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Archive for May, 2002

The Christian Science Monitor: X-Files: Case Closed

The Christian Science Monitor
X-Files: Case Closed
M.S. Mason

At times macabre and inscrutable, ‘X-Files’ has made an indelible mark on TV history.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. – Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”

I Want to Believe. – UFO poster on Mulder’s office wall

After Nine seasons of “The Truth Is Out There,” this Sunday we finally learn just what that phrase means when Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) returns for the two-hour series finale of “The X-Files” (Fox, 8-10 p.m.). Will the space aliens get us or not?

Maybe it was all a dream – so much of the series took place at night and so many of the monsters looked like the ghastly conjuring of nightmares.

This show was not designed for everyone. But whatever “The Truth” (as the final episode is named) reveals, “The X-Files” has had a real impact on television history and, indeed, on cultural history as well. The experts say so, the loyal fans are adamant, and the evidence is everywhere.

“Stylistically, virtually all the dramatic series not on the Big Three [networks] have been influenced by it,” says Sidney Sondergard, a professor of English who also specializes in the study of science fiction at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

“The Sopranos,” “Oz,” “Six Feet Under,” and other shows have “reconceived” the way they tell their stories, Mr. Sondergard says. They get into them much faster. “The catalyst often comes even before the titles, a la ‘X-Files.’ By the time the [opening] credits are over, you have all the backstory you need.”

Indeed, one could argue that “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Dark Angel,” “Alias,” “The Agency,” and “Roswell,” to say nothing of other cult (and occult) shows of the recent past, have been inspired by the mysterious “X-Files,” including its dark humor.

Even on the major networks, most of those dour crime dramas that came after “X-Files” (“CSI,” “Third Watch,” “24,” “Crossing Jordan”) owe much to the experimental form of “The X-Files” from its earliest episodes.

“CSI is a clear descendent of ‘X-Files’ – all this interest in forensic medicine,” says Jeanne Cavelos, author of the fascinating book “The Science of The X-Files.”

“X-Files” has a distinctive look, but it also experimented. One episode was shot in black and white; the story was The Elephant Man meets Frankenstein’s Monster – with a comic twist.

In-jokes satisfy fans

Last Sunday, the show took a sentimental turn with the story of a man who needs only to think of something to make it happen – so he thinks up the “Brady Bunch” household because he is lonely.

When unwelcome visitors intrude, he inadvertently levitates and then catapults them through the roof. Agent Doggett (Robert Patrick) figures the whole thing out, remarking sardonically that he is “finally getting the hang of this job” – now that the series is ending. It was one of many in-jokes throughout the years, placed strategically to please loyal fans (or amuse the writers).

Then, too, “X-Files” helped pioneer the “stand-alone episode” and “comic” episodes woven into the season-long drama, says Horace Newcomb, author of “TV: The Most Popular Art Form” and director of the Peabody Awards, which honor the best programs on TV. “It was important, too, because it was serialized science fiction – and science fiction had not done very well on networks before it.”

But “X-Files” was not the “Twilight Zone” or “Outer Limits” – in which the viewer willingly entered into another “dimension.”

“We were always supposed to be dealing with the real world – ‘X-Files’ took that device from film noir – accept that extraordinary things happen there,” says Jim Farrelly, professor of English and media studies at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

“It gave times and locations. It was the FBI. Then it asked: ‘How are you going to explain away these extraordinary things?’ ‘Twilight Zone’ was fantasy. But with ‘X-Files,’ you were entering ‘reality.’ ”

In other words, it was the thinking person’s science-fiction crime drama. “The X-Files” left us with more questions than it answered – and for a long time, that pattern was intriguing, Mr. Farrelly says. Fans pondered great issues just as often as they were asked to digest absurd situations. When Fox executives demanded closure at the end of episodes, creator Chris Carter’s famous response was, “You can’t put aliens in handcuffs.”

Active participation

Farrelly points out that the show could not be watched with the same kind of passivity as the rest of TV. “The darkness, the tilted camera angles, the dialogue, required you to pay close attention, to try to see into those shadows,” he says. “This is active participation.”

