Posts Tagged ‘darin morgan’

Los Angeles Times Hero Complex: ‘The X-Files’ at 20: Chris Carter still wants to believe

May-13-2013
‘The X-Files’ at 20: Chris Carter still wants to believe
Los Angeles Times Hero Complex
Blake Hennon

[Original article here]

It’s been 20 years since “The X-Files” opened to viewers’ wanting-to-believe eyes, and the hit paranormal investigation drama’s creator, Chris Carter, doesn’t quite know what to make of that phenomenon.

“It’s surreal,” he told a sold-out crowd Sunday at the Hero Complex Film Festival shortly after entering to a standing ovation. “It’s like an X-File…. Twenty years’ missing time.”

Asked what he might do differently if he made the show now, he said, “It was of its time…. You probably could make the show today, but, I don’t know why, it just feels like it was made exactly when it should have been made.”

The festival’s closing night was devoted to the acclaimed Fox series, and included screenings of three fan-picked episodes – the pilot, which he wrote, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”

Carter said the pilot scene in which FBI special agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a skeptical scientist, first meets her new partner, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), a crusading believer in aliens and conspiracy, wasn’t just their introduction as a duo to the audience, but to him as well: “That’s the first time they really acted together. They didn’t audition together for the parts. We really cast them separately, so we didn’t know there’d be that chemistry. What you were watching was really a kind of test, and it ended up working.”

“Working” might be an understatement: Scully and Mulder’s chemistry quickly became a pop cultural fixation, with rampant will-they-won’t-they speculation.

During the series’ 1993-2002 run, Carter thought they wouldn’t, though he and the writing staff had some fun with fans’ expectations.

“We actually snuck in a lot of kisses, like secretly, like sneaky dream sequences and stuff where they get together. I knew they should never be together. It was wrong.”

His thinking changed, however, when it was time to make the second feature film spun off from the series, 2008’s “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.” In it, viewers saw that Mulder and Scully had finally become a couple. So why bring them together after all those years?

“You couldn’t keep it up any longer,” he explained. “It was ridiculous.”

Carter had a surprise for the fans, bringing out two of the show’s most popular writers, brothers Glen and Darin Morgan, the latter of whom wrote “Jose Chung” and “Clyde Bruckman.”

Glen Morgan, who noted it was his brother’s birthday, recalled being sent the script for “Clyde Bruckman” and, reading the lines for guest star Peter Boyle’s psychic-vision-haunted titular character, realizing, “Oh my God, this is our dad.” Then, clarifying to audience laughter, “He couldn’t predict when people die or anything …”

That episode, for which Boyle and Darin Morgan won Emmys, and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” – which Carter called “still such an improbable episode for any TV show” – broadened the series’ stylistic scope by mixing in more humor with the series’ usual science-fiction and horror elements.

“That was the amazing thing to me,” Carter said. “That it could be so many different things.”

Darin Morgan said he appreciated now more than he did then the risks Carter was willing to take on unusual material.

“I’ve had so many situations since ‘The X-Files’ where producers said, ‘I don’t get this,’” the writer said. “People are so unwilling to take a chance on another person. That was so rare. Thanks, Chris.”

There was, of course, one question on every audience member’s mind: Will there be another movie?

“That’s a good question,” Carter said.

Gently prodded to answer, he replied, “The truth is out there.”

The fourth annual Hero Complex Film Festival was hosted by Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre at the Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. It began Friday with a John Carpenter double feature and feisty Q&A. Saturday afternoon brought a screening of “The Mist” and a discussion  of that film’s shocking ending with writer-director Frank Darabont and surprise guest Thomas Jane. Saturday night belonged to Guillermo del Toro, who shared an exclusive preview of his upcoming “Pacific Rim” and gave lively responses to questions between showings of “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” On Sunday afternoon, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin discussed “Independence Day” sequel possibilities after a screening of that film, and were joined by surprise guest Jeff Goldblum.

Check back in the coming days for videos of discussions with the festival’s special guests.

Cinefantastique: The X-Files leading genre Emmy winner

Dec-??-1996
Cinefantastique (Vol.28, No.6)
The X-Files leading genre Emmy winner
Paula Vitaris

ER may have won Outstanding Drama Series at the 1996 Emmys last September, but for genre fans, the real winner was The X-Files, which took a total of five statues when it added Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series to the four won the previous night at the Creative Arts Awards ceremony. Gulliver’s Travels tied with The X-Files for a total of five Emmys, the most awards given to any show this year. Also, The Outer Limits episode, “A Stitch in Time” won for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Amanda Plummer.

At the Creative Arts Award ceremony on September 7, Director of Photography John Bartley won an overdue award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Cinematography for the episode “Grotesque”. Thierry J. Couturier and 12 colleagues at West Productions in Burbank won for Outstanding Sound Editing. Michael Williamson, also of West Productions, and 3 colleagues, won for Outstanding Sound Mixing for “Nisei”. And guest star Peter Boyle won for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. The only X-Files nominees to come away empty handed that evening were art director Graeme Murray and set decorator Shirley Inget, nominated for art direction on “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”.

At the main ceremony on Sunday, September 8, The X-Files was up for three more awards. For the second year running, the show was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, and Gillian Anderson received her first nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama series.

Peter Boyle read the list of nominees for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series and then announced the winner: Darin Morgan, writer of “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, the episode for which Boyle had received his award a mere 24 hours before. “I didn’t even hear them call my name,” said Morgan, who had never met Boyle until he joined the actor on stage for his acceptance speech. “I just heard ‘The Emmy goes to Da~’ and everyone leaped up and was screaming.” The loudest screamer was his older brother Glen Morgan, a writer and producer on The X-Files. The elder Morgan happily kidded, “Of the greatest thrills in my life, Darin’s Emmy was just a notch under Steve Garvey’s Game Four home run against the Cubs in 1984.”

The eight nominations and five wins represented a particularly sweet accomplishment for the show. Not only did it win in the creative arts categories that usually bring genre shows their only Emmys, but with the writing awards, The X-Files broke through the glass ceiling to win in a category usually reserved for mainstream fare (Rod Sterling won for The Twilight Zone in 1961.)

