Cult hit asks ‘Why not?’

Genetically engineered twins. A psychopath who starts fires with his mind. Aliens inside human hosts.

The latest edition of the National Enquirer? Tomorrow’s ‘Geraldo’?

Nope, it’s just another Friday night on ‘The X-Files,’ a 4-month-old Fox series that is developing a loyal cult following faster than you can say ‘Twin Peaks.’ ‘X-Files’ targets other worlds

And no wonder Network TV doesn’t get much weirder than this mystery-thriller-drama that’s one part ‘Twilight Zone,’ one part ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and one part pure paranoia. Each hour-long episode revolves around FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), an agency outcast who spends his time investigating unexplainable cases. He’s aided – and sometimes hindered – by level-headed partner Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). ‘The show is about the collision of the mundane world and extraordinary reality,’ says Duchovny, who played a transvestite FBI agent on three episodes of ‘Twin Peaks.’ ‘The tension and the excitement comes when one of the two worlds has to adjust to incorporate the other one.’

Mulder is the bridge between the two universes, an intelligent man whose willingness to accept the possibility that Something Is Out There originated during childhood, when his sister was mysteriously abducted. Since then, he’s been obsessed with all things paranormal.

‘He’s someone that could have had a very thriving career in the mainstream of the FBI,’ says Duchovny, ‘yet he’s chosen to pursue something that means something to him and has therefore given up everything and become kind of a laughingstock.’ Ratings for ‘X-Files’ are low by network standards, but the folks at Fox consider it one of their hottest new shows. That’s because it’s attracting a large percentage of the network’s target audience – men and women ages 18-34. Moreover, word of mouth from — both critics and audiences has been excellent.

All of which is good news to creator and executive producer Chris Carter, a former journalist who came up with the idea for ‘X-Files’ while researching examples of paranormal activity for a possible series.

‘I thought there must be a branch of the FBI that investigates these cases that involve unexplained phenomenon,’ he says. ‘The FBI doesn’t cop to any such branch, but I can’t imagine that it doesn’t exist.’

While ‘X-Files’ is clearly science fiction, its creator insists the phenomena explored in each episode aren’t complete fantasies.

‘All of them spring from some tidbit of scientific fact,’ says Carter. ‘Then we proceed on the big ‘what if?’ ‘

 
 
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