CTP Episode of the Day - 12.27.06 - Bad Blood

Today's Cherished Episode: Bad Blood (5x12)
Original Air Date: February 22, 1998
Written By: Vince Gilligan
Directed By: Cliff Bole

Mulder sticks his neck out -- and then some -- to capture a small-town serial killer.

"That is essentially ... exactly the way it happened."
"Except for the part about the buck teeth."

Some "Bad Blood" Tidbits & Musings:

-- Rashomon met Anne Rice in the comedic highlight of not only the fifth season, but perhaps the entire series. Once again, writer/supervising producer Vince Gilligan combined pure satire with a keen sense of the pricklier, edgier, semi-undercover aspects of the Mulder-Scully relationship.

-- "It started out as a total panic situation," recalled Gilligan. "My episode was going to be filmed right after the Christmas break, so I knew I had to have it ready by the time we came back. And I was not real happy about that, because I'd been looking forward to that vacation for a long time. And in fact, I'd been working on a different idea for a long time. It wasn't working out, and I was getting more and more nervous and frustrated."

-- As Gilligan not-so-fondly remembered it, this aborted comedy would have consisted of a typical X-Files adventure presented as a typical episode of the NBC series Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack would have hosted, of course, and for his real-life true-crime simulation, Mulder and Scully would have been played by a couple of other actors. (When Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny got wind of this, reported Gilligan, "they definitely liked the sound of a week off.")

-- "But I just couldn't figure out how to do it," admitted the writer. "And now it was a week before Christmas and I said, 'Oh man, I'm screwed.'" Desperate, Gilligan appealed for help to co-executive producer Frank Spotnitz. "And as we were sitting there banging our heads against the wall," he said, "Frank suddenly remembered -- of all things -- an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke Show.

-- In the half-hour episode, which was titled "The Night the Roof Fell In," Rob and Laura Petrie have a fight, then each tell their neighbor their version of what led up to it. Gilligan said, "I just thought it was a cool way to tell a story. And I wondered if I could do that." He added, "I also realized that if you're going to tell a story this way, the way you're telling it is the gimmick -- not the story you're telling. And because of that, and because you really only have half the time as usual, I thought the best approach would be to tell a very simple paranormal story, one that everybody understood. So I thought 'Vampires -- hell, everybody gets that.' And you know, we'd only told one other vampire story before, really."

-- Newly energized, Gilligan put his Unsolved idea out of its misery and finished the script for "Bad Blood" on schedule. The result delighted almost everyone. "Oh, yes!" said Gillian Anderson, happily. "I loved that episode. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of our best ones ever. I think it really showed how well David and I can work together, even though it was very complicated to make, and while we were doing it nobody except Vince really knew how it was going to come together."

-- Adding a little bit to the actors' confusion -- but cutting down considerably on labor-intensive camera setups -- both the Mulder- and Scully-centric versions of each scene were filmed one after the other, using the exact same sets and camera angles. Anderson credited veteran director Cilff Bole with guiding her to the correct and consistent levels of bitchiness or wounded innocence in each take.

-- Dealing with vampires, the title "Bad Blood" was a clever reference to the animosity between Mulder and Scully as well as what happens when vampires go bad and don't conform to the "new" kind of vampire.

-- The episode took place in Chaney, Texas. The town was so-named for Lon Chaney Jr. and Sr., both of whom played vampires during their illustrious film careers (Lon Chaney Jr. in The Son of Dracula and Lon Chaney Sr. in the silent film London After Midnight).

-- Timeline: The flashback events happened on February 10, 1998. Mulder and Scully recalled the events on February 11, and returned to Texas on February 11 and 12. They told their story to Skinner on February 13. So that meant they were free for Valentine's Day. < g >

-- "Bad Blood" featured Mulder's first slide show since Season 3's "Pusher."

-- Ronnie worked for AB Pizza. While this name got good marks for continuity (AB Pizza was also the company the ill-fated deliverer Jack Hammond worked for in "D.P.O."), it is also worth mentioning that it was an appropriate name for a pizza parlor in a town of vampires ("AB" is also a blood-type).