Darin Morgan had no expectations that “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” would net him a nomination, let alone a win, although he felt certain Boyle was a shoe-in. “Most people don’t think of The X-Files as a writer’s show; they think of it as a special effects, science fiction thing. It’s looked down upon by mainstream TV in several areas,” he said. When his nomination was announced, his first thought was “Oh God, I’ve got to get a tux,” an outfit he found only slightly less constricting that the latex suit he wore when he played the Flukeman in “The Host”. But with the Emmy in hand, he admitted that he felt “good”.

The list of nominees included some surprising omissions, including lead actor, David Duchovny. “David got screwed,” Morgan stated firmly. “At least John Bartley won. He should have won last year. You look at the other shows and you go, ‘Well, it’s obvious that he should have been winning all this time.’ My only complaint is they gave an award to the writer of the episode, but they didn’t even nominate the director, David Nutter. And if he directed both the actor and the script to an award-winning status, then he should have at least gotten nominated.”

The lack of nominations for the shows directors is curious indeed. Morgan believes that Emmy voters won’t give serious consideration to a series about aliens and the paranormal, citing the Academy’s neglect of director Rob Bowman’s work on his episode ‘Jose Chung’s From Outer Space’ as an example. “That’s one of the best hours you’ll ever see on TV. But there are people who see a story with an alien and say, ‘Ob, it’s an alien thing’, and they will completely disregard the content of the episode.”

David Nutter, who directed the Emmy winning “Nisei”, as well as “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, credits the lack of nominations to the remoteness of the X-Files shooting location in Vancouver and the fact that while the show’s directors are members of the Director’s Guild of America, the assistant directors and production managers are members of the Directors Guild of Canada. “We’re further away from the real action in Los Angeles where a lot of the voting takes place,” he noted. But he was delighted with the “Nisei” and “Clyde Bruckman” wins, adding that “I feel like I got a little piece of the statue.”

Darin Morgan, who has departed the X-Files to work on feature film scripts, watched a videotape of the Emmy broadcast after he got home. To his dismay, he thought he “looked and sounded like a Peter Sellers character – a cross between Claire Quity in Lolita and Dr. Strangelove. You see something like that and you say, ‘Oh man, never again. I’m going into hiding.” The biggest thrill was watching the reaction of all our producers. They were so goddamn happy. I’ve never seen all those guys that happy over one single thing. It was great just to watch.”

Cinefantastique: Darin Morgan

Oct-28-1996
Cinefantastique
Darin Morgan
Paula Vitaris

The X-Files’ court Jester on Turning the Show Inside-Out

There’s a scene in the X-Files episode “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space”‘ wherein a teenage girl wakes up after a possible alien abduction to find she is wearing her clothes inside out or backwards. “Inside out or backwards” also serves as a fitting description for the comic X-Files episodes written by Darin Morgan, author of “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space”‘ and three others: “Clyde Bruckman”s Final Repose,” “The War of the Coprophages,” and last season’s “Humbug.” Morgan’s episodes are all bonafide X-files, with cases to be solved and creepy monsters and aliens on the prowl, but like any good court jester, he has no hesitation in sticking a pin into the inflated balloon of X- files convention, be it Mulder’s reputation as a well-dressed genius, Scully’s ultra-professionalism, or the show’s thoroughly serious tone. The person behind all the hoopla is a self-effacing 30-year-old man with a love for the work of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges, and Billy Wilder. The younger brother of X-Files producer-writer Glen Morgan, he was offered two jobs during the X-Files’ second season: to play the mutant Flukeman in “The Host” and to help work out the story for the “Blood” with Glen and James Wong. Morgan’s work on “Blood” earned him a spot on the writing staff, which he accepted even though he was unsure of his ability to turn out a script due to his slowness as a writer and his natural bent towards comedy. When he finally turned in “Humbug,” the staff and the network were understandably apprehensive, since the episode was so unlike anything done before. Even though “Humbug,” his first produced script, turned out to be massive hit with the fans, to this day he is unsatisfied with the final result, lamenting the loss of a number of good gags. Morgan got the feeling he was on the wrong show. No matter how much he tried to be serious, he kept turning out funny stuff. “At least on The X-Files, there always was a point to why I was being funny. I tie it into the show in various ways,” he said. “The thing I was always careful of was to make sure I had a real investigation, with theories from both Mulder and Scully. I was aware I was doing things differently, but I also wanted to make sure I was doing all the things the show would normally do. In ‘Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,’ each time Mulder says Clyde is psychic, Scully had a legitimate reason to say he’s not. I did even more in ‘Coprophages,’ where, in the end, Scully was wrong, but she was right in the beginning, and that’s what the whole show is about: different theories, how to explain certain phenomenon. My scripts had that, and I always had stereotypical ‘boo’ scenes or act-outs [ending an act] with a dead body. I was proudest of ‘ Jose Chung,’ in which only two people died, and I didn’t have a death on an act-out. You get in the habit of saying. ‘Okay, here’s a dead body,’ cut to commercial. But you usually have to have those. The X-Files is a kind of horror show, so you have to have those moments of genuine terror or grossness. ”

His lingering disappointment with “Humbug” took him in another direction, a story that would become his second episode, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” about a weary middle-aged insurance salesman with the ability to see people’s deaths. When Mulder and Scully ask his help to help solve a series of murders of fortune tellers, Clyde, played by Peter Boyle, is reluctant. To his mind, there is no altering the future. “I felt I had done ‘Humbug’ wrong, so I watched ‘Beyond the Sea” [Morgan’s favorite X-Files episode] again to see what the show is really about. I decided to try to write one that was much more serious and much more depressing. I really was trying to write a show with no jokes in it at all–but I failed.” The character of Clyde Bruckman was named for a comedy writer and director who had committed suicide in 1955. “I was so depressed after ‘Humbug’ that I felt suicidal,” he recalled. “So I said, ‘I’m going to write about a character who will commit suicide at the end.’ You hear these things about people’s careers going downhill, and Clyde Bruckman always struck me as being the ultimate Hollywood horror story. He worked with Keaton, Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, and W.C. Fields. There was a ten year span that must have been the greatest. I can’t think of a greater series of jobs. Yet the guy obviously had some problems. He was an alcoholic, and ending up killing himself.”

