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Archive for May, 2002

Associated Press: Strange, wonderful 'X-Files' journey ends

Associated Press
Strange, wonderful ‘X-Files’ journey ends
Lynn Elber

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — C’mon over here and let us plant a big farewell kiss on dark, droll, gory, sexy, devious, paranoid, sly, subversive, baffling, marvelous you — “The X-Files.”

The Fox drama about extraterrestrials, freakish terrestrial villains and the FBI agents driven to pursue them is ending its nine-year run, secure in its reputation as a television classic.

Chris Carter, its creator, dared to take the most orthodox of genres, the cop show, and transform it into a convention-busting, one-of-a-kind vehicle for thrilling and intelligent storytelling.

“The Truth,” the two-hour finale, airs Sunday from 8-10 p.m. EDT. David Duchovny returns as Fox Mulder, who faces a murder charge and military tribunal. Gillian Anderson co-stars as Dana Scully.

Since its September 10, 1993, premiere, “The X-Files” has thrived on dichotomy. The feds were the good guys (Mulder and Scully and a few fellow FBI travelers) and the bad guys (just about everyone else in power).

It treated the convoluted “mythology” at its heart — Mulder’s quest to determine if his long-lost kid sister was kidnapped as part of an alien-invasion plot — with intense solemnity and, when it felt like it, tongue-in-cheek affection. Other episodes, even those about murder and worse, often evinced a seriocomic tone; “The X-Files” was “The Twilight Zone” with continuity and more wicked wit.

The relationship between Mulder and Scully was sensuous and soulful and yet chaste and intellectual, save for a few kisses, a suggested one-night stand and a resulting baby, William.

(Says a bemused Carter: “It just tickles me that in this day and age, when we have characters jumping into bed with each other at the drop of a hat, that there was so much anticipation and so much attention to what ultimately became a peck on the lips.”)

Cultural reach

The cultural reach and influence of “The X-Files” outstripped its popularity. The series couldn’t equal the numbers of, say, a top-rated ’90s show like “Seinfeld,” which at one point lured nearly 40 million viewers. In 1997-98, at its peak, “The X-Files” drew 20 million viewers and ranked 19th.

But Duchovny and Anderson — and sometimes even Carter — decorated magazine covers and became gossip column material, a testament to their appeal and that of the series.

It earned a prestigious Peabody Award and received 61 Emmy nominations during its run, winning a best dramatic actress trophy for Anderson (but failing to nab a best drama award). The series became a cash cow for the network and 20th Century Fox through TV syndication, DVDs and a movie.

The catch phrases “The truth is out there” and “Trust no one” took on lives of their own as “The X-Files” became a cult phenomenon with mainstream impact. And the use of the letter “X” was enigmatic enough to mean just about anything — especially anything cool, sexy and disturbing to the status quo, the elements in which “The X-Files” trafficked.

The drama’s psyche was steeped in anti-authoritarianism and alienation, with echoes of the Vietnam era in which the 45-year-old Carter came of age. Those themes managed, however, to resonate with younger as well as older viewers.

Resonant themes

Then real-world events conspired to make “The X-Files” feel out of step in its final season.

In insecure, post-September 11 America, citizens needed to have confidence in government. And there were a host of dramas ready to capitalize on the new zeitgeist, including ABC’s “Alias,” in which there’s conspiracy aplenty but the CIA is on the right side.

Carter, for the record, concedes only a brief moment when the show may have seemed out of step with society. The themes of “The X-Files” represent “the heart and soul of this country,” he argues.

“I think there will always need to be and will always be built into the government this need to police itself, and for the public to be distrustful of authority generally and of putting too much faith in it.”

Carter also disagrees with critics who said the series had faded, especially after Duchovny left last year and despite the valiant efforts of cast additions Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish (as agents John Doggett and Monica Reyes) to fill the void.

“I think the numbers make people say that,” said Carter, referring to its 85th-place ranking for the season to date and a weekly audience that’s dwindled to less than 9 million.

A viewership decline is inevitable for most aging series, and Carter admits to pondering the shift: “Your audience over that time changes, the whole demographic changes. People’s lives change. I don’t know what happened to that audience, but only a portion of them came back this year.

“My sense is they felt something had been completed.”

