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‘The X-Files’ (Fox, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m.)

This season’s theme: From a Trump cameo (via news footage) to a potent, pointed environmentalist message, Season 11 of the beloved 1990s sci-fi serial is very much focused on 21st-century issues. “The show wouldn’t be interesting to me if it weren’t talking about the times we live in,” creator Chris Carter says.

Where we left off: The Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), longtime nemesis of Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson), flexed his conspiratorial muscles, revealing that he’s orchestrating an end-of-days plot that only one-half of the FBI’s dynamic duo will survive. Fortunately, they may have a savior in the form of their son, William, whom we’ll meet in a future episode. “We did two-and-a-half mythology episodes this season,” Carter says. “The mythology has gotten very complex. I had to go back and remind myself of certain things sometimes.”

Coming up: In between those mythology episodes, which feature the return of some old favorites, will be a series of standalone stories written and directed by the likes of James Wong and Darin Morgan (the man responsible for last season’s standout installment, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”). Darin’s brother, Glen Morgan, is behind the second episode, which allows Anderson and Duchovny to prove that they’ve only gotten more badass with age, courtesy of some impressively staged action sequences. “David likes playing the part of Mulder physically,” Carter says. “I think you see that while he’s grown older, he hasn’t grown any less capable as an agile and active law enforcement officer.”

Fake news: Back in the ’90s, The X-Files was the go-to series for conspiracy-minded viewers. Flash-forward two decades, and audiences suddenly have a lot more outlets for those fictions, which some sources scarily present as fact. “If you look back, we were dealing with conspiracies in a way that was considered tabloid,” Carter says. “But now everything’s turned on its head! People believe in conspiracies and consider real news organizations fake.” — Ethan Alter

(Photo: Frank Ockenfels/FOX)

Winter TV preview: The scoop on 10 returning favorites

Hello, old friends — and by friends, we mean our favorite TV shows. And as with any friend who’s been away for some time, it’s time to catch up on what’s been going on and discover what’s new.

These returning shows range from a musical drama taking its final bow to a fantasy epic, to a political thriller about a new, embattled president. A superhero is back to prowl the streets of New York, while a queen figures out how to rule and be a mom at the same time. The truth is still out there, and love is still everlasting. Click through this slideshow to get the rundown on 10 returning shows, straight from the cast and creators. And check out our Winter TV Preview, featuring 13 new shows, here.