already written two episodes, and it feels right. And of course, this was a giant consideration. You don’t want all of a sudden to have characters that are untrue to themselves. If Scully starts sounding like Mulder, I think the show is going to be bad. She’s a reluctant believer. She is a person who is a scientist first, and a believer second. This new character was a cop, and he believes, coming in, that everything can be solved if you just employ very good police technique.

ET: If Doggett and Scully will become partners, where does that leave Mulder when he’s back on the show?

CHRIS: They are not partners. He is being integrated into the show in a way that he is, in fact, not partnered with her. So when Mulder comes back to the show that will be the interesting dynamic. How does it work between them? I don’t know that it’ll be competitive. In fact, it might be a symbiotic relationship. These are things we have to explore and, certainly, we look forward to exploring Scully and Doggett through the first half of the season.

ET: Given all that Scully’s been through, wouldn’t it make a certain kind of sense for her to really believe in a lot of this? And does it seem kind of weird that she’s still resisting believing, given all that she’s been through and all that she’s seen?

CHRIS: Yeah, that was always the trick. But, as I say, she’s a scientist. In her heart, she’s a scientist and she has to come at things scientifically as any smart person would do in this case. Even Mulder considered science when making his giant leaps. So I see what you’re saying, but I think that it makes the character interesting. She’s torn. And she’s always been torn.

CHRIS: The great thing about Scully was that she wears a cross around her neck. She has a religious bent. She has beliefs and those beliefs were always in conflict with her science. So she has been a character who has been torn both in her belief and in her personal approach to life.

ET: Chris, in the past, you’ve given us the inside story on how Mulder and Scully were named. How did you come up with the name “Doggett”?

CHRIS: The name Scully is actually an homage to (baseball announcer) Vin Scully. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to name this new character, and I had lots of interesting names. I really go back to my childhood for a lot of my names. I’ve had a lot of high school friends call me and thank me for making them dead people on “The X-Files.” So, I actually went back and I thought about people I’d grown up with and names that I’d liked, and people that I’d admired and people I wondered where they were today.

CHRIS: And then all of the sudden it dawned on me that I was looking for a good, solid, working- class name, and the name Doggett came to me because every evening, for a great part of the year, I would listen to the Dodgers with my mom. Jerry Doggett was always Vin Scully’s co-host on the Dodgers. At first, I thought it might be too cute and clever, but I liked the name. I think it fits, and now we have it.

ET: Do you feel that in good conscience you owe it to people to wrap the series up?

CHRIS: There are certain things, like with Mulder’s sister, that I think need to be wrapped, and we did wrap up, although we can still investigate that, to an extent. We do, actually, next season. So, I think that you need to reward audience expectation in that way. You can’t leave people hanging. I would never want to leave people irritated, if they’ve taken the journey, that there wasn’t some satisfaction at the end. But “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.

ET: Are there any characters that you regretted killing off this year?

CHRIS: You know, I always regret having to kill characters off because it makes for a very uncomfortable phone call for me to the actors. But, no. It’s part of a series. If everybody lives, there is no threat to any character at any time.

ET: Is it your intention to have Scully deliver this season?

CHRIS: Let me see. I haven’t thought about it yet. So, maybe not.

ET: Can I ask a more fundamental question? This being “The X-Files,” can we really assume that Scully is pregnant? [laughter]

CHRIS: I would never assume anything on “The X-Files” and anything can happen. But I’ll tell you. I think it would be a big cheat if it was a false-positive or a phony pregnancy after all this time. It would be like bringing back a dead character.

ET: Will David Duchovny be writing or directing any episodes this season?

CHRIS: He ran a couple of story ideas past me, but he hasn’t figured out how to do one without Mulder in it yet. So I think when he comes to me with a story like that, I wouldn’t rule out anything.

ET: There is only one alien presence, right?

CHRIS: In the literature, if you will, there are different races of aliens, and so this is something we’re going to play with this year.

ET: Chris, do you know what your arc is for this whole season and how you want what could be the very final episode to go? Or are you really going to wait and see what happens with contracts and everything else before you decide how to end this?

CHRIS: Unfortunately, I have to say, it’s the latter. I really have to be mindful of what resources I have available to me. And as the TV series leads to, hopefully, another movie, I want to be mindful of that, too. I want those things to work together. So as the season progresses, I’ll have a better idea of where we stand. But it really won’t affect the storytelling all that much, it just may affect the tone or degree of something.