CTP Episode of the Day - 05.17.06

Today's Cherished Episode: D.P.O. (3x03)
Original Air Date: October 6, 1995
Written By: Howard Gordon
Directed By: Kim Manners

Mulder and Scully investigate a series of deaths related to a teenage boy who can control lightning.

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

S: The tread looks like a standard military boot men's size 8.
M: 8? That's pretty impressive, Scully.
S: Well, it says it right here on the bottom.

Some "D.P.O." Tidbits & Musings:

-- This episode drew its inspiration from a one-line concept card, "Lightning Boy," which had been tacked on a board in Chris Carter's office as a possible episode since the first season. The key moment for writer Howard Gordon was when he connected the idea of the power of controlling lightning as a metaphor for disenfranchised adolescence -- answering Carter's constant question, "Why are we telling this story?"

-- Gordon contends that the episode suffered somewhat because of having to follow the "Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip" trilogy. "After you've had an unbelievable meal, where you've been dealing with the death of Scully's sister and the death of Mulder's father -- huge, huge issues -- and the next week you find yourself in a video arcade in Oklahoma, it was sort of set up some way for disappointment," he said. There was a nice bit of acknowledgement to the events of the trilogy, with Scully saying, "After everything we've been through, after all that we've just seen "

-- But according to the date on the video game, it's been five months since the events of the trilogy. The video game screen dates this episode in September, and the events of the trilogy were dated in April. (Well, "April is the cruelest month.")

-- Director Kim Manners experienced a personal tragedy on the third day of filming this episode when his best friend and the friend's son died in a drowning accident in Mexico. Manners insisted on seeing things through, even though he admitted he was not there in mind, but in body only.

-- Special effects coordinator David Gauthier rigged a "lightning machine" buried in the ground for the sequence when Darin is struck. The actor stood on a small stand, with the riggings underneath capable of generating three million candlepower each. Mirrors were used to establish the effect of the lightning flaring up and outward, augmented by sparks and smoke. ("It's truly bitchin'" Gauthier proclaimed.) The machine itself actually produced enough heat to singe the grass.

-- No one was sure how the cows in the episode would react to the lightning machine. "One thing I've never directed is a cow," Kim Manners said. "But a few turkeys, eh?" replied key grip Al Campbell.

-- The video arcade was created in a closed linen store in a mini-shopping center. One of the stores in the shopping center stayed open late, so the crew had to deal with traffic coming in and out of the parking lot while filming the scene in the parking lot. The scene takes place at night, but in Vancouver in the summer, the sky stays light until well after 9 p.m. While scouting locations, Kim Manners teased Howard Gordon about the glut of night scenes with which he had to wrestle. "What writer wrote all this night stuff in the summertime?" he asked. "Whoever it was, it's very insensitive," Gordon responded.

-- The crew turned a deserted road into the working intersection where Darin manipulated the traffic signal to cause a car crash. The art staff erected a 24-foot billboard sitting 12 feet off the ground. Darin and Zero filmed their scene sitting in front of the billboard, and Manners mounted a camera on it to provide the character's point-of-view shot.

-- But speaking of locations, I've been to Oklahoma and found it as flat as a pancake. This Oklahoma has mountains!

-- Gordon's original script contained a seemingly innocuous reference to being "in the mood for some Quarter Pounders." Fox's legal department insisted that the wording be cleared with McDonald's (the hamburger's name is a trademark) or be changed to something else. The line was eventually changed to something more generic, and ultimately didn't appear in the final script.

-- Costumers had to specially shrink and fade the "Vandals" tee-shirts that Darin wore throughout the episode. One of the shirts featured the song that was playing at the end of the episode, "Live Fast Diarrhea," on it.

-- Both Giovanni Ribisi (Darin) and Jack Black (Zero) have gone on to become well known actors in TV and films. Ribisi had a recurring role as Phoebe's brother in Friends and has appeared in Saving Private Ryan, Lost in Translation, and Cold Mountain. He's recently done some guest turns on the NBC hit My Name is Earl. Black has risen to fame in popular movies Shallow Hal, School of Rock, and King Kong, and is half of rock duo Tenacious D.

-- The character of Teller was named after half of the magic/comedy duo Penn and Teller, notorious skeptics who doubt all aspects of the paranormal and had met with Carter about doing an episode of The X-Files. Although he couldn't find the appropriate vehicle for them, the skeptical sheriff seemed a fitting tribute.

-- The "Astadourian Lightning Observatory" is named for Mary Astadourian, Chris Carter's executive assistant. "Darin" Oswald is named for story editor Darin Morgan.

-- The pizza delivery guy struck by lightning in the teaser delivers for AB Pizza -- Nobody cooks like Aunt Bea! AB Pizza was also the name of the company that Ronnie Strickland delivered for in Season 5's "Bad Blood."

-- The name of the song playing during the teaser is called "Ring The Bells" by the group James. It can be found on their album "Seven." But the version used in this episode was from the Greenpeace benefit album, "Alternative NRG."

-- The Filter song "Hey Man, Nice Shot" is used twice; first when Darin is working on a car in the garage and again later when he kills Zero

-- The "Schuman Resonance" is the vibrational frequency of the earth's electromagnetic field.

-- Gillian Anderson's stand-in for scene blocking, Bonnie Hay, plays the night nurse in this episode.

-- The yearbook in Darin Oswald's closet contains photographs of X-Files director Kim Manners and prop master Ken Hawryliw on the page with Sharon Kiveat.

-- Putting the picture of Sharon Kiveat in an erotic magazine was a bit of an inside joke as well since the actress who played her, Karen Witter, once modeled for Playboy.

-- When Darin is changing the channels on the TV his mother is watching, he changes to a channel that is playing a music video. In the lower left corner of the screen is the video's information:

The Rosemarys
"Mary Beth Clarke, I Love You"
JHartling Records
Director: Deb Brown

Mary Beth Clark (kipler), JHartling, and Deb Brown were all X-Philes from the AOL forum.

-- The old farmhouse featured as Darin's home was owned by a 94-year-old man named Vin who also let the producers use his cows as extras. When location manager Todd Pittson assured him he'd be paid for the use of the cows, Vin -- who kept the cows merely as pets -- simply shrugged and responded, "They're here anyway." Built early in the 20th century, the distinctive-looking house also appeared in such films as Jumanji and Jennifer 8.

-- At the conclusion of the episode, Chris Carter's Executive Producer credit is seen on the TV that Darin is watching, with Darin's face reflected in it. The only other times that the end credits were altered were in Season 5's "The Post Modern Prometheus," when the credit is part of the comic book, and Season 9's 'Improbable', where Carter's credit is in Italian.

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

Polly