BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Chris Carter is back.
Largely absent from the scene since "The X-Files" series and films he masterminded years ago, Carter is returning with a sci-fi thriller, "The After."
Arriving on the Amazon Prime website in early 2015, "The After" follows a group of strangers thrown together by a mysterious calamity that strikes Los Angeles and brings it to a panic-ridden halt.
During a panel discussion Saturday at the summer TV critics' tour, Carter said he resists the label of "post-apocalyptic" for what has befallen the city: "We are doing a show where something is happening, and we're playing it in real time."
The idea for the series had gestated for more than 20 years, he said, sparked by an incident in the 1980s when a box of nails was dropped on an LA highway.
"It brought the city to a standstill," Carter recalled. Inspired by that, he began plotting his own, much more elaborate "box of nails."
The cast of the eight-hour first season includes Aldis Hodges, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Louis Monot, Jania Lee Ortiz and Adrian Pasdar.
After "The X-Files" ended its nine-season Fox run in 2002 (with a follow-up film in 2008), Carter took what was largely a decade-long hiatus.
Then in his mid-forties, he was ready to do other things, he explained: "I surfed, I climbed mountains, I read a lot, I watched a lot. I got ready to come back to do what I'm doing now."
He plans to do a lot of it. The first season of "The After" will be eight hours, but "I have a goal of 99 episodes for this. I'm serious. There are a number of influences here, but one is Dante's 'Inferno.' There are 99 cantos, and I'm kind of using that as my model."
Contact Frazier Moore at http://twitter.com/tvfrazier