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TUNED IN

'X-Files' Teasingly Opens Its Season

November 10, 2001|DARYL H. MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As "The X-Files" enters its ninth season, the show's fans are bursting with questions: Is Scully's miracle baby the product of secret genetic engineering? Is the federal government colluding in these experiments? Who can be trusted as agents Doggett and Reyes try to investigate?

But X-Philes don't actually expect any answers in the two-part season opener--which begins Sunday at 9 p.m. on Fox and continues Nov. 18--because half the fun of watching "The X-Files" is to be teased with elaborate conspiracy theories, then left hanging.

The opener is craftily written (by series creator Chris Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz), solidly acted and moodily photographed. But it leaves unanswered a still bigger question: whether Robert Patrick as FBI Agent John Doggett and Annabeth Gish as Agent Monica Reyes can generate anywhere near the heat that existed between David Duchovny's Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully. Mulder is now said to be hiding and, in the opener, at least, Scully sticks close to home with her baby. So Doggett and Reyes move to the forefront, assuming the respective Mulder and Scully characteristics so thoroughly that they half-resemble the shape-shifters who have figured so prominently in past action.

Their unauthorized investigation runs them afoul of Cary Elwes as a new FBI assistant director with choirboy looks but a bad-guy sneer, and it puts them on the trail of a dangerous beauty played by Lucy Lawless, whose wardrobe (or lack thereof) might make even her old "Xena" character blush.

It's all good fun, especially in the second, more action-packed episode. But a lot is riding on the new leads. The FBI is itching to shut down the X-Files; Patrick and Gish don't want to give viewers a reason to do the same to "The X-Files."

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