BY AUDETTE FULBRIGHT
CENTRAL PIEDMONT COLLEGE, N.C.
AGENTS ARE STOCK HOLLYWOOD CHARAC-
ters. They've been the good guys, the bad
guys, the fall guys and more. But Friday
nights on the Fox network, two FBI agents
live life a bit differently - they track
down mysterious UFOs, deadly poltergeists and mutant
liver-eating serial killers.
It's The X-Files, of course, and although it's a far cry
from standard TV fare (or perhaps because it is), this
show is hitting a nerve out there. In much the same way
"Trekkies" created a culture out of their love for Star
Trek, "X-Philes" are carving out their own niche as they
form online fan clubs, buy up novels and comics based
on the series and come together by the thousands at X-
Files conventions. Just what is going on here?
DAVID DUCHOVNY, A.K.A.
SPECIAL AGENT MULDER
"We're exploring the areas of
extreme possibilities," says Paul
Rabwin, one of the show's produc-
ers. "The subject matter is super-
natural, but it's in a grounded
area. The science and technology
on the show is real. People realize
that genetic mutations, for exam-
ple, can and do happen. It's a
small step from there to the plots
It's the shadow realms that The
X-Files specializes in. Special Agents
Dana Scully and Fox Mulder don't
just come across ghosts, demons
and aliens - they come across as
"Mulder thinks about UFOs
the way other men think about
sex," says David Duchovny, who
plays the driven, troubled Mul-
der. "That's the challenge for me
- to bring that kind of intensity
to the part."
Duchovny has gotten into story
and plot development because he
believes the show will benefit from
revealing more of who the charac-
ters are. In this way, the show can
achieve a balance between the "real"
world of humans and emotions and
the paranormal world with which
they deal constantly.
"People are familiar with FBI
agents, what they do," Rabwin says.
"I think what draws people in and
keeps them there is that here are
two people in a mundane environ-
ment, but they deal with supernat-
ural events. And one of them is
always speaking for all of us, because
one character is a believer and one
comes from a more scientific, skep-
The show sustains much of its
credibility by grounding the stories
with solid narrative techniques,
Rabwin says. Behind all the special
effects and conspiracies, the art of
"People love mysteries... and
well-told stories" says Gillian Ander-
son, a.k.a. Special Agent Dana Scul-
ly, as she takes a breather outside
the set in Vancouver, British
Columbia, where the show is
filmed. Scully is the skeptic - week
after week, she analyzes the particu-
lars of the case and tries to find a
"People want to talk about these
topics, and we provide them that
chance," Anderson says. "And on
this show, which is different from
most episodic series, people don't
know what to expect next. We have
few sequels, and those that we do
have are so high-pitched that people
are desperate to find out what's
going to happen."
This isn't the sort of thinking
that goes into many television shows
these days. The level of commit-
ment both on and off the set is a big
part of the reason The X-Files has
become the sensation it is.
"Everything about this show is
high-quality," Anderson says. "The
writing, the editing, the directing,
the quality of the co-stars. We've
got people busting their balls to take
risks and make this show good."
Episode director Kim Manners
agrees. "I've been in this business for
17 years, and this is the best I could
ask for. We have the best equipment
and the best people.
"Chris [Carter, creator and pro-
ducer] hands me a script and says,
'Make a feature.' I've worked on
shows where they actually got
upset if you did good film work.
All they wanted were the basics
and for me to hurry up and get a
close-up of the star. Here, I'm not
only given permission, I'm given
free rein, and I'm expected to pro-
duce high-quality work."
S r o n
Behind the scenes, the effort con-
tinues. Everyone is friendly and
cooperative, but there's no question
that they're on the job. The set
hums. Most of these people have
worked together before, but whether
they have or not, the impression is
that of a working ensemble.
"When you can get on a show
like this, it's a blast," says Nick Lea,
who plays the evil counter-agent
Krycek. "Care goes into every
aspect. Inevitably, that care is
reflected in the ratings."
Critics are picking up on the
quality as well. Last season, The X-
Files was a dark-horse winner at the
Golden Globe awards for Best
Drama. This year the show was
nominated for seven Emmys,
including Best Drama, Best Writing
and Best Cinematography.
The heat is on. The success of
the show may seem supernatural,
but the formula is classic: Work
hard - the rest will follow.
For The X-Files, the proof is out
Audette Fulbright wentall the way
from North Carolina to Vancouver,
British Columbia, to interview her
30 U. Magazine - October 1995