CTP Episode of the Day - 10.13.06 - Can You Guess?

Where were you at 9 p.m. exactly 11 years ago tonight?

Today's Cherished Episode: Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose (3x04)
Original Air Date: October 13, 1995
Written By: Darin Morgan
Directed By: David Nutter

Mulder and Scully enlist the help of a man who can see when people will die while searching for a serial killer who preys upon fortune-tellers.

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"All right. So how do I die?"
"You don't."

Some "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" Tidbits & Musings:

-- "Clyde Bruckman" was the only X-Files episode to air on 1013 -- October 13 (Chris Carter's and Fox Mulder's birthday). It was also the only episode to air on the best fright night -- Friday the 13th.

-- The episode's title refers to the main character's death -- his final rest.

-- The real Clyde Bruckman was a film director who worked on silent comedies, including Laurel and Hardy movies (but not the one Scully was watching at the end of the episode). The "real life" Bruckman also wrote screenplays for silent film actors Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Just like his fictional counterpart, Clyde Bruckman committed suicide.

-- The name of the hotel where the killer worked, "Le Damfino," echoes the name of a boat used by Buster Keaton in his 1921 movie The Boat. In the film, Keaton's handmade boat, The Damfino, is finished and is, of course, too large to get through the basement door. When he drives off with it in tow, the side of his house, then the whole house collapses. At the harbor he rides the boat out only to have it sink beneath him. When actor James Mason bought Keaton's old home in 1952 he found this film and several other lost Keaton short films in the basement. Mason made sure all the films were saved and restored at a film lab.

-- Detective Havez, the man assigned to watch Bruckman in the hotel room, was named for Jean C. Havez, who collaborated with the real Clyde Bruckman on numerous Buster Keaton film screenplays.

-- Detective Cline was named for Eddie Cline, who directed several Buster Keaton comedies (or co-directed them with Keaton).

-- The man under the wheels of Scully's car was named Claude Dukenfield; this is the real name of W. C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield). Clyde Bruckman directed W.C. Fields in numerous short films.

-- In his poker game with Scully, Clyde Bruckman was holding the Dead Man's Hand -- aces and eights. This was the same hand Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot to death in Deadwood, South Dakota. But Wild Bill was holding only two pair; Clyde had him beat with a full house (three aces instead of two).

-- Clyde Bruckman told Mulder and Scully that he was a "bigger fan of The Big Bopper than Buddy Holly." "The Big Bopper" was J.P. (Jiles Perry) Richardson, Jr., born in 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas. While he was in college, J.P. (or "Jape" as he liked to be called) found a job at radio station KTRM in Beaumont, Texas. After a stint in the Army, he returned to KTRM where he coined the name "The Big Bopper" (after the popular dance "The Bop"), the stage name he would use for the rest of his life. In May 1957 he broke the record for continuous on-the-air broadcasting by eight minutes. He went a total of five days, two hours and eight minutes, playing 1,821 records and taking showers during five-minute newscasts. During the marathon, he lost 35 pounds.

-- The man who launched Richardson as a recording artist was Harold "Pappy" Dailey from Houston. Dailey was promotion director for Mercury and Starday records and signed Richardson to Mercury. Richardson's first single, "Beggar To a King," had a country flavor, but failed to gain any chart action. He soon cut "Chantilly Lace" as "The Big Bopper" for Pappy Dailey's D label. Mercury bought the recording and released it during the summer of 1958. It reached #6 on the pop charts and spent 22 weeks on the national Top 40.

-- With the success of "Chantilly Lace," Richardson took some time off from KTRM radio and joined Buddy Holly and The Crickets, Ritchie Valens, and Dion & the Belmonts for a "Winter Dance Party" tour. The tour was scheduled to play in remote locations throughout the mid-west United States, and the mid-west was suffering from a harsh winter. The bus provided to the musicians had engine problems and no heating system; and during the tour, Richardson caught the flu. When the tour finished in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly chartered a Beechcraft Bonanza to fly his band to the next gig in Fargo, North Dakota.

