CTP Episode of the Day - 10.06.06 - Badlaa

Today's Cherished Episode: Badlaa (8x12)
Original Air Date: January 21, 2001
Written By: John Shiban
Directed By: Tony Wharmby

A mystic smuggles himself out of India and plagues two families in suburban Washington, D.C.

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"And in an instant I realized that it's what Mulder would have seen or understood. Because that's just how he came at things ... without judgment and without prejudice and with an open mind that I am just not capable of."

Some "Badlaa" Tidbits & Musings:

-- "Badlaa" is Urdu (a language spoken in India) for "exchange/retaliation/revenge." (Note from Me: Although to fans, this episode was always known as the "Butt Genie Episode" as that's how Gillian Anderson herself described it.)

-- "'Badlaa' came from a little bit of desperation on my part, actually," said writer John Shiban. (Says me: No kidding.) "I was working on an episode of The Lone Gunmen and I needed to have a script very soon on my next X-File. I remember walking through the Vancouver airport and it just occurred to me, what if somebody who came up and asked me for money was actually a bad guy?"

-- This was Tony Wharmby's second XF directorial effort. He directed Via Negativa and directed five more episodes after "Badlaa."

-- The airport scene was shot in a cruise-line terminal "down in the docks which had a rather dated feel, which is something you tend to find if you look at newsreel footage of India," said locations manager Ilt Jones. "They always have old English cars from the 60s. The cruise-line terminal, Longbridge, was perfect."

-- Sahar International Airport (as it was referred to in the episode) is now called Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. I guess they thought that was too long for the legend. (Although Quonochautaug didn't phase them.)

-- "I remember calling Rick Millikan, our casting director, and saying 'I need a small Indian man with no legs,'" said Shiban. "They came up with an amazing actor named Deep Roy. He was one of the people behind R2-D2 in The Empire Strikes Back. They made a special cart that had a false bottom to make him look like he had no legs. For very specific moments we would bluescreen the front of the cart and then later our computer graphics people would put in the street or whatever it was under it."

-- It didn't quite rival the search for the right sound for the alien bounty hunter killing stiletto, but producer Paul Rabwin said it was quite an effort to find "just the right squeaking sound" for the little man's cart that would signal he was coming. "It had to scare us, it had to be creepy," said Rabwin. "Finally we came up with what we thought was just the right squeak and John said 'Okay, that's the one.'"

-- The only good thing about the autopsy Scully was performing, with her hand up the man's butt, was thinking about those Mulderisms we would have heard had this been a Mulder/Scully episode. Oh the possibilities -- the teasing and the playful banter that would have accompanied Mulder walking in on that situation! He would have had a field day.

-- Oopsie! Scully says she's looking at an MRI, but she's actually looking at (I think) a CAT scan.

-- Oopsie! The Vishi disaster article in the newspaper that Scully points to does indeed say in the first paragraph what she was referring to. However, the rest of the article is a discussion of an arrest that the Attorney General was involved in that had nothing to do with the preceding information. If you're going to mock-up a newspaper for a close-up, you'd better go all the way.

-- John Shiban named an entire episode after his nephew Trevor. He must have liked Trevor a lot, as one of the boys in this episode has the same name.

-- Oopsie! If Quinton was in the sixth grade and Trevor was in the seventh grade, in Maryland they would be in middle school, not elementary school.

-- Scully does "try to be Mulder" numerous times in this episode: (1) She ditches her partner to go off and do an "unauthorized procedure." (2) She drops her gun. (3) She calls in Chuck Burks to take us on a ride into the paranormal. (4) She pulls an all-nighter -- sitting at Mulder's desk in front of Mulder's poster, shirt sleeves rolled up, papers askew, alien head coffee cup; the only thing she didn't do was toss pencils at the ceiling. (5) She makes a leap of Mulderific proportions. (6) And her skeptical partner says "What are we doing here?"

-- Note of Interest: Quinton lives in the Eight is Enough house -- the same exterior of Quinton's house was used for the Bradford house in that long-running series.

-- Although Mulder's nameplate was still in the drawer (apparently), it was nice to see Samantha's picture still on the desk.

-- In spite of the silliness of the episode premise, fine work by Gillian Anderson in "Badlaa," especially in the scene where Scully comes to the realization that as much as she needed to be the "Mulder" on the new XF team, it's something she wasn't capable of doing. She spent the entire episode reminding Doggett to "have an open mind," but it was really herself she was reminding. As much as her mind had opened to extreme possibilities over the course of eight years, she was not capable of taking the final step to be a "true" believer. In the culmination of an otherwise worthless episode, I finally got the sense that Scully was actually missing Mulder (punctuated by GA's specialty, the Single Tear Cheek Roll).

-- As was frequently the 1013 trademark, the final tacked-on scene was a mistake. Which was the more powerful image: The Little Legless Man staring at evil Americans or Scully's emotionally charged epiphany? Unfortunately, we all know how 1013 thinks; and that's just wrong.

-- In this episode, Doggett called his partner "Scully" (not "Agent" or "Agent Scully") for the first time.

-- Not that anyone would really want to, but trying to figure out this episode was an exercise in futility. For example, if Scully's theory was right and the little man was exacting revenge for the death of his son caused by the big, bad American industrial machine, what possible connection did this have to Quinton and Trevor and their parents? As Chuck Burks said, "Why is he killing the people that he's killing?" Why could the boys see the little man in his real persona when no one else could? If the little man had such extraordinary powers, why couldn't he control the squeak on his cart (or maybe he saw Jaws too many times)? How did he get from the morgue back to the school without his cart? For that matter, how did he get back to India after being shot (and I thought killed) by Scully? Does that mean he was never there at all? Or that he was really just a spirit with a noisy cart? More questions than answers, but unfortunately, most people didn't care enough about this episode to ask them.

-- "One thing about this episode that I'm sort of proud of is that people have often told me that it's probably the most disgusting thought they've ever had," said Shiban, "that this little man would actually enter your body and travel around inside you. My original idea was there's a beggar with no legs who can actually shrink himself then climb inside your ear. And Chris Carter -- and this is why he's Chris Carter -- said 'No, no, no, I know what's better.'" (Note from Me: Yep, that's why he's Chris Carter all right, King of Bathroom Humor. Why have someone crawl in your ear when they can crawl up your ass instead?)

-- As John Shiban noted, the actor who played the little man on the squeaky rolling cart was Deep Roy. He was a veteran of many films including Return of the Jedi, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas before appearing in "Badlaa." After "Badlaa," he has gone on to appear in many of director Tim Burton's films including Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, a voice in Corpse Bride, and most notably, he played all the Oopma Loompa's in Burton's 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

-- Michael Welsh (Trevor) also appeared in the Malcolm in the Middle episode "New Neighbors" which, like this episode, originally aired on January 21, 2001, on Fox. Welsh moved on to play Joan's geeky little brother Luke Girardi in the CBS series Joan of Arcadia.

-- Calvin Remsberg (Hugh Potocki -- the Butt Genie's very large first victim) began his career as an opera singer, appearing with the Boston, Washington, and Wolf Trap companies. He was the voice of a Merry Man in Shrek. (Note from Me: I guess voicing a Merry Man is easy after a Butt Genie has crawled up your ass.)

-- Jordan Blake Workal (Quinton) played Billy "Froggy" Laughlin in the 1994 remake of The Little Rascals.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Bill Dow made his final (and only Mulder-less) appearance as Mulder's good buddy Chuck Burks.

Note to 1013: One more anal-probing-reality-manipulating-enlightenment-attaining butt genie story and I'm going to take out my gun and shoot somebody.

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(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 "Badlaa"!

Polly