Fox is re-opening the the case for The X-Files this Sunday, and series creator Chris Carter is talking about it. This new six-part event series comes after the 1990s hit series and two subsequent movies by going back to square one with Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson respectively.
Newsarama spoke with Carter this week about the upcoming revival series, with the TV veteran illuminating how the show will balance the franchise's long-form storytelling with more prescient stories. Starting off with a big one, Carter was asked about Scully’s decision to give up her son, William, and how it will affect her in this.
“[William] will play an important part, not only in the episode you saw, but also in episode two and also in episode four. Even though he’s not always in the show, per se, he’s an absent presence.”
Next, he was asked how the presence of social media will affect the show as a plot device, since it wasn’t around at all in the 90’s and the Internet was still in its infancy.
“Personally, I have an Instagram that I think I’ve posted two photos to, so I’m not a social media person,” Carter joked. “But, I appreciate how much social media plays a part between fans and producers.”
He said he went to a marketing meeting with Fox while shooting of the show and was “amazed” to see there were fifty people in the room.
“A good amount of them were there because they do marketing via social media, so the show is marketed avidly on social media platforms. I think the second screen experience will help the show.”
Then, Carter was asked about how the show seemed like a 2016 perspective on 90’s perceptions and how it “flipped the script” on what Mulder thought he knew.
“They are told in a contemporary context that turns the mythology, not on its head, but it takes a big right hand turn….but I think technology it guides what I would call a “strong undercurrent of distrust for government authority.”
Carter mentions that the show owes to people like radio hosts Alex Jones and Glenn Beck as well as other conspiracy sites.
“I’m actively up on this stuff and I’m surprised sometimes how many journalists are unaware of the, as I said, the very strong undercurrent.”
Carter also talked about the process of picking up with these characters after such a long time and if there was one thing that was easiest or more difficult to start up again.
“Easier, because they’re not even under the same roof, I should say. So that provided an interesting point of departure dramatically and I think that it made the characters more interesting to explore.” He went on to say that since they were a couple and now are apart, they have to live their own lives.
Next, Carter talked about the importance of the first episode and what he wanted in it. He said he had to think of these characters in a modern context and had to bring them in a “contemporary context both personally and professionally” because aside from the “hardcore”
fans, there’s a new audience that hasn’t experienced the show before on TV. Carter put it simply that more viewers means more X-Files. “We couldn’t leave our casual viewer in the dark.”
As for how the new X-Files series will affect the third X-Files movie Carter has been working on, he stated that he couldn’t do it now, but for good reason.
“If and when we do a third movie, I wouldn’t do it without a proper budget or release date. I feel we didn’t have either with the last movie. I want to do something more like the first one.”
Carter also admitted he loved working in television more as it provided time to do proper arcs and a lot more interesting stories.
Of course the topic of Mulder and Scully’s relationship had to come up eventually and Carter addressed their current situation as they are still very two different people.
“I see Mulder now, that he has Google, he probably sits at home in his underwear a lot,” he joked. “I don’t think that’d sit well with Scully, who’s a scientist and doctor, and it’d be a bump in the road for them. I think you’ll see through the course of these six episodes that they are drawn closer together, not just through their investigations, but through a deep love for one another.”
Carter also talked about the evolution of the X-Files fandom (sometimes referred to as X-Philes) over the years and how he’s seen it progress.
“In terms of the systematic sophistication, it has [evolved] due to social media.” He mentioned about a favorite moment a few years back at Comic-Con 2013. “I got a direct hit from the fans for their desire to see the show either back on the big screen or small screen, so it’s that direct experience that is most impressive to me.”
Carter also opened up about any non-X-Files productions in the near future by Fox. For example, fans might remember that his show The After was picked up by Amazon, but then canceled. Carter says because of this show's demands, it seems unlikely.
“Right now we’re so focused on this, that there’s no talks about doing anything else. I will tell you this though, there is a constant drumbeat to bring back Millennium. I’m always so taken by that and that hardcore group of fans who would like to see it back. I have ideas on how it might come back, but it’s a Fox show and it’s really up to them if they ever want to go down that road.”
The show also features many returning writers from the show. Carter was asked what it was like getting the “band back together” so to speak.
“Glen [Morgan] and I share an agent, so it kinda happened through our agent, and then the same agent told me Jim was interested and Jim told me Darin was interested. The band came back together in the most natural way.” He said that they got back together like no time had passed at all.
Carter also spoke about the Lone Gunmen trio, who do make appearances on the show, but Carter said in a very unexpected way.
“They come back in a way you will absolutely never expect. If I gave you 100 guesses, you would never get it.”
Next, Carter talked about the differences he experienced from the first time he worked on the show, to now.
“Everyone is very nervous [the first time] because you’re spending millions of dollars, everyone is expecting you to be a big failure and they’re prepared for you to waste all of their money. So everyone has this tremendous amount of nervousness.”
This time around though?
“A tremendous amount of respect.”
On the subject of the show coming back again after this miniseries, Carter was hesitant about a definite answer, saying it’s all up to the viewers.
“Everyone has to get the word out there in order to get the ratings that will lead to more episodes.”
When he was asked about why he felt that 2016 was the right time for the show to make a comeback and he explained that we’re living in the right time to tell an interesting X-Files story and that the question sort of answers itself.
“When we went off the air in 2002, there could not have been more trust in the government institution. We allowed lot of our rights and liberties to be infringed in the name of security. The X-Files wants to point a pretty bright light at some of those dark corners.”
Carter spoke about the next generation of fans of the show and if there is something for them, as well as older fans. He’s said he’s mindful of those fans and this series is for them.
“Kids say to me that they love the show and I look at them and realize they weren’t even born when the show was on. Some were not born when the show went off the air. We got another audience that we make sure we don’t forsake going forward.” He did mention there will be an overview of the series with the first episode.
Also, as far as Easter eggs are concerned, Carter confirmed there are more than a few. “
There are Easter eggs,” said Carter. “When you do a show that’s been off the air for 14 years, it’s funny, you do unintended Easter eggs. There are specific ones, and there are unintentional ones that comes because the show has to be self-referential in order to tell these stories.”
Carter was asked about the importance of the title of the first episode which is called “My Struggle”. Carter stated that it is a reference to the famous novels by Karl Ove Knausgaard.
“I look at Mulder’s life as becoming very tedious,” he said. “I think he’s been struggling with depression. I saw the Knausgaard titles as, for me, indicative of how I was looking at Mulder’s life and how Mulder was looking at his own life.”
Lastly, Carter was asked which he found more of a comfortable notion: that there is alien life out there, or that there may not be and we truly are alone.
“It’s scarier to me to think that there are aliens out there,” he said. “And I’m talking about the kind that have come to fascinate and terrify us...the somewhat humanoid life forms. I think that it would throw mankind into a panic, both biologically, psychologically, spiritually. I think it would change the world as we know it overnight and that is a rather harrowing idea.”
The X-Files returns to television this Sunday, January 24 at 10 PM ET on Fox.