deep space nine  
Chris Carter - Six Underground     There’s something different about The X-Files this year. By all rights, a series in its sixth season should be flagging, as the writers run short of ideas, the actors lose their energy and settings and scenarios begin to look frustratingly familiar.  
excerpt from TV Zone #113

Furthermore, following in the wake of last year’s blockbuster movie, one would expect a sense of anti-climax, a feeling that it’s all so much smaller and less significant on the tv screen.

This hasn’t happened. Against the odds, fans and critics have been quick to praise the latest series as one of the best yet, showcasing an extraordinarily diverse range of stories. Mulder seems more animated (David Duchovny almost looks as though he’s having a good time) and Scully retains all her inner fire and determination. It’s a far cry from the obvious feeling of fatigue that bled onto the screen during seasons four and five.

“I can tell you that actually moving to LA rejuvenated the show by giving us new stories to tell, new places to tell them, new staff, new crew,” says Chris Carter, addressing the press in Pasadena. “I think the show looks as good as it’s ever looked.”

Of the season so far, The Beginning bridged beautifully from the movie screen back to tv, taking Mulder and Scully away from the X-Files during the mayhem caused by a gestated alien on the loose, a plot that would intriguingly tie-in with child genius Gibson Praise. Drive offered some high-speed thrills and grisly body horror, while Triangle found Chris Carter directing long steadicam shots in widescreen for a homage to The Wizard of Oz. The two-part Dreamland was an hilarious body-swap story, The Ghosts that Stole Christmas was a black comedy featuring Ed Anser and Lily Tomlin, while episodes like Rain King, Tithonus and SR 819 have explored more standard, gloomy X-Files territory. Some viewers might be disappointed that we have seen less of the Cigarette Smoking Man and the Syndicate than in recent years, but Carter and his team of producers (Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban) have been busy flexing their creative muscles.

In Theory

“You know, the movie was the biggest mythology episode,” he muses, “so we knew we had to service the mythology in the season finale coming into the sixth season. But then we wanted to take a lighter tone. We made a definite choice to take the show in some new directions, to see where we could push it, in terms of storytelling, and I think what you’re seeing is a result of that. A lot of people have come to love the lighter stories, beginning with the work that Darin Morgan did, it showed the show is very elastic. Because of that, it excites the writers and the actors to take the show in different directions, and because it can pop back into shape for a mythology episode, we decided this year to explore some different kinds of storytelling, and I think it’s been very satisfying for everyone. Certainly the ratings reflect it.”

Of course, you can’t keep good villains out of the picture for long, and Carter saved the ultimate mythology episode for the February sweeps period, when the eagerly awaited Two Fathers and One Son hauled in the viewers by promising to tie up a lot of loose ends. “You’re going to understand this conspiracy after the end of the two parter,” admits Carter. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything’s wrapped up and finished. In fact, there’s a lot to do. We’re making some choices, knowing that the show is moving toward a kind of completion, and so we are planning ahead for that. So, [the two-parter] is part of that move to get the ultimate answer about what happened to Mulder’s sister. You actually understand a lot about how Mulder didn’t necessarily choose the X Files, they were kind of chosen for him. .."

More of Chris Carter's thoughts on "the big, familial story" of The X-Files, being proud of Millennium, and the development of his new series for Fox, Harsh Realm in TV Zone #113

Richard Moore
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