Chris Carter wasn't expecting to get the call from Fox asking him to come back to the network and create six new episodes of his cult show, The X-Files.
For the creator, who had wanted to keep the characters alive in one form or another, it was the opportunity he had been waiting for.
"I think there's this idea that I own the show and I really don't," Carter said during a call on Thursday. "I could say that I'm a stakeholder in the show, but Fox can do whatever they damn please. They didn't have to bring it back."
Now that the series is returning to the air for a six-episode miniseries, however, Carter's back to dreaming up strange cases for Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). The creator admitted that there was a strong chance The X-Files could continue past these six upcoming episodes, but their fate was going to be heavily determined by the show's ratings.
"The question now is, 'If we book it, will the audience come?' We live in a different world where the audience is fractured," Carter said. "Everyone has to get the word out there in order to get the ratings that will promote more episodes."
Talking about additional episodes, Carter said there were a few he had written that he think could still be used today, and even more interesting, admitted he's had an episode in his story vault that he's wanted to bring to air for more than 20 years.
"One day I may actually do it, but it didn't work out in this series," Carter confided. "When you do six, you have to be very selective. They have to work both individually and together as a whole and I think that's why you're seeing the episodes you're seeing now."
If we book it, will the audience come?
When asked about how nervous he was returning to the series after years of stepping away from it, Carter admitted that once he got the team back together, things moved rather easily. It helped, he added, that for the most part, Fox was hands off during their entire process. Carter said that while the network certainly had a few notes here and there, they had the confidence in he and his team to let them bring the series to fruition without much interference.
"When you first get up and running, everyone is nervous because you're spending millions of dollars and everyone is expecting you to be a big failure and waste all their money," Carter said. "This time around there was a tremendous amount of respect. We came back to do six episodes, which doesn't seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but I can tell you I worked as hard as I ever have on this show."
For Carter, creating these new episodes wasn't just a creative venture that he signed on to. He confessed that a large part of him felt like he owed it to original fans of the series to continue Mulder and Scully's storyline and said these episodes were for them. With that being said, he also admitted that if there was any chance of the series continuing past the six episodes in this miniseries, it was very important that the show felt accessible to younger fans who may just be coming to it now.
"The first episode will begin with an elaborate catchup and it's not something that will insult hardcore fans," Carter said. "It will certainly end provocatively, I can tell you that much."
One other facet of the show Carter is hoping to explore if more episodes are ordered is the status of Mulder and Scully's relationship. As it stands right now, the two are definitely not together. As Carter pointed out during the call, in this new digital age where information is available at any time, Mulder would have been practically unbearable for Scully to be around.
"Because of Google, Mulder probably spends a lot of time sitting at home in front of his computer in his underwear," Carter said. "I believed it would spell a bump in the road for them. But I think you'll see through the course of the six episodes that they begin to be drawn close together once again."
Carter wouldn't elaborate as to whether that meant Scully and Mulder would eventually get the romantic reunion that fans have been hoping for, but did reiterate that was an arc that could only be carried out if the show received an order for new episodes.
Besides the miniseries, however, Carter also said that he was open to making a third X-Files movie, but had a very specific set of rules that would have to be met in order to do so. Unlike the second movie, which Carter admitted was full of problems, the creator said he would have to be given the same kind of freedom and tools he and his team received while working on the first film.
"If and when we do a third movie, I wouldn't do it unless we had the proper budget and a proper release date," Carter said. "I feel like we didn't have either in the second one and I would be looking to do something similar to the first one."
For now, Carter is focused on the miniseries, which is set to debut the first half of a two-part event on Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET on Fox. The second part will air the following night at the same time, with the last four episodes airing Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET. Those that want to catch up with the series before the premiere can catch all nine seasons on Netflix right now.