‘It was time.’ Chris Carter on getting the X-Files gang back together

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“The show is back because it has hardcore fans, and the show is for the hardcore fans.”

After a 13-year wait, and much campaigning by a devoted fan base that still wants to believe, Fox has resurrected “The X-Files.” Chris Carter’s paranormal investigation series returned Sunday, Jan. 24 at 7 PM for a limited six-episode run. Why now?

“I actually think it was time,” Carter told Digital Trends. “But that it’s coming back at all is actually amazing. There’s kind of a movement right now, a trend to reboot television shows. That said, we didn’t just want to redo or reboot, and we didn’t want to do a victory lap. We wanted to do fresh and original material.”

They’ve accomplished that, at least in Episode 1, titled “My Struggle,” and Episode 2, titled “Founder’s Mutation.” David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully were living separate lives when the story picked up, but wealthy conspiracy theorist and Web-show host Ted O’Malley (played by Joel McHale) ended up reuniting the investigative team in a plot that involves alien abductions, human-alien hybrid babies, government conspiracy, free energy, and Area 51.

Apparently, not much has changed in those 13 years.

Since the fun of this series is discovering all of the twists and turns for yourself, we won’t go into any show details or spoilers on what secrets the remaining episodes hold. But familiar faces are clearly back for the ride. Carter said it was “sweet” to get the gang back together for the shoot in Vancouver, where the series was originally filmed from 1992 to 2002.

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“The writers on the show started over 20 years ago together, so that was a wonderful homecoming,” Carter said. “Going back to put the crew together, we were lucky to get a director of photography who worked on the show previously in Vancouver, a production designer who had worked on the show — and beyond that we were lucky to get some folks back because everyone has moved on or moved up. We did have a stunt coordinator who had worked on the pilot.”

Even before Mark Snow’s iconic theme song kicks in (the show’s opening has remained intact, enthusiasts noted smugly), Carter brought everyone up to speed on nine seasons of the show in a matter of minutes through a Mulder voiceover. We’re all familiar with what happened, right? Why the lengthy monologue? Because the series returned after the NFC Championship Game, and some NFL fans might linger who weren’t rabid fans of the original series. Plus other new viewers could be curious to see what this show was all about.

“The show is back because it has hardcore fans, and the show is for the hardcore fans,” Carter said. “But that said, a lot of people have found it on Netflix. And people come up to me now who weren’t even born when the show was first on saying they’re fans of the show. It’s for them too, but it’s also for a newcomer. In short order in the first episode, we can catch up a new viewer.”

The storytelling still has the same objective, to move people, to scare people, to thrill people, and to entertain people.

Fox committed to only six episodes for this initial return, but Carter and his team have packed a lot of variety into the new series.

“It wasn’t a limitation necessarily,” Carter said. “We did with these six episodes what we have done generally on the show, which is we tell a combination of mythology standalone episodes and what people call ‘the monster of the week’ episodes. And we even have a comedy episode thrown in there.”

Will that rear its head in Episode 3, “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster”? Only time will tell. But there’s humor spread across the first two episodes, which is one way Carter plays with the technology advances that have arisen since fans last saw Mulder and Scully together on the big screen in the 2008 feature film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Since the couple are just reteaming after an extended separation, the audience gets to experience the tension between these two. And Mulder gets in several relationship quips, as well as a good Uber joke.

There had been talk of doing a third movie, Carter said, but a shift in the way network television was competing with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other digital rivals opened up the opportunity to tell a longer story.

“Technology is leading the way, and different forms of distribution are leading the way,” Carter said. “But the storyteller and the storytelling still have the same objective, which is to move people, to scare people, to thrill people, and to entertain people.”

Carter does integrate his two previous big screen adventures into the new television series.

“The last film, in particular, has impacted it, but the first film, which was a mythology episode — part of the ‘arc’ as they call it — certainly impacts this as well,” Carter said. “And we actually now call it into question.”

Carter said this new series has been set up with the possibility to come back in an interesting way, assuming fans give Fox the ratings necessary to keep The X-Files reopened.

“I think it would be the continuation of the mythology and more chills and thrills,” Carter said.

The dynamic between Mulder and Scully, even after all of these years, remains one of the most intriguing match-ups on television. For fans that have been waiting for so long to see them reunited, keeping the chills going would be a very good thing.

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