UPDATE with new trailer: Nearly 14 years (and one movie) after the seminal series concluded, The X Files is finally returning this month with a six-episode event series (seriously, don’t call it a miniseries, it’s an event!) that reunites Mulder and Scully and sets them out against a (presumably) new secret threat. It’s like a very early Christmas present for enthusiasts of conspiracy lore who long for the days when the most insane theories involved aliens or assassinations instead of birth certificates.
So it is that Fox opened its day at TCA with The X FIles panel. In attendance were Joel McHale, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and creator Chris Carter. Not much about the new series, which premieres in one week and has already been seen in part by critics, was revealed, but the panelists did provide insight into the legacy of the show and their place within that legacy.
One topic raised more than once is the fact that while 2016 is a very different world than the 1990s heyday of the original series, in many ways it’s simply an amped up version. The Internet has provided hundreds of public forums for people to talk about conspiracies, while some such theories have become mainstream political topics.
“I think it’s reflected in the show,” Carter said. “There’s over 500 conspiracy sites on the Internet, nothing is underground anymore, everything is out in the open.”
Later on, he elaborated on the differences between now and then. “The ’90s were great, there’s still for me a sort of residual paranoia that came out of my young adulthood,” he said. But, he continued, “we’re living in a time now when there’s a tremendous amount of distrust for the government, even the media. This is a really good time” for X-Files to return.
As for how modern conspiracy culture plays into the new series, Carter says, “I’ve kind of cherry picked through some of the things [where] the prospect is frightening.”
Anderson and Duchovny also talked about their relationship with the series that made them famous, and how it affected their lives after the series ended. Both of them admitted it took some time to come to embrace it.
“I think it took a good decade for me to start thinking of it as the gift that it was,” Anderson said. She eventually understood how “fortunate I was to have played such an iconic character,” adding that a role for which she’ll be forever associated “could have been something else that I hated, or had bad reviews.”
Duchovny expressed similar thoughts. Echoing her statement that the show was a “gift,” he said, “It acted as a spur to me to go out and actually do more work, to keep expanding myself as an artist or whatever I am. It was both a gift and a spur to not settle after it was done.”
As for new cast member McHale, he is a long time fan of the series with a personal connection to it. “This is like winning an auction item where you get to be on The X-Files,” he said. “Every time I walk on screen my wife would burst out laughing” because one of the things that brought them together was watching the show – on the same couch where he proposed to her.
“I can’t believe I’m up here. Believe me. it seems like a mistake.”
One last thing for fans of the show – The X-FIles event series (not a miniseries!) may not be the last we see of Mulder and Scully. While Chris Carter refused to discuss what he might be thinking for the future of the X-Files, he did all but confirm he is thinking ahead. If, he says, “Fox decides they want more.” In other words, better tune in in droves, X-Fans.
Fox also released a new trailer today. Check it out above.