You must remember this: A kiss is just a kiss -- unless, that is, it’s a kiss between paranormal investigators Fox Mulder and Dana Scully projected larger than life on the giant screen of the Cinerama Dome.
That kiss -- a highlight from “The X-Files” -- became a lightning bolt that sparked squeals of delight from many jammed into the historic theater for a retrospective tribute to the Fox drama, which centered on the adventures of two FBI agents exploring the supernatural and the unexplainable. The series, which starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, ended in 2002 after nine seasons.
Mulder and Scully -- or rather, Duchovny and Anderson -- were not present during the fete Wednesday night, part of the 25th annual William S. Paley Television Festival sponsored by the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Television & Radio). But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the so-called X-Philes, sitting in rapt attention while series creator Chris Carter, executive producer Frank Spotnitz and other writers and directors from the series unveiled some of the mysteries behind the monsters, strange doings and ominous atmosphere that distinguished the show.
Giving the event an extra jolt was a look at the trailer for the “X-Files” movie that comes out July 25. The rapid-fire preview gave few clues to the plot or characters, except that Mulder and Scully, who went from platonic partners to a more romantic level in the later seasons, still call each other Mulder and Scully (apparently intimacy did not put them on a first-name basis). There is a lot of running and loud music, snow and, of course, the ghostly six-note whistle that was the core of the show’s theme song.
The film, a sequel of sorts to the first “X-Files” movie that came out in 1998, doesn’t even have a title. “I know what the title should be,” quipped Carter, noting that Fox may have other ideas. The audience was so juiced by the trailer that it was shown twice.
In development in various degrees since the show ended, the movie will take up six years after the conclusion of the series, Carter said, and attempts to honor longtime fans while reaching out to those unfamiliar with the show. He declined to specify the nature of the relationship between Mulder and Scully when the movie starts.
“It’s a stand-alone movie, but it’s not negligent or insensitive to the fact that there is a history there, and there has been a passage of time with Mulder and Scully,” Carter said.
Still, much of the focus of the event was on the past. Also appearing on the panel were actors Mitch Pileggi, who played FBI Asst. Director Walter Skinner; Nicholas Lea, who played Agent Alex Krycek, and Dean Hagland, one of the Lone Gunmen who helped Mulder and Scully and were the stars of their own short-lived spinoff.
“It’s just nice to see how well the show is remembered,” Spotnitz said. Carter, who periodically took out a camera to take pictures of the adoring throng, added that he “never had a good sense of how popular the show was because I was too busy trying to make deadlines.”
At its height, “The X-Files” was not merely a hit but also a phenomenon that helped establish Fox as a credible network. Its influence is evident in shows such as “Lost” and “Heroes.” It made stars of Duchovny and Anderson.
Although the series featured more than its share of alien stories, monsters and twisted government conspiracies, the relationship between the agents registered a humanity and humor that scored with a broad viewership, particularly women. Females made up a large portion of the audience Wednesday.
After the series ended, Carter said he took a long break and even avoided watching old episodes. He said the series was “all-consuming, and getting away from it gave me a healthy perspective on life. At the end, I found my wife again.”
He also pursued other interests, including getting a pilot’s license.
“I challenged myself artistically, physically and intellectually. It was really great.”