CTP Episode of the Day - 12.19.06 - Duane Barry

Today's Cherished Episode: Duane Barry (2x05)
Original Air Date: October 14, 1994
Written By: Chris Carter
Directed By: Chris Carter

Mulder negotiates a hostage situation involving a man, Duane Barry, who claims to be a victim of alien experimentation.

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"Mulder, it's me. I just had something incredibly strange happen. This piece of metal that they took out of Duane Barry, it has some kind of a code on it. I ran it through a scanner and some kind of serial number came up. What the hell is this thing, Mulder? It's almost as if ... it's almost as if somebody was using it to catalogue him."

Some "Duane Barry" Tidbits & Musings:

-- "When I closed the X-Files at the end of the first season," Carter said, "it was partly because I wasn't sure the show would be back for a second season and I thought that would be a good place to end it. But if we did get picked up for a second season, I knew that having Mulder and Scully separated would make it easier to work around Gillian's pregnancy. So once the announcement came, the studio was not very happy about that plot development. They didn't want to mess with something that was working so well. But it ended up becoming important to the mythology, to the characters, and to the disappearance of Gillian from the show -- and it allowed the X-Files to be reopened to facilitate Mulder and Scully working together again when Gillian was ready to come back."

-- "The mythology of the series didn't really blossom until an unexpected event late in season one which was the pregnancy of Gillian Anderson," said writer/producer Frank Spotnitz. "Gillian's pregnancy forced the X-Files to be serialized in a way, and I don't think it was ever intended to be serialized. Suddenly there had to be an arc of stories that dealt with the fact that Scully was going to be gone for who knew how many episodes."

-- "There was talk of actually making her have an alien baby which would have been a terrible idea," said Chris Carter, "and so what we ultimately decided to do was to shoot around her pregnancy and her pregnant stomach."

-- "When we could no longer write around her, we knew we had a window where we had to write her out," said executive producer Howard Gordon. "Fortunately, this was a show about abduction, so we abducted her."

-- "It was sort of a happy accident," added Frank Spotnitz. "If Gillian Anderson had not had Piper in season two of The X-Files, the show never would have evolved the way it did."

-- This was the first episode directed by Chris Carter.

-- Filming on the episode began on August 25, 1994 -- and spawned an in-joke that appeared in Season 3's "Nisei" -- it is the number of the train car (82594 painted on the top) in which the doctors are killed in the episode's teaser.

-- The inspiration for the story of Duane Barry was two-fold. First, the case of Phineas Gage, to which Scully referred in the episode, actually happened. In the early part of the 20th century, a railway worker placing dynamite set off an explosion that drove a steel rod more than three feet long through his brain. Gage not only survived but suffered no physical impairment and went on to live another 20 years. However, his personality underwent a dramatic change, turning him into an irascible, profane, and thoroughly unpleasant man. "It turned a moral man into an immoral man," Chris Carter said. "I wanted a character like that who claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Did he think he was abducted as a result of his accident or because he really was abducted?"

-- The second inspiration for the episode stemmed from something that happened way back in Season One during the filming of "Deep Throat." "We had a sound man from L.A. who came up to Vancouver to help us out on that episode," Carter said. "After we were done shooting and I was thanking him, he told me he had a brother-in-law who believed he had been abducted by aliens. The man would disappear for awhile and they wouldn't know where he was, and he was always choosing to live under high tension wires because he believed they protected him from the aliens finding him. And he thought he was being abducted again and again for them to experiment on him, and that they drilled small holes in his teeth. So a lot of that conversation found its way into this episode."

-- "Duane Barry" was not originally intended to be a two-part episode, but it ended up becoming one more or less out of necessity. "The nature of the story lent itself to being expanded," explained Chris Carter, "and given the subject matter, it was a good episode in which to make Gillian Anderson 'disappear' from the series for a short time."

-- Acclaimed actor Steve Railsback made his biggest splash as Charles Manson in the 1976 telefilm Helter Skelter and as the title character of The Stunt Man (1980). "He was the person I wanted, the only person I ever thought of for the role," said Chris Carter, "but I didn't know if I could get him."

-- Railsback recalled that "I had never seen The X-Files and had just completed directing my first motion picture, The Spy Within starring Scott Glenn and Theresa Russell. I was in the editing room when I got a call from Chris. He explained that he wrote the character of Duane Barry with me in mind, that it would be the series' first two-part episode, and that he was going to direct for the first time. He told me that he was a big fan of my work. I was so flattered that I stopped editing my film and headed for Vancouver to play this memorable role. The character was so interesting because he was so strong in his convictions even though no one but Mulder would believe him."