Moving on

Did Carter harbor any grudge toward Duchovny for not sticking it out? The actor who found stardom on “The X-Files” has focused on movies, including director Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming “Full Frontal.”

“No, I understood. He turned 40 years old, he’s got things he wants to do. Eight years is a long time to be on a television show. I wished him the best and still do. It’s just nice to have him back.”

Patrick, who co-starred in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and was making his first foray into regular series work, was glad to catch even a two-season piece of the “X-Files.”

“The best part about it is that I know this is going to live on. I feel like I got involved in something great. When you think about the history of TV, you’ll think about ‘The X-Files,”‘ he said.

And more cases and conspiracies are ahead. With the success of the 1998 feature film, at least one more movie is planned. Carter is ready to start work on the script and hopes to begin filming as early as next summer.

“X-Philes,” as fans became known, aren’t the only target audience.

“We’re looking at the movies as stand-alones. They’re not necessarily going to have to deal with the mythology,” he said.

Through the years, Carter maintained his goal was to provide audiences with a first-rate thrill ride. He acknowledges “The X-Files” was also thought-provoking and politically minded.

One more thing, he adds: “It was tremendously romantic … romantic in both the literary and more common sense in that it was about two people who were tremendously tender and caring for each other.”

A show like that deserves a hearty goodbye smooch. And that’s the truth.

Newsday: Chris Carter On the Conspiracy

Chris Carter On the Conspiracy
Noel Holston

To boost interest in Sunday’s final episode of “The X-Files,” creator-executive producer Chris Carter, 45, proposed a whirlwind series of 10-minute telephone interviews with TV critics. Here’s part of his conversation with Newsday’s Noel Holston.

Will you really be wrapping up the “loose ends” Sunday, or is that going to require a second theatrical film?

No, my hope is that we can come full circle here, that we can make it all make sense. I won’t be answering questions per se. That can be a little tedious, but hopefully we can make everything that’s been part of the mythology over the past nine years come together.

When you first pitched “The X-Files” to Fox, was the conspiracy aspect already prominent in your mind, or did it assert itself once you got going?

It was actually part of the pitch – the idea that the government knows about extraterrestrials and is keeping it a secret. You can see that in the pilot. It’s laid in very distinctly. The Cigarette-Smoking Man appears at the end putting [Scully’s] piece of unexplained evidence away in a kind of vault at the Pentagon.

Has this been like writing a novel for you?

In a way. Maybe like Dickens used to write novels episodically. You have to have a big idea about where you’re going. The challenge was just how we would get there: What were the paths to this so-called truth?

How did you keep track of it?

In our heads. But to be honest, we actually go back and review once in a while. I think the thing we maybe haven’t gotten credit for over the years – because everybody talks about the complexity of the conspiracy and the unanswered questions – is that we’ve worked very hard with each mythology episode, trying to reintroduce elements that the audience needs to go forward and may have forgotten.

If you had to give a capsule update for someone who was coming in at the tail end of this, what would you say they needed to know about the mythology?

There has been a deceptive, willful and complicated attempt by the U.S. government, or factions within the U.S. government, to deny the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials to the American public. And that Mulder and Scully, who’ve been searching for the truth, while they were once of opposing viewpoints, have now come together, and they know what the truth is. But you will see in the finale that Mulder has now discovered a larger truth that he can’t even tell Scully.

One of the hallmarks of “The X-Files” is its movielike look. How did you manage that on a TV budget?

A tremendous amount of ambition and a certain amount of naiveté. We just tried everything. We figured out ways, by hook or crook, by hiring the right people, to get done what we wanted to get done, including bringing submarines out of polar ice caps. Luckily, with the popularity of the show, we were able to increase our budgets as time went on. This may be the last of a certain kind of TV show because the economics of the business have changed. I don’t know that anyone will get an opportunity to do what we did again.

Were you ready to quit?

I was going to leave at the end of last year. I figured I had done everything I had set out to do when I had come around to a nice moment of completion with Mulder and Scully. Fox picked up the show, anyway – it was still their top-rated show. They convinced me – and I didn’t need much convincing, to be honest – that we could do a next generation of “The X-Files” with the addition of these new characters (played by Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish). I believed it, and I still believe it. But for whatever reason, the ratings diminished this year, whether it was the prevailing attitude and mood in the country after 9/11 or that we premiered so late, and viewing habits had already changed. Less people came back this year, so my feeling was that people sensed something had been completed.

