REPOST - CTP Episode of the Day - 03.25.06 - The Calusari

Today's Cherished Episode: The Calusari (2x21)
Original Air Date: April 14, 1995
Written By: Sara Charno
Directed By: Michael Vejar

A young boy's unusual death leads Mulder and Scully to a superstitious old woman and her grandson, who may be possessed by evil.

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"And though I believe him innocent of the crimes, I am disturbed by the warnings of the Calusari that neither innocence nor vigilance may be protection against the howling heart of evil."

Some "The Calusari" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The title was drawn from the Romanian word Calusari and referred to a mysterious order of exorcists.

-- Timeline: The episode contained no internal dating; but if internal dates followed air-date order, this case and two others ("Humbug" and "F. Emasculata") took place in the latter half of March 1995. In "Dod Kalm," Mulder lost consciousness on March 12, 1995; and "Soft Light" began on March 31, 1995, according to the death which occurred in the teaser of that episode.

-- Female writers were few and far between on The X-Files, but "The Calusari" was written by Sara Charno, who also wrote Season 2's "Aubrey."

-- "The Calusari" was the only X-Files episode that Michael Vejar directed; but he was a veteran director who had been behind the camera since the 1980s. He directed episodes of shows like Magnum, P.I., Fame, Quantum Leap, Babylon 5, and MacGyver and also directed many episodes in the Star Trek franchise, including episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.

-- The producers agonized about the teaser sequence as well as the general darkness of the whole hour, since Maggie lost her mother, husband, and one of her sons during the episode.

-- The teaser in the park was filmed at Fantasy Garden World in Richmond, British Columbia. Fantasy Garden World featured gardens, rides, a miniature train (seen in the episode), a "castle" from Coevorden, Holland, and an Olde World Village. Coeverden was home to the ancestors of George Vancouver (for whom Vancouver was named).

-- The role of little Teddy Holvey was played by triplets Isaac, Jeremy and Oliver Wildsmith. The boys also appeared as children from the Temple of the Seven Stars in "The Field Where I Died."

-- Oopsie! In the scene at the amusement park, Charlie's dad Steve had two ice cream cones in his left hand. One had two scoops on it, the other had one. He started to hand the one with two scoops to Charlie. The camera then cut to a different angle, from Charlie's perspective, and Charlie took the cone with one scoop from his father's hand. When the camera angle changed again, Charlie had the double scoop in his hand. Then when the baby lost the balloon, Steve had the cone with the double scoop.

-- This was actor Bill Dow's first appearance as Dr. Chuck Burks, but his second appearance on The X-Files. He also had a small part in Season 1's "Jersey Devil." Most recently, Bill Dow has been working on Kyle XY and has a recurring role as Dr. Bill Lee in Stargate: Atlantis, a role he originated on Stargate SG-1.

-- The house standing in for the Holvey residence in Arlington, Virginia, was located in the 400 block of Fifth Street in New Westminister.

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-- When Mulder said that Teddy Holvey might have been helped onto the tracks, Steve Holvey said, "If you're suggesting that this is anything like that woman who drowned her kids in the lake, you're way out of line." This was a reference to Susan Smith of Union, South Carolina. On October 25, 1994, Smith reported to police that she had been carjacked by an African-American man who drove away with her sons still in the car. She made tearful pleas on television for the rescue and return of her children. However, nine days later, following an intensive, heavily publicized investigation and nationwide search, Smith confessed to letting her 1990 Mazda Protégé roll into nearby John D. Long Lake, drowning her two sons aged 3 and 14 months. She was convicted of their murder in July 1995.

-- The swastika is also known as a gammadion or a fylfot; an ancient symbol formed by a Greek cross with the ends bent at right angles in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction used for protection or good luck. The swastika was adopted as the emblem of the Nazi party and gained further association with the Third Reich as the Reich gained influence.

-- Scully's explanation of Munchausen by Proxy was most likely for the viewer rather than Mulder (a psychologist, after all). As she noted in the episode, Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBPS), or Factitious Disorder by Proxy, as it is listed in the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," is a relatively uncommon condition involving the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker. One of the most harmful forms of child abuse, Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th century German dignitary known for telling outlandish stories about himself and his adventures. Rudolf Raspe, a German librarian, scientist, and writer published a book of the tall tales entitled, "The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen."

-- "The Calusari" marked the first time Mulder made a comment about his grandfather (joking that Munchausen by Proxy was something his grandfather "took for his stomach".) Mulder also mentioned his grandfather slurping his soup in Season 7's "Theef."

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-- Karen Kosseff's card indicated she was an L.C.S.W., which stands for "Licensed Clinical Social Worker."

-- Part of the action in "The Calusari" was structured to incorporate a moment that Chris Carter thought up outside the context of the episode -- a garage-door opener hanging. The producers did have to compromise with FOX's standards department, however, shortening the sequence and obscuring the father's face so as to soften the impact of the strangulation.

-- Oopsie! When Steve was struggling against the garage door opener, just before he kicked in the car's rear window, the camera's reflection can be seen in the car window.