At times, a fascinating dialectic was going on – a struggle between faith and science embodied in the persons of Mulder, who wanted to believe that there is more to experience than meets the eye, and his partner, Dana Scully, the scientist who believed there was a rational explanation for everything (at least for the first four seasons or so). He needed her “to keep me honest.” And Scully came to see that “nothing happens in contradiction to nature. Only in what we know of it.” And we know so little.

The nature of our lives has changed radically in the past 100 years because of science, and most fiction does not adequately deal with that fact, Ms. Cavelos says. “As a scientist who believes in God, I think that conflict between faith and science is what makes the show most interesting. There was a time in the ’50s and ’60s when we thought science could solve everything and fix everything. But scientists know by now that we are never going to have all the answers – nature is stranger than we can imagine.”

Science fiction tries to understand those changes and what they foretell. It challenges humankind’s place in the universe. Are we special or an accident?

“Mulder and Scully are perched apart philosophically at first, allowing the viewers into the discussion,” she says. “We are each internally fighting out the conflict. We see some forces out of control – globalization, war, technology – and we hope that the forces of good are more powerful.”

” ‘The X-Files’ most powerful legacy is its imprint on American culture,” says Timothy Burke, a cultural historian and pop culture expert at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

No one can ever do monsters again on TV without some kind of reference to “The X-Files,” he says. “It was the most potent convergence of American paranoid fiction and the paranoid style in politics and society – UFO-ology, [illegal] scientific research by the government, conspiracy theories, subversive activities, and so on…. The intellectual side of the show was the mythology of conspiracy … [it] was unprecedented on television: We are surrounded by invisible powers. Nothing is as it seems. Democracy is always under threat. It brought together a number of these strands.”

And then it dealt with them. There were monsters to conquer, but Mulder and Scully were the knights-errant that could hold monsters at bay. Then, too, in a “post-modern” twist, Mr. Burke says, the show also suggested that the monsters might be misunderstood and not be evil at all.

Mulder + Scully = success

Beyond being a metaphor for social and political concerns of the ’90s, and for the struggle between issues of faith and science, “The X-Files” was also an engaging and unusual romance – a transcendent love affair that focused our attention on the nonsexual nuances of love between Mulder and Scully. No other weekly show has ever done this before in quite the same way – and this in the face of rampant eroticism on TV.

“Mulder and Scully were working together professionally with a commitment to a common ideal,” Burke says. “Sex would have been intrusive. Instead there was agape – intense appreciation and understanding of another person. And there was purity – a pure devotion to the truth.”

Despite compelling performances by Annabeth Gish as Agent Reyes, Robert Patrick as Agent Doggett, and Gillian Anderson as Agent Scully, the usual clever scripts, and beasties galore, in the past two years the series’ ratings dived. Part of it was the entropy that eventually sets in with all serial dramas. But the actual reason seemed apparent: We couldn’t do without Mulder. Or rather, without the chemistry between Mulder and Scully.

When Mr. Duchovny left, he took his character’s idealism with him. Mulder’s obsession with finding the truth about his abducted sister and about what science could not explain came to obsess his partner, too.

And as integral as Ms. Anderson was to the equation (the show would have failed without her, too), it was that relationship that kept us tuned in.

“It was the appeal of the Mulder-Scully relationship,” acknowledges executive producer Frank Spotnitz, that made “The X-Files” so strong.

As the show ends, he is proud of its accomplishments.

“It dealt with big themes. The idea of the show was the quest for understanding,” he says. “The production values were unparalleled in a dramatic series running nine years. The shooting schedule was grueling.”

His hope is that the show will hold up for future viewings (in syndication and on VHS and DVD). “If this show is remembered in the same light as ‘Twilight Zone,’ we would have succeeded,” he says.

E!Online: 'The X-Files' Exits

‘The X-Files’ Exits
Joal Ryan

The end is out there. But the truth? That’s another matter.

