X-Files 2: Chris Carter and Crew Dish at Paleyfest 2008

For us X-Philes, it's been a long dry spell of cable reruns and Hollywood red herrings about the release of the second X-Files feature film. Well, apparently, it's happening. For reals, man. Click above to watch Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, and Mitch Pileggi ("FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner") spill some beans on the new movie at Paleyfest, set to release July 25th, 2008.

BONUS: Ain't It Cool News reveals the putative teaser poster for XF2. [Via BD Horror News]


The X-Files Movie is Out There..Somewhere

I'll believe it when I see it, but the scuttlebutt on the street is that the long-awaited (Note - 10 years is an eternity in TV-Land, C.C. - Ed.) sequel to the X-Files: Fight The Future movie is in the pipeline, slated for a July 2008 release.

Why now, after years of proposals and stalled contracts? Reports say the impending Hollywood writers' strike is pushing up production deadlines on a number of gridlocked projects, including XF2. According to Hollywood Insider:
...[Chris] Carter, who will direct the movie and co-write the script with X-Files exec producer Frank Spotnitz, [said] years of contract disputes with Fox were resolved when the threat of an impending writers' strike came to a head. "If we don't do it now and the strike was protracted, it would force the movie to come out several years from now," he says. "And that was too late. It was either now or never."
And, oh happy rainy day! The show's creators will apparently return to its moody Canadian roots to film the sequel, the Vancouver Sun reports:
David Duchovny will be reaching once again for his umbrella, and so will at least 100 crew members in the city as 20th Century Fox made it official: the sequel to 1998's The X-Files movie will shoot in Vancouver. The movie, as yet untitled, brings together Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as special FBI agents Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) who, in the original television series and in the first movie, encounter paranormal activity in their investigations. Duchovny and Anderson starred in the long-running TV series The X-Files (1993-2002), which shot its first five seasons in the Vancouver area.


X-Files 2 News from The Millennial Abyss

Some interesting X-Files 2 movie developments, from the Millennial Abyss website [an excellent Web-surfing stop for all you MillenniuM fans out there] yesterday:
"While details are scarce, it looks as if production plans are being made for Ten-Thirteen Productions' next feature film. The cast and crew are being assembled for the second big screen adventure based on The X-Files. Recently, Chris Carter told Variety, "Frank [Spotnitz] and I have worked out a story and there's a negotiation with [Fox] going on" while David Duchovny told Dark Horizons, "Chris has a great idea for the new movie and I expect we'll be able to begin shooting in the next year or so." Now, movie sites Moviehole and Coming Soon! are reporting that Robert Patrick, who starred in the show's later seasons as Agent John Doggett, will be reprising his role in the second film and that he's eager to begin work on the project. Rumors posted on both sites indicate that filming may begin as early as the end of this year. Few concrete details have been revealed concerning The X-Files 2 and no official release date has been scheduled."


'X-Files' Carter to direct British thriller

[from Reuters UK] LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "The X-Files" creator Chris Carter is set to make his feature directing debut with a movie based on Philip Kerr's sci-fi thriller "A Philosophical Investigation."

Set in the near future, "Investigation" tells the story of a government-run genetic testing unit that assists law enforcement agencies in listing and tracking down those with a predisposition to violence. A female Scotland Yard inspector is drawn into a cat-and-mouse game when a sociopathic computer expert finds that he's on the list and decides to protect the rest of society by killing the others.

The project is set up at Paramount Pictures, where Mace Neufeld ("The Sum of All Fears"), who has owned the rights to the novel for close to a decade, is producing with Carter and "X-Files" collaborator Frank Spotnitz. Carter and Spotnitz also will adapt.

"It is one of my passion projects, and they generally take a long time to get off the ground," Neufeld said.

Neufeld is hoping that this will be the first Kerr adaptation to make it to the big screen, even though rights to several of the author's other novels have been optioned. They include "A Five Year Plan," which was optioned by Tom Cruise's production company; "Gridiron," which the now-defunct Propaganda optioned; and "Esau," which Disney optioned for Jerry Bruckheimer in the mid-'90s.

"Most Kerr books have sold for films. None have been made into a film so far," Neufeld said.

Carter is also adapting the book "The World of Ted Serios," which he intends to direct for Miramax's Dimension Films.