-- "Duane Barry was not whacked out," Railsback said. "Duane Barry -- I really believe this, and this is the approach I took -- he was telling the truth. I mean, he had had it up to *here* cause he knew what had happened and nobody believed him."

-- "'Duane Barry' was a difficult first directing assignment because most of it took place in one room, in a travel agency, and so for a director it was like filming on a stage play," recalled Carter. "The night before I was going to direct I had gone into Rob Bowman's set and he was shooting an episode called 'Sleepless.' He was doing a very elaborate shot with a very perfect camera move and the way he was lighting it up and the way he was directing the actors, I realized that there was so much that I didn't know. But the day that I arrived and I set up my first shot and I yelled action and no-one laughed -- then I knew that I was going to be okay."

-- The scene between Scully and the Ballistics Expert was the first scene Carter shot for the episode. "It was relatively simple, set in a confined space. For me, it was a good place to start."

-- The date in the first legend, June 3, is the birth date of Chris Carter's brother Craig.

-- A sign at Duane Barry's treatment center which read "Please line up quietly" was specifically requested by Chris Carter as a tribute to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (and held up production when the original sign was discovered to be incorrectly worded and a new sign had to be fashioned).

-- Duane Barry's dog was the same Border Collie that appeared in Season One's "Ice" and was the father of David Duchovny's dog Blue. "David got Blue from the animal trainer who worked on the show and who trained this dog," Chris Carter said.

-- The aliens that Duane Barry saw were really children dressed in alien suits. "I learned that they had a very short attention span and that they didn't like being dressed in alien suits for too long," recalled Carter. "So in my first directing assignment I broke the cardinal rule of show business -- I worked with children and animals."

-- Carter not only had to contend with children and animals -- he had to compete with a pair of swim trunks. "Of course I didn't realize it at the time," Carter joked, "but David Duchovny in his red Speedos would become a signature moment of this episode."

-- The date of the infamous "Speedo scene" is August 7th, which is also David Duchovny's birthday.

-- Duane Barry's treatment facility was in Marion, Virginia, but the travel agency where he held the hostages was in Richmond -- more than a five-hour drive from Marion.

-- In preparation for this episode, Chris Carter did a lot of research with the FBI's hostage rescue team to find out how hostage negotiations are handled. He became good friends with the team he worked with and spent time with them at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, getting a chance to see them in action and to realize how very serious they were about the work they did.

-- This was Nick Lea's second episode as Alex Krycek (third episode overall), and he counted it as one of his favorites, even though he didn't have much screen time. "Mostly you just see my tie," he said. "There were all these shots around the table, and I was standing behind, so you only see me from my chest to my waist. But the episode was great. David and Steve were just fantastic. Steve Railsback took a character who was written to just be plain insane, but he added things. He made Duane like a little kid. In the line about the implants, he was supposed to say they were in his stomach, but he said belly button like a kid would say. It was great being on set and seeing all this wonderful work."

-- Mulder's fellow hostage negotiator Agent Lucy Kazdin was played by Carol Christine Hilaria (better known as CCH) Pounder who was born in Georgetown, British Guyana, and educated at convent school in Sussex, England. She went on to recurring roles on ER and The Shield (she received Emmy nominations for both), and played Cheryl Andrews on Chris Carter's Millennium.

-- A new writer to the show in the second season, Paul Brown, wrote the second half of this two-parter, "Ascension"; and it was his idea to have Duane Barry refer to himself in the third person. "It really worked well," Carter said of the contribution.

-- The character was originally named Duane Garry; but the show's research staff found that there was someone named Duane Garry at the FBI and so the name had to be changed. "I was so disappointed," Carter said. "I really hated 'Duane Barry' at first, but in the end, it became better than the original choice."

-- The travel agency where Duane Barry held the hostages and the negotiation room where Mulder and the other agents were located were actually two sets directly across from each other on the same stage. "Because it was my first directing job, I thought this would save time and allow me to focus on performances rather than the more technical side of directing," said Carter.

-- Gillian Anderson was about 8 months pregnant when Duane Barry was shot. Carter designed the story to minimize Anderson's presence in the show and to not have her running around in action sequences.

-- "In all the years of The X-Files we never tried to stretch or cheat on the technology or the science," said Carter. "We always tried to have the facts to back up whatever was in the story. But in the case of 'Duane Barry,' the tiny receiver that the tactical commander put in Mulder's ear did not exist at that time. I think they have something like that now, but not then. But nobody questioned it at the time."

-- The alien tool used to drill Duane Barry's teeth was a simple prop with a bright light on the end built by the props department. "They put an aspirator in Steve's mouth to create the spray, the laser was added by visual effects, and it all cut together very well," said Carter.