-- Other behind-the-camera staffers also did their best to bring Gilligan's whimsical visions to life. To find an appropriate location for the Rolling Acres RV Camp, locations manager Louisa Gradnitzer went back to the site of an abandoned sawmill that had previously been used in "Gethsemene," and had subsequently burned to the ground, leaving a lovely expanse of gray concrete slab.

-- To stock the Peaceful Slumbers Funeral Home, art director Greg Loewen rented twelve very expensive caskets -- "They were works of art. They came with 'grand piano craftsmanship,'" he recalled smiling -- from an astonished local wholesaler.

-- To get the late Mr. Lombardo's motor home rolling backward in a circle, special effects coordinator David Gauthier rigged up an auxiliary steering station in the back of the vehicle. The RV's stunt driver, out of camera range, looked out the back window while controlling the front wheels. He steered backward, as if he was driving a fork lift. In the scenes in which Mulder was dragged behind the motor home, David Duchovny stretched out on a small hidden "creeper" rig.

-- Luke Wilson and the other lead vampires were equipped with removable "funny fangs" by special effects makeup coordinator Toby Lindala. "The retainers I had to wear as a kid never fit as well," said Wilson, admiringly.

-- For the shots of the various corpses, the vampire victims' puncture marks were applied by makeup artist Laverne Basham. "Vince helped me with those," she said. "He bit the back of his hand to show me exactly what he wanted."

-- As killer pizza guy Ronnie Strickland, ex-child actor Patrick Renna (The Sandlot, The Big Green), apparently provided just the right interpretation. "At first I was a little unsure of the character," recalled Renna. "So before we started I asked if Ronnie was pretending to be a moron. They told me, 'No, he's really just a moron.'"

-- Ronnie's middle name was LaVelle. An odd name, LaVelle was also the middle name of character Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

-- In addition to "Bad Blood," Cliff Bole directed another X-Files comedy classic "Small Potatoes," as well as "Chimera" and "Jump the Shark."

-- Autumn Tysko explained it best in her review: "Bad Blood" is all about perception -- Mulder's, Scully's, and ours. Scully's tale made it clear why those who favor her character referred to Mulder as a punk. He exhibited all the Mulder characteristics that made Scully Fans cringe: not divulging all the information, leaping along, laughing at Scully's "theories," treating her as a tag-along autopsy tool, and mocking her height ("get those little legs moving"). Mulder's tale made it clear why those who favor his character refer to Scully as a pill. She exhibited all the Scully characteristics that made Mulder Fans cringe: dismissing Mulder's ideas, eye rolling skepticism, and inattention.

-- The truth was, of course, neither of these. It was telling that Mulder turned Scully into an "I do it all for you" cream cheese harpy and Scully turned Mulder into someone who couldn't even remember her name ("He does that"). Their view of themselves -- Scully loyally trudging along, the epitome of "smart is sexy" with those doctor terms falling trippingly off her tongue an erotic call to small-town sheriffs, and Mulder seeing himself as considerate, approval seeking (he appeared downright Scully-whipped at the start of his story), never jumping to hasty conclusions, and "as always ... very eager to hear [Scully's] opinion" were just as comic.

-- Although Vince Gilligan cited The Dick Van Dyke Show as his inspiration, reviewers often compared the episode to Rashomon, a 1950 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. Rashomon introduced Kurosawa and Japanese cinema to Western audiences, and was considered one of the acclaimed director's masterpieces. The film's narrative structure reflected the impossibility of obtaining the truth about an event when there were conflicting witness accounts, and the story unfolded in flashback. In English and other languages, "Rashomon" has become a byword for any situation in which the truth of an event is difficult to verify due to the conflicting accounts of different witnesses.

-- Mulder Glasses Sighting! He never put them on, but Mulder's glasses were featured prominently during the episode; they were hung over the lamp on his desk.

-- Oopsie! There were some editing problems in the beginning of the episode, as subsequent shots between Scully and Mulder kept switching between her arms crossed and her hands in her lap depending on the perspective.

-- Scully's "It's not that Mexican goat-sucker, either," line referred to the "Chupacabra" from Season 4's "El Mundo Gira."

-- The coffin names in the mortuary during each agent's story were too funny. Scully's story started with "The Iditarod" and included "The Last Supper" and Mulder's started with "The Velvet Fox".

