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NEW YORK —
Mulder and Scully are re-openingThe X-Files.
Ever since the suspenseful sci-fi/mystery closed the case after nine seasons in 2002, diehard fans have wanted to believe that creator Chris Carter would one day revive it on the small screen. Now, seven years after feature film The X-Files: I Want to Believe hit theaters in 2008, the cult series is returning to Fox for a six-episode "event" starting in January, with original stars
David Duchovny (as FBI agent Fox Mulder) and Gillian Anderson ( Dana Scully, his former partner and lover) attached.
Three months ahead of its Jan. 24 TV premiere and 13 years after the final episode of Season 9, the first episode of X-Files Season 10 screened for a feverish crowd at New York Comic Con on Saturday, followed by a panel with Carter, Duchovny, actor
Mitch Pileggi (assistant FBI director Walter Skinner) and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who moderated. Beforehand, the X-Files team caught up with USA TODAY to talk about what's ahead.
Carter first thought to resurrect the show after getting a call from
20th Century Fox last year, saying that Duchovny was up for more X-Files, but only if there was a story worth telling. "None of us were interested in just coming back and winking at the camera and being like, 'Hey, we're back! We're here to make a ton of references to stuff we can all laugh about and cash our checks,' " Duchovny says.
What Carter and the writers concocted is a fusion of standard X-Files lore (aliens, conspiracies) with a twinge of government paranoia. A televangelist named Tad O'Malley (Community's
Joel McHale) is introduced in the first episode, serving as a mouthpiece for modern fears about the Internet and being monitored in a post-911, post-Snowden world. While the season premiere and finale build on the series' mythology, others will be scary, funny standalone episodes, Carter says.
"When you bring a show like this back, you do it for the hardcore fans. They're the ones who put you there, so you're bringing it back with them in mind," Carter says. "At the same time, you always hope to attract and/or entertain as big an audience as possible. So we don't belabor it for the hardcore fans, but we make sure there's a hook for the newbies."
Of course, the biggest shrieks and swoons from the audience were for Mulder and Scully. The FBI's former paranormal investigators had been living together in Believe, but are separated and retired from their posts when X-Files returns. Still, the duo's playful repartee and fondness for each other is intact when O'Malley reunites them.
"The dynamic of the characters was often unspoken," Duchovny says. "There would be dramatic moments where one would save the other or call them by their first name rather than their last, and that would have to satisfy some kind of longing. But it's still the same. I don't think anyone wants to see Mulder and Scully bickering over a toothpaste tube or leaving the toilet seat up, the show is about the cases."
Other recognizable faces reappear in the new episode, including fan-favorite Skinner, who is "still grinding away at the FBI," Pileggi says. In Pileggi's first scene back with Duchovny, Mulder comes to visit his old office: pencils stuck in the ceiling and his "I want to believe" poster ripped on the floor. Reuniting on the
Vancouver set, "it was just like riding a bike," Pileggi says. "Toward the end of the show, doing nine seasons, everybody gets a bit weary. But when it was gone, I'll tell you, I really missed it."
With any luck, he'll get to return to do more. Carter says the six-episode season is left open-ended and he gets new X-Files ideas "every time I open the newspaper." Duchovny also says that he'd be happy to do more and hopes fans will have open minds about the new episodes.
"The best work we ever do is when we're just trying to tell the best story and trying to be the most interesting Mulder and Scully we can be," Duchovny says. More than two decades since the series' launch, "everybody's better, but it's not exactly the same and people might get pissed off about that. I got older, I can't help it.
"If I could've stayed 30 years old, believe me — for the fans, I would've done it."