-- Chuck said, "In 1979, I witnessed a guru named Sai Baba create an entire feast out of thin air." The original Sai Baba of Shirdi was an Indian guru and fakir who died in 1918. He was considered a saint by his many Hindu and Muslim followers. Today, several Indian gurus claim to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba.

-- Mulder was usually the partner who got to deliver the jokes, but he was always appreciative of Scully's one-liners. He smiled broadly at her comeback after Chuck's Sai Baba comment: "Too bad you didn't take a picture. You could have run it through your computer and seen the entire Last Supper."

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-- When Charlie stood over his grandmother before her death, he said, "You are too late to stop us" in Romanian.

-- Mulder pointed out mugwort, an herb recognized since medieval times in Europe as a charm against evil. During the exorcism, the Calusari also employed dragon's blood, which is actually a plant. It is named for its color.

-- The original Calusari were an ancient Italian horsemen cult.

-- The Calusari are famous in Romania, but not as a mysterious group of ritual exorcists; they are a group of male dancers who perform in a traditional folk dance called the calus. The dance closely resembles the English Morris dance in choreography, the meaning of the ritualistic sword dance, and the costumes. The word calusari is traced back to the Romanian word cal (horse). The dance is thought to be derived from a pre-Christian fertility ritual and spring rite, and is said to bring luck, health, and happiness to the villages in which it is danced. Others maintain that it is rooted in the ancient Indo-European worship of the horse. The calusari are also supposed to have healing powers, which would be closer to their role in this episode. It is quite possible that various traditions became mixed in the course of history.

-- The scenes set at St. Matthew's Medical Center were filmed at Riverview Hospital, a former psychiatric hospital. Many episodes of the series were filmed at Riverview; and some scenes in the second X-Files movie are reportedly also being filmed there.

-- Oopsie! When Charlie was questioned by Karen Kosseff in a play area of the medical center, there was a yellow toy fish in the room with its head facing the door. The camera cut to Mulder and others behind a two-way mirror and then cut back to Charlie and Karen; then the fish's tail was facing the door. After the next camera cut, the fish's head was facing the door again; and when Mulder and Scully rushed into the room after Charlie's seizure, the fish's tail was facing the door.

-- The material oozing out of the walls during the exorcism scene is called amrith, a "honey-like viscous liquid" manifested during an exorcism. Also mentioned in the episode (by Chuck Burks) is Vibuti, or Holy Ash, which supposedly materializes out of thin air during a paranormal event. These physical displays of spiritual phenomena are commonly cited in spiritualist literature.

-- Oopsie! At the end of the episode as Mulder waited outside Charlie's hospital room for Scully and Mrs. Holvey, a white position marker (that is used to indicate to the actors where to stand) can be seen on the floor near Mulder's feet.

-- Actress Lilyan Chauvin (Golda) was a veteran of the European stage before moving to America and winning some small parts in film. One of her earliest appearances was a small role in the John Wayne western, North to Alaska. Over the next 40 years, she became one of the busiest character actresses in Hollywood, appearing in numerous television roles, including a most recent role in Ugly Betty, and in over 40 films including Private Benjamin and Catch Me If You Can.

-- Long-time actor Kay E. Kuter (Calusari #1) came from a show-biz family. His father was pioneer art director Leo "K" Kuter and his mother was silent screen actress Evelyn Edler. In his long career, Kuter directed more than 50 plays and appeared in over 200 stage productions. His film career started with small parts in many 1950s movies, including the musical Guys and Dolls with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. In the 1960s he had guest roles on many popular shows including Bonanza, The Virginian, Perry Mason, and I Dream of Jeannie; and he had a recurring role as neighborly farmer Newt Kiley on two 1960s country comedies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. He also did a lot of voiceover work, and voiced Hershey's Kisses commercials for 14 years up until his death in November 2003.

-- Christine Willes made her second appearance as FBI Social Worker Karen Kosseff in this episode; she previously appeared in "Irresistible" and would later appear in "Elegy." Willes had a recurring role on the cult hit Dead Like Me, and most recently she has appeared as Gladys the DMV Demon on Reaper.

-- Once & Future Retreads: In addition to Christine Willes, Bill Dow, and the Wildsmith triplets, Joel Palmer (Michael/Charlie Holvey) was Kevin Morris in "Conduit." Ric Reid (Steve Holvey) was the Assistant Coroner in the "Pilot." Bill Croft (Calusari #2) was Comrade Svo in "Never Again." Campbell Lane (Calusari #3) was Hohman's Father in "Miracle Man," and the Committee Chairman in "Tunguska/Terma." George Josef (Calusari #4) was John Ramirez in "Schizogeny."

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-- "The Calusari" was the lowest-rated episode of Season 2.

-- In the United Kingdom, "The Calusari" received an explicit 18 rating certificate from the British Board of Film Classification, which rated theatrically-released films, videos, and some video games. As a result, only persons over 18 years of age could buy Season Two of The X-Files on video or DVD.

(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 "The Calusari."

Polly