Another source of inspiration came from Morgan’s insurance salesman father who is, said Morgan, “kind of a depressive guy,” like the fictional Clyde. Morgan was also intrigued by the notion of an insurance salesman who can foresee the future. “Insurance is about what will happen to you. You don’t know, so you have to take out insurance, and to have a character who actually does know trying to sell people that was kind of amusing.” The episode’s exploration of free will versus determinism, and coincidence versus fate grew out of Morgan’s difficulties with plotting. “I’ve always been really bad with plot and trying to figure out twists,” he said. “So Clyde Bruckman and the killer character act in ways that were really easy to plot, but which make the story seem complicated. Stu Charno, who played the killer, asked me, ‘Why does the guy kill?’ I told him ‘Because I needed him to.’ He really doesn’t kill for any specific reason. I had come me up with this idea of the killer as a puppet, someone who doesn’t feel in control of his own life. That’s why I like the story so much. It’s so contrived, that if you think there’s a future out there that you can see, you have to assume it was contrived or plotted that way by someone.”

Morgan researched fortune tellers and psychics, learning about their tricks to delude the public. Out of that grew a memorably over-the-top character, “a cross between Uri Geller and the Amazing Kreskin,” according to Morgan — the Stupendous Yappi, played by Jaap Broeker, David Duchovny’s stand-in. “Jaap is such a bizarre character,” Morgan said. “He has a very interesting facial structure, and he’s mesmerizing. I based Yappi’s speech patterns on him. Japp really talks like that, very fast, and sometimes he doesn’t stop.”

The first act opening scene, when Mulder, Scully and Yappi all show up at the scene of the latest murder, is Morgan’s favorite of all his episodes “Even though it was just a series of one-liners, a lot of information was conveyed. It was all done so fast that it seemed to work. Also, the other cops bought into Yappi’s explanation, which separated Mulder and Scully from the other investigators. I like the fact that it was Mulder who was making those points. Even though he believes in psychic phenomenon, he’s smart enough to know the difference between a charlatan and a real psychic.”

Besides Clyde Bruckman, the episode also demonstrates Morgan’s care in delineating Mulder and Scully. “Everyone looks at Mulder as having all the answers, he said, “Most of the other episodes present him as usually right. I’ve always found that the things he talks about, if a normal person talked about them, you’d go, ‘This guy’s crazy.’ He’s supposed to be a smart guy, but I’ve never looked at him as such. He’s just more lucky in some of his explanations. And Scully, although skeptical, has the right approach when she says, ‘I don’t believe this.’ Before I wrote for the show, Mulder always seemed like the more interesting character, but once I started writing for it, I found that I liked Scully more.”

The result is that Morgan often shakes up Mulder’s image, as at the end of “Humbug,” with Mulder unwittingly striking a GQ pose. “I don’t mind making fun of Mulder,” Morgan said. “He’s presented as the seeker of the truth, and to me such people are always somewhat ridiculous.”

Mulder’s and Scully’s attitudes toward Clyde also demonstrate Mulder’s views of their characters. “My pitch to Chris was that Mulder is so involved in psychic phenomenon that he’s interested in Clyde only for his abilities. But Scully, doesn’t believe in these abilities, so she can consider this man as a person and see how, even though he believes he’s psychic, it’s ruined his life. That was one of the main points of the episode. Everyone considers Mulder to be the one who has all the answers, but I think sometimes he’s so narrow-minded that he doesn’t do some things properly. He never really considered Clyde Bruckman as a person only as a phenomenon. The note Clyde leaves for Scully is written to her, because Bruckman knows that she’s treating him as a person.”

“Clyde Bruckman”s Final Repose” contained several lines of dialogue that sent fans into a frenzy pondering their meaning. The first came when Bruckman told Scully she wouldn’t die. “Some people took it to mean that Scully was immortal, but the meaning was that Clyde knows how Scully’s going to die, but he likes her so much he’s not going to tell her, because telling her would ruin her life, whether she believed it or not. Telling someone they’re not going to die is one of the nicest things you can say. That’s why he says it to her. It had nothing to do with whether she was immortal or was going to be hurt in the show.”

The other line of dialogue that transfixed fans came when Bruckman says offhandedly, “I’m sure there are worse ways to go, but I can’t think of a more undignified one than auto-erotic asphyxiation,” and Mulder quickly demands, “Why are you telling me this?” Is it just another joke, or is there some deeper meaning? “Well, yes and no,” Morgan hedged. “I think that’s what Mulder will die of A homicide investigation book I read had several pictures of people who died in that manner. There’s something in those pictures that is so disturbing, in the sense of going back to the ancient Greeks, and their idea of ‘don’t dishonor my body after I die.’ It’s bad enough to be found dead, and suicide is tragic, but then you see these people who have these really complicated, almost Rube Goldberg type set-ups. It would be humorous if it wasn’t so disturbing. This ties in with Clyde’s dream about what your body looks like when it dies. How will it be found? In what condition and what manner? That was the gist of that character. The autoerotic asphyxiation is obviously a joke line, but it came about from studying those photos.”

Third season post-production for Morgan was a much more pleasant experience than it had been with ‘Humbug.’ “On this show, you’re really regarded as being a producer of your own episode,” Morgan said. “No one trusted me on ‘Humbug,’ because it was my first. But on ‘Clyde Bruckman’ and the cockroach episode, it worked out that both David Nutter and Kim Manners had to start prepping another show immediately. They each had one day of cutting and then I was allowed to be in there with the editor.”

“Clyde Bruckman”s Final Repose” won Morgan praise from an unexpected quarter, when the science fiction author Harlan Ellison called to express his admiration. Morgan not a science fiction fan, had no idea who Ellison was. “He was the childhood idol of some of the writers on our staff and they were all pissed off that I didn’t even know who he was, and he called me,” he laughed. “I’ve since learned about him, although I’ve yet to really read his stuff. He really liked the episode and thought Peter Boyle was great.”

‘The War of the Coprophages, ” in contrast to the more measured, meditative “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” was Morgan’s lightest, fastest, most farcical episode. “There were some serious, actual ideas in this one, so I felt free to be a little bit lighter,” Morgan explained. The episode opens on a weekend with Mulder up in Massachusetts, hanging about UFO hot spots, and Scully at home doing those mundane things everyone does during the weekend. The X-File arrives when Mulder is pulled in by local law enforcement to help solve the mystery behind some strange deaths caused, according to witnesses, by swarms of roaches. Mulder traces the roaches–which he believes, naturally, to be robotic alien probes–to a factory that produces methane from dung.