-- In the episode, Clyde Bruckman told Mulder and Scully that the Big Bopper won his seat on Buddy Holly's plane by flipping a coin for it. This is incorrect, though it's not apparent whether this is an unintentional or deliberate "oopsie". Because of his bout with the flu, J.P. Richardson approached Buddy Holly's bass player, Waylon Jennings, and asked for Jennings' seat on the plane so he could get some rest and get a doctor's appointment upon reaching Fargo. Jennings agreed, a decision that saved his life.

-- It was actually Ritchie Valens ("La Bamba") who won his seat on the small plane by virtue of a coin flip. Valens had never flown on a small plane before and requested Crickets' member Tommy Allsup's seat. They flipped a coin; Valens called heads, and won the toss. The plane took off from the Mason City Airport in a blinding snowstorm around 1 a.m. on February 3, 1959, and crashed 8 miles after takeoff, killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and the pilot, Roger Peterson. This event would become known as "The Day the Music Died," a phrase coined by singer/songwriter Don McLean in his anthem, "American Pie."

-- At the time of his death, Richardson was 28 years old. He left behind his wife, Adrian, and four-year-old daughter, Debra Joy. His son Jay Perry Richardson was born 84 days after his father's death. Several songs that Richardson wrote became hits after his death. His "White Lightning," recorded by country singer George Jones in 1959, became Jones' first #1 hit. Richardson also wrote "Running Bear" for his friend Johnny Preston, and sang back-up on the song which became a #1 hit when it was released in September 1959.

-- During Mulder's investigation of Clyde Bruckman's psychic gifts, Bruckman held up a blue piece of cloth and asked if it was from Mulder's New York Knicks tee-shirt. This was a reference to the episode "Beyond the Sea" (written by Darin Morgan's brother Glen), where convicted murderer and psychic Luther Lee Boggs gave a detailed and intricate story after holding a piece of cloth that he assumed was from the victim, but was actually from Mulder's New York Knicks tee-shirt.

-- In the Space: Above and Beyond episode titled "R&R" (the one with a guest appearance by David Duchovny), Colonel McQueen was watching a Clyde Bruckman movie -- Glen Morgan's nod to his brother Darin.

-- David Duchovny pointed to this hour as one of his favorites during the third season. "I loved 'Clyde Bruckman,' he said.

-- The part of the Stupendous Yappi was written specifically for Duchovny's stand-in, Dutch-born actor Jaap Broeker, who briefly reprised the role in another Darin Morgan-scripted episode later in the season, the equally bizarre "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." As a "stand-in," Broeker filled in for David Duchovny when scenes were blocked or lighting was measured. "He [Morgan] saw me on the set and came to me and said, 'Do you mind if I write you a part?' I thought he was joking," Broeker recalled, noting that some time later Chris Carter walked by and said, "Hello, Yappi" after the script was turned in.

-- Broeker took a week off from his stand-in duties to prepare for the role. "We had just a blast doing it," he said. "It was great. I'm grateful to Darin, and to David and Gillian." Anderson did have one problem with Broeker's appearance, frequently laughing when he darted up to her with his hyperactive eyebrows arched.

-- The name "The Stupendous Yappi" was a reference to "The Amazing Randi," a professional magician and skeptical debunker. The Amazing Randi, or James Randi, was a key member of CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), along with Philip J. Klass. In Morgan's script for "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," the action took place in Klass County. Klass was one of the biggest UFO debunkers there was. In his book UFOs Explained, he said that "No single object has been misinterpreted as a 'flying saucer' more often than the planet Venus." Sound familiar?

-- "Clyde Bruckman" ran more than 10 minutes too long in its first cut and thus had to be pared down considerably, including two scenes between Peter Boyle and Gillian Anderson. "So many gags were lost. It was a shame," said continuity/script supervisor Helga Ungurait. Morgan experienced the same problems with his first script, "Humbug," and made a point not to repeat it on subsequent episodes. "After 'Humbug,' I was always conscious of being too long," he noted. "'Clyde Bruckman' was the disaster, because it was humongously long."

