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Joining Dean Haglund are Stephen Snedden and Zuleika Robinson

Now with their own spin-off series, Starburst rounds up Byers, Langly and Frohike, and their new colleagues: in other words, The Lone Gunmen

Text by David Richardson

Selected from Starburst #271

Lone Gunmen Frohike, Langly and Byers
The fact that The X-Files has endured eight years without generating its own spin-off is surprising - it is, after all, one of the biggest TV properties that 20th Century Fox has ever owned - but finally X-Philes are being rewarded with a series that has been rumoured for years.

The Lone Gunmen brings Mulder and Scully’s favourite conspiracy theorists to the fore, as John F Byers (Bruce Harwood, the smart bearded one), Melvin Frohike (Tom Braidwood, the short one) and Ringo Langly (Dean Haglund, long blond hair and T-shirts) begin investigating their own cases on a weekly basis. Scheduled to begin broadcasting on the Fox Network in March, the show will initially assume the Sunday night slot vacated by its parent show, before finding a weekday home after three weeks.

Created by Carter and his X-Files producing team of Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz, and focusing on the three characters created by Glen Morgan and James Wong, The Lone Gunmen is a kind of hip pot-pourri of Mission: Impossible and The Avengers as well as The X-Files at its most irreverent.

“We first did an episode dedicated [to these characters] the year we did the movie, because we needed some time off for David and Gillian,” says Carter, looking back to the genesis of the series in Unusual Suspects. “It was because it worked so well and it was so fun to do, that was the first time anybody thought that there was a chance we could spin these characters off.”

“We talked about [this series] for years,” adds Spotnitz. “And it was really at the end of the sixth season, after we did the second Lone Gunmen episode [Three of a Kind] that we saw what the [spin-off] could be.” Fox announced a pilot followed by a 12-episode commitment almost a year ago, to the surprise of the three leading actors. “We always joked about it, but I don’t think any of us seriously thought for a moment that [it would happen],” claims Braidwood.

Y Appeal

The Lone Gunmen kicks off in style, with a gravity-defying vault raid that would make Mission: Impossible’s Ethan Hunt proud. The trio’s first case brings them up against a dangerous computer corporation and a grand act of terrorism, while introducing the exotic Yves Adele Harlow. Played by gorgeous Englishwoman Zuleikha Robinson, Yves is a leather-clad super-hacker with a penchant for disguise, who will initially create havoc for the Gunmen, before becoming their ally.

“Yves is shadowy and mysterious,” explains producer Spotnitz. “She seems to be hardboiled and all about money. We start to see, in some episodes, softening – there’s aspects to her character we don’t quite understand. And at the end of the run, we’re actually going to reveal a lot more about who she is and where she came from. That’s going to inform the mythology, if you will, of this series as opposed to The X-Files."

"I think in the pilot, it was more all the Lara Croft type character, but she’s sleeker,” beams Robinson. “It’s really great being the only girl. I love these guys to death. They were very welcoming. In coming into a show with characters who were on The X-Files, it wasn’t as daunting as I thought it might have been. They were just great.”

Shaken, not stirred

Completing the ensemble is Jimmy Bond, played by the classically handsome Stephen Snedden. A naïve, passionate, all-American guy who works in the field of philanthropic investments, Jimmy becomes involved with the Gunmen during the second case, after the violent death of a computer hacker.

Viewers coming to the series expecting dark tales of alien invasions, deadly mutants and serial killers may be in for a disappointment. Carter and his team have worked hard to delineate The Lone Gunmen as a stark contrast to The X-Files; the emphasis here is on fast adventure and comedy, and critics have already compared the lead characters to The Three Stooges.

In the first episode alone, Frohike falls on his face no less than three times (“Tom got a little stiff,” smiles Haglund, “so we’re spreading the abuse around.”) “I really don’t think of this as a Sci-Fi show,” defines Carter. “It’s different to The X-Files in that way. While we’ll deal with conspiracies, it won’t be about an elaborate alien conspiracy. It is much more of a sort of comedy-thriller piece than it is a comedy Sci-Fi piece...”

Starburst #271
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Feature © Visual Imagination 2000. Not for reproduction