Looks like sci-fi/mystery fans have something they can sharpen their teeth on with this new series about an FBI agent specializing in unexplained phenomena and a doubting agent sent along to keep an eye on him. If succeeding chapters can keep the pace, the well-produced entry could be this season's UFO highflier.

Looks like sci-fi/mystery fans have something they can sharpen their teeth on with this new series about an FBI agent specializing in unexplained phenomena and a doubting agent sent along to keep an eye on him. If succeeding chapters can keep the pace, the well-produced entry could be this season’s UFO highflier.

FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) explores paranormal operations shoved into the back files –“X-Files”– by the bureau. Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), sent to document Mulder’s activities, also records whatever she finds.

Their initial foray involves four weird, separate deaths in an Oregon forest. All were studentsfrom the same class; all experienced a flood of white light and were found dead with two odd spots on their corpses. Mulder links the deaths with two other students in a psychiatric hospital, while Scully begins witnessing stuff too tough to explain in her reports.

Experiences with the local constabulary and county medical examiner (Cliff DeYoung) and his daughter add up to shenanigans that some may consider hokum, but others will enjoy. Writer Chris Carter and director Robert Mandel build the suspense despite using reworked concepts and familiar visual effects.

Duchovny’s delineation of a serious scientist with a sense of humor should win him partisans, and Anderson’s wavering doubter connects well. They’re a solid team, no matter how exhausted the subject matter.

Mandel’s cool direction of Carter’s ingenious script and the artful presentation itself give TVsci-fi a boost. A couple of red herrings about a phony white light and mosquito bites are annoyances, but the material as a whole has been artfully re-arranged.

Carter’s dialogue is fresh without being self-conscious, and the characters are involving. Series kicks off with drive and imagination, both innovative in recent TV.

The X-Files Fri.

(10), 9-10 p.m., FBC)

Production

Filmed in British Columbia by Ten Thirteen Prods. and Fox Broadcasting Co. Exec producer, writer, Chris Carter; supervising producer, Daniel Sackheim; director, Robert Mandel.

Crew

Camera, Thomas Del Ruth; editor, Stephen Mark; production designer, Michael Nemirsky; art director, Sheila Haley; sound, Michael Williamson; music, Mark Snow.

Cast

Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Charles Cioffi, Cliff De-Young, Sarah Koskoff, Leon Russom, Zachary Ansley, Stephen E. Miller, Malcolm Stewart, Alexander Berlin, Jim Jansen, Ken Camroux, Doug Abrams, William B. Davis, Katya Gardener, Ric Reid, Lesley Ewen, J.B. Bivens.
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