There's good news and there's bad news for the fans of The X-Files who buy the new movie-length video, The Unanswered File. The tape is a combination of this year's cliffhanger finale and the first two episodes of next season.

"It doesn't tie everything up in a nice little bow." says creator, writer and executive producer Chris Carter, in an exclusive interview with TV WEEK from The X-Files set in Vancouver, Canada.

"But we pick up on some threads that were begun earlier in the season and raise more questions.

"What you'll find when you watch these episodes is that, while it is satisfying, ultimately we have posed as many questions as we've answered."

The Unanswered File, a special video release now available through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, includes the final episode, Anasazi, which topped the ratings in Australia when it screened on Network Ten, and the new-season episodes The Blessing Way and Paper Clip, which will not screen Down Under until February.

Chris approved the movie-length video after relentless hounding by U.S. fans.

"People kept calling us up and saying: 'How could you make us wait three months to find out how Mulder gets out of that boxcar?" Chris says laughing.

"The cliffhanger was one our highest-rating episodes, and I think the three episodes on the tape, which I wrote, are successful and interesting and work on many levels."

In the cliffhanger, FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is led to the Arizona desert, where he discovers a buried train boxcar full of alien bodies. Someone in the government wants the secret to stay buried, and the season ends when army troops arrive and bomb the scene.

The new episodes reveal what happened to Mulder when he disappeared shortly before the bomb blast, partly explain the disappearance of Mulder's sister, Scully's (Gillian Anderson) abduction and the murder of Mulder's father as part of a terrifying government cover-up.

"What's on the (computer) tape is what Mulder believes are the MJ12 documents, which are government files that reveal their knowledge of extraterrestrial life on Earth, and what they've been doing about it since the late Forties," Chris says.

"So if Mulder had that information and it got out, it would basically bust the government conspiracy of silence wide open. So the government is anxious to prevent that from happening."

The spine-tingling suspense of the video will satisfy most fanatical devotees of the show, and Chris says they can only expect even more chilling storylines in the next season.

"The stakes keep getting higher, but the show is going in the same direction it has always gone in - towards the investigation of the paranormal and Mulder and Scully learning one step at a time what the government knows and what concrete proof they have," he says. "We are planning some more two-part episodes later in the season that will further explain the government's willing deception of the American people and Mulder and Scully."

The X-Files is seen by more than 30 million viewers world-wide each week, and boasts fanatical fans who have set up conventions, not unlike those that bring together Star Trek cast, crew and fans.

"There seems to be a widely enthusiastic fandom out there, which is great," Chris says happily. "People take the show very personally and think it is their show and want a little piece of it, so they go to the conventions to get that piece - in the form of merchandizing - and to hear from the stars (excluding Duchovny and Anderson, who have yet to take part in a convention)."

A Golden Globe Award winner for TV Best Drama is now in its third season in the U.S., and Chris is planning a big-screen version of the show, although it will not begin filming until May 1997.

"I think there will be some really cool things that we weren't able to do on the small screen," he says.

"We won't be subject to certain TV censorship, so you may get a little more frightened.

"I'd like to think of a movie such as The Silence Of The Lambs as a standard to go up against."

The 38-year-old X-Files boss, who writes about a third of the scripts, acknowledges he is an unlikely sci-fi guru.

"I just think of myself as this surfer," he says.

"If you look on the surface, I was an athlete, a journalist and I don't look like anyone you'd give a wide berth to on the street or point me out as anybody much different to anyone else. I've just got an overactive imagination!"

Although stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson work closely together, Chris is adamant there will be no romance between the agents Mulder and Scully - on video, TV or in the movie!

"I think it would be a really stupid manoeuvre to put the characters in a romantic situation, because it really is against the spirit of the show," he says. Pausing, with a sly grin, he adds: "But an Australian magazine just did a photo shoot with them in bed together, which I think will titillate, anger and amuse a lot of fans!"


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Stacey O -