-- Crescent-shaped scars like the one on Duane Barry's abdomen were "a staple of UFO lore," said Carter.

-- Carter credited Mark Snow's score for adding an "elegant tension" to the episode.

-- "Having the screen go black and working with only sound was an experiment," Chris Carter said about the end of the third act (as Barry was about to be apprehended). "I thought it was very effective. But you're always worried that the audience will change the channel when they haven't got a picture."

-- "'Duane Barry' was only the fifth episode of the second season, but I think you could already see how much the look of the show had changed from the first season," Carter said. "That 'look' was what really made the show stand out, I think. It was like a little movie each week, and I think you could already see the difference this early in Season Two."

-- When Scully stopped by the grocery store she bought pickles and ice cream -- an inside reference to Gillian Anderson's pregnancy.

-- One of Gillian Anderson's most vivid memories of her time on The X-Files was her abduction scene in "Duane Barry." "I was lying on the floor eight months pregnant," she said, "and being pushed by someone across the floor to simulate me 'crawling' because I was so big and my belly was in the way and I could not do it myself."

-- The very last scene that Carter directed for the episode was the shot of the agents drilling through the wall of the travel agency to insert a camera. "Everything else was finished and I had to go back and film that pick-up shot," Carter recalled. "And for some reason, it took about six-and-a-half hours to shoot it -- which was much too long and where my inexperience showed." The episode was completed in about 8 days -- the half-day being this one extra scene.

-- "Though most people recognize me from Helter Skelter or The Stuntman, I still get stopped on the street by Duane Barry fans," said Railsback in an interview a few years after the episode aired. "I also did one of the conventions once and the fans were very, very nice."

-- On the Season 2 DVDs, Railsback recounted an encounter with a fan in an elevator: "It was kind of a crowded elevator and this woman walks in. And all of a sudden she just stops and she just looks, she just stares at me. And then she turns to the other people and points at me and goes 'Duane Barry, Duane Barry.' She's telling everybody and I'm going, 'Yeah, thank you,' and I'm trying to press my number, and I'm hoping I'll get there and get off. And that's all she said, I think it shocked her so much. She just kept saying, 'But - Duane Barry.' Not to me, to everybody else on the elevator."

-- Sarah Strange, who played Kimberly (one of the hostages) is now a regular on the ABC series Men in Trees. She plays Theresa.

-- Selina Williams played an FBI agent in the episode, but she was usually an Extras Wrangler on the crew.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Tim Dixon (Bob) was Dr. Richard Godfrey in "Syzygy." Michael Dobson (Marksman #2) was Sergeant Hynek in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," a BATF Agent in "The Field Where I Died," and a U.S. Marshall in "Kitsunegari." Fred Henderson (Agent Rich) was Agent Thomas in "Beyond the Sea." Nicholas Lea made his second of many appearances as Agent Krycek. Robert Lewis (Officer) was an Officer in "Eve" and an ER doctor in "Paper Clip." Stephen E. Miller (Tactical Commander) was Coroner John Truitt in the "Pilot" and Wayne Morgan in "Piper Maru." John Sampson (Marksman #1) was a Cop in "Unruhe," a Sentry in "Redux," and a Uniformed Officer in "Travelers." Frank C. Turner (Dr. Del Hakkie) was Dr. Collins in "Tooms."

-- Chris Carter credited several people with helping him immensely in his first directing effort. "Rod Pridy was the camera operator and he helped me a great deal. Then there was David Nutter who had directed several episodes of the show. I thought he was a great director and I asked him to help me with the blocking -- to tell me how he would do it if he were directing the show. I ended up using some of his blocking suggestions because I had never done it before and I wanted to take some of the guesswork out of it for myself. I wanted to concentrate on the performances. These directors make it look so easy, and then when you start to do it yourself, you realize that it isn't as easy as it appears. I learned it's hard to do good work and easy to do bad work -- especially when you are out of time and you decide to 'settle' for something you don't want."

-- "Tom Braidwood was the Assistant Director on this episode and he was very instrumental in its success," continued Carter. "And Steve Railsback. Usually when actors are on a set, they do their scene and then go back to their trailer and wait for the next scene. But Steve knew this was my first try at directing and he recognized that I was under pressure, so he spent almost all of his time on the set, he always knew his lines, and he did everything to help facilitate the episode as well as his own performance. He really became the part, and I think that the levels of your other actors rise to that."

-- "David was also wonderful in this episode," Carter said. "He did everything he could to help me given that I was working with so little experience."

-- "Duane Barry" earned four Emmy Award nominations: one for Carter for writing; one for guest actress CCH Pounder (and many felt Railsback deserved a guest actor nomination as well); one for James