What’s next for you?

I have lots of ideas, but I can guarantee you that whatever I do, I will try to do something that is not typical franchise television.

[Unknown]: X-Files: Science Fact or Fiction?

X-Files: Science Fact or Fiction?
Kristen Philipkoski and Brad King

This Sunday, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully hang up their badges after nine tumultuous years on the The X-Files, where the dynamic duo helped thwart a government conspiracy to help aliens recolonize the Earth, oftentimes at great personal peril.

Every other week, in fact, the pair were getting knocked around, kidnapped, bushwhacked and downright messed up by aliens trying to create a slave race of human-alien hybrids.

Right, OK. No problem. Assuming that aliens ever landed, maybe that could happen, considering the quantum leaps in science over the last decade: sequencing the human genome, cloning animals and developing the first round of genetic medicine.

But surely series creator Chris Carter was pushing the bounds of science, right? Frankly, that’s the only way we’ve been able to sleep at night, believing it was all some science fiction nightmare.

Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true, according to Frank Spotnitz, an executive producer for the last eight years, who walked us through the show’s plot.

Spotnitz explained that on the show, the government conspiracy began in 1947, when a spaceship landed in Roswell. The aliens were coming back home after a brief respite in space to avoid the ice age that covered the Earth millions of years ago. They were happy we kept the planet warm, but they wanted the Earth back.

This time, to take over the planet, they had brought a little weapon called the black oil virus, which invades the human body. The virus not only allows aliens to control an infected person, but also implants an alien fetus in the human. Anyone who’s seen Alien knows that doesn’t end well for the host. As if that’s not enough, the aliens also want to create a race of human-alien hybrids to do all their dirty work.

So they start to experiment, hoping to find a way to engineer “worker people.”

Here’s the kicker. If we run across aliens some day and they are DNA-based critters, scientists believe that cross-species hybridization could happen. Certainly lots of mice are running around with human genes, engineered as test subjects for potential human drugs.

However, there is another way to create a hybrid race, called chimerism, which is a process of combining embryos from two species to create a brand new one.

“The cells of the species then cooperate with each other to form an organism that hasn’t existed before,” said Stuart Newman, a New York Medical College professor of cell biology and anatomy.

Although he doesn’t have plans to make one, Newman has filed a patent application on his own chimera: the “humouse.”

Scientists have purposely developed “geeps” — sheep crossed with goats. And they say they’ve learned quite a bit about human and animal development from these chimeras.

But all that genetic manufacturing is a royal pain, as anyone who has ever tried to create a hybrid race of human-alien slaves knows. So, our alien visitors developed the black oil virus.

In The X-Files universe, humans have both a human genetic program and an alien one. The black oil virus can flip a “gene switch” to turn off the human program and turn on the alien one.

“The idea was that this virus inside this black slime would actually get into the cells, inactivate the human program and start the alien one,” said Anne Simon, a virologist, University of Maryland professor and scientific adviser for the show.

Simon, who wrote the book The Real Science Behind the X Files, was inspired to come up with the idea of a genetic switch by the large amount of so-called junk DNA in humans. Only about 1.5 percent of human DNA is made of actual genes that have a known function, and the rest is relatively mysterious — or even alien.

Like the appendix of genes, junk DNA doesn’t have any recognizable uses. Which isn’t to say science won’t one day unravel that mystery. However, Simon said that the black oil virus could essentially re-sequence junk DNA to create new, alien genes within living humans.

“Viruses are able to do a lot of fascinating things,” she said. “They can activate and inactivate genes, integrate into the genome, shut down the manufacturing of all the host proteins.”

On The X-Files, the black oil virus and the hybridization tests laid the groundwork for colonization. Mulder and Scully continually come face to face with the Syndicate, a group of rich white dudes helping the aliens in exchange for their freedom. Mulder nearly buys the farm several times, but Scully — poor Scully — she can’t buy a break.

Scully is abducted in 1994. Once captured, she is subjected to experiments that render her unable to have children. Her eggs are harvested so the aliens can try to create hybrids. But that’s not the end of Scully’s problems.

