CTP Episode of the Day - 05.25.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Christmas Carol (5x05)
Original Air Date: December 7, 1997
Written By: Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz
Directed By: Peter Markle

While spending the Christmas holiday with her family, Scully receives a mysterious phone call. She is summoned to help a desperately ill child, whose tragic history is inexplicably linked to her own.

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's episode pics.)

"According to this... I am Emily's mother."

Some "Christmas Carol" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The title of this episode is an homage to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, a classic holiday tale of self-examination and rebirth, with Scully taking the place of Ebenezer Scrooge.

-- After one frustrating dead end attempting to closely parallel Dickens's classic story, the trio of writers decided that instead of encountering ghosts, Scully would be "visited" by earlier versions of her family members and herself, and would be taken on an emotional journey by her descendant, as well.

-- Emily's adoptive family name of Sim is taken from actor Alastair Sim who played Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1951 British movie version of A Christmas Carol.

-- This was director Peter Markle's first X-File directing assignment. He would go on to direct Season 6's "Alpha" starring his wife Melinda Culea and Season 8's "Redrum." (Just a note: I choose the CTP episodes completely at random at the beginning of each week; and I was surprised to learn that yesterday's and today's episodes were directed by Markle. While Agent Mulder may not believe in coincidences, I swear that's what it was.)

-- The young girl playing the teenage Dana is Gillian Anderson's real life 14-year-old sister Zoe, in her first professional acting role, though she was a veteran of several amateur theatrical productions and a local opera workshop. She was also in a sixth grade production of A Christmas Carol.

-- John Pyper-Ferguson, who played Detective Kresge, also played the convict named Paul in Season 2's "F. Emasculata." He has since appeared in several episodes of Spotsy's "Night Stalker" series and has a small part in the upcoming X-Men 3: The Last Stand.

-- Rob Freeman, who played Marshall Sim, played Detective Rempulski in Season 4's "Gethsemene." (He was the detective who asked Scully to identify Mulder's body.)

-- Karri Turner (Tara Scully) moved on to a recurring role as Harriet Sims on JAG.

-- Mulder's absence in this episode was due to David Duchovny being in Los Angeles during the second week of October 1997 to promote his movie Playing God. A pre-season decision was made to postpone shooting "The Post Modern Prometheus," which was Mulder-heavy, and to film a Scully-centric episode instead.

-- Mulder does have one brief appearance (uttering his trademark "hullo" three times), and reportedly the hat he's wearing was knitted for him by his at-that-time new wife Téa Leoni.

-- The date of this episode, as shown onscreen in the opening scene, is December 21. However, the toxicology report into Roberta Sim's death states that it occurred on August 9.

-- The toxicology report lists the birth date of Mrs. Sim as 6/6/1967 which would make her 30, but Detective Kresge says that she is 40 years of age.

-- Scully's FBI badge number that she gives to the phone company (#2317616) is different than the one she gives in season 4's "Teliko" (#JTT0331613).

-- When Scully is checking reports with Detective Kresge, it seems that props for another Season 5 episode might have been used. The first page is a police report on someone named "Modell" and includes information like an education of "general studies" at "Our Lady of Perpetual Motion," followed by a degree in philosophy from "Bubba's Community College." Work experience lists "Cady - Fairfax Driving Range" (don't know whether Modell or an XF staffer couldn't spell). At the bottom of the page, among other things, it says that Modell has "excellent dental hygiene."

-- Big continuity error: In Scully's dream, we learn that she and Melissa received their cross necklaces for Christmas one year (young Dana looks about 13 or 14), but in Season 2's "Ascension," Scully's mom tells Mulder that she gave Scully the necklace for her 15th birthday.

-- Exactly when did Scully get to be on a first-name basis with the never-seen but often called "Danny"? (On a related note, this did seem to put an end to the speculation that Agent Pendrell was "Danny" since Pendrell bought the farm in Season 4.)

-- The film brand printed on the back of Melissa's picture that Bill shows Scully is "ETAP." "ETAP" is a commonly used brand name on the XF; it is prop-master Jim Pate's last name spelled backwards. It has also been used in "Unruhe," "Small Potatoes," "Redux," and "Travelers."

-- Scully's line "I don't believe in fate. I think we have to choose our own path," is a great precursor to the events of Season 7's "all things."

-- Prop master Ken Hawryliw's biggest challenge for this episode was finding late-eighties era Christmas wrapping paper.

-- And we're glad to find out that even though Charles doesn't attend family gatherings, he still sends gifts.

-- The person who ran the DNA analysis at the end of the episode was named John Gillnitz, yet another reference to the names of the three writers John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz.

-- Though aired on consecutive weeks, "Christmas Carol/Emily" was the first two-parter filmed out of sequence. "The Post Modern Prometheus" was filmed in between.

-- I'm a Mulder girl through and through, but I have to say that Detective Kresge had me at "No offense, Scully FBI …". Also his Mulderism disguised as a Kresgeism: "You got a call from her? She must have dialed 1-800-THE GREAT BEYOND."

-- "Christmas Carol" gave us a lot of perspective into Seasons 7 and 8. Learning why Scully kept people at arm's length because she's afraid they will be taken from her, how much she really does want a child, the whole "medical rape" issue that might rear its ugly head again, and the issue of choosing your own path vs. fate. All these were revisited as the series progressed.

-- Filming of "Christmas Carol" went relatively smoothly -- but the same couldn't be said for the filming of the second part of the two-parter. We'll discuss more about that with "Emily" tomorrow.

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

Polly