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The X-Files

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.

With:
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Charles Cioffi, Cliff DeYoung, 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.

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, apparently so they can keep their eye on what he might uncover. Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), sent to document Mulder’s activities, also is recording whatever she finds out of order.

Their initial foray involves four odd, separate deaths in an Oregon forest. All of the dead were students from the same class. All of them hit the woods and , after experiencing a flood of white light, 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, the county medical examiner (Cliff DeYoung) and his daughter, while digging up one of the bodies add up to what some may consider hokum and others will get a kick from the shenanigans. Writer Chris Carter and director Robert Mandel build the suspense despite using reworked concepts and familiar visual effects.

Duchovny’s 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 TV sci-fi a boost. A couple of red herrings abouta phony white light and mosquito bites are annoyances, but the material as a whole has been artfully rearranged. 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.

Popular on Variety

The X-Files

Fox, Fri. Sept. 10, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed on location in British Columbia by Ten Thirteen Prods. and Fox Broadcasting Co. Executive producer, writer, Chris Carter. Supervising producer, Daniel Sackheim. Director, Robert Mandel.

Crew: Camera, Thomas Del Ruth; editor, Stephen Mark; art director, Sheila Haley; sound, Michael Williamson; music, Mark Snow; production designer, Michael Nemirsky. 60 MIN.

With: Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Charles Cioffi, Cliff DeYoung, 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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