The episode worked, Morgan feels, but it’s another script with which he is unhappy, although he can’t put his finger on what bothers him. ‘I don’t know!” he laughed. ‘I had less time to do that script than any other one. I wrote it in a week. I was a couple of days late with the last act, the only time I was ever late with a script. Fortunately [ director] Kim Manners really liked it a lot, even with just the first three acts, so no one was mad at me.”

Morgan conceived the idea of alien robot insects from his research into robotics and artificial intelligence. “Everyone assumes that if there are extraterrestrials visiting us, that they would look like gray aliens,” he said. “There is this idea that our own future in space exploration is going to be robotic. It would make sense that other alien forms, if they do visit us, would also be robotic. There is a roboticist at M.I.T., Rodney Brooks, who has devised robots in the forms of giant bugs a foot long. They operated much better than other robots, because he had decided that instead of trying to duplicate the way the human brain works, he would make his robots’ brains work the way an insect brain works, purely on reflex. The other idea in the episode was how we think our brains are so complicated the highest level of evolution, and yet so many of our actions and beliefs and thoughts are dictated solely by reflex responses, much like a cockroach’s. That was the idea behind the mass hysteria: that people don’t think about what’s happening. they just hear something and react, and scurry around like insects.”

The big “scurry around” scene in “The War of the Coprophages” was a hilariously slapstick mini-riot staged in a convenience store where the indefatigable Scully has stopped to buy a road map. Morgan’s source for this scene was the famous 1938 radio adaptation by Orson Welles of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (the X-Files episode is set in Millers’ Grove, Massachusetts, a tribute to the radio show’s Grover’s Mills, N.J.), which Morgan considers a fascinating case of mass hysteria. “Nothing like that has ever happened in my lifetime. War of the Worlds is an example of people reacting by reflexes rather by complex thoughts. I always wonder what I would have done–you always like to think of yourself as being clearheaded. There are so many inconsistencies in the War of the Worlds radio broadcast that if you actually listen to it, it doesn’t make any sense. But I’m sure at the time and the moment, I would have been as terrified as anyone.”

Mulder and Scully prove to be immune from the panic gripping the town, but they have their own unique ways of reacting. “Although Mulder never reacts to the hysteria he has his own mindset, so whenever he hears killer cockroaches, he goes, ‘Oh my God!’ without thinking,” Morgan said. “Scully keeps telling him, ‘Oh no, it’s probably this other thing.’ She’s always right. But because Mulder has his own way of perceiving things, he keeps trying to convince himself that he’s on to something bigger.”

Another memorable character makes her appearance halfway through the episode, Bambi Berenbaum (Bobbie Phillips), possibly the most luscious entomologist on the face of the earth. “I thought it would be amusing if Mulder found another woman partner.” Morgan explained. “All of sudden Scully starts going, ‘No, this isn’t just cockroaches! This is something big! I’m coming up there!’ I thought it was amusing, that she would abandon some of her beliefs in order not to lose Mulder to another woman. We received some letters from people who were displeased that Mulder could find Bambi attractive. On the other hand, she is a very intelligent woman. So I don’t see why people got mad at that, but just the idea of Mulder having an interest in someone other than Scully put people into shock. You kind of forget Mulder is a man, because he’s so interested in the paranormal. But he’s a man, nevertheless, and I thought it would be interesting to have him be attracted to a woman.”

Morgan’s final verdict on “The War of the Coprophages” is resigned: “It’s never boring. It moves really fast. And there’s a certain achievement in centering an episode around cockroaches and dung.”

Morgan’s last effort for The X-Files was “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” an episode rooted in the show’s most basic premises, going all the way back to the pilot and “Deep Throat”: the government and the military are covering up proof of alien existence and while they’re at it, they’re deleting and altering your memories of whatever you think you witnessed. It’s also the show’s most baroque, flamboyant hour, as Scully relates to a cheerfully cynical writer named Jose Chung the events of a most unusual alien abduction case involving – possibly – the government abduction and hypnotizing of innocent citizens.

When Morgan joined the X-Files, he knew very little about alien abduction or UFO lore, so he bought some books on the subject. “There was actually a lot more information about typical alien abduction in ‘Jose Chung’ than there has been in most X-Files,” Morgan commented. “Usually the episodes that deal with abductions are about the Cigarette Smoking Man and the conspiracy. That has nothing to do with standard abduction stories. I thought there’s so much more out there about extraterrestrials, and these things should be mentioned. Even Roky, the character who goes to inner earth, is another aspect of that, because UFO people think there are inner earth people. And the published accounts of Men in Black are actually more ridiculous than what I had in the episode.”

Director Rob Bowman had to read the script 15 times before he understood it, Morgan said, grateful that the director gave it the extra attention. Although Morgan was interested in exploring the nature of reality in “Jose Chung,” the convoluted narrative design is also his strategy to maneuver around the problems he has with plotting. There’s always a practical reason behind the deeper thoughts,” he observed. It’s often a search to find a way to ease out of having to explain your plot. The coincidences in ‘Clyde Bruckman’ and the weird things about aliens and government involvement in ‘Jose Chung’ had to do with my needing an out. That out was the hypnosis angle. I felt like I could do anything. Unlike saying it’s all a dream, I could always go, ‘It’s all just memory implantation.’ Even though the episode is all about aliens and the government conspiracy, it actually has more to do with hypnosis and how much we can actually know and remember. I always thought it was more interesting to have some of your memories changed than to have them completely wiped out, so this show was more along the those lines. ‘They’ have the ability to change what you remember. To me, that’s more terrifying than being abducted by aliens. It’s kind of confusing to talk about, I know, but all this stuff was invented to avoid a specific plot. In terms of the multiple storytelling, I wanted to do something like Rashomon, where everyone had a different memory. I originally wanted to do it with Jose Chung interviewing a different person for each act. That still happens in the third act, when Chung talks to Blaine.

But it was too complicated, so I stuck with Scully. But I find it appealing to use tales within tales, where someone is telling a story and then a person in that story starts telling another story. The whole episode is really that, because even when Scully is telling her story, she’s actually telling everyone else’s account.”

