The new X-Files miniseries hasn’t had an easy road to fruition. Prior to the new season, the show spanned an impressive nine series and 202 episodes, as well as two feature films, but the second big-screen effort, The X-Files: I Want To Believe, failed to score a significant audience, and Chris Carter’s vision for a third movie was denied in 2008. However, the changing landscape of television has resulted in the US network reviving the sci-fi show, which will air on Channel 5 in the UK.
“This idea of the TV show only came to me about a year ago,” admits Carter. “I got a call from 20th Century Fox because they had been talking to David Duchovny about it. The idea that we would come back to television 23 years after the show started was brand new to me, but I saw the beauty of it very quickly. Television has changed a lot in the last 20 years. When we left in 2002, reality TV dominated. A lot of the good hour timeslots were taken up by reality television, but there are many good dramas on now, and much of it is being driven by cable television, as well as streaming television. It’s a different landscape. I think that telling X-Files stories in the period of history that we’re in now is perfect timing.”
Carter pauses to think before he continues. “In about 2001 or 2002, after the Twin Towers, we put all our faith in the government to protect us. We gave up rights and liberties, and we put our absolute faith and trust in the government to insulate us from a threat. In doing so, I think we’ve given up more than we bargained for, especially in terms of our privacy.
“In fact, the government has admitted that they are spying on us, so we’re now living in a time where there is a sense that there are conspirators afoot. It’s a perfect time in which to tell X-Files stories, which is much like we suggested in the Nineties, because there may be people working against your
Technology plays a key role in other key changes to the show’s miniseries, which sees the return of Mulder and Scully, played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. “We live in a media-saturated world now,” adds Carter. “We live in a technologically different world to the one we lived in 23 years ago. Remember, when Mulder and Scully would talk to each other, they would do it with giant cell phones. Now, the cell phones are so small that we actually had to use slightly bigger versions so they didn’t get lost in their hands. Simple things like that have changed.
“You have a camera on your computer now, so people could be looking at you through your computer, which is something brand new to our world. Plus, everything you write on your computer is not necessarily something that can be kept private – and that’s something new, too. The X-Files grew up with the internet, but it had to. Now, we have to be mindful of what the internet has become, as well as the power of the internet and social media.”
However, one thing that remains constant with the series is the mythology. “The show had a big mythology when it first started, and that hasn’t stopped,” agrees Carter. “The long-running storyline, which is all about government conspiracy, ran for nine seasons – and now we’re looking at that in a new way. That’s not just a result of the longevity of the show, but also because of the times we live in. I’m trying to be true to those times and true to the passage of time for Mulder and Scully and their relationship. Something’s different, something’s changed, and that’s what makes it exciting for us to tell these stories.”
The X-Files will air on Channel 5 later in 2016. To read our exclusive behind-the-scenes feature, pick up issue 115 of SciFiNow.