CTP Episode of the Day - 05.08.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Dreamland (6x04)
Original Air Date: November 29, 1998
Written By: Vince Gilligan, Frank Spotnitz, John Shiban
Directed By: Kim Manners

While being detained near the famed "Dreamland" Area 51, a strange craft flies overhead and Mulder swaps bodies with an Area 51 'Man-in-Black'. While the other agent has fun in Mulder's body, Mulder himself finds it difficult to fit into someone else's life, especially a shadowy one. Mulder contacts Scully about the body-swap and tries to get her the Flight Data Recorder from the UFO test flight but his alter ego uses Mulder's FBI persona to have him arrested.

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

"I'm all a-tingle."

Some "Dreamland" Tidbits & Musings:

-- Dreamland is a nickname for Area 51 in Nevada. "Dreamland" actually stands for Data Repository Establishment and Management Land."

-- The Groom Lake facility was officially designated Area 51 by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The adjacent AEC proving grounds became known as the Nevada Test Site and divided into such numbered areas. The base is now known worldwide as "Area 51" though officially this designation was dropped in the 1970s. It is a secret installation that caters to the needs of testing the most advanced aircraft projects in the world, possibly even alien spacecraft.

-- During Season 5, Chris Carter advised the writing staff that he wanted more comedy in Season 6. Gilligan, Spotnitz, and Shiban knew that David Duchovny was friends with Garry Shandling, so toward the end of Season 5 they wrote the "Dreamland" two-parter with him in mind for the Man-in-Black role. Gilligan remembers that he set up a laptop with a second monitor in the new house that he had just bought with his girlfriend Holly so that the three writers could work on the script together.

-- By midsummer 1998 when "Dreamland" was to begin filming, Shandling was not available. He was in the middle of filming a movie with Warren Beatty, "Town and Country," which turned out to be a huge box office flop. They still wanted a big name for the role, and finally settled on Michael McKean.

-- McKean went to college at NYU and Carnegie Tech, where he met David Lander, who would become his life-long friend and collaborator. In 1970 they moved to Los Angeles where they joined a cutting-edge improvisational comedy group called The Credibility Gap. (Robert Goodwin, executive producer for the XF first five seasons in Vancover, was also a member.) In 1976 they joined the writing staff of the sitcom "Laverne and Shirley," and promptly wrote parts for themselves -- and the characters of Lenny and Squiggy were born.

-- Michael McKean appeared on Saturday Night Live during the 1994-95 season. His last show in May 1995 was David Duchovny's first SNL hosting gig. During that appearance, McKean told Duchovny that he'd love to appear on the XF one day.

-- McKean would appear as Morris Fletcher again in Season 6's "Three of a Kind" and in Season 9's "Jump the Shark." He also appeared several times on The Lone Gunmen series.

-- McKean has had a very successful career in TV and films. He also received an Oscar nomination in 2003 for Best Original Song for the film "A Mighty Wind." He and his wife Annette O'Toole wrote the song and several others during a car journey to Vancouver from their home in Los Angeles in September 2001 -- all planes were grounded because of the terrorist attacks on September 11, and O'Toole had to get to Vancouver to film her TV show, "Smallville."

-- This episode featured another Saturday Night Live alumni -- Nora Dunn (as Joanne Fletcher).

-- Morris Fletcher is named after Michael McKean's son, Fletcher.

-- Lana Chee, the 75-year-old Hopi woman inhabited by the personality of a young hot-shot Air Force pilot, was played by Julia Vera, a 58-year-old actress of Hopi ancestry, who wore elaborate facial appliances to age herself for the role. Vera also played the Indian woman caring for (?) with CSM in "The Truth."

-- In order to obtain the scenes of soft-core porn Mulder watches in the Fletcher's living room, producer Paul Rabwin contacted an X-rated movie producer of his acquaintance and contracted for several not-so-risque outtakes to be made during the filming of his next porn video.

-- The scene in which Mulder encounters his own reflection - as Fletcher - in Morris' bedroom mirror is a near-re-creation of the famous mirror scene between Groucho and Harpo Marx in the classic 1933 comedy Duck Soup. This scene was also re-enacted by Harpo and Lucille Ball in a famous 1955 episode of I Love Lucy. David Duchovny and Michael McKean watched Duck Soup and worked with a specially hired choreographer every day for a week and a half to prepare to film the scene. There was, of course, no mirror on the set, but actually two mirror-image sets of the same bedroom, facing across from each other. In rehearsals and during filming, Duchovny and McKean synchronized their movements with an electronic metronome clicking away in the background but erased from the final mix. There are no cuts in the complicated scene; it was done in one complete take from beginning to end. Kim Manners said the two actors got it right on the 12th take, adding that there are two noticeable mistakes in the scene. The first is in the scene when the two actors are being over and shaking their butts. McKean's hand is on what would be the left leg of his underwear and he's pulling it down just a little bit, and Duchovny's isn't. Manner said the second mistake is "my secret."

-- To simulate the arid environment surrounding Area 51, much of Dreamland and Dreamland II was filmed at "Club Ed," a small movie ranch owned by a fellow named Ed Waldhaus on the outskirts of Lancaster, a high desert community some 80 miles -- two-and-a-half driving hours -- from Los Angeles. Daytime temperatures soared to 110 degrees, nights were, by contrast, chilly; wind, dust, and even rainstorms frequently interrupted filming. One of the signature backstage moments of the entire 6th season occurred during a particularly bleak morning at the distant Lancaster location. David Duchovny emerged from his trailer and said, "When is this show moving back to Los Angeles?". Within days, dozens of X-Files insiders were wearing T-Shirts emblazoned with the exact same question.

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