X-Files 2 News from GAWS

Normally, I don't care to pass on information about the long-rumored X-Files 2 movie, since much is hearsay and changes all too frequently: it's on, it's off, it's on, it's off...you get the idea. However, this is intriguing and hopeful, because it's apparently straight from Ms. Anderson herself.

From The Official Gillian Anderson Website Newsletter, Issue #60 [July 13, 2004]:
"It does indeed appear that the XF movie will be underway in the next year but a lot has to happen between now and then and a lot can happen between now and then. But it looks promising. Chris does not want to reveal at this point who or what will be in it but I got the impression it's going to be one scary mother."
We'll see, but it sounds as though at least one of the show's principal stars is willing to join the project...if the stars align, so to speak.


Redrum [8x03]

Overall Rating: 9
Fright Factor: 7
Acting: 9
Mytharc Relevance: 4
Re-watchability: Medium-High
Connections: Memento, John Doe [9x07]

Summary: Prominent Baltimore prosecution lawyer Martin Wells (Joe Morton, who played CyberDyne Systems developer Miles Dyson opposite Robert Patrick's liquid-metal T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day) wakes up one morning on the hard bunk of a prison cell with no idea how he got there. He sees a spider in its web hanging inches above his face. Moments later, a deputy enters, notifying Wells he is being transferred. "Transferred? Transferred where?"

An angry crowd has gathered to watch Wells being escorted to a waiting police van in cuffs and irons. He notices among the shouting faces his father-in-law, staring at him in stony silence. The lawyer calls out to him, pleading for help, but the older man inexplicably draws a gun and shoots him point-blank. Wells collapses to the pavement, dying.

But somehow, the next morning, Wells awakens to exactly the same scenario as before - in a prison cell, with a spider web overhead. He's visited by his old acquaintance Doggett, and Scully - whom he's never, but oddly seems to know him. They tell him he's facing a first-degree murder charge. Wells loudly protests his innocence, but Doggett will have nothing of it; he thinks Wells is faking amnesia to cop an insanity plea. "Don't give me that B.S., Martin. Does this refresh your memory?" Doggett shows him a gruesome photo of a murdered woman.

The woman is Wells' wife, and the stunned lawyer realizes he is the prime suspect in her death.

Report: Complex and well-acted, with nary a Monster-of-the-Week in sight, Redrum qualifies as one of Season 8's best. Recalling the nonlinear plot of Christopher Nolan's hit film Memento, Martin Wells dances a backstitch in time to prove his innocence, twisting and turning the story unpredictably to a satisfying surprise conclusion.


Invocation [8x06]

Overall Rating: 7.5/10
Fright Factor: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Mytharc Relevance: 4/10
Re-watchability: Medium-High
Connections: Paper Hearts [4x08], The Calusari [2x21], The Exorcist

Summary: The episode's opening scene takes place in September 1990, at a crowded children's country fair. Seven-year-old Billy Underwood (played by twins Kyle and Ryan Pepi) is playing on a swingset, vainly trying to catch the attention of his pregnant mother who is occupied in conversation nearby. We see a disheveled, dark-haired teenaged boy behaving suspiciously near the swing; a closeup reveals a knife concealed up the sleeve of his grimy army jacket.

Suddenly, Billy's swing seat is empty. Within moments Billy's mother Lisa (Kim Greist) realizes her son is missing and in a panic searches the fairground. Her increasingly frantic calls go unanswered. The boy seems to have vanished into thin air. Our only clue is a shot of the dark-haired teen clutching Billy's tiny "Dinosaurs from Outer Space" backpack, which he discards into the sawdust. Later we learn the young man was a younger Ronald Purnell (Rodney Eastman), who ends up being a suspect in Billy's disappearance.

Flash forward ten years forward into the present. Lisa Underwood drives up to a schoolyard to pick up her (now ten-year old) other son Josh (Colton James). "They've been trying to call you, Mom," her son says, and she is greeted by a group of gathered school officials acting oddly. She walks over to the crowd surrounding the school's swing set, and sees a small boy, his back to her. He dismounts and turns around. It is Billy - exactly as he looked the day he disappeared, but curiously expressionless and silent.