Lord Kinbote, the hulking red creature who abducts Chrissy, Harold. and the two Air Force pilots, is a double tribute to stop-animation genius Ray Harryhausen and to Morgan’s favorite writer, Vladimir Nabokov. “We didn’t have the time or money to do a proper stop-action model, ” lamented Morgan. “Toby Lindala (special effects makeup supervisor] built a suit. The scene was shot, speeded up and then slowed down by computer to give it a jerkiness. Mat Beck [visual effects supervisor] had to do a lot of work on it. I hope it looked like stop-animation.” The name Kinbote is taken from Charles Kinbote, the possibly mad scholar of Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire. “In one of his interviews, Nabokov made the point that reality is a word that should always have quotes around it, because everyone’s reality in a sense is different,” Morgan said. “People will look differently at the same object, depending on their backgrounds and past history. That was a direct influence on this episode.”

Morgan could not resist adding his own satire of Fox’s alien autopsy show. The X-FILES’ second re-creation of the program this season. “We were all watching the alien autopsy tape one day, and it was so ridiculous!” Morgan recalled. “The Bigfoot footage at the end of ‘Jose Chung’ is just so damn phony, but you have no idea how much it costs to get the rights to that thing. You think about how much money has been made on that footage, and it’s a crime! And I feel the same way about the alien autopsy: it’s a swindle, and it’s almost disturbing to see how many people take it seriously.” Morgan expressed his sentiments by having his alien autopsy hosted by the Stupendous Yappi, his fake psychic from “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”

The episode ends on a poignant note, with Jose Chung wistfully reading from his book that “in our own separate ways, on this planet, we are all…alone.” “It was quite touching,” Morgan remarked. “It felt right. I didn’t want to end on a wacky note. The scene is humorous, but you also have certain points or feelings you like to express, and I guess the loneliness of human existence was one of the them. When Chung goes on about how some people don’t care about extraterrestrials, that is, I guess, my own summation about working on the show. I want to write about people rather than about aliens.”

“Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space'” is so confusing that one’s initial reaction, besides laughter, is to rewind the VCR and watch it again–precisely the effect Morgan wanted. “I think it worked, for the most part, and even if people are confused–because it is confusing, and purposely so–I hope that they would recognize that for being part of it and enjoy it even more. I just want to get a reaction. I don’t care if they learned anything or got anything out of it. I hope they thought it was funny and moving, and were entertained on whatever level they needed.”

After the X~Files’s third season, Darin Morgan left the show, burned out by the relentless pace of writing for television. “I did only four episodes, but they took a lot out of me,” he said. “There’s still a chance I might come back and write another one, but right now I have certain things I would rather write, rather than a couple more Mulder and Scully stories. I want to do something that’s more romantic-comedy, rather than those scary things.”

The X-Files Magazine: Brother from another planet

Oct-17-1996
The X-Files Magazine [Manga/UK]
Brother from another planet
Paula Vitaris

You might say that writer Darin Morgan became the proverbial overnight success – after a decade toiling away on unproduced scripts – on March 31, 1995, the day the Fox Network broadcast “Humbug”, the first X-Files episode from his pen. Although fans had already learned his name earlier in the third season – he played the ‘Flukeman’ in “The Host” and received a story credit on the subsequent episode “Blood”, written by his brother Glen and James Wong – it was Morgan’s comedic take on The X-Files that instantly struck a chord with fans. It also earned the fledging writer a place on The X-Files staff.

Humbug” was a weird experience,” he recalls. “Everyone thought it was going to be a disaster up until the time we aired it.” Then, almost immediately after its premiere showing, Morgan knew the response was far more favourable. “(Co-producer) Paul Rabwin called to tell me about the online response back East, and how everyone liked it.” Only one person seemed to have been somewhat disappointed with the show – Darin Morgan himself. As an unproven writer, Morgan had little to say in the episode’s editing process, and found that some of the character interplay didn’t make it to the final cut. “There was this funny bit with Mr. Nutt, the hotel manager (Michael Anderson),” he says. “it was a gag David Duchovny came up with on the set. The manager goes through his big long spiel about making judgements based on people’s appearances, and then Mulder goes, ‘But I am an FBI Agent.’ and shows his badge. The manager says, ‘Sign here, please,’ and you see a close up of a hand ringing a bell. That’s how it ends now. But when we shot it, the manager turns to Scully to say ‘And you’re an FBI agent as well?’ Scully nods, and then he says, ‘But you’re a woman.’ Gillian reacted as if to say, ‘WHAT? I’m going to KILL you!’ but before she could speak, Duchovny leaned over quickly and rang the bell. It was a wonderful little bit of business for both David and Gillian, but people were concerned that we were being too funny, and the decision was made to cut that out.”

Lucky for Morgan, in the wake of “Humbug’s” success, the writer was allowed much more freedom in the editing room with his three subsequent third season episodes. “I love editing,” he enthuses. “this will sound like a schmaltzy one-liner, but I told the other staff writers – who came from shows where they weren’t allowed in the editing room – that (that’s) where you do your final rewrite. All my scripts were too long, which in one respect is bad, because they had to shoot more footage, but as (editor) Stephen Mark said, it’s always so much better to trim that to have to add on.”

As a boy, Morgan had no ambitions to be a writer. He describes himself as a “regular kid” whose goal was to be a professional baseball player. He liked watching TV and went to the movies regularly with his father, a film buff. But when elder brother Glen decided to try acting in high school, Darin saw “how much fun he was having” and also became an active participant in high school dramatics. When Glen enrolled in the film school at Loyola Marymount University, Darin would visit and help his brother create student films. Eventually, Morgan the younger enrolled in the same course, discovering the classic filmmakers who would become his principal inspiration.