The X-Files, the show that made conspiracy buffs out of ordinary Nielsen families, exits Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT with a two-hour series finale, closing out the Fox sci-fi drama’s nine-year, Emmy Award-winning run. And while the episode is blatantly entitled “The Truth,” it will not necessarily close out the mysteries–and UFOs–that FBI agents Mulder and Scully, et al., have been chasing lo these many years.

Indeed, series creator Chris Carter has said that not every loose thread will be tied up in the finale.

As if you were expecting things to get simple now…

Although the last episode was not screened for the press, certain truths are known:

Mulder (original series star David Duchovny), who has been scarce in X-Files Land since being abducted by aliens at the end of season number seven, will return–and face a murder trial. Using Mulder’s trial as the springboard, the FBI will try to prove, in court, that E.T.s are real. Previously dead characters like Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) and the Lone Gunmen (Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund) will live in prime-time again. Although in what form, we don’t know. Carter has alternately promised both lots of flashbacks–and character comebacks. And in Friday’s Los Angeles Times, Carter says that the Mulder-Scully “romance” (a mostly platonic thing, meaningful glances and a child of their genetically altered loins notwithstanding) will reach a conclusion that will leave die-hards “satisfied, though not absolutely satisfied.”

“The people who want there to be closure on the mystery of Mulder’s sister [another an alien-abduction victim], and the child that Mulder and Scully share [and recently put up for adoption], I think, will be satisfied,” Carter tells the newspaper.

Perhaps the first hourlong Fox series to be taken seriously by critics and audiences alike, The X-Files began its quest to go where no FBI agents had gone before on September 10, 1993. That first episode introduced viewers to special agents Fox “Spooky” Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). In this odd couple, Mulder was the paranormal true believer; Scully was the skeptic.

Duchovny and Anderson both earned Emmy nominations for their roles (Anderson won one in 1997) and parlayed their TV fame into the movies. Both also seemed to share a love-hate relationship for the series. Anderson griped that Duchovny got paid more. Duchovny griped that the show was shot too far away from his home (prompting the series to relocate from Vancouver to Los Angeles in 1998). Later, he sued 20th Century Fox, accusing the studio of cheating him out of money by low-balling the show’s reruns rights to sister cable outlet, FX. (The 1999 suit was settled out of court.)

But, in the end, the two stars stuck with the show–albeit, Duchovny a little less so over the past two seasons. They’re expected to reprise their FBI selves in a sequel to the 1998 X-Files big-screen flick, to be shot as soon as next summer. (Although Carter has said he doesn’t see the movie hitting theaters until at least 2004.)

Carter chose to pull the plug on the show in January, as slumping ratings stubbornly refused to un-slump despite the infusions of new stars, such as T2’s Robert Patrick and even Xena’s Lucy Lawless (in a two-episode, guest-star bit). An X-Files spinoff, The Lone Gunmen, lasted less than one season on Fox in 2001.

Still, with the promise of feature films to come, will The X-Files ever truly end? Is the truth really still out there?

Hey, Chris Carter promised loose threads, right?

Los Angeles Times: Closing the Files

Los Angeles Times
Closing the Files
Greg Baxton

As “The X-Files” ends its run, its place in TV lore secure, one question remains: Will the truth out there be revealed?

The end of Fox’s moody and atmospheric “The X-Files” is only days away, marked by the return of David Duchovny as FBI Agent Fox Mulder and anticipation among die-hard fans that the answers to several dark mysteries will finally be revealed.

But even as series creator Chris Carter puts the final touches on the two-hour climax, which airs Sunday, his soft-spoken but intense demeanor is much the same as it has been during the show’s nine-season tenure.

“Yes, I feel like something is gone, but every day I wake up with the nagging feeling that it’s still there,” Carter said last week at his production office on the 20th Century Fox lot. “I’m a forward-looking creature….I have a willful inability to stop and celebrate something, or to mourn.”

For now, he is leaving it to others to pay tribute to his show as a phenomenon that not only helped establish Fox as a contending network, but also brought new life to the genre of dark and edgy dramas on prime-time television.

