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Ottowa Citizen: Vancouver salutes X-Files legacy

Ottowa Citizen
Vancouver salutes X-Files legacy

Tonight, Boyd McConnell and his friends and fellow ‘X-philes’ will be watching the two-hour finale of The X-Files in the apartment that was used in the series as the residence of FBI Agent Dana Scully.

VANCOUVER – Boyd McConnell knows where he’ll be tonight. The Vancouver entrepreneur will be at FBI Agent Dana Scully’s old apartment building, checking the creaky floorboards for poltergeists and watching The X-Files’ ghostly images with friends and fellow “X-philes” on a flickering TV set. He probably won’t mark the window with a giant “X” in masking tape, as Agent Fox Mulder did in several early episodes, but God help you if you call him on his cellphone while he’s occupied with the cult classic’s two-hour series finale.

The rustic heritage building that he owns on Pendrell Street in Vancouver’s West End played host to The X-Files’ unflappable FBI agent and resident nonbeliever for the five seasons it was filmed in Vancouver, and even today resembles the Georgetown neighbourhood in Washington, D.C., where Scully ostensibly unwound when she wasn’t chasing down alien conspiracies and deranged whack jobs.

Her apartment’s keynote performance was delivered in the second-season episode Duane Barry, in which Steve Railsback, playing a man who claims to be a victim of alien experimentation, is beamed aboard a flying saucer by a malevolent shaft of light that penetrates Scully’s inner sanctum, well-nigh wrecking the furniture in the process.

Since The X-Files pulled up stakes and headed to L.A. nearly four years ago to the day, Pendrell Suites has played host to some 30 film and TV productions, all the while doubling as a bed-and-breakfast. (In their 1999 book, X Marks the Spot: On Location with The X-Files, veteran Vancouver location managers Louisa Gradnitzer and Todd Pittson said the one drawback of the West End location was 11 p.m. curfew times for night shoots — midnight on Fridays — and the need to light the scene without lighting up half the adjacent apartments.)

In his spare time, Mr. McConnell, whose family owns and operates Pendrell Suites, runs sightseeing tours of Vancouver’s movie and TV locations, including the two-block stretch in Gastown that doubled as a turn-of-the-century Montana cattle town in Legends of the Fall and the abandoned shipyard and warehouse district that hosts Dark Angel. Mulder’s apartment, throughout The X-Files’ stay in Vancouver, was at the Wellington, a brick apartment block in Kitsilano that again doubled for the Washington, D.C. neighborhood where Mulder lived.

“The X-Files put us on the map, as far as gaining credibility for film and TV productions,” Mr. McConnell said. “People were proud when it was here. It was the No. 1 show, and everybody could brag about it. And then when it left, a lot of people felt it lost its edge. A lot of the locals just didn’t want to watch it anymore. I think some people felt a bit betrayed when it left.

“I’m actually quite upbeat about this. I’m glad that it’s coming to an end now, because that means we’re still going to have, historically, 118 episodes I think, and 90-something that were L.A.-based ones.”

His math is not far off: Technically, 117 episodes were shot in Vancouver, 83 in Los Angeles.

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