She’s eventually stung by a nasty swarm of bees that carry the black oil virus. The bees picked up the virus from pollen, which the aliens engineered.

Frighteningly, this would be a piece of cake for any virologist.

“Expressing a virus in plant pollen would not be a problem,” said Simon.

Once she’s infected, Scully is kidnapped and put into a cryogenic freeze where the alien baby inside her can grow. But Mulder rescues her and kills that nasty alien baby. Afterward, Scully is chilly, but fine. Except she’s sterile.

Nothing is ever as it seems on The X Files. The aliens weren’t quite finished with her. Soon, she’s pregnant.

Before childless women putting off parenthood until the last possible moment rejoice, they should be reminded: First, Scully is a TV character. Second, fertilization technologies are improving, but even they couldn’t help someone whose eggs have been completely depleted by aliens.

In fact, several fertilization experts have recently warned women not to wait too long to try having children because the fertilization techniques might not be as good as they hope.

Aliens, however, have the fertilization game down. When little William — Scully’s baby — starts levitating his toys and the meteorites that mysteriously appear in his dresser drawer, it’s pretty clear he’s no regular baby.

This is where we leave our hero and heroine, heading into their final small-screen adventure, with a baby that could be not entirely human, a mysterious black oil virus possibly floating around the universe and some honked-off aliens.

“I’m very sad that this is the last episode,” Simon said. “The life of a professor, as fun as that is, is always in need of some comic relief — and this certainly provided some.”

Sure. Alien invasion. Comedy. Sleep well.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution: As 'The X-Files' ends, Mulder and Scully get one last chance to discover whether the truth is really out there

Atlanta Journal and Constitution
As ‘The X-Files’ ends, Mulder and Scully get one last chance to discover whether the truth is really out there
Steve Murray

“The Truth” is out there — and over and out after Sunday night on Fox. That’s the name of the final, two-hour episode that brings “The X-Files” to an end after nine years on the air.

Creator Chris Carter says the show’s shoot ended with a bang. “The last scene was fitting. It was a gigantic explosion.” (FYI: The explosion isn’t literally the episode’s ending, it’s just the scene that happened to be the last one shot.) Here’s hoping the series goes out with the same kind of explosive effect. Once a cult hit and pop phenomenon, “X-Files” should have hung up its sensible gray suit two years ago, after Ivy League heartthrob David Duchovny reduced his appearances as paranormal FBI sleuth Fox Mulder to only half the season. He was absent this year but returns for Sunday’s finale, in which Mulder is on trial for murder.

Carter admits that the series hit a rough patch around the time of Duchovny’s departure. “There was the business problems with David during the seventh year of the show,” he says. “It didn’t help the creative energy.” He’s referring to Duchovny’s lawsuit against Fox, accusing the network of devaluing the series’ worth by giving rerun rights to its own cable and local stations, and as a result lowering Duchovny’s share of profits.

At the same time, co-star Gillian Anderson announced in an interview that “The X-Files” would not return for an eighth season. Oops. It continued, she returned, and former Marietta resident Robert Patrick stepped in as new FBI partner John Doggett to fill the gap left by Duchovny. This year, Anderson’s role has been limited, with much of the FBI legwork being done by agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish).

But now, really, truly — the series ends Sunday.

Fans who’ve endured the head-spinning twists might be glad to know that the episode’s setup, a military tribunal, should allow a lot of clarifying facts to come out during testimony. “Hopefully we’re going to make it all make sense,” Carter says. “The piece will bring the series full circle.”

But he stays mum about specifics. Wrapping up nine years of byzantine plot lines promises to be a challenge. “It’s complicated by the quantity of the detail,” Carter says. “But as you’ll see, as you watch the two-hour finale, it makes rather cohesive and clear sense.” (Sorry, but I can’t offer you any hints: Fox didn’t send advance review tapes to TV critics.)

It’ll be interesting to see how the final installment ties up more than 200 episodes of sometimes bewildering narrative arcs. As the series introduced multiple types of aliens, cannibals, miracle pregnancies and cancer remissions, and too many explanations to count concerning the abduction of Mulder’s kid sister, “The X-Files” began to resemble the tattoo Scully chose in one episode: a serpent swallowing its own tail. For a while, the writers seemed geekily more interested in weaving together their “mythology” of governmental corruption than in giving viewers the heebie-jeebies.

