This year marks the 20th anniversary of The X-Files, a series whose influence is still being felt two decades later in shows such as Fox’s Fringe. There was a huge anniversary panel at Comic-Con a couple of weeks back, and that’s spurred yet another round of speculation as to when/if we might get another X-Files movie to take the vile taste of I Want to Believe out of our mouths, or how long it’ll be before Fox just decides to reboot the franchise. Regardless of whether either of those possibilities comes to fruition, in the meantime we may have another show in the X-Files vein to tide us over: a USA Network pilot called Horizons, which just added the Dread Pirate Roberts himself, actor Cary Elwes, to its cast.
We first reported on Horizon late last year, revealing that the pilot is being shepherded by The Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd through her Valhalla Entertainment company. Irish actress Ruth Bradley stars in Horizon as Lauren, an FBI secretary who begins investigating the death of her husband, eventually running across a collection of strange files that seem to tie in to her husband’s fate, all of them stamped with the mysterious codename “Horizon.” All very X-Files-y, obviously.
The setting, however, changes things up a bit. Horizon unfolds during World War II, and it seems that Lauren’s dead husband may have been keeping some spooky secrets, including a possible encounter with extraterrestrials in the South Pacific. While the X-Files comparisons write themselves, Horizon also reminds me of the 1996 – 1997 series Dark Skies, which took the convoluted alien-invasion mythology of Chris Carter’s iconic series and painted it over the background of 1960s America. It’s worth noting that World War II wrapped up in 1945, and the so-called “Roswell incident” unfolded in 1947. Don’t be surprised if Roswell figures into Horizon’s story arc somehow, assuming it survives long enough to reach that time frame.
As for Elwes, Deadline reports that he will play Max Hartman, “a mysterious man who leads a double life in wartime DC.” His casting is no surprise, as he had a recurring role on USA’s Psych as the character Pierre Despereaux. He’s best known as the unforgettable Wesley/Dread Pirate Roberts in the classic 1987 film The Princess Bride, or for a memorable role in a couple of the Saw movies. He even appeared in The X-Files, popping up in several episodes between 2001 – 2002 as FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer.
The Horizon pilot was written by another USA vet, Bridget Tyler, whose only produced credits so far are a couple of episodes of that network’s Burn Notice.
Horizon will all come down to execution, just like everything else, but it’d be nice to have a new show sailing into X-Files territory now that Fringe has gracefully bowed out. It’ll also be interesting to see USA entering genre territory, a leap high-profile networks such as AMC (The Walking Dead, Ballistic City) and Starz (Torchwood: Miracle Day, Steven DeKnight’s in-the-works Incursion) have already made.
It’s still early days, so there’s no information about when we might get to see Horizon might hit the airwaves, but this one is definitely on our radar.