“I saw Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL for the first time in a theatre that had an organ,” Morgan recollects, “and I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but seeing THE GENERAL changed my life. I thought, ‘Wow, this is what I want to do! I had a similar experience with Charlie Chaplin, when I saw CITY LIGHTS for the first time. I’d always heard Chaplin was a genius, but I hated the image of him as the Little Tramp. Watching the boxing scene in CITY LIGHTS, I realized he really *was* a genius.” Morgan’s film studies, particularly the physical comedy of silent film and the screwball genre, provided invaluable instruction in how to think visually. “I think of slapstick as a way of positioning the camera, to make a bit of business funny to look at, rather than someone having someone say something. That sounds very simple, but you mention slapstick to most people nowadays, and they just think of someone being conked on the head. The only time I write camera movement and angles is when I have a specific gag requiring the camera to be positioned in a particular way. Some gags just aren’t funny if they’re shot wrong. So in that way silent film has influenced me – you have to think about how the scene is going to be filmed. The X-Files’ visuals are mostly atmospheric. I’m told that when other television writers read our scripts, they hate them, because there’s so much description, whereas other shows don’t have *any* description. But the directors on The X-Files don’t mind being told specific things that need to be seen or shown because we are a visual show. I’ve heard stories of some directors on other shows getting very upset when a writer puts in too much description, and just to show the writer up will intentionally shoot it differently. On the X-Files, the directors are willing to have the writers put in as much as possible so that they knew exactly what we wanted.”

Morgan began writing in college, but dropped out after selling a script to a film studio. “I thought my career had started,” he says, “and that was part of my decision to leave college. I felt I’d already accomplished what I was hoping to get started there.” Then after an embarrassing attempt at writing a studio conceived “cross between BEVERLY HILLS COP and POLICE ACADEMY” which ended his Hollywood career as abruptly as it started, Morgan found himself without a job or a diploma. By this time, his brother Glen was working, with partner James Wong, for producer Stephen Cannell, and helped his brother land some guest roles on THE COMMISH and 21 JUMP STREET (which also starred Steven ‘Mr. X’ Williams). Then, in 1993, Morgan and Wong left Cannell to become writers and co-executive producers for The X-Files. “Glen showed me the pilot before it had been picked up for a series… and he was all excited about it.” But at the time, Darin, who has never been a sci-fi or horror fan, couldn’t appreciate his brother’s enthusiasm for the show. That was all soon to change. Glen, who was enjoying success on The X-Files first season, had great faith in his brother’s writing abilities, and suggest that he work on a script for The X-Files during the hiatus between the first and second seasons. Glen would then present the finished script to executive producer, Chris Carter, with a view to get it into production. Darin’s first idea was for a ‘teaser’ – TV parlance for the sequence before the titles of each episode – about two kids in a car, which eventually became the teaser for “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.” At the same time, Glen and James Wong were suddenly faced with an unexpected assignment to write episode three (Blood), and Glen asked Darin to come up with a story idea about postal workers. Darin suggested a postal worker who goes berserk from reading subliminal messages on a sorting machine’s digital display screen, and when the amount of time allotted for writing “Blood” was cut, Glen asked Darin to come to Los Angeles to help him and Wong storyboard the episode, for which he would receive a story credit.

X-Files producer Howard Gordon, who had sat in on a Morgan and Wong story meeting which Darin had attended, proposed that Darin join the writing staff. “I guess Howard thought I understood the show,” Morgan surmises. However, Morgan himself wasn’t sure that his preference for writing comedy would suit such a serious show. “I had learned from my other job at the movie studio that I always wanted to make sure that I could do a good job on what I was writing. And I was so slow a writer back then that I was terrified of the idea of being on a staff, where you have specific deadlines. But they contacted my agent directly and my agent said, ‘Yeah, okay, he’ll do it.’ And then my agent called and said, ‘You start on Monday. you’ve been out of work a long time. You need to start somewhere again. why not do it?’ I thought that made sense.” The first contract was due to run for nine weeks, but Morgan was unconvinced that he would last even that long. “Once I started I knew right away I was in trouble,” he say. “I was trying to figure out what I could do to fit in. Fortunately, everyone assumed that Glen was supervising me – but he wasn’t. He let me go off and make up my own stories.”

The first such story was “Humbug,” after which expectations suddenly skyrocketed. And Morgan more than lived up to them, with three more outstanding third season episodes, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, “The War of the Coprophages” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”. By the end of the season, he felt burned out from all the deadlines and distressed that his episodes upset some fans, who didn’t agree with his off-kilter view of the show. Most of all, he was ready to step away from the worlds of Mulder and Scully and return to fashioning worlds in feature scripts that were wholly his own. “I prefer doing a story that stands by itself,” he explains. “With a series, you have to consider how your episode affects everyone else’s episode. I don’t want to have to worry about that anymore.”

The reputation this remarkable writer earned during his residency on The X- Files – and the nominations of his “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” script for a 1996 Prime Time Emmy Award (this article is a bit dated as we all know that Darin won too!!!) – suggest that, whether his scripts end up on film or television, The X-Files was anything but Darin Morgan’s final repose.

Associated Press: X-Files writer in chills business

Mar-13-1996
Associated Press
X-Files writer in chills business

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files and TV’s reigning horror merchant, has the rapt attention of his writing staff as he describes a vivid little scene.

A man sits in front of his TV set. In the attic above him, a rotting corpse silently begins to shed the vermin that infest it.

“They crawl down into the ceiling … and it’s drip, drip,” Carter intones. “The maggots are dripping into my den.”

This, it turns out, is no X-Files plot; it’s Carter’s own tale of a dead rat in his house.

Yuck, says a visitor. Oooo, murmur the writers, continuing to nibble happily on frozen yogurt treats.

This is what passes for light banter during a script session for FOX TV’s sleekly morbid drama, shown on Global in Canada, about a pair of FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who probe UFOs, government conspiracies and freakish crimes.

Obviously, being in the right frame of mind helps to craft the dark and clever stories that have turned many Friday night TV viewers into X-Files junkies and made stars of lead actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

Attention to detail also helps.

In a homey-looking bungalow on the 20th Century-Fox lot in West Los Angeles, Carter and staff conduct a painstaking appraisal of each episode as it progresses from concept to finished script.

The focus of the meeting is a one-metre by 1.5-metre bulletin board covered with a couple of dozen index cards noting, succinctly, the plot points of each of an episode’s four acts — as separated by commercial breaks — and the opening “teaser” scene.

The person with the task of delivering a completed script talks through the story, using the cards as reference points. In this session, writer Jon Shiban is telling the tale of a vengeful army veteran turned killer.

Every twist and turn is up for debate, including the injuries that make the character an improbable murder suspect. Shiban has described him as a quadriplegic who uses an out-of-body trick, astral projection, to kill.

It’s not quite enough for Carter.