Scully and Doggett are called in to the case, despite the Underwood's desire for privacy. Billy's mother is overjoyed that her missing boy has somehow returned and asks no questions about how he could possibly stayed exactly the same for a full decade. In an interview room, Doggett makes a poorly-executed attempt to elicit a description of Billy's captors, while the boy repeatedly draws a strange symbol on a sheet of paper. When Doggett uses Billy's backpack - the one he wore the day he disappeared - as "leverage", Lisa halts the interrogation and takes her son home.

Soon, the rest of the Underwood family grows increasingly spooked by the mute, sullen boy - and for good reason: their usually friendly dog barks and snarls furiously, attacking 'Billy,' and one morning Josh awakens to discover a bloody hunting knife stabbed into his mattress, with Billy standing next to his bed. Police discover that no one in the household had access to such a knife.

Compounding the mystery are the results of Billy's health exam - everything from his dental condition to his enzyme counts are precisely the same as they were at the time he disappeared; a medical impossibility. Who - or what - is Billy, and why has he returned?

Report: One of the early Season 8 stand-alone episodes, Invocation is an excellent example of the old adage that if you can't be original, at least copy your sources with flair. Many elements of the story are lifted from previous X-Files episodes Paper Hearts (dead abducted child reaching "beyond the grave" for warning or vengeance on their killer) and The Calusari (a seemingly malevolent ghostly child terrorizing his previous family), but the episode manages to transcend the "rehash" label with its edgy pacing and eerie atmosphere.

Importantly, it also introduces the paranormal to Agent John Doggett through a plot element painfully close to his heart: the abducted young son - Billy Underwood even bears a physical resemblance to Doggett's murdered child. Early in this episode, Doggett treats Billy's miraculous reappearance as a rare "happy ending" to a normally tragic child kidnapping scenario, and rationalizes the boy's complete lack of growth or change in the past decade as some "rare childhood disease" or "failure to thrive." But slowly it dawns on him that 'something is very wrong with this picture'.

Later in the season (Empedocles [8x17]), Doggett also must confront a possible supernatural component to his own son's death.


Where's the Official FOX X-Files Website?

As an "X-Phile", I was very disappointed that FOX had taken the show's official website offline, and replaced the link with a page hawking DVD box sets for other FOX shows. The Official X-Files site contained a wealth of information on all nine seasons' episodes (although I don't think show synopses were ever completed for Season 9), and it is sorely missed.

A fellow fan who runs the X-Files Time Line website suggests fans send a firm but polite e-mail to FOX at ask.fox@fox.com, requesting that the company reactivate the Official X-Files website. If you have friends who miss the site as well, pass on the message with this link to FOX's mailbox. It's certainly worth a try, if only to let FOX execs know there is still an active fan base in webspace.


The Truth [9x19, 9x20] (Series Finale)

Overall Rating: 8/10
Fright Factor: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Mytharc Relevance: 10/10
Re-watchability: Medium-High
Connections: N/A

Summary: The final episode of the series, which first aired as a two-hour special on May 19, 2002. Mulder returns from exile on a Federal press bus, in the guise of a reporter visiting Weather Mountain - the seat of the so-called "Shadow Government." Once inside the compound he takes a turn into the underground maze of hallways, entering through a series of secured doors with a passcard. Inside one of these rooms, he fires up a large translucent computer monitor with the code "endgame" and punches up the secret date of the alien invasion - December 22, 2012.

Mulder hears footsteps and narrowly escapes capture by "supersoldier" Knowle Rohrer. Alarms are tripped, a chase ensues, and Rohrer ends up being catapulted over a catwalk balcony onto a high-voltage grid. Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle. Rohrer appears to be dead, but is he?

The MP's take Mulder into custody, and Kersh is asked by a higher-up in the Armed Forces to subject Mulder to a secret military tribunal under the guise of an internal FBI hearing on a murder charge. The verdict is a forgone conclusion: Mulder must be found guilty, and the sentence will be death.

Inside a secret brig, Mulder is physically and psychologically tortured by "military men," whose allegiance we are not certain of. Several times a day a uniformed interrogator screams at Mulder, "what are you thinking?!?" Of course, Mulder never has the "right" answer, and is punished in increasingly severe ways. He is forced to lay naked in complete darkness on the cell's concrete floor, and is not allowed to sleep.

