The Year in the X-Files

Excerpts from Xposé Special #14,
Yearbook 2000-01, available now

A fateful meeting in Within

It’s been a time of much speculation this year as the future of The X-Files has been in doubt. Paul Spragg examines how the show’s radical shake-up occurred.

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At the start of the year, things looked very different for The X-Files than they did by the end. As 2000 kicked off, everyone was saying that the show was on its last legs and the seventh season was definitely the last, taking a cue from other genre shows which have self-terminated at this stage. By year’s end, we were suddenly looking at the prospect of even a ninth year of the show alongside a much calmer period for everyone involved in the production.

January

Tellingly, Gillian Anderson related that she wasn’t getting a vibe on set that the series was going to end, explaining that she was “sure it’s just the energy of people trying to move forward and do the work.” Or maybe they were trying to communicate their desire to continue in their jobs for the foreseeable future. There was also much speculation around creator Chris Carter, who it was suggested was planning an imminent collaboration with Babylon 5 alumnus J Michael Straczynski. Naturally, this allowed a chance to ask anyone in the vicinity about the end of the show.

“If this indeed is our last season, there are a lot of things that we have to do. I have some big ideas,” commented Chris Carter, with Frank Spotnitz adding, “I could go on forever, but I think the time is right. There is a point in time when I thought five seasons was going to be it and then we got two more years of life.” He finished up with the strangely prophetic, “I think there will probably be enormous pressure put on us all to continue.” Finally came David Duchovny: “I wouldn’t say never about anything, but as of right now, my contract is up at the end of this coming year, so I’m living my life as if this would be the last year.”

There were also the first rumblings of an episode designed like the series Cops and that in an upcoming two-parter, a regular character would meet their end, something thankfully untrue as there weren’t many of them left...

The episodes

January offered viewers The Amazing Maleeni, a rather fun tale of a magician whose head falls off unexpectedly after an impressive magic trick, that featured some entertaining moments where Scully shows off her magical abilities to Mulder. Unusually, it also saw the agents investigating a case that wasn’t as supernatural as it may first have appeared.

Mulder's serpentine scare in Signs & Wonders

Signs and Wonders followed the week after as another genetic mutation made its presence felt in the shape of a literal snake charmer. A scary episode, especially for those who have phobias about organized religion or deadly snakes.

February - April: see magazine

May

Xposé itself actually spoke to David Duchovny this month, although his feelings on The X-Files were still pretty much the same as he claimed the only real challenge left for him on the show was “writing and directing, which is what I’m allowed to do now on the show. I’m allowed to have a really nice budget, a great crew, great cameras and all the film I want to teach myself how to direct. It’s not the money at all. I shouldn’t say that. The money’s always good, but in the end it’s not worth anything.” Obviously Mr Duchovny needs to go out to the shops more often.

Meanwhile there were reports as to what the season finale of the show held. According to producer Paul Rabwin, two endings were to be shot to cover the eventuality that the show would either finish or continue, one “a finale to try and wrap up the series and the other would be a cliffhanger to take us into another season.” Gillian Anderson also pointed out that she would only write another episode if she could direct it too.

It was a mere five days before Requiem that Chris Carter officially announced the continuation of The X-Files for an eighth year, a decision which had come far too late to allow any kind of closure to the series. We can but hope that when the series ends at last he’ll be given the chance to do a good job of it, or at least make a movie to tie things up.

The lead-up to the season finale began with Fight Club, a story Chris Carter wrote and directed that polarized the fans. Was it fantastic with two superbly funny sequences or was it a nasty mess that didn’t come off at all? We’re voting for the former, but it clearly wasn’t to everyone’s taste. Je Souhaite also had a joint writer/director, this time Vince Gilligan, but wasn’t as controversial. A fun take on the genie formula, it saw Scully finally acquire the proof she’s always wanted of strange events, only for it to be snatched from her grasp. Watching a group of idiots with the power to make vital changes was hilarious, but putting three wishes in the hands of Mulder was even better as he attempted to change the world for the better, only to realize how impossible that was.

Yet it was the season finale everyone had been awaiting and Requiem didn’t disappoint. Returning to the scene of Mulder and Scully’s first investigation, it provided a race-against-time story which eventually lead to revelation for Skinner, a nasty accident for Cigarette Smoking Man and a semi-cliffhanger that involved both Mulder and Scully.

June - October: see magazine

November

The new beginning could finally be witnessed in November as the new season started with a new look, a new set of questions and a revitalized desire to turn in strong stories. The opening two-parter brought back several aspects of the ongoing mythology, but didn’t come across as a vibrant new beginning. However, Robert Patrick was a fine addition, providing a strong combination of leading man charisma to the series and a different perspective on life that should make for interesting viewing in the meantime.

December

As Christmas approached, the season continued apace...

It seemed that David Duchovny’s desire not to return had left Chris Carter a bit irritated, as Within and Without showed him mainly with face-stretching clamps attached and going through horrific experiments. Patience saw Scully and Doggett’s first proper case, with a bat-creature terrorizing the inhabitants of a town. It worked to some degree, but the monster was neither overly terrifying or particularly well-explained.

Next episode Roadrunners featured a return to the body horror stories that had worked so well in the early seasons, delivering a creepy group of locals who are worshipping an unlikely savior. Not quite Ice but certainly close, it played neatly on our lack of faith in Doggett to rescue Scully and it also actually put her into real danger for a change....

VI Direct. Click to buyBut what happened during the rest of the year? For our Xposé editor's full overview, you need Xposé Special #14

Image © The WB / 20th Century Fox.
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction

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