“I think you should go all the way,” the creator-producer says. He wants to see the character turned into a quadruple amputee, a more helpless and haunting figure.

That’s the startling sensibility Carter brings to the series. He turns out a fair number of scripts himself, especially those dealing with the drama’s pivot point, the obsessive quest by Mulder (Duchovny) to prove aliens are here.

Episodes written by others still bear his stamp. The soft-spoken Carter is a protective if low-key parent of the series filmed in Vancouver.

One plot twist in the astral projection drama, an abortive suicide, draws an approving nod from Carter. “That’s a cool scene,” he says, betraying his roots as a native Californian who spent five years editing Surfing magazine.

“There’s no creepy boo scene here,” he comments at another point.

(His droll sense of humor pervades the series: “Would you say your hair is normal or dry?” a serial killer asks captive Scully in one episode as he prepares a bizarre ritual bath.)

After Carter and the group weigh in on a story, the main writer heads for the seclusion of office or home to create the finished 43-minute, 11-second script.

That, says staff writer Darin Morgan, is when the pressure kicks in.

“You have so many production people up in Vancouver waiting for your script so they can begin work. If you’re late, you’re causing enormous production problems. You’ve got $1 million riding on you,” he says, the approximate price tag for each X-Files hour.

Locations must be scouted, costumes created and the limits of special effects — for a show rich with masterful monsters and convincing spaceships — explored.

“You have to know what you can do,” Morgan says. “You can’t just write, ‘There’s a huge explosion.’ If there’s going to be a big effect like that, they (the production crew) need to know in advance.”

Meantime, other scripts in various stages of preparation are moving down the line. The show’s motto is “The truth is out there,” but the real goal is trying to stretch the limits of frightful fun.

Carter sees no end to the extreme possibilities. “I have faith there are hundreds of good X-Files episodes out there,” he says.

“I just want nothing more than to scare the pants off people for 24 episodes this year. That’s all I set out to do anyway. … It’s a ride. And the steeper the roller-coaster, the better.”

Cinefantastique: Making Humbug

Oct-??-1995
Cinefantastique
Making Humbug
Paula Vitaris

Behind the scenes of the show’s popular “comedy of horrors.” We’ve seen some pretty way-out things on The X-Files in the past two years. Morphing aliens, exploding facial boils, possessed kids, and lots and lots of glowing green bugs hungry to drain our body fluids… everything is grist for the gloomy X-Files mill. But nothing could have been a more extreme possibility than what arrived on our TV sets on March 31, 1995: a funny episode of The X-Files.

Funny? The X-Files? Well, why not? Comedy attempts to manage pain and chaos, and from the pilot on, there has always been a streak of wonderfully dry, ironic wit running throughout this very serious show. “Humbug” worked a neat reversal, with the humor, as dry and ironic as ever, finally taking centre stage. Yet the episode remains anchored to a core of sadness, and its X-Files roots, with a tale of sibling love and loss unfolding after prim and proper Mulder and Scully arrive to investigate a murder in a Florida town inhabited by sideshow artists with names like Dr. Blockhead and The Enigma.

Two of the X-Files newest staffers, writer Darin Morgan and director/producer Kim Manners, are responsible for this particular hour of madness, although some of the credit can also be laid at the foot of Morgan’s older brother, former X-Files writer and co-executive producer Glen Morgan. “The word came down from Glen, ‘Do one about circus freaks’ ” recalled Morgan, who immediately sat down to watch a tape of the Jim Rose Circus given to him by his brother.

Morgan’s X-Files debut came not as a writer but as an actor, when he played the Flukeman in “The Host”. He also received a story credit for the subsequent episode, “Blood”. Morgan’s credits previous to The X-Files are sparse. He had guest roles on The Commish and 21 Jump Street – “I wasn’t very good, ” he joked. Taking the job with a show as dark in tone as The X-Files created something of a dilemma for him, because he considers himself primarily a comedy writer: “I just don’t know how to write non-comedy. ”

Handed the assignment to write about characters who could possibly by played by Jim Rose and members of his troupe, Morgan “did a ton of research.” On the history of sideshows and circus freaks. Once embarked upon the script, he found he couldn’t help but write it with a humorous slant. “I wasn’t trying to be goofy,” Morgan said. “I wasn’t told to do a funny X-File. I just wrote an episode that would have enough scares and be strange enough to be an X-File, and where the comedy would be good enough that they would let it slide. And that’s what they did. They said, ‘Okay, we’re going to go with it.'”

Executive producer Chris Carter was ready to “throw a knuckleball” at the audience. “I felt that by episode 44 we had earned the right to take a breather, and that people would appreciate a break from the unrelenting tension and paranoia, ” Carter explained. “And it wasn’t so far afield for The X-Files, even though the tone was different. We were still dealing with rather creepy stuff.”

Carter said the studio was “nervous about Humbug, but probably the most nervous person was director Kim Manners, who confessed to a panic attack when he realized he was about to undertake “the first comedy X-Files.” While the episode was shooting, he had no idea whether it was going to work or not. “This is only the second episode I directed, and Chris Carter wants to explore new ground. And I’m the guy that’s going to take the patient into the operating room and do an entirely unproved operation and see if it’s going to still have a heartbeat when it leaves surgery. And it did. But I was really scared to death. I’ve been directing in television for 16 years and it was the first time since the first episode of television I ever directed that I’ve literally been frightened.”

Manners’ first directing assignment on The X-Files had come earlier in the year when Glen Morgan and James Wong, with whom he had worked on 21 Jump Street, brought him in to directed their final script for the show, “Die Hand Die Verletzt.” That episode had moments of exaggerated humour played as straightforwardly as possible, and Manners’ approach towards “Humbug” was similar. “I felt that the script was funny, and if I played it straight and let the comedy bleed through, it would be genuinely, honestly funny. I tried to stay away from the obvious slapstick and to keep it from being too broad. It was a struggle. The idea was, we better not say, ‘Hey, this is X-Files the comedy.’ What I wanted to do was say, ‘This is X-Files, and it’s a funny episode, so enjoy it for that.”