Skinner and Scully discover that Mulder has surfaced - and has been captured by the military - and try to obtain his release. They learn of the "kangaroo court" arrangment from Kersh, and visit Mulder in the brig accompanied by armed guards. Mulder appears brainwashed and incoherent, and he convinces Skinner and Scully he truly believes "he is wrong, and deserves the harshest possible punishment for his crimes." They are shocked by his mental state.

During their second meeting in the privacy of his cell, Mulder reveals he's only been feigning compliance and asks Skinner to be his lawyer. Skinner refuses, but Mulder convinces him that he is the only one who can help him; Skinner is the only one who knows the truth and can prove the existence of the Conspiracy.

I should note that during the show at various key junctures several dead characters appear to Mulder...Alex Krycek, "Mr. X", the Lone Gunmen...they offer lifesaving assistance, and in the case of Mr. X., reveal the whereabouts of a key witness, Marita Covarrubias.

The majority of the finale takes place inside an austere military courtroom with a panel of prosecutors ostensibly from the "FBI." They are led by a suspicious man who is actually a "supersoldier" himself, as the spiny outgrowth at the nape of his neck reveals. As Skinner makes his case, many key players from the series are called in to give their versions of the Conspiracy. Some come willingly (Gibson Praise), others must be tracked down (Marita Covarrubias, Jeffrey Spender). During each of the "witnesses'" testimony, footage from past episodes is used heavily to recall the full plot of the series - and some secrets heretofore unrevealed.

Meanwhile, Monica Reyes, John Doggett and Scully are trying to find the body of Knowle Rohrer. As a "supersoldier," he cannot be killed; and after all, without a body, how can there be a murder charge against Mulder? Various agencies stonewall the agents until a crack in the armor appears, and Doggett has the body of "Knowle Rohrer" sent up to Washington for an autopsy. The examination reveals that the corpse is indeed not Rohrer's.

However, the witnesses' and Skinner's efforts are in vain, as the court is called to adjournment when Mulder finally testifies in his own behalf. When the court reconvenes Mulder's death sentence is pronounced.

The night that the sentence is to be carried out, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes and Kersh stage a daring escape from the brig, and Mulder and Scully are sent out to flee toward the Canadian border. But that isn't where they're going...Mulder and Scully instead head for the Southwest, "to see a wise man about the truth." Doggett and Reyes discover the pair's true destination with the help of a little mindreading from Gibson Praise, and head southward in pursuit.

Unbeknownst to the four agents, Knowle Rohrer is alive and well and speeding down to the Southwest himself. What he doesn't realize is that the georgraphic area Mulder is headed towards is rich in magnetite - the one substance in the world that can pull a "supersoldier" into a rock wall, smashing his body into a cloud of red dust.

At an ancient Anasazi pueblo, they find the Cigarette-Smoking Man, alive - but wheelchair-bound, still smoking (through a tracheotomy ventilator, natch) and defiant to the end. The "black helicopters" arrive, Mulder and Scully make a narrow escape, and a pair of Sidewinder missles finally bring the Cigarette Man's story to a flaming end.

The show closes with a scene identical to the one the started the entire series in the pilot...Mulder and Scully in a hotel room in the desert...in the rain.

Report: As far as finales go, The Truth is more than serviceable...the loose ends of the series are tied up neatly, and the "tribunal" was a clever device for consolidating so many disparate plot elements. If you'd like to introduce a friend to the series, or someone who had only watched a few episodes here and there, have them see the finale. It won't spoil the show, and may actually clear up some frustrating loopholes that vexed dedicated viewers until the end.

That being said, the finale's midsection (the tribunal itself) has a slightly hasty thrown-together feel, that in retrospect seems a tad rushed and low budget. Monica Reyes has a great - albeit short - monologue in the courtroom that basically redeems her limp characterization for the rest of her two years' tenure.

The Truth ultimately feels like a closed door - but not a locked one, if you catch my drift. I can't wait for the 10-year X-Files reunion (smile).


Miracle Man [1x17]

Overall Rating: 6/10
Fright Factor: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Mytharc Relevance: 4/10
Re-watchability: Medium
Connections: N/A

Summary: The show opens with an apartment fire, several years ago. Fire crews are on the scene; one firefighter zips up a body bag containing a victim of the blaze. Among the onlookers are Reverend Calvin Hartley (George Gerdes) and his 8-year old son Samuel (Alex Doduk). They approach the body bag and unzip it, revealing a badly-burned lifeless corpse. Samuel begins to utter prayers commanding the dead man to arise, when the fire marshal tells them to leave. Moments later, the body's arm moves, and the dead man's hand grasps Samuel's.

