Chris Carter says time is perfect for Mulder and Scully to return to TV, amid climate of paranoia, state spying and hacking collectives
Tuesday 6 October 2015
The new series of The X-Files has been partly prompted by recent exposés about government snooping, according to the show’s creator, Chris Carter.
“It’s a perfect time to come back with the X-Files considering global politics,” said Carter, who was speaking in Cannes shortly after the first episode of the new series had premiered.
“We’re trying to be honest with the changes dealing with digital technology: the capability of spying. Clearly we’re being spied on in the US – or at least spying on you – and there seems to be no shame in it.”
The new six-episode series reunites agents Mulder and Scully – reprised by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson – with its first episode setting up a series arc promising “the most evil conspiracy the world has ever known”.
Fans can expect some tearing up of history – “Roswell? That was a smokescreen” – and some sharp observations on developments in national security since the 9/11 attacks. There is also fresh insight into Mulder and Scully’s relationship.
Following the screening at the Mipcom conference, Carter said he had never lost his appetite for the show. “Every day I look at the newspaper and I see a possible X-Files episode,” he said. “I did it for a long time and you never quite lose the eye for what would be good X-Files storytelling.”
He described the show as “a story about the modern pursuit of science by scientists”, and while admitting that he was part Mulder and part Scully in his views on all things extra-terrestrial, he said: “Believe it or not, I’m a sceptic. I’ve never been visited by aliens.”
Carter praised Duchovny and Anderson, saying their chemistry was the reason that The X-Files was so successful first time round and has been so fondly remembered by fans since. “If not for them, the anchor wouldn’t be there. We’ve told good stories along the way but without those two characters and their involvement, I think you’d have had less of a show,” he said.
Carter said he was optimistic of making more new series after the new six-episode run, but warned that they would not be as long as the original seasons. “For the future of X Files, if we are to come back, I think you’ll see us come back with these mini-series, if you will. Special events. We used to tell a story over a long saga, 22 to 25 episodes. Now the arc is much sharper, from one to six. So I think we pack a lot more in to these six episodes.”
Carter was careful to keep spoilers to a minimum during his interview, although he hinted at surprises for fans hoping for more characters from the original series to reappear. But possibly also some shocks. “Modern television asks that you kill off a main character very quickly,” he said. “I can tell you that … well, I’m not going to tell you!”
One new character, Tad O’Malley, a conspiracy theorist who makes online videos, is based on Carter’s own web surfing in the years since The X-Files was last broadcast. “Right now in the internet there are 500 conspiracy sites, and there are people like Tad O’Malley out here who have got the public’s attention. And I’m interested in these people,” he said.
Carter said the new series would include at least one “monster-of-the-week” episode – a standalone story featuring a single alien – but that they would also explore the mythology of the X-Files characters. He is already planning for the future. “I love telling X-Files stories. The truth is out there! If we satisfy audience expectations, certainly there’s an opportunity,” he said. “Mulder and Scully will be in wheelchairs before they are wheeled off stage!”
1. Vacuum Cleaner
“The idea here is that Mulder has kind of moved into his living room. It should suggest something else about Mulder that I won’t spoil, but Mulder has moved into the central room of his house, and everything that might come into play in such a messy house is in that room.”
“There’s a theme here on this wall, a UFO/extraterrestrial theme. This is the accumulation of a man’s obsession,” Carter says.
Those VHS tapes? They’re meant to suggest one of Mulder’s edgier character traits: his appreciation for porn. Carter states, “Mulder’s porn addiction is currently firmly in check. These are remnants of a former obsession.”
Composed of hundreds of tiny photos, this Easter egg is the creation of a fan group called X-Philanthropy that asked fellow “X-Philes” to buy a spot in the mosaic, with proceeds going to Gillian Anderson’s SA-YES charity.
“The tattered furniture here -represents Mulder’s tattered life,” says Carter. “Mulder has always been a fringe dweller, in every sense of the term. You can imagine him on the outskirts of society, and maybe sanity.”
A chart of UFO sightings, of course. (That’s a lot of probing.)