Why ‘X-Files’ Won’t Exit
Sci-fi brand unscathed, says star Duchovny
Don’t tell David Duchovny he’s doing a reboot of “The X-Files.”
“What does reboot mean?” Duchovny asked the crowd Saturday at the Wizard World Comic Con in Pittsburgh. “You only reboot a computer when it crashes. We didn’t crash.”
In fact, “The X-Files,” which concluded in television form in 2002, influenced nearly every sci-fi and conspiracy theory-laden show — from “Supernatural” to “Star Trek Enterprise” — since its heyday. And now, following in the footsteps of “24” and the upcoming “Twin Peaks” reunion, it’s returning for a six-episode run early next year.
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Brands rule in 2015 Hollywood. Even if the last “X-Files” movie, 2008’s “The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” tanked with a $20 million box office haul, the property still has juice. That’s even more true today, what with nostalgia for the original series sky-high and a social media landscape that magnifies niche interests.
And it makes sense to pull off a limited series, which gives both cast and crew the flexibility to tackle other projects. Plus, show creator Chris Carter can channel his creative resources on crafting the best six episodes possible, not 20-plus yarns as in the past.
“I don’t know where it’s going,” said Duchovny.
Duchovny and “X-Files” co-star Mitch Pileggi dangled some intriguing — if largely spoiler-free — tidbits to the Pittsburgh crowd. Duchovny promised that viewers wouldn’t need a primer on where we left Mulder, his partner Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Pileggi’s Walter Skinner. But he hinted it might not hurt.
“What’s interesting about these six episodes that we’ve done is they’ve taken the old mythology that we’ve done and kind of turned around and twisted it a bit,” said Duchovny, who portrayed FBI agent and conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder for nine seasons. The show will start with some tension between Mulder and Scully. The actors promised it would be resolved by the end of the run but were hesitant to leak too many details.
“In the beginning of the six episodes, we seem to be estranged,” Duchovny said. “I don’t know where it’s going.”
“Can we say `yet to be determined’? Is that appropriate?” Pileggi asked.
“Now I feel like you’re my lawyer,” Duchovny said, before adding a dramatic pause, “it has yet to be determined.”
The new episodes will also give viewers insight in Mulder and Scully’s son, William, who was adopted by another couple during the original show’s run.
That the show is coming back at all seems like a minor miracle.
“It’s addressed in the ‘reboot,’” Duchovny said. “There’s a lot about the baby actually. I think you’ll be pleased. … Actually, I think you’re going to be tired of that baby.”
The new adventures will feature some of the same “monster of the week” episodes written by some of the original show writers.
“Those are the guys who do the scarier stuff,” said Duchovny, who is currently starting in NBC’s Aquarius.
That the show is coming back at all seems like a minor miracle to the pair, after a series of false starts and that disappointing 2008 sequel.
“When we finally got on set three months ago, it felt like time had stood still for us,” Duchovny said.
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Pileggi owes Skinner’s resurfacing to Duchovny and David Letterman. During an appearance on the Late Show, Duchovny broke the news that Skinner would return. There was just one problem — Pileggi was still in shaky contract negotiations with 20th Century Fox Studios. Pileggi joked that the leak gave him plenty of leverage during the negotiations.
“David just announced I’m going to be on the show,” Pileggi said. “Hey Fox, guess what? I’m back on the show. Now let’s talk about money.”
‘The X-Files’ Files
The Series: 202 episodes over nine seasons
The Film Franchise: “The X-Files: Fight the Future” (1998), “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” (2008)
Spin-Offs: “The Lone Gunmen” (Fox, 1 season, 13 episodes)
Creator: Chris Carter also brought “Millennium,” “Harsh Realm” and “The Lone Gunmen” to the small screen. None matched the success of “The X-Files.” Carter’s Amazon Studios’ 2014 pilot “The After” was picked up for a full season run initially, but the plans were later scrapped.
Inspiration: Carter cites his childhood TV influences “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” and “The Twilight Zone.”