Cut to present day - Scully shows Mulder a tape of Reverend Calvin Hartley's Miracle Ministries show, where Hartley's Samuel, now 18 (Scott Bairstow), demonstrates his "divine gift" of healing. Unfortunately, in this episode of the show, the woman Samuel "heals" dies shortly thereafter of unknown causes. Soon after, Samuel is charged with her murder. Among the Miracle Ministries crew is a mysterious man in black who wears a long coat, gloves, hat and dark shades that cover his disfigured face and body - his name is Leonard Vance (Dennis Lipscomb), the burned man Samuel brought back from the dead.

Sheriff Daniels (R.D. Call) has had a grudge against Miracle Ministries for years, and he welcomes the recent death as an excuse to rein in the Reverend and his entourage. We learn the sheriff's wife suffers from a disabling, incurable illness that leaves her wheelchair-bound, but Daniels forbids his wife to seek Samuel's aid. When Samuel appears in court on the murder charge, the judge releases him on bail, citing no clear evidence he was responsible in the ministry audience woman's death. At that moment a flock of locusts descends on the courtroom, which Samuel interprets as a "sign" he must be incarcerated and punished. Samuel is released, and Calvin Hartley pressures him to perform more "healings" at the tent. Again, a woman, this time an MS sufferer, dies following the healing session.

While the Miracle Ministry dogma cites scripture as forbidding autopsy, the family of the most recent victim reluctantly consents to Scully's postmortem. The results show the woman dies of cyanide poisoning. From there a chain of evidence leads to Leonard Vance, the burned man, as the culprit behind the cyanide poisonings and the "plague of locusts."

Report: This is one of several Season One episodes dealing centrally - or peripherally - with the themes of reincarnation and rebirth; other episodes along these lines include Shadows [1x05], Ghost In The Machine [1x06], Beyond The Sea [1x12], Genderbender [1x13], Lazarus [1x14], Young At Heart [1x15], Born Again [1x21] and Roland [1x22], enough to make me consider Season One the "Reincarnation Year." The show presented these idea in a variety of ways, some that worked well, others that seemed a bit unformed.

Miracle Man is one of the reincarnation X-Files with a religious foundation - but interestingly, here Scully remains the skeptic of the duo despite her Catholic background (later in the series, Scully tends to be the one to believe in faith-based supernatural events, especially after her abduction/alien cancer crises). What makes Mulder a "believer" is that a vision of his missing sister Samantha appears frequently while he's in the vicinity of Samuel Hartley. Part of Mulder thinks Samuel may have a real connection somewhere to Samantha, and part thinks Samuel may merely have the psychic power to project her image into his mind - but Scully thinks the visions are all a delusion of Mulder's fervent desire to believe his sister is still alive.

At its heart, Miracle Man is a sad, "downer" episode: while we suspect there may have been some miracles that occurred because of Samuel Hartley's "gift", little good has come from them. Several innocent people die from cyanide poisoning. Vance, the badly-burned man Samuel (as a boy) originally brought back from the dead despises his condition, and orchestrates the downfall of Miracle Ministries as revenge for being brought back to life. If his life was so terrible, why did continue being a "sideshow act" for the Miracle Ministries for ten years? Was he coerced, or just so emotionally damaged he felt compelled to stay? How did the timing of the healing-tent cyanide poisoning deaths coincide so closely with Samuel's "touch"?

Samuel ends up beaten to death by the sheriff's henchmen, the sheriff's ailing wife is not healed, and for all intents and purposes Samuel remains dead - I didn't get the feeling Samuel actually rose up to appear before Vance, but rather, he was a figment of Vance's guilt-ridden mind or a psychic projection. Why else explain the glow around Samuel? The nurse at the end of the show that claims to have seen Samuel walk past her station didn't report any unusual phenomenon.

Again, a somewhat enjoyable early episode that leaves a few loose ends hanging...and unlike the more audience-popular liver-eating mutant ,Eugene Victor Tooms I don't think Samuel Hartley never reappeared in the series, to my knowledge.