Well, here’s the second episode David Duchovny wrote and directed. I don’t remember liking this one when it was new, but it actually worked better for a second viewing. As for casting…well, there’s familiar face Harris Yulin as a cardinal, comedian Wayne Federman as a fictionalized version of himself…oh, and Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni also as themselves with Minnie Driver and David Alan Grier as uncredited members of an audience watching a movie about Mulder, Scully, and a evil smoking cardinal.
The Case: Movies!
The Rest: In retrospect, I think the reason I didn’t care for it much is it’s basically a Hollywood satire of sorts, and the humor is, well, not the sort of humor The X-Files is generally known for. But watching it this time, seeing the episode open with a fictionalized version of Mulder (Shandling) working to save a fictionalized Scully (Leoni) from a cigarette smoking pontiff with an army of zombie snipers before the two fall into an open coffin to make out. The entire audience–including Driver, Grier, and particularly Skinner–are enjoying the hell out of the movie. The only two that aren’t are a highly embarrassed and horrified Mulder and Scully. Especially Mulder.
Though as I think about it, the movie’s punchline seems to be that “Scully” is in love with Skinner (played apparently by Richard Gere who does not appear in this episode), and the “real” Skinner served as a associate producer or something, meaning that Skinner approved a romance with Scully, and this somehow bothers neither of them.
But it’s a bit of an odd episode, all told. After flashing back more than a year, the episode plays almost like a regular episode aside from the fact Mulder and Scully are being shadowed by Skinner’s old pal, Hollywood guy Federman. He’s a very typical Hollywood type, looking to make a movie out of what Mulder and Scully do with the X-Files, and there’s a case involving Yulin’s Cardinal O’Fallon, a bomb that went off under his church, a long missing counterculture type who took up forgery and may be dead or may not be, and something called the Lazarus Bowl, which may or may not be able to raise the dead. But the fact that Scully did an autopsy on the former hippie when he turned up very much alive makes Skinner madder than he’s been in a long time, and the two end up going to L.A. to see how things are going. Mulder isn’t all that happy to learn Shandling is playing him instead of Gere, but the thing is, the episode really takes a turn here and becomes, well, a broader comedy that isn’t always funny.
Funny? Scully showing Leoni how to run in the shoes she wears in the background.
Not funny? Shandling asking whether Mulder dresses from the left or the right.
Not sure? Scully, Mulder, and Skinner all calling each other from different bubble baths.
Inside joke? Scully says Leoni (Duchuvny’s wife at the time) has a crush on Mulder, and possibly so does Shandling (Duchovny’s friend and apparently making a reference to The Larry Sanders Show).
Nice touch? Duchuvny used a lot of the X-Files crew to play cast and crew on the fake movie.
Weird stuff? Mulder’s theory that zombies are only cannibals at first because they want to do all the stuff they miss while being dead and opt to start with eating before moving on to drinking and dancing, so the episode ends with a lot of apparently real zombies dancing when no one is around.
But whatever the X-File is, it ends off-screen in a very literal manner without much explanation with a cardinal committing a murder/suicide. And I…well, I didn’t hate this one, but I somewhat wasn’t 100% sure what to make of it.
Up next, people keep fighting because of Kathy Griffin.