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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

The truth is still out there as ‘The X-Files’ lands its 11th series

Whether you love The X-Files for the monsters or the mythology, FBI agents Mulder and Scully are back with conspiracy, chemistry and frights

FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) in 2000. FOX via Getty Images
FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) in 2000. FOX via Getty Images

After 10 seasons, 208 episodes and two feature films over 24 years, just how much truth can still be out there for FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully to discover on The X-Files?

Get set for 10 more helpings of what has become paranormal comfort food for the show’s cult following – with the new episodes billed as an “event series” by Fox – when it returns on Sunday, on OSN.

The original series went off the air in 2002 after nine seasons, but Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) returned for a six-episode revival in 2016, to recast conspiracy theories for today’s audiences.

To its credit, The X-Files has kept most of its “A-team” of storytellers and directors intact, with creator Chris Carter still calling the spooky-kooky shots as the showrunner. Mitch Pileggi is also back as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, as is fan-fave William B Davis, who reprises his role as the mysterious “Cigarette Smoking Man”.

For the purists, the first six revival episodes two years ago proved a mixed bag. Critics’ reviews were mixed at best. The exception was the third episode – Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster, by original series writer Darin Morgan – in which a “lizard man” awakes from a 10,000-year hibernation to spend a few days as a human. For its wit, imagination and sheer storytelling sizzle, this monster romp won glowing reviews across the board.

Dana Walden, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Television Group, says

: “Chris is really excited about doing a new round of episodes and there is certainly no reason for him to have to do it; he’s wildly successful and it wasn’t about the money. He had real hunger and enthusiasm to come and do new episodes.

Changing times and the societal push for diversity and gender equality have impacted the all-male bastion of the original series. Two women writers and two women directors join the 11th season.

Inconsistency has always been part of The X-Files allure. Whether you’re a fan or a casual viewer who loves the monster-of-the-week episodes, odds are you’ll yawn away during the mythology episodes, or vice-versa.

Early reviews hint that Anderson and Duchovny have let their hair down a bit, with more flirting and better banter, and are more at ease in these new episodes, which reflect realities of life in 2018.

“When the last season ended, it looked like the end of the world,” says Duchovny, 57, whose Mulder was left facing death in the Season 10 cliffhanger, while Scully, struggling to find the cure for an alien contagion, was left staring up at a spaceship.

“So those were the big questions that needed to be answered,” says Carter, “and I think we have a really interesting, dramatic solution. One of the best things about doing The X-Files is that it allows you to do so many different things. It allows you to tell dramatic stories, funny stories, poignant stories and scary stories.”

Anderson, 49, says: “It could be the end of the world – and then we could be doing a [comedic] Darin Morgan episode. It feels more like a quintessential X-Files this season.” First is My Struggle III – an episode written and directed by Carter – in which the couple learn they aren’t the only ones searching for their son, William. The fate of the world may depend on it.

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Read more:

HBO confirms Game of Thrones will bow out with final season in 2019

Year in review: the best, the worst and the weirdest of TV in 2017

After more than decade long absence, The X-Files returns to reopen new case files

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Guest stars this season include: Annabeth Gish; Robbie Amell; Lauren Ambrose; Karin Konoval; Barbara Hershey; and Haley Joel Osment.

“People ask me: Why is The X-Files successful,” says Pileggi. “I think it’s a simple answer. David and Gillian’s chemistry is ridiculous [in the best way]. I spent a lot of time standing across from them. It’s a treat to be able to do that again.”

Duchovny says: “When I look at her [Anderson] onscreen, it’s like looking at an old friend – and that works.”

The X-Files airs 10pm, Sunday, on OSN First HD, Home of HBO. See listings for times