For a guy who created one of the most iconic and influential series of the last two decades, X-Files mastermind Chris Carter has been surprisingly off the radar in the years since Mulder and Scully’s adventures wrapped up in 2002 (although they’re now continuing in comics form). He resurfaced in 2008 with the forgettable The X-Files: I Want to Believe, but it was unclear if Carter would ever wow us with another new project or if he was just going to settle into a comfortable retirement swimming laps inside his Scrooge McDuck-style money vault. Last year we first got word of a new science fiction series he was developing called The After, and now there’s finally more news about it: it may skip broadcast and cable and instead become an Amazon original series.
At the time, The After was even more vague and mysterious than it is now, being described only as mixing “science fiction, suspense, and real-world fear and paranoia.” Well, that certainly sounds like a Chris Carter joint. A new report from Deadline reveals that Amazon is currently greenlighting its next crop of pilots, and The After is near the top of their list. The story also provides one more tiny morsel about the show’s concept: it’s said to be set “at the moment of apocalypse.”
Apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction is all the rage these days, with some projects (AMC’s The Walking Dead) more successful than others (the bulk of Revolution’s first season, After Earth). Between The X-Files and Millennium, this sort of material is right in Carter’s wheelhouse, so the question will be whether he’s lost any of his chops during his years off the air, and whether he can bring a new take on an increasingly oversaturated genre. Either way, the prospect of a new Chris Carter series should give any genre fan a tingle of cautious excitement. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he can talk Darin Morgan into contributing a few of his brilliantly weird scripts to the series. (Morgan wrote the unforgettable X-Files episodes “Humbug,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “War of the Coprophages,” and “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space.'”)
Carter is developing The After with Georgetown Television, which has become something of a genre powerhouse in the past year. In addition to Carter’s show, they’re also developing the Blake’s 7 remake; Sense8, the Netflix series Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski is creating with the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas); and an ABC pandemic thriller also from Straczynski. That’s an impressive lineup, and all the more intriguing given the multitude of non-traditional media the shows are targeting. (Blake’s 7 was recently announced to be premiering on Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, rather than on Syfy, as was originally planned).
Amazon has been trying to dive headfirst into the business of original content, but suffered a serious misstep with the high-profile but poorly received Zombieland pilot that premiered on Amazon Prime last April. Hopefully The After will fare better.