What kept us watching were the coolly creepy atmosphere and high production values that gave the show a dark cinematic gleam. But even more important than those was the Mulder-Scully chemistry, the will-they-won’t-they sexual frisson that was yin to the characters’ professional yang. When “The X-Files” movie hit theaters in 1998, the duo’s near-kiss was, for fans, more pulse-raising than the soft-core sex scenes in most Hollywood flicks.

Once the sexual tension broke (complete with the birth of baby William), the show became much less sexy. And with the approach center-screen of Patrick and Gish, it lost its core. The production values remained high, but it was a case of style over substance. The numbers reflect that. This season’s viewership declined to below 9 million, at 85th place in the ratings; at its ratings apex, the 1997-98 season, 20 million watched, and it ranked 19th.

But Carter’s series goes out honorably. It may have stayed on past its prime, and if it “jumped the shark,” the splash wasn’t a tsunami. And remaining fans needn’t mope. “The X-Files” isn’t gone for good; plans are in the works for at least one more feature film.

“Everyone wants to do it,” says Carter, who says that at the show’s wrap party, “my cheeks got very tired from smiling. It was a very happy party. The sadness came before then, when we were doing everything for the last time.”

And he still won’t leak any specifics about Sunday’s finale. Except by indirection. Asked whether the show might have a big surprise or two, all he offers is a low chuckle and a single word:


Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee
Rick Kushman

In a way, “The X-Files” is a victim of its own success.

Everywhere you look these days, some TV series or feature film is running a dark-conspiracy story with deceptive, shadowy characters, executive treachery and, probably, aliens.

So if “The X-Files” has lost some of its glimmer as it concludes its nine-year TV run, or if it has lost some mystique or resolute spookiness, remember that in 1993 there was nothing like it in entertainment.

The two-hour finale Sunday night on Fox just ties the knots on a rare, special series that was decidedly unique and a standard-bearer for a golden age of TV drama.

When it first appeared, we had never seen the likes of its winding, whimsical, terrifying premise. We’d never followed so many odd twists, such huge paranoia or duplicity of global proportions, and we’d never been drawn to so potentially horrific an apocalypse of mutations and alien slavery.

“The X-Files” helped mold pop culture, presenting a beautifully shot, irresistibly produced view of our own worst nightmares, from mutants, aliens and poltergeists to sewer flukes, circus freaks and flying cows.

It was also toweringly clever, presciently connected to pop culture’s zeitgeist, and a festival of irony. Plus it was an ode to repressed emotion, delayed gratification and TV’s hottest, longest case of sexual tension. “The X-Files” was a cult show that was simply too extraordinary to stay small. It was for years one of television’s best, most popular dramas and one of Hollywood’s coolest franchises. Its fanatic following spread worldwide, encouraged by the show’s creators and nurtured by a little thing called the Internet.

It was actually the first big thing for Internet TV fans. And it was the first show to tie its principles together via cell phone, both a vision of what American society _ or at least a day at the mall _ would become while supplying a metaphor for our heroes’ disconnection. “The X-Files” became a driving force on the culture, both catching and feeding a sensibility that was stated in one of the series’ lasting themes: Trust No One.

But for all that, “The X-Files” would have been just another small show if it were not always, simply, unambiguous fun. Much of the credit goes to David Duchovny, whose Agent Mulder could deliver lines ranging from “Oooh, I just got a chill down my spine” to “One more anal-probing, gyro-pyro-levitating, ectoplasm alien anti-matter story and I’m gonna take out my gun and shoot someone.”

So for nine seasons now, despite all the imitators, despite the ratings drop, the new agents, the baby, the changes of focus, and the layer upon layer of high-grade confusion, “The X-Files” has remained among television’s royalty and has supplied us with one of TV’s longest-running mysteries.

And on Sunday night we will finally learn some answers. In theory, all the answers, series creator and executive producer Chris Carter says. “We’re going to wrap up the TV series,” Carter said in a phone interview last week. “Are we going to know the fate of the planet? Yeah. I don’t presume to know it all, but I’m going to suggest there’s an answer.”