-- Morgan added that he drew his inspiration for the episode in part from his own dark mood at the time he wrote it. "I was feeling somewhat suicidal, so I thought I'd have the main character commit suicide at the end," he said dryly. The joke about "autoerotic asphyxiation" grew out of previous gags about Mulder's interest in erotica as well as a book Morgan had read on homicide investigations, which actually had a section on autoerotic asphyxiation, which is often misinterpreted as suicide. Looking at the picture, Morgan concluded, "There's just no dignity there. It's just a terrible way to be found dead."

-- In the film Full Frontal, David Duchovny's character Gus died from autoerotic asphyxiation. Supposedly, the character was to die from a heart attack, but David suggested the change. Coincidence? "If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?"

-- Peter Boyle wasn't familiar with The X-Files and didn't realize just how demanding the part would be, having been drawn to the episode after reading the script. As a result, director David Nutter spent two to three hours over that weekend with Boyle, talking to him about the show and his character. Nutter called it "one of the most enjoyable shows I've ever done," adding that the record for running long (at that time) still belonged to another episode he directed, "Beyond the Sea," which ran 16 minutes over.

-- Chris Carter had resisted casting big-name guest stars on the show despite interest from some performers who were fans of the series. The producer's mantra remained "It's only as scary as it is believable," feeling that extremely recognizable actors made it more difficult to lose oneself in the show's world. Boyle was a marquee actor, Carter conceded, but such a gifted character actor that he didn't upset that dynamic.

-- Playing Bruckman was "a deep experience, not without struggle," said Boyle. "I'm in Vancouver, it's a cold August day, and I'm not smiling. When I play a character who has to die, it gets me a little depressed."

-- Visual effects producer Mat Beck and special makeup effects maven Toby Lindala worked out an elaborate scheme for the stages of the dream scene in which Bruckman decomposed. The skeleton rib cage was composed of copper pipe, so as heat wore away the bogus skin, gelatin melted around the ribs. "What we were doing was, we were lying him down in the same spot in the set, like four different times with Peter perfectly healthy, Peter dead, Peter dead for a day or two, and Peter dead for a week," said Beck. "And the difference was some nasty make-up that got applied. So there was a real Peter lying there who's getting kind of purple, and then beyond that we then had dummies that were put in at successive stages of putrefaction." Eight different stages were put into play to create the effect, fading from the actor in makeup to a dummy made up by Lindala and finally a completely computer-generated skeleton, assembled in a series of morphing shots.

-- "Of course, half of it worked and half of it didn't," Beck said of initial plans for the process, adding that the episode "was another down-to-the-wire one" in terms of time, with a mad scramble to rerecord the sound on that sequence -- when Bruckman said, "And then ... I wake up" -- inserting the pause just right so the moment worked as intended in the script.

-- "Dealing with the censors was always amusing," Morgan said, "because it was all so arbitrary, what they would allow and disallow. There's a scene in the episode where Clyde Bruckman is describing this dream that he has every night, where we see the dream, and it's him lying in a field and his body just dissolves - what would happen if a body was decaying. And I'd written, as a voice-over, a very specific description of what would actually happen to a body if it was a corpse, if it was decaying outside. And the censor just wouldn't have any of it. There were no offensive words or language or anything like that, but I just couldn't use the word 'maggots.' I had to use 'insects,' which seemed really silly, especially considering other stuff we had done on the show. And there's one part where I talk about the tissues liquefying and the innards rupturing or something, and I couldn't use that. And I ended up, the line I ended up using was, he says: 'The inevitable follows, putridity and liquescence.' I don't even know what that means. The character would never say that, would never use the word 'liquescence,' no one's ever used that word. But I agreed to put it in there as my own sort of joke. I laugh every time I hear it. What does that mean? No-one's paying attention to the voice-over anyway, as they're watching the effect of the guy dissolving, so it doesn't make any difference. But dealing with the censors, it was just -- what's wrong with maggots?"