-- It's the little things that count: Wonderful touch having the legend change from "DAVY CROCKETT MOTOR COURT" to "SAM HOUSTON MOTOR LODGE."

-- Nice touch that even though Scully was in a hurry to save Mulder, in her version of events she had changed out of her scrubs and back into her street clothes, complete with jewelry and high heels, before bursting through the motel room door.

-- Oopsie! During Mulder's explanation of events, when Scully examined the first victim in the morgue she put on latex gloves before touching the body. Moments later when a close up showed her pulling the man's collar back, she had no gloves on.

-- Mulder pointed out the vampire tendencies, but he missed them both times. Ronnie came to the graveyard in his Gremlin (i.e., an imaginary creature, demon), and the Sheriff picked up spilt seeds right in front of him.

-- Oopsie! Season 5 was the series' first season shot in widescreen format, though the majority of the episodes were shown in full-screen format when they originally aired. However, the Season 5 DVDs were released in the widescreen format, thus revealing a "Bad Blood" oopsie. During the scene where Mulder broke the chair in his hotel room in order to get a stake to go after Ronnie, a hand came into view from the left to place a stake on the ground which Mulder immediately picked up. When the episode aired in full-screen format, that portion of the picture would have been cropped off and the hand would never have been seen.

-- For "Bad Blood," composer Mark Snow reached deeply into his classical-music grab bag. Incidental themes included the "Rondo and Capriccio" by Saint-Saens and "The Ride of the Valkyries" by Richard Wagner. Other composers quoted in "Bad Blood": Mozart, Brahms, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev. (And let's not forget Isaac Hayes for his "Theme from Shaft.")

-- In an amusing coincidence, there is a town in Georgia called Hartwell which has a Strickland's Funeral Home in it.

-- To make their eyes appear to glow in the dark, several of the vampires who swarm Mulder in the RV park had fluorescent materials glued to their eyelids, which accounted for their somewhat vacant expressions -- they couldn't see.

-- To shoot inside Ronnie Strickland's lair, crewmen cut an entire side wall out of a brand-new motor home. "Afterwards," recalled picture car coordinator Nigel Habgood, "[production manager] Ron French came over and asked me: 'Did we buy that thing, or was it rented?'" Oops.

-- Some memorable script notations or script differences between the original shooting script and the episode as aired:

>> Mulder's comment at the end of the teaser in the shooting script was "Oops." The classic "Oh, sh..." in the aired episode was a much better choice.

>> The first scene of Scully's narrative flashback in the shooting script was cut entirely. In the script, as Scully began her "Yesterday morning ..." voiceover, the scene was the FBI parking lot. Scully entered the lot driving a Volkswagen Cabriolet. She stopped to study two parking spaces, side by side -- one was painted in big letters with "F. MULDER" and in that space was parked the big black Kennedy-era Cadillac that was driven by the Men in Black in "Jose Chung," with a bumper sticker that said "Watch the Skies." Next to that space was the only empty space around, painted in big letters with "EMPLOYEE." The Cadillac overlapped into the empty space. Scully eased into the empty space and then carefully squeezed out of the car as her voiceover continued.

>> Also cut from the shooting script entirely was a running gag that appeared three times, as Mulder and Scully were flying to Texas (once in Scully's version, once in Mulder's version, and once when Skinner sent them). In each version, only stock footage of an airplane would be seen with all the dialogue taking place in voiceover. The first cut scene (during Scully's version) was as follows:

S: (Narration, V.O.) The flight to Texas was, for the most part, uneventful ...
M: (V.O.) I'm telling you, Scully -- I just saw something really weird off the starboard wing.
S: (V.O.) Eat your peanuts, Mulder.

(This was a reference to the classic episode of The Twilight Zone where William Shatner believes he seems a gremlin on the wing of his plane.)

>> Gilligan's script direction regarding the coffins in the funeral parlor showroom indicate they should be identified by their product names such as "The Continental," "The Ambassador Deluxe," "The Brahmin," etc. Obviously, the set decorators had a much better time coming up with alternatives.