OK, there we go already, off on another “X-Fileian” loop, winding around enigmas, half-answers and quarter-truths.

No, no, Carter says. All this confusion, all the cryptic insinuations, they’re all going to lead someplace with solid answers. Agent Mulder will be back, Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) will learn the truth about her baby, and the world will be safe for an “X-Files” movie that’s entirely separate from this mythology.

By the way, Carter says all signs are that the franchise will continue in feature films. “The movie would be a stand-alone story,” he said. “David and Gillian want to do it. The studio wants to do it. The wheels are turning already. I think the first opportunity we’ll have to shoot it is summer 2003, so you probably won’t see it until sometime in 2004.”

As for the finale, all we know, since Carter and the Fox network are telling us, is that Mulder is on trial for his life and must justify (and, hopefully, explain) pretty much everything we’ve been watching for nine seasons.

Will “X-Files” fans feel some sense of closure and fulfillment?

Maybe. And maybe it just boils down to the truths in this exchange between Mulder and Scully. Mulder: “Do you believe in the afterlife?” Scully: “I’d settle for a life in this one.”

Detroit Free Press: 'X-Files:' Paranormal paramours

Detroit Free Press
‘X-Files:’ Paranormal paramours
Mike Duffy

With Fox Mulder’s return in the final episode of ‘The X-Files,’ we bid goodbye to one of TV’s signature — and most intriguing — couples

“I will never have other TV heroes than Mulder and Scully.” — Snoopy1013, posting on an “X-Files” fan forum

‘X-Files’ creator speaks about the past and future

A few words on “The X-Files” with series creator Chris Carter.

On cranking up the alien conspiracy for Sunday’s two-hour series finale: “The return of David Duchovny helps to do that. And it also explains Fox Mulder’s absence over the past year. We also see how the new conspiracy relates back to the old conspiracy. And I think this will offer a very satisfying end to longtime fans.”

Will there be more “X-Files” movies? “That’s the plan. And they will be Mulder and Scully movies.” (The next film, starring Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, is scheduled to begin filming in 2003.)

Is the Cigarette Smoking Man really Fox Mulder’s father? “There’s a great possibility that he is Mulder’s father. That isn’t settled in the two-hour finale. But I’ve always felt the Cigarette Smoking Man is Mulder’s father. He is to me.”

On the outpouring of angry X-Philes feedback after the Lone Gunmen were killed off: “It’s heartening. You want reactions to these events. We’ve often killed off characters on ‘The X-Files.’ But when you’re dead on ‘The X-Files,’ you’re never really dead. I’m going to say something very uncharacteristic. The Lone Gunmen will be back (on the series finale). We’re always trying to surprise our viewers. And when you kill off lovable characters, you surprise them. But it was a way to give those characters a fitting, respectful and celebratory end in typical ‘X-Files’ fashion.”

What is the legacy of “The X-Files”? “It’s never easy talking about yourself or something you created. But what I would like its legacy to be is that this is a show that never, ever rested on its laurels. Right to the end, we were inventive, imaginative and ambitious. We maintained a high level of quality all the way through.”

Just the two of them. Scintillating synergistic perfection. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as played with understated charisma, style and intelligence by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, have been the cosmic yin and yang of “The X-Files.”

The believer and the skeptic. Mulder, the sardonic wiseguy seeking the extraterrestrial conspiratorial truth. And Scully, the fearless queen of scientific logic, a no-nonsense, real-deal dame.

Sublime FBI fate, as orchestrated by “X-Files” series creator Chris Carter, first brought them together. And lo, it was good. Very good. FBI special agents Mulder and Scully became perfectly matched workplace soul mates, the signature television couple of the past decade.

And now? And now, thanks to the miracle of May sweeps and the marketing needs of future movies, they’re finally together again.

As “The X-Files” concludes a nine-season run from 1993 into the 21st Century, and as David Duchovny returns after a year in the paranormal wilderness, the series bids what promises to be a slam-bang sayonara with a two-hour finale called “The Truth” at 8 p.m. Sunday on Fox.

It’s part of a high-profile Super Sunday of heavyweight channel-surfing. Besides “The X-Files,” there is a three-hour finale of CBS’s “Survivor: Marquesas” (8-11 p.m.), ABC’s two-hour season finale of “The Practice” (9-11 p.m.) and NBC’s two-hour retrospective tribute to “The Cosby Show” (9-11 p.m.).