“It’s one of the icons of the 1990s, very emblematic of that era,” said Tim Brooks, coauthor of “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows.” “It brought to the comedy-laden ‘Seinfeld’-era a much more serious attitude, a questioning of institutions. ‘The X-Files’ is also one of the great science-fiction series in television history. And one of the most complicated programs ever.”

The series, which revolved around the adventures of two FBI agents investigating the paranormal, supernatural and unexplainable, made stars of its leads, Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The two exhibited a palpable chemistry even though their characters’ relationship was mainly platonic. While the series was steeped in stories of alien abduction, grotesque monsters and government conspiracies, it also handled its tales with a humanity and humor that attracted a huge cross-section of viewers, particularly women.

Jim Farrelly, an English professor at the University of Dayton, Ohio, calls “The X-Files” “the consummate thinking-person’s show. Like all great art, it is subversive in nature and challenges our values and belief systems by exposing the underbelly of human institutions and the hubris that fuels them.”

Paul A. Cantor, a University of Virginia English professor, said that the end of the series reflects a change in the mood of the country, which has less cynicism about the government after Sept. 11 than it did during the drama’s heyday.

Sandy Grushow, chairman of Fox TV Entertainment Group, who was president of Fox when the show was launched in 1993, said the conclusion is “very bittersweet. This is one of the shows that put Fox on the map. It helped define the network and proved we could play with the Big Three.”

Declining ratings for “The X-Files,” which started when Duchovny reduced his role two seasons ago, led Carter to decide in January to end the series.

But for several years, the show was a huge hit, and it propelled Carter into the elite club of A-list television producers with dream deals, even though his subsequent shows for the network–“Millennium,” “Harsh Realm” and the “X-Files” spinoff “Lone Gunmen”–failed to become hits.

“Chris is an extremely smart, talented and competitive guy,” said “X-Files” executive producer Frank Spotnitz, who has worked with Carter for eight of the show’s nine seasons. “He drove everyone….He was able to marshal really talented people and put them on the single-minded mission of what the show was. He is really heroic. The legacy belongs to him.”

Carter is uncertain about his next project. He plans to take some time off, a luxury he rarely allowed himself during the last decade. He has a deal with Bantam Books to write two novels. He also has a deal with Miramax for a movie. “I haven’t really allowed myself the indulgence of considering life after ‘The X-Files,’ ” he said. “I still have tremendous energy and a tremendous amount of ideas.”

At the same time, he knows that “The X-Files” will live on in various forms. “There’s still so much work to be done. There’s still a lot of business surrounding the show that will make it seem like it’s not gone,” he said.

The fifth season has just been released on DVD, joining DVDs of the previous seasons, and Carter will soon begin doing commentary tracks for the sixth-season edition. He is also overseeing a new line of merchandise being launched by Fox that will include action figures, trading cards, “The X-Files” magazine and a yearbook.

Then there is the long-planned sequel to the 1998 “X-Files” movie.

“At this point I can’t imagine the movie being filmed before summer 2003, and I can’t imagine it being seen before summer 2004, not to say that it would be a summer release,” Carter said.

Sunday’s finale, written by Carter, takes place during a military tribunal in which Mulder is on trial for murder. The FBI agent is trying to justify the investigation of the X-Files–the term refers to cases that fall outside the FBI mainstream–and to prove the existence of extraterrestrials.

Asked whether the show’s longtime fans will get closure on the dangling mysteries, such as the alien abduction of Mulder’s sister and the agenda behind the government conspiracies, Carter smiled, conceding that they probably would not. “We’re trying, and hopefully succeeding, in making it all make sense, giving it a logic and coming full circle,” he said.

Fans eager for Mulder and Scully to ride off into the sunset together “will be satisfied, though not absolutely satisfied. The people who want there to be closure on the mystery of Mulder’s sister, and the child that Mulder and Scully share, I think, will be satisfied. Those who have wondered about the conspiracies will be satisfied.”

Added Spotnitz: “People who have followed the show already know most of the answers. But for the normal viewer, they will be able to put together the pieces of the puzzle.”

“The X-Files” has also had its share of backstage drama over the years. The show was filmed in Vancouver, Canada, for its first five years, before making a costly move to Los Angeles in 1998, where it now ranks among the most expensive series on network television, at around $3 million an episode.