-- The actor portraying the Puppet/killer, Stu Charno, was the husband of former X-Files staff writer Sara Charno, who wrote "The Calusari" and "Aubrey."

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-- For "Clyde Bruckman," Darin Morgan won the series' only Emmy award for writing. Chris Carter was nominated twice individually (for "Duane Barry" and "The Post Modern Prometheus") and the team of Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, and John Shiban were nominated once (for "Memento Mori").

-- Peter Boyle won the show's first acting Emmy for his guest performance in the episode. Boyle was nominated for an Emmy Award seven times for his supporting role as Frank Barone in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, but never won. He was the only member of Raymond's ensemble cast to not win an Emmy for the show. In fact, his Emmy for "Clyde Bruckman" was Boyle's only Emmy win in 10 nominations; in addition to the seven nominations for Raymond, he was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy or Drama Special for Tail Gunner Joe (1977) and for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for an episode of Midnight Caller (1989).

-- Once & Future Retreads: Dwight McFee (Havez) was David Gates in "Shapes," The Commander in "Little Green Men," and the Suspect (who told Donnie Pfaster Scully's name) in "Irresistible." Alex Diakun (Tarot Dealer) was the Curator in "Humbug" and Dr. Fingers in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." Karin Konoval (Madame Zelma) was Mrs. Peacock in "Home." Ken Roberts (Clerk) was the Motel Proprietor in "Colony." As mentioned above, Jaap Broeker (The Stupendous Yappi) appeared as Yappi again in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." And of course, who could forget Queequeg, who appeared as Queequeg in "War of the Coprophages" and "Quagmire."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

-- Here are two deleted scenes from the episode (as they appeared in the script). The first can be seen on the Season 3 DVDs. It follows Scully's line, "Might as well go home, Mulder. This case is as good as solved." --

(Mulder walks over to the dolls and begins absentmindedly to inspect them.)

MULDER: I've worked with many 'psychic detectives,' Scully. They're all more pathetic than prophetic. And yet ... I know there's someone out there. Someone who possesses the ability to 'see.' Who can be used in a way that'll change the nature of criminal investigations for ...

(He becomes aware that Scully is looking at him amusedly.)

MULDER: Well, I can dream, can't I?

(Scully pats him on the shoulder, nodding towards the princess doll that Mulder is holding in his hands.)

SCULLY: Don't worry, Mulder -- some day your psychic will come.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The second deleted scene was Scully and Bruckman discussing destiny:

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

(Bruckman now reclines in the bed, while Scully, apparently taking a break from her work, pours herself a cup of coffee.)

SCULLY: But I don't believe our destinies are predetermined. We control the pattern of our own lives.

BRUCKMAN: Well, I imagine if you were able to step back and view your whole life -- from birth to death -- you'd see "patterns" that existed, even though you were unaware of them, because you were too close to your own life to see them.

SCULLY: Like what?

BRUCKMAN: Well, how many times have you crossed paths with your future husband -- or even this killer you're after -- but were unaware of it because you didn't know that sometime in the future he'd be your husband. Or the killer.

SCULLY: I'm not sure I see your point.

BRUCKMAN: Because there isn't any ... now. But maybe, sometime in the future, when you look back at this moment, it'll have one. (pause) Then again, maybe not.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

-- "I remember calling Darin Morgan after seeing 'Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose' on the air," said Chris Carter. "I'd seen it finished previous to that, but when I saw it on the air, it blew me away because it was so good, it was so funny, poignant. A great character piece. Terrific performance by Mr. Boyle. It, for me, took the show to a new level."

-- There are hits, and there are misses, and then there are hits. "Clyde Bruckman" was destined for immortality. It was named by TV Guide as one of the greatest episodes in TV history (#10). The only other drama episode in the top ten was the "Love's Labor Lost" episode of ER, which was #3. ("Small Potatoes" also made the list at #72.)

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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 "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose"!

Bye bye to banana cream pie
Happy Friday the 13th
Polly