But it’s Mulder and Scully and “The X-Files” — one of the coolest couples and one of the most uniquely offbeat and memorable drama series in TV history — that merit some special attention as they prepare to exit TV’s prime-time building.

With moody style and riveting creepshow smarts — mixing sci-fi, suspense, humor and horror — Chris Carter created a whacked universe of his own. A universe where anything could happen. It was also a slightly surreal world where unsettling indigo shadows, industrial-strength flashlights in the night and terror-filled flights of imagination were always with us.

“The X-Files” didn’t look like anything else. It was brand new.

The show’s byzantine space alien skulduggery, sinister governmental conspiracies and otherworldly freak show paranoia dependably supplied the biggest “Wow!” and “Holy cow!” thrills.

But without the cockeyed partnership serendipity of Mulder and Scully, along with the wonderfully complementary acting chemistry of Duchovny and Anderson, “The X-Files” never would have gotten its emotional hooks so deeply into us.

This rare couple was the real secret to the show’s almost mystical allure. They have been its charming heart and soul.

“Without a doubt, the Mulder-Scully relationship is the engine that drove the show. That was always the plan,” says Carter.

“It was an idealized male-female relationship. There was trust, understanding, respect, shared passion. And there was the postponement of the easy pleasures of . . . the flesh.”

Oh that, the sex thing.

They finally did it

Instead of doing the typically dumb TV thing — allowing his two unusual heroes to quickly become romantically entangled — Carter succeeded in infusing “The X-Files” with a deliciously subtextual tension of the sexual kind. He played it engagingly platonic for the longest while, blessing Mulder and Scully with a genuine emotional bond that defied cheap, sleazy hormonal tricks.

OK, eventually it happened. Scully had a baby. Mulder’s the father.

But the conceptual hanky-panky happened out of sight. Sweetly mysterious and poetically correct.

Once Duchovny left the show after the 2001 season, more than a little something was lost. What hard-core X-Philes sometimes call “the MSR” (the Mulder-Scully relationship) had been ruptured.

And the somewhat awkward addition of new FBI agents John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) to the world of “The X-Files” over the past couple years only made the loss more painfully obvious. The quintessential relationship driving the series had sputtered and stalled.

The disappointment of longtime fans became clear. With Fox Mulder missing in action, the ratings took a steep dive this season. Last year, when Duchovny was still part of the show, “The X-Files” averaged 13 million viewers. This year the average Sunday night audience dwindled to 8.6 million. Ouch.

“The show has been going downhill because we lost that story, that Mulder and Scully relationship,” says Jim Farrelly, a longtime “X-Files” enthusiast and professor of English and film at the University of Dayton. “We lost the adventure. That has been the absolute heart of ‘The X-Files,’ the interaction of these two characters.”

Now they will be reunited on Sunday night’s “X-Files” farewell.

And for devoted X-Philes, the “X-Files” relationship paradise will be at least temporarily restored: Mulder and Scully, the believer and the skeptic, together again.

“I just hope that the MSR scenes don’t get too sappy and melodramatic,” said an X-Phile named JINK01, chatting on an “X-Files” fan forum recently. “I’m looking for some angst and dramatic tension, too.”

Others are looking forward to one final, affectionate television celebration of the enchanting, multilayered Mulder-Scully partnership.

XFILESGIRL02 waxed eloquent on the same fan forum recently, quoting a rapturous Mulder-Scully message from her friend MSILUVU.

“I envy the relationship they have with one another, the bond that they share” MSILUVU wrote of the good old magical MSR. “His passion and devotion to the truth and Scully saved her countless times. Her dedication to science and Mulder in turn saved him.

“I know it’s not real,” said MSILUVU. “But a lot of time and thought went into how they would act and react to each other, the encounters that they have and obstacles they must overcome. I think to myself, ‘I want to be loved like that.’ ”

Yes, it’s only make-believe.

But “The X-Files,” powered by the beguiling energy of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully’s rather amazing bond, their friendship and beyond, explored an idyllic love supreme. That’s the truth. And there’s nothing paranormal about it.