The following year, Duchovny filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, the studio that produces “The X-Files,” alleging breach of contract in his profit participation because Fox gave its broadcast stations and FX cable channel sweetheart deals for reruns of the series rather than seeking the highest bid.

That suit was eventually settled (terms were not disclosed), but the actor reduced his appearances last season to a little more than half the episodes. He exited entirely this season, except for appearing in the finale and directing an episode.

A bit of industry drama will also surround the end of “The X-Files.” The episode is airing during perhaps the most competitive night in the May rating sweeps, facing off against the three-hour conclusion of CBS’ “Survivor: Marquesas,” NBC’s “The Cosby Show” retrospective and the season finale of ABC’s “The Practice.”

Carter shrugged. “There’s really nothing I can do about it.”

After the last episode airs, Carter said he will be able to put “The X-Files” more into perspective.

“This whole experience has been like a dream,” he said. “What I did was hire a lot of the right people early in their careers. My success is based on the good work of those people, perhaps the best work they’ve ever done.”

The finale of “The X-Files” will be shown at 8 p.m. Sunday on Fox. The network has rated it TV-PG-LV (may be unsuitable for young children, with advisories for coarse language and violence).

Seattle Times: Chris Carter reflects on 'X' going ex

Seattle Times
Chris Carter reflects on ‘X’ going ex
Mark Rahner

The evil FBI bureaucrats have always threatened to close “The X-Files,” and tonight it’s finally happening for real.

Agents Mulder (David Duchovny), Scully (Gillian Anderson), Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish) are riding off into the sunset or some other bright light in the series finale. It comes after nine years of government conspiracy, strange creatures and sexual tension, not to mention a few other things: achieving a worldwide popularity that rivals that of “Star Trek,” opening up pop culture to horror and the paranormal, and bringing movie-caliber production values to TV shows.

We interrogated series creator Chris Carter recently, while he was in the middle of filming tonight’s farewell episode.

Are there still a lot of loose ends to wrap up?

I realize I was saying we’re going to answer as many questions as we can. But the truth is, now having written it, it’s not so much answering questions as it is making it all make sense.

What story threads will you deal with?

Almost all the mythology threads _ or the large mythology threads _ about the two conspiracies: the one involving the government’s willful propaganda on the existence of extraterrestrials, and also this new conspiracy that came from the first, which is the super-soldier conspiracy.

Is the Cigarette Smoking Man really Mulder’s dad?

There is some indication that he may be, but we leave that open.

What did it take to get David Duchovny (who had left the series) on board for the ending?

All it took was business negotiation. He wanted to do it. He wanted to do “X-Files” movies past this, as we all do. So really it was an opportunity for him to come back to the show, which I know he missed this year _ he told me so _ and to also come back as a way to put himself back into the concept for the movies.

So there will be a second “X-Files” movie?

It’s in negotiation. Everybody wants to do it. That probably means that it will be done.

Why didn’t the show shift completely to Doggett and Reyes?

That was the plan, but when the ratings dipped this year, my feeling was I didn’t want to sit and wait for the journalists (whom) I felt would see it as an angle and a chance to flog the show. I thought that was a new show that could have built a new audience, but I wasn’t interested in seeing “The X-Files” damaged at all or criticized unfairly, so I decided to call it a day and focus on the upcoming movies.

Has the show run its course? Has it been challenging to think of new creatures and bizarre situations?

It’s always a challenge, but I honestly think that season nine had some of the more inventive episodes ever in it.

There are also rumors of a “Millennium” movie.

You know, it still could happen.

That series of yours lasted three years, but two others disappeared fast. What did you take away from your experiences with “The Lone Gunmen” and “Harsh Realm”?

My experience is that if a network is not behind the show, that the audience perceives this as a vote of no confidence and doesn’t get behind it, either. I think what’s happening is that for me, the network landscape is changing, and if you’re not a hit right out of the box they’re not prone to stick with you _ although shows like “24” would disprove that theory. All I can do is come up with a good idea and execute it the best I can and try to get them to promote it and hope that it finds an audience. It’s the name of the game. I can’t cry too much, because if people aren’t watching the show, you can’t argue with that.