One scene that illustrated Morgan’s theme of not being able to judge a book by its cover took place in a museum of curiosities. Beautifully shot by Manners and director of photography John Bartley, the sequence allowed the viewer to glimpse the museum curator’s severely disfigured face and hand primarily through reflections from a number of mirrors, or from obscuring angles. Morgan wrote it that way for several reasons, one of which was practical in nature. “I didn’t know how much time [SFX makeup designer] Toby Lindala would have. This was just one scene, and I didn’t want to do too intricate a makeup job, so we did end up showing a little bit more of it that I originally thought we would.” Morgan also didn’t want to “gross people out, to be honest. I didn’t want people to be afraid to look at it. But also, it had to do with people with physical deformities, the idea being that you want to look but don’t want to look -looking by not looking.”

This latter idea also inspired a scene where Gillian Anderson, as Scully and Vincent Schiavelli, who plays Lanny, a man with a “parasitic” or underdeveloped twin attached to his body, encounter each other early in the morning. Their bathrobes are slightly open, and they can’t help but peek at each other. “People look at other people’s body parts, without trying to look like they’re looking,” observes Morgan. “If any man were to see Scully in her bathrobe, and it was slightly ajar, he would glance, but trying to look like he was not glancing. And I believe it’s the same way with people’s deformities. You don’t want to stare, and yet you’re attracted. And so I was playing off those inclinations.”

Some of The X-Files’ online fans read more into Morgan’s gentle spoof than he intended. Although he wanted to “have fun with the viewers’ expectations of the show, Morgan was not responding to any specific audience concerns. For example, in one scene, Mulder falls onto a bed of nails and pronounces it more comfortable than a futon. Fans thought that was a joke referring to a computer conference where Chris Carter had said Mulder sleeps on a futon. Morgan, whose first contact with online computer discussions was a huge sheaf of printouts about “Humbug” given to him by the X-Files staff, said the line “was just a reference to futons. I had no idea there was a question among the viewers as to what Mulder sleeps on!” Another example was the hotel manager’s comments about Mulder’s “unimaginative necktie design.” Said Morgan, “I didn’t know that Mulder normally wears flashy ties. I watch the show and I picked that up, and people commented, ‘Oh, he’s making a joke about the ties,’ but I was not aware that Mulder’s ties were a past topic of discussion.” He added ruefully, “I had no idea I was tapping into the collective unconscious. ”

Although “Humbug” was fraught with dialogue and situations of deadpan hilarity, the characters were always treated with dignity and respect, and when the story called for earnestness, levity was temporarily abandoned. The central scene for both Morgan and Manners was a completely serious one: Lanny’s confession in the jail cell that his underdeveloped twin has the ability to detach himself and has inadvertently killed trying to find a new host to replace the dying, alcoholic Lanny. “I wanted to play that for real compassion and sympathy, and make it an honest, heartfelt moment,” said Manners. “It made me feel good that, in the middle of this carnival of fun, we could give the audience a scene where there was a guy who was really dying of alcoholism. And we showed his pain about this twin brother that he had taken care of, and done everything for – he had nothing in his life because of this brother. And that scene paid off. I felt really good about it.”

Fortunately for an episode set in Florida, most of the shoot took place during weather unusually warm and sunny for winter in Vancouver. Even so, Mother Nature played havoc with the cast and crew. The sideshow artist known as The Enigma, who played a character known as The Conundrum, had to wade for several takes in water close to freezing in temperature. And when the crew arrived to shoot the opening cemetery scene, Manners recalled that “it was Monday morning and it snowed over the weekend, so there was four inches of snow on the ground when we got there in the morning. We had guys with torches who were walking around melting it. We brought in a water truck to wash it away and a steam truck to steam it away, and I had to start the sequence shooting all the close-ups.”

The tight shooting schedule also prevented some scenes from working out to Morgan’s complete satisfaction. His inspiration for the funhouse sequence where Scully shoots out some mirrors was not so much Orson Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai – a film Morgan dislikes – but “every chase through the mirrors” he’s seen in film. A fan of silent era comedy, Morgan greatly admires Chaplin’s funhouse mirror scene in The Circus, and he brought a videotape with him to Vancouver (Morgan was on set for the entire shoot) to show Manners and the art department. The scene ended up much shorter and simpler than what Morgan had hoped for. The filming took place late at night at the end of a 15-hour work day.

“I actually had no time to shoot it, ” Manners said. , “It was time for us to go home. So I planted the camera in one spot; I either had it high or for another shot I had it low, and I tweaked the mirrors, I never moved the camera. We shot the whole sequence in about 45 minutes, because we had to get off the clock. I wish I could say it was a designed sequence, but in television sometimes you can design a sequence and when you get to work and you’re in your 15th hour you take your homework and throw it out the window. You’re now going to tap dance, and that was one of those sequences that was just completely winged.”

Despite the long hours, Manners said everyone enjoyed poking a bit of fun at themselves, and the stars themselves got into the spirit of things. “We all had a good time. It was good for David and Gillian to be able to do the jokes, do the yucks, and not have to be Mulder and Scully, we’re FBI, we investigate the paranormal. It was our version of MAD magazine. David loves to open up his comedic wings. In every episode, he’ll come up with a funny line. So we’ll do what’s scripted, and then we’ll do another take with his comedy lines in it, and oftentimes Chris will say, ‘Let’s use it.’ “One scene had Scully pretending to eat a cricket, and on a dare from Jim Rose, Gillian Anderson actually ate one. When it came time to film the scene she shocked Manners by volunteering to swallow more live insects, even though the producers had spent $2000 on edible honeycomb crickets. A bemused Manners laughed that Anderson was “nuts, absolutely nuts, but then she’s young enough to be nuts.”

Manners allowed the actors to play with different line readings. “I would say, ‘Let’s go a little bigger here, let’s try one a little smaller.’ And I would print two or three takes. I got in the cutting room and I looked at all of them, and even as I was cutting the picture, I was still thinking what would be the best way to go, because I was walking on thin ice.”

Certainly, “Humbug” was an enormous risk for all involved, but The X-Files has always been about taken risks, not only for the characters, who frequently put their lives on the line, but for the producers, who continually experiment with every aspect of the show. “I’m very proud of the episode,” said Chris Carter. But Morgan is characteristically ambivalent; he is “still not sure” how well “Humbug” succeeded.

Is there another humorous X-Files on the way? That’s open to question, but without a doubt, this time the risk paid off with a unique lighthearted and affecting hour of television.