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Buffalo NY News: New blood is pumping a dramatic, creative force into 'X-Files'

Buffalo NY News
New blood is pumping a dramatic, creative force into ‘X-Files’
Alan Pergament

[typed by Alfornos]

Robert Patrick is the new FBI man on “The X-Files” beat.

In order to reduce his duties on “The X-Files,” David Duchovny has to undergo some excruciating torture this Sunday as Fox Mulder.

The question for fans of the long-running Fox series is whether it will be torture to watch creator Chris Carter try to pump some more life into this popular program.

On the basis of the two-part season premiere, which debuts with Part 1 at 9 p.m. Sunday on Channel 29, we shouldn’t have doubted Carter at all.

The strong season opener introduces Robert Patrick as the new man on the FBI beat. And next week’s episode is much more suspenseful and creepy. Taken together, one goes away thinking that Carter can be trusted to get mileage out of Duchovny’s reduced role.

With his blue eyes, chiseled looks and stern, humorless demeanor, Patrick is far from a Duchovny clone. He has a strong presence, an actor who probably would have been a decent Texas sheriff in the days when TV westerns were popular.

When we left the series last May, Duchovny’s return to the series was as uncertain as Mulder’s whereabouts. In the season finale, he apparently was captured by aliens. Meanwhile, his partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), is pregnant and keeping it a secret from all but a few friends.

Needless to say, the FBI has trouble stomaching Mulder’s disappearance. It now has assigned an agent, John Doggett (Patrick) as the Task Force leader to investigate the strange goings on and explain them away. Doggett is not Scully’s partner. Not immediately anyway.

In a sense, fans of the series may approach the arrival of agent Doggett with the same cynicism and open contempt as Scully. Their first meeting doesn’t go very well, with Scully telling Doggett that he doesn’t know Mulder and shouldn’t pretend that he does.

The truth is the audience knows much more about Mulder and the aliens he has been investigating than the new guy from New Yawk does.

And some of the strange things in the series have become a bit repetitive after seven seasons. By now, fans realize that what you see is not necessarily what you see. If Mulder is acting oddly or doing something evil, we don’t need Scully to tell us that it is probably someone posing as Mulder. If Scully behaves like a WWF star and body slams everyone around her, we know it is probably someone posing as Scully.

The first two episodes are long on attitude and scenery and sparse on dialogue, though Scully doesn’t hold back when she has something to say. Doggett gets a fast course on what has been happening for the past seven seasons.

Scully, who started out as a skeptic, is now the believer. Doggett is a by-the-book, skeptical agent who is coming to terms with men walking away from 300-foot falls, a young, half-alien boy who is being hidden in a desert school, people transforming into other people and green goo oozing out of life forms instead of blood.

Doggett sees so much so fast that one doubts it is going to take as long as it took Scully to give in to the inevitable.

The absence of Mulder has also expanded the role of Agent Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), who has come over to Mulder’s side and accepted the idea of aliens roaming America.

“I saw what I saw,” is how Skinner explains it.

“You give them the truth and they’ll hang you with it,” replies Scully.

Skinner’s vision has helped his understanding of the motives of the FBI and he is intent on explaining them to Doggett and hoping he’ll “give in to the truth.”

Eventually, the torture of Mulder has to end, if only because since Duchovny is supposed to appear prominently in six episodes and in 11 episodes in all.

Though he’ll be missed for half the season, but the truth is this series probably could use some fresh goo, uh, blood.

In an interview this summer in Los Angeles, Carter confirmed that he named Patrick’s character after a Los Angeles Dodgers announcer, Jerry Doggett, who used to work with Vin Scully (who he named Scully’s character after).

Now that we’ve taken care of that trivia, let’s go back to last year’s season finale. Carter said he wrote it without knowing if there would be another season.

“I had to write a sort of all-purpose season-finale,” said Carter. “It actually has set us up for a very interesting way to approach season eight. The entry of a new character, new blood, a new dramatic balance is actually going to be a really fun thing to play.”

He declined to say who was the father of Scully’s baby. He did explain what he plans to do with Doggett’s character.

“Mulder has always been an outsider, the consummate outsider,” said Carter. “We wanted somebody who was blue-collar, a former cop, a man’s man. And Robert Patrick came in and blew us away.”

He concedes that the Scully-Mulder relationship has been the reason for the show’s success.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t threaten the paradigm, you can’t threaten the relationship. Dramatically, you better do that every once in a while or else you’re going to have a very stale show.”

He added that is especially the case when the two main characters have only shared a kiss on screen in seven years despite the obvious sexual tension and chemistry between them.

Since Scully is pregnant and there was an episode last season that suggested that she and Mulder might have gotten together, some fans are wondering if he fathered Scully’s child. One critic told Carter that some fans have suggested that he wouldn’t “cheat” them by having the partners consummate their relationship off screen.

“What happens is that it makes it a lot more fun to now go back and find out what really happened,” said Carter. “I think if anyone feels cheated, they will get their prurient interest satisfied.”

Another critic asked how Mulder would feel if he isn’t the father of Scully’s baby.

“Cheated,” said Carter.

One doubts that viewers will feel that way after watching the strong first two episodes of the season.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 4

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