Was “X-Files” an instant hit?

It was not an instant hit, but Fox was a different network then. But it was certainly enough of a hit on Fox at the time to give them a sense that they had something. It was a show that never was imperiled. It was never “on the bubble,” as they say.

What’s an “X-Files” convention like?

It’s funny. You’ll see generations, little kids, bigger kids, parents and grandparents. It seemed to be a show that could appeal to everyone. I consider myself to be a geek, and it’s a show that won the hearts of the right kind of television watcher, which is a rabid television watcher.

Costume ideas would seem to be limited, compared to a Trekkie convention.

Costume ideas are limited, and you might not even recognize them without the proper identification.

As the show’s winding down, how do you feel?

I’m glad not to have the gun of series production to my head after this for a while. I’m already sad _ I won’t admit it to myself that I’m sad _ because we’ll do our last production meeting and I’ll do a little speech and there’s a lump in my throat. Everything we do now is a last, and it’s kind of hard. It’s been my life for 10 years.

What’s next for you?

I owe Fox some more television, a year more of my, I guess, ideas and execution. And then I’ve got a movie that I set up a long time ago along with (“X-Files” co-executive producer) Frank Spotnitz over at Miramax/Dimension that’s kind of in the vein of a “Good Will Hunting.” And I signed a book deal a couple of years ago which I have never gotten around to, so I’d better get around to that.

“Good Will Hunting”? That sounds like a change of pace for you.

It is, although it involves an aspect of the paranormal. It’s about a guy who may be a kind of missing link.

Zap2it: 'X-Files' Cast and Crew Say Bittersweet Goodbye

‘X-Files’ Cast and Crew Say Bittersweet Goodbye
Rick Porter

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) – Gillian Anderson says it won’t hit her for a couple of months.

She’ll take some time off after “The X-Files” ends its season, as she’s done for the past nine years. Then, as TV production starts up again toward the end of the summer, “my body will want to start seeing this other person again. It’s like an old friend.”

Only then, she says, will she likely realize in full that “The X-Files” isn’t coming back to FOX. The conspiracy-laden, extraterrestrials-among-us drama, which grew from cult hit to mainstream success without ever really — pardon the pun — alienating its loyalists, ends its run on Sunday (May 19) with a two-hour finale that promises to answer a lot of the questions it’s posed about aliens and coverups and just what the heck the government is hiding.

“It really is an example of a mixed blessing,” Anderson said as she walked down the alien-green (not red) carpet at the series wrap party a few weeks ago. “I’m really looking forward to the future, and I’m excited about getting out into the world again. On the other hand, I don’t think I really get for one second that it’s over.”

Still, Anderson, series creator Chris Carter and other cast and crew members agree that now is the right time to wrap up the series. Ratings have dipped since David Duchovny left the cast for good this season, and the show faced stiffer competition in NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and ABC’s “Alias.”

“It’s good to go out while we’re still smelling good,” says Kim Manners, a co-executive producer who also directed more than 50 of the show’s 200 episodes. “I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”

Few involved with the show had any idea of how big the show become when it premiered on a Friday night in September 1993. Executive producer Frank Spotnitz joined “The X-Files” in its second season, and he says at the time, few people he know had heard of the show.

“It was like a pleasant dream, where every year we got bigger and bigger,” Spotnitz says. “But we never expected the phenomenon it would become.”

Indeed, the show made a star out of the previously unknown Anderson (whose biggest previous role was a guest shot on FOX’s “Class of ’96” ) and cult figures out of recurring characters like the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and the Lone Gunmen (Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood).

“We didn’t know each other when we got asked to [play the characters],” says Braidwood, who played Gunman Melvin Frohike after starting out as an assistant director on the show. “So we met, and we did the scene. Then we got a call the next year and they said we’d like you to come back and do another gig — it was such a surprise.”

