November 02, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

A peek inside this week’s ”X-Files” premiere

A couple of weeks ago, in the magazine’s ”If We Ran TV” package of articles, I contributed what I thought was a helpful little squib that was entitled ”Career Counseling” — advice to celebrities we at Entertainment Weekly enjoy, recommendations for what they might do next. You know, the sort of thing people are always complaining reviewers never do: offer constructive criticism.

It just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished. My entry for David Duchovny said that he might want to take a good hard look at a new remake being planned of the classic TV show ”The Fugitive.” I said one advantage would be that he’d be the sole star, and wouldn’t have to contend with a potentially irksome costar. Well, lots of emailers thought I was attacking Duchovny’s ”X Files” costar, Gillian Anderson. Not at all — for pete’s sake, if it wasn’t for Anderson’s coolly performed Dana Scully, Duchovny’s Fox Mulder would be just another grim crusader: It’s with the yin and yang of that relationship that the show achieves its greatest drama.

If there was any doubt of this, you must check out Sunday’s season premiere of ”The X Files.” The seventh season kicks off from the sixth season’s cliff-hanger: Mulder hearing voices and trapped in a government rubber room, while Scully combs West Africa for shards of the gigantic alien spacecraft she literally stumbled upon.

The Fox network pulled ”X Files” auteur Chris Carter’s ”Harsh Realm” after a scant three episodes, doing a potentially exciting show a disservice; that’s a shame — a pop-cultural crime — as this ”X Files” episode, written by Carter, only serves to underscore. Even when separated by continents and subplots, the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson is palpable, and the episode achieves a climax as touching (and frightening) as any the series has yet broadcast.

Believe me — I harbor no complaint against Anderson. If and when she and Duchovny leave the show (Carter has said he’s proceeding as if this may be the series’ last year), I wish them the best of luck, and hope, after the experience they’ve shared, that NEITHER of them is ever saddled with an irksome costar. Because they’ve both earned the right to be solo stars.

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