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NY Daily News
Feb. 18, 2000

X Files boldly goes thru 7th season
by Eric Mink
4 ****stars

The X Files was expected to spend this season, its seventh and most likely its last, quietly sliding into TV oblivion - creative juices all but spent, the energies of its staff and stars focused not on TV but on X Files feature films to come.

It hasn't worked out that way.

Nearly overlooked in its Sunday, 9 pm time slot by a Millionaire and Sopranos-obsessed media, The X Files has been methodically going about the business of telling great stories week after week.

Indeed, with a couple of exceptions, the show has served up a terrific bunch of episodes this season - some involving the show's long-running alien-conspiracy storylines, some not - like a veteran pitcher keeping batters off-balance by mixing up off-speed and power pitches.

Sunday's nifty episode, written by Vince Gilligan and directed by Michael Watkins, is a case in point. It derives from a plausible notion: What if FBI Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) crossed paths with the real-world TV show Cops? And what if the story of that encounter were told in the hyper-realistic, shot-on-the-run, videotaped style of Cops?

The belligerent perpetrator in his underwear, his stream of profanity edited with bleeps; a terrifed victim who can't speak English; eccentic but courageous civilians; suspects' fuzzed- out faces; the screaming baby in the raided crack house; sudden, extreme camera zooms and pans; the muddy audio and murky natural-light visuals - and lots of yelling.

Onto this stylistic framework, Gilligan and Watkins hang the sensibilities of The X Files - under a full moon, monsters seem to be stalking a high-crime neighborhood of Los Angeles - and the familiar attitudes of its lead characters.

Mulder, not surprisingly, digs the idea of being on Cops and quickly starts playing to the camera crews. Scully is contemptuous of the show and bristles at the interference with her investigative efforts. The glares she fires at the Cops cameras could freeze soup.

Neither is there any dearth of X-philian humor, as in this exchange between Mulder and LA County sheriff's deputy who has seen some very strange things during his full-moon shift.

Deputy: "It's hard to have a fast-track career in law enforcement when everybody thinks you're nuts."

Mulder: "Tell me about it."

But this season has hardly been all fun and games. After a muddled opening two-parter about alien viruses, the series settled into a run of wonderfully creepy episodes. Plots included a kid with a taste for human brains; corpses brought to life by millennial fanatics; an impossibly lucky man; a vicious murderer whose luck finally ran out, along with Scully's self-restraint; killer rattlesnakes in the service of a demonic preacher; and a complex scam involving second-rate magicians, second-rate hoodlums and a severed head.

Most recently - in a sometimes chilling, sometimes poignant and surprisingly spiritual two part story - Mulder's hunt for his long-missing younger sister finally came to an end.

Last fall, in what sounded at the time like boilerplate hype, series creator and executive producer Chris Carter touted The X Files as an especially fertile concept for the generation of new stories.

With this season now about half done, it looks as though Carter's comments weren't just hype; they were true.

Fox ought to take that as proof that The X Files still has more than enough creative life in it to justify an eighth season, and work out new deals with Carter and Duchovny (Anderson's already contractually obligated) to make it happen.

Article from The NY Daily News by Eric Mink. Transcribed by Alfornos.

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