Cast and crew members had a tough time picking out favorite episodes, although more than one, including Mitch Pileggi (FBI Assistant Director Skinner), cited the controversial 1996 episode “Home.”

Pileggi also counts season 1’s “Ice” and season 3’s “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” for which guest star Peter Boyle won an Emmy. “I’m not in any of them,” Pileggi says, laughing. “I don’t know what that says.”

Sunday’s finale is titled “The Truth,” and it features the return of Duchovny’s Fox Mulder, who faces a murder charge at a military tribunal. Carter promises that much of the series’ complicated mythology will be wrapped up. But as the show has done throughout its existence, it will probably some things open to interpretation.

“There’s so much going on” in the episode, says Annabeth Gish, who plays Agent Monica Reyes. “A lot of people return. Things are answered and tied up, but always leaving more.”

Newsweek: 'X' Man

‘X’ Man

When “The X-Files” premiered in 1993, a slick little horror show tucked into a Friday evening time slot, the geeks found it and claimed it as their own. But in the tech-boom 1990s, who wasn’t a geek?

The program became a cult favorite, with hundreds of fan-created Web sites, and its audience grew to a respectable 20 million viewers at its peak. The heroes, FBI agents Mulder (the believer) and Scully (the skeptic) played back our own millennial anxieties about the future, technology and the unknown, managing to stay wry and dry in the process. The best episodes often combined the spooky and the goofy – remember the giant fluke-man, or the alien robot cockroaches? But now the fat mutant lady from space has finally sung … and just when we were this close to figuring out the whole alien-conspiracy thing. “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Adam Rogers about the show’s run, which will end with a two-hour finale on May 19. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: So, you’ve had a long ride. How does it look from the end?

‘In season five, when I was writing the two-part season opener, all of a sudden that two-part episode started writing itself,’ says Carter

Chris Carter:It feels like it happened in the blink of an eye. I’ve forgotten all the pain, all the anxiety, all the late nights, all the sacrifice. It feels good to be at the end of something and bid it farewell, not seeing it ripped out of your hands.

Are you happy with the way the years-long mythology arc worked out?

I’m actually very happy. You always question yourself, second guess yourself. Every step of the way you want to make sure you’re making the right decisions. But it was in season five, when I was writing the two-part season opener, that all of a sudden that two part episode started writing itself. All the choices we had made added up. It was an equation. There was a problem and what appeared to be a solution. It was kind of a wonderful thing.

The show had three types of episodes: the mythology, standalone monsters-of-the-week and comedies that made fun of the other two. Did you have a favorite kind?

I loved the comedy episodes. [Writer] Darren Morgan pushed the show into a new direction and other people followed on his heels, including Vince Gilligan and some of David Duchovny’s episodes. There were softer comedic episodes that I did, and some of my favorites personally are among those. But I think in the end the show worked best as a good, scary standalone show with a wonderful mythology at its backbone that followed the characters’ personal quests.

It also influenced a lot of other television.

You saw a lot of people trying to do dark and scary shows, but they’ve been a product of television for a good long time. It’s just cyclical, and science fiction has been a staple of storytelling for a good long time. We may have raised the bar, because the show’s success allowed us certain freedoms, certain budgets, certain schedules so that we could be ambitious. We could try to make little movies each week, though when I was making the bigger movie I learned it’s not like making television.

‘I wasn’t contractually obligated to come back this year,’ says Carter, ‘but I came back because I was excited about telling stories with new characters’

Did you find that as time went on you had trouble maintaining the quality of the show?

Looking at it from the outside it may look like that, but the truth is, I wasn’t contractually obligated to come back this year, but I came back because I was excited about telling stories with new characters, and I wanted to see if we could make that work. The audience did not come back to the show in the numbers we needed to see if it worked or not. I guess for everybody who didn’t come back, I’m sorry you missed what I think was a very good year of television.

What do you have coming up next?

Something that I may do with Miramax Dimension. I have a novel to write. I have an “X-Files” movie to do. But beyond that I have things I’ve been wanting to do for the last 10 years that I haven’t been able to because I’ve been doing this.

You’re going surfing.