>> Mulder's comment, "Come on, Scully, get those little legs moving!" after they meet Hartwell in Scully's version, does not appear in the shooting script.

>> During Scully's version, when Mulder interrupted her concerning the Sheriff calling her "Dana," Scully said, "You gonna interrupt me, or what?" In the original script, Mulder said nothing. In the episode as aired, Mulder replied, "No, go ahead ... Dana." Much better in the aired version!

>> Scully's unenthusiastic "Yee-haw" after her scalpel blade falls to the floor is not in the shooting script.

>> In the original script in Scully's version, Mulder does not get on the bed with the "Magic Fingers" until Scully has vacated it. Mulder's "plop" next to Scully in the aired version is a definite improvement.

>> In the original script, the second victim's name is Rance Bolognese; but in the episode as aired, the second victim's name is Paul Lombardo.

>> The second airplane scene that was cut (in Mulder's version) was as follows (same shot as before):

S: (V.O.) Oh my God, Mulder! Out on the wing! Aliens!
M: (V.O.) Huh? (Scully erupts into laughter, giggling to herself)
M: (V.O.) Oh, yeah ... that just gets funnier with every flight.

>> The script noted that "the Sheriff apparently lost 30 IQ points between Scully's and Mulder's versions.

>> In the script in Mulder's version of events, Sheriff Hartwell mentioned that a vampire would be like the character in Rainman, but that was the end of the conversation. The discussion in the aired version was ad-libbed by Duchovny and Luke Wilson.

>> Bad Tipper Mulder's $13 payment for a $12.98 pizza (shown in Mulder's version) was not included in the original script. Mulder simply paid for the pizza in the scripted version.

>> Scully's straightening of Mulder's necktie at the beginning of Act 4 was not scripted.

>> In the shooting script, the scene outside Skinner's office was much shorter than the version aired. In the script, Skinner told the agents that Ronnie Strickland's body had disappeared, that the coroner was attacked, and that they should head to Texas, and that was the end of the scene.

>> The third airplane scene that was cut followed that scene with Skinner and went as follows (same shot as before):

S: (V.O.) Mulder?
M: (V.O.) Yeah?
S: (V.O.) Do you think Skinner was drugged?

>> Another scene that was completely cut was Mulder and Scully arriving at the coroner's office and getting briefed on the disappearance of Ronnie's body. Scully said she wanted to autopsy the victim, and the detective present replied that he didn't mind but the victim might. Then the coroner entered, revealed himself to be alive, and explained how Ronnie gnawed on his neck. When this scene was cut, all this information was included in the longer scene between the agents and Skinner that was in the aired version of the episode.

>> Mulder's "neck check" -- of himself and Scully -- after coming to is not included in the scripted version.

(I just noticed the "Howdy Partner" on the chair in this picture. How cute! I guess I'm usually looking at something else! < veg >)

-- Sheriff Hartwell was named for Vince Gilligan's girlfriend Holly Rice (her middle name is Hartwell).

-- Luke Wilson made his television acting debut in "Bad Blood." As Sheriff Hartwell, the Texas-born Wilson inadvertently held up production by sending David Duchovny into hysterics during the scenes they filmed together. (And created lots of memorable bloopers for the Season 5 gag reel. "Bad Blood" generated lots and lots of memorable moments on the gag reel.)

-- The son of an advertising executive and a photographer, Luke Wilson was raised with two brothers, Owen (the middle one) and Andrew (the eldest one). The three would all go on to make their careers in film, with Luke Wilson discovering his love of acting while a student at Occidental College. In 1993, the brothers Wilson collaborated with Wes Anderson to make Bottle Rocket, which was initially a 13-minute short. The gleefully optimistic story of three Texans who aspire to become successful thieves, Bottle Rocket premiered at the 1993 Sundance Festival, where it attracted the attention of director James L. Brooks. With Brooks' help, the short became a full-length feature film released in 1996 under the same name. Afterwards Wilson moved to Hollywood, setting up house with his two brothers and Anderson, and the same year he appeared in the coming-of-age drama Telling Lies in America. In 1998 he had large roles in three comedies, two of which co-starred his real-life girlfriend Drew Barrymore. One of those films was Home Fries, written by Vince Gilligan.

