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'The Truth' about THE X-FILES

Tom Pheby looks back at the closing episode of The X-Files, 2002's The Truth...

When I heard the news that a new series of The X-Files was being planned I went deliriously dizzy for a fleeting nanosecond. I was genuinely overcome at the thought of seeing Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) scurrying about in the basement of the FBI building trying to solve various weird and wonderful cases. Watching with baited breath as the pair exchanged knowing looks, locked ideological horns and almost certainly had to be prized apart before the sexual tension between them led to ape like rumpy-pumpy!

But then I remembered that the conclusion to its final season, The Truth, in which we were almost guaranteed a degree of closure on the numerous paranormal and extraterrestrial story arcs, was a spectacularly dull and disappointing affair. What we actually got was a clumsy potpourri of badly thought out ideas and hastily arranged plot lines, the sort that clearly signaled that the show was cancelled in a hurry and it meant the episode fell short of a fin parfaite, but it did facilitate possible future movie excursions.

According to Frank Spotniz (executive producer) the production team thought Season 8 was probably the last, with Duchovny unavailable and Anderson with one year left on her contract, and in hindsight perhaps someone somewhere should have had the good grace to make sure that it had been, thus avoiding a shabby ending.

Duchovny at the time was flirting with Hollywood to secure big screen projects, most of which received a decidedly chilly reception from the public and critics alike. This decision resulted in him only appearing in half the shows of Season 8, and led to him gradually phasing himself out altogether until the big finish.

Duchovny hangs on to his flagging film career.

Once series creator Chris Carter and Spotniz were given the green light by the studio to go ahead with another series (Season 9) they had to almost reinvent the show with Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish, but this injected a certain amount of freshness and inventiveness in terms of characters and the direction in which the show was heading.

Meanwhile Anderson/Sculley appeared as if she was moonlighting between voice overs, or was preoccupied by an impending nail appointment, showing up merely to serve as a link between the original series and its new stars.

You got the feeling that there was almost an inevitability about its demise, and although its two new stars more than made up for Duchovny's absence and Anderson's peripheral appearances, it was clear that it was all over bar the shouting.

"As you can see Scully , my bank balance isn't looking good. How about I revive that Fox fella again"

Throughout the final season everyone seemed hell bent on mentioning Mulder's name as frequently as possible, without any real threat of him glancing at a camera, and you began to miss his nasally tones, delivering lines like a Elk with tonsillitis. You could also be forgiven for thinking that we, the audience, had more chance of warming to George W Bush or catching the tooth fairy in the act of exchanging teeth for cash than ever seeing Fox Mulder again.

But up Duchovny popped with a fat cheque that tempted him out of exile, and subsequently led to him abandoning his ill fated movie career and probably cancelling his treatment for sex addiction at a snazzy rehab clinic in America. (I'll digress slightly at this point by stating that only in America can you be treated for a such a ridiculous condition. For all his wealth you would have thought it would have been far easier and less annoying to head for the tried and tested Robert Downey Jr route of copious amounts of drink and drugs.)

Anyway back to The Truth which sees Mulder on trial for murder by a group of Military cover up Charlie's, and there follows a long dragged out prosecution/defence scenario which attempts to explain the previous eight seasons via contributions from just about everyone who had ever crossed Mulders past. All these elaborate reveals and recollections just applied the breaks to an already stilted story which failed to surprise and took monotony to new levels.

Duchovny spoke his lines as if reading an auto cue, and in a ridiculous twist Skinner was appointed to defend the former FBI agent meaning that Mulder's conviction was a certainty and that he would have to resort to a clumsy escape from a facility that it would be difficult to smuggle grated cheese into or out of.

Trying to explain away the events of eight seasons was in fact the like asking Stephen Hawking to explain the birth of our solar system in the brief gap between the news and the weather. It's a heavy, life sapping process that cheekily and ruthlessly overuses a wealth of flashbacks from previous episodes, which means at times its hard to stop yourself nodding off .

Carter's futile attempt to explain everything away and wrap it up with a neat bow resulted in the ending lacking credibility and left you thinking "is that it?". I felt cheated as if Carter himself had bought a round of drinks, only for me to discover he'd swiped the money from my wallet whilst I was in the lavatory.

How different it was from the most absorbing seasons, the best of which were probably 1-5, but at least Mulder's exit and the sparse use of Scully gave us the opportunity to enjoy the slightly more earthy John Doggett and relentless charm of Monica Reyes played brilliantly by Robert (Terminator 2) Patrick and Annabeth Gish. Even as late additions they made a fantastic contribution by adding a refreshing new dimension and providing the opposites of the other two leads. I'll even admit at this juncture that I preferred Doggett to Mulder which will cause some outrage with devoted Filers.

The reason being is Mulder had run his course as a character by Season 8, and there seemed no way of expanding on what had gone before unless the writers had him shacking up with an Alien called Jennifer and scaring the crap out of rednecks whilst on late night shopping forays for burger buns and maple syrup in Alabama! So quite how creator Chris Carter will revive and rekindle the ethos of the show is a mystery and a concern in equal measure, but at least it gives it a chance to find a whole new audience after it limped off our screens 13 years ago.

I can almost see a bitter and twisted Mulder with a fabulous bushy beard, full of squirrels talking incoherently to a vase about conspiracy theories and alien abductions, before Scully administers his medication. Then I imagined the Smoking Man standing in the doorway, having abandoned real cigarettes in favour of those air freshener devices or E-Fags as they are better known, puffing merrily away on a combination of wild wood cherry and Autumnal moth breath, rambling on about the old days.

When it does come back lets hope it's in the form of Seasons 1-5 (and some of 6-9), but 'The Truth' is that we'd prefer if it wasn't like its inconclusive conclusion. As Mulder himself used to say 'I want to believe'.

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter

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