CTP Episode of the Day - 08.23.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Dod Kalm (8x07)
Original Air Date: March 10, 1995
Written By: Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa
Directed By: Rob Bowman

Mulder and Scully fall victim to a mysterious force aboard a navy destroyer that causes rapid aging.

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

"Agent Fox Mulder lost consciousness at approximately 4:30 this morning, the 12th of March. There is nothing more I can do for him, or for myself. Supplies are exhausted, no food or liquid consumed for over 24 hours. The outer hull most probably flooded, though for now the inner hull is supporting the ship's mass. Among Halverson's belongings, I found a children's book of Norse legends. From what I can tell, the pictures show the end of the world -- not in a sudden firestorm of damnation as the Bible teaches us, but in a slow covering blanket of snow. First the moon and the stars will be lost in a dense white fog, then the rivers and the lakes and the sea will freeze over. And finally a wolf named Skoll will open his jaws and eat the sun, sending the world into an everlasting night. I think I hear the wolf at the door."

Some "Dod Kalm" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The episode title roughly translates to "dead calm" in Norwegian.

-- In the Dictionary of Nautical Language, "dead calm" means no wind at all. Dead Calm is also the name of a 1963 novel by Charles F. Williams, which was the basis for the 1989 film of the same name (starring Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane) about a honeymooning couple who rescue a young man from a sinking boat. He claims to have lost his companions to food poisoning, but the real story is much less innocent.

-- Although the producers and actors thought that this would be a respite after some truly demanding episodes -- with just one location in which to shoot and a small cast to manage -- "Dod Kalm" turned out to be enormously difficult for everyone from a production standpoint.

-- The concept was built around the fact that, for a few weeks, the show had access to a Canadian navy destroyer that had been used in earlier episodes. Howard Gordon was asked to tailor a script around that setting. "This'll be a great rest for everyone," he remembered Chris Carter telling him.

-- Unfortunately, filming on the ship was freezing cold and so cramped that it was difficult to set up certain shots, while people frequently banged their heads against the ceiling. In addition, the actors had to endure three to four hours of makeup for their aging sequences on certain days before the cameras could roll. "Everyone was exhausted as it was," mused Gordon, who wrote the episode with former partner Alex Gansa, so for the actors having to come in early for makeup on top of it was "about the worst thing I could have done to them."

-- As a result, there was a famous outtake (included in the Season 2 gag reel) where Gillian Anderson -- in heavy makeup, flawlessly delivering her monologue about Scully's certainty that they have nothing to fear from the hereafter -- concludes the sequence by saying she's sure of one thing: "Howard Gordon is a dead man."

-- The life raft the crewmen are jumping into in the opening teaser is numbered 925, as is the rapidly aging boat itself. (9/25/94 is the birth date of Gillian Anderson's daughter, Piper.)

-- The Norwegian town Mulder and Scully go to, Tildeskan, is fictional.

-- Best Mulderism: "Is this a quiz?"

-- Best Mulderism Runner-Up: "I think I just lapped George Burns." For the youngsters in the group, George Burns (born Nathan Birnbaum) was a comedian and actor, arguably one of the greatest straight-men of the 20th century. (When this episode first aired, he was 99 years old.) His career spanned vaudeville, film, radio, and television, with and without his equally legendary partner and wife, Gracie Allen. He enjoyed a remarkable career resurrection that began at age 79 and ended shortly before his passing in 1996 at the age of 100. With his trademark arched eyebrow and cigar, he was better known in the last two decades of his life than at any other time in his career. In 1975 at age 80 he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in The Sunshine Boys, becoming the oldest person to win an Academy Award until Jessica Tandy broke that record for her role in Driving Miss Daisy in 1989. To prove that all things can be related to the X-Files in some way or another, one of the actors that Burns beat out for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar was the future Luther Lee Boggs -- Brad Dourif, nominated for his role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

-- John Savage (Henry Trondheim) made his mark in films in the 1970s, most notably The Deer Hunter, Hair, and The Onion Field, and has been a steadily working actor in film and TV ever since, although he did put his career partly on hold from 1988-1994 to live in South Africa, working with Nelson Mandela against Apartheid. He played Donald Lydecker in James Cameron's Dark Angel with Jessica Alba, and had a recurring role as Henry "Hack" Scudder in HBO's Carnivale. The most memorable part of Savage's X-Files guest appearance was probably his lengthy segment in the Season 2 gag reel which showed him having an extraordinarily difficult time remembering his lines.

-- If you could see under all that aging makeup, David Cubitt (Captain Barclay) might look familiar to you if you're a fan of the NBC show Medium. He plays Detective Lee Scanlon on that series.

-- Validimir Kulich (Olafsson) had a memorable turn as The Beast in Angel.

-- Once and Future Retreads: The bartender in this episode is played by Barry (Bear) Hortin, a Teamster who was responsible for pulling Gillian Anderson's trailer; he also appeared as a bartender in the episode "Never Again." Stephen Dimopoulos (Ionesco) played a Detective in "Talitha Cumi." Dmitry Chepovetsky (Lt. Richard Harper) played a Government Man in "Apocrypha" and a Supervisor in "Folie a Deux."

-- It's no wonder the X-Files had such international appeal! Just three-quarters of the way through its second season and 13 languages other than English had already appeared on the show! How many can you name? (French - "Fresh Bones." Creole - "Fresh Bones." Russian - "The Host." Italian - "Anasazi." Japanese - "Anasazi." Navajo - "Anasazi." Romanian - "The Calusari." Transylvanian - "3." Latin - "Die Hand Die Verletzt." Spanish - "Little Green Men." German - "Die Hand Die Verletzt." And Norwegian - "Dod Kalm.")

-- "Dod Kalm" is an episode that is often easily dismissed, but I've always thought that it had some really nice moments. Sure, it was one of those familiar "nice trip to the -- insert name of remote location here" episodes, but there was some good stuff amidst the bad makeup; for one thing, DD and GA are buried under so many layers of goo that they must use their eyes to convey their emotions and to keep us in touch with the characters we know and care about -- and they both do a terrific job. There was a lot of good teamwork; some really sweet moments (such as Scully reminiscing about her father's love of the sea and Scully actually smiling at Mulder's joke about her [sea] legs); a great Mark Snow score that really conveyed the claustrophobic feel of the dying ship and bumped up the tension just enough; and of course, lots of Big Ass Flashlights. Lots and lots of Big Ass Flashlights.

-- How can you not get all choked up when Mulder and Scully discuss who will drink the Scully Snow Globe & Sardine Cocktail (with a twist of lemon)? He urges her to drink it to save herself (using some very valid arguments); and she weighs all he has to say carefully before giving a definite "no" before the bottle breaks anyway. IMBO, Scully's refusing to drink is saying that she has discovered that a life without Mulder isn't worth living.

-- I also loved Scully finally sharing a memory of her abduction with Mulder, and I *really* liked the fact that she said "after the doctors and even my family had given up ..." indicating she *knew* there was one person who *didn't* give up.

-- The last few minutes were classic: Scully comforting a dying Mulder with words and touches, the usually stoic Mulder admitting weakness, the lovely Norse legend about the end of the world and Scully's beautiful reading of it. And the image of the partners as the rescuer found them -- side by side, head to head, where they lay down to die together -- always generates a sniffle from me.

-- And once again it was science that saved Agent Mulder's life. As Arthur Dales once said, he was pretty lucky to have someone so savvy by his side. And she gets extra points for nice penmanship.

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

Polly