-- Wilson initially got more recognition for his real-life role as Drew Barrymore's boyfriend than for his acting. Fortunately, his onscreen talents outlasted his relationship with Barrymore, and he has enjoyed steady employment and increasing visibility through substantial roles in a number of films including Rushmore, My Dog Skip, Charlie's Angels and Legally Blonde (and their sequels), The Royal Tenenbaums, Old School, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Family Stone, Hoot, and My Super Ex-Girlfriendl. He also had a recurring role on another Fox series, That 70s Show, as Kelso's older brother, Casey.

-- Wilson and his two brothers each share the same middle name: Cunningham. Luke and Owen are members of what the media refers to as "The Frat Pack" (a reference to Old School) due to the wide number of films featuring combinations of the same group of young actors: Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Vince Vaughn, Steve Carell, Ben Stiller, and the Wilson brothers.

-- Luke and Owen were scheduled to play the Malloy Brothers in the remake of Ocean's Eleven, but dropped out to make The Royal Tenenbaums.

-- Luke Wilson recalled that he had met David Duchovny once a long time before X-Files. "A photographer friend of my mom's was working for a magazine, and he hired me to carry his equipment around," recalled Luke Wilson. "We photographed a lot of young actors, some of whom have made it since and some of whom haven't. I remember this weeklong period where we did 20 people. One of them was David Duchvony, and at the time -- about 1990 -- he hadn't done anything. He seemed like a great guy, a really nice, intelligent guy. And we met this other actor who was not a good guy. But I was like, 'Wow, who is he? He's got all these people around him. What movies is he in?' And I found out he hadn't done anything, and now is nowhere to be heard from. It's always the talented people who are the good ones and the half-assed people you don't want to be around."

-- When asked if he preferred Scully's or Mulder's version of the story in "Bad Blood," Luke Wilson said, "Definitely Mulder's. I mean, there were times where the director would say, 'Okay, Luke, you need to take the buck teeth out of your mouth,' because I was enjoying myself way too much. It was terrific working with David, too. I wasn't an avid viewer of The X-Files but I had watched it from time and time and I liked it. I didn't know much about David, but I discovered that he was a really great guy. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable about ad-libbing because in television your schedule isn't as flexible as it is when you're doing a film, so I wasn't sure if we had time to spare. At one point I found myself talking fast just to try to speed things up and David said, 'Why not use that line that you were kidding around with before?' I asked, "Really? Do we have time?' and he told me, 'Sure.' The next thing you knew we were doing these mini-improvs and a couple of them actually ended up in the episode."

-- Of his X-Files experience, Luke Wilson said, "I had a great time."

-- Once & Future Retreads: Forbes Angus (Funeral Director) was the Tissue Bank Technician in "Shadows," the Government Scientist in "Soft Light," a Doctor in "The Blessing Way," and the Security Guard in "Small Potatoes." Arlene Warren -- later to become Arlene (Mrs. Mitch) Pileggi -- made her first appearance as Skinner's assistant in Bad Blood. She appeared in the same role in "Triangle," "S.R. 819," "Monday," "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati," "This is Not Happening," "Deadalive," "Essence" (she was listed as a party guest rather than Skinner's Assistant) and "Sunshine Days." In "Fight Club," she appeared as the "Woman Who Looked Like Scully." Prior to receiving her recurring role, Arlene was Gillian Anderson's stand-in.

-- On its initial showing in 1998, "Bad Blood" received average ratings. But it has gone on to become perhaps the most popular episode of all time, frequently named favorite episode in viewer polls. And when interviewed just before the show ended in 2002, Gillian Anderson recalled that "all things" was "rewarding and exhilarating," but still named the "fun and smart and well written" "Bad Blood" as possibly her favorite: "It was fun and challenging to film, and even more fun to watch."

-- And most of all, it has lots of great footwear shots!! < veg >

(Thanks to chrisnu for today's pics.)

Please share your first impressions, favorite (or cringe-worthy) moments, classic lines, favorite fanfic, nagging questions, repeated viewing observations, etc., as today we celebrate "Bad Blood."

And that finishes up our Cherish the Past highlights for Season 5!

I was just trying to be thorough. < g >