The more non X-Files output I see from Chris Carter, the more convinced I become that the influential series succeeded not because of him, but because of the talented crop of writers he surrounded himself with.
That feeling is only underscored by Carter’s latest attempt to get back into the television game with the Amazon Pilot, The After.
A group of disparate, but very cliched, people are all brought together one fateful day in Los Angeles when something happens that throws society and the world into chaos. Exactly what happened will probably be the focus of the series, should it get a pick-up, though at this point I’m not sure how much faith I have in Carter to resolve the issue or answer the questions in an interesting or timely fashion.
The show might be helped if this group of gathered survivors weren’t a walking, talking set of cliches. We have the French actress who isn’t getting the parts she wants, the jerk of a lawyer and his younger girlfriend, a guy dressed up in a clown suit, a police officer and an African-American convict who proclaims his innocence to everyone who will listen. Oh and there’s an Irish guy who likes to drink and swears — a lot.
Of course, it feels like everyone in this pilot swears a great deal. In many ways, The After feels like its following the early-season Torchwood model of being “adult” — more swearing and gratuitous nudity. If this goes to a series, hopefully Carter will realize that being adult and having the freedom that the Amazon model could give him allows him to explore some more complex, adult themes like Torchwood finally got to with its superlative “Children of Earth” arc.
Having Carter involved with the project is a double-edged sword. Part of me is reluctant to want to commit to the series based on memories of just how badly The X-Files fumbled things in later seasons. But I’ll admit that I wouldn’t have watched this pilot or kept going with it to the end of things had it not been for my fond memories of the early seasons of The X-Files.
If The After is to go to series, it might be helped by giving it a limited run or a specified number of episodes in which to tell its story. As we saw with Lost, having an end-date can help the arc storytelling and prevents creators from having to tread water and instead give the audience the answers they want or at least allow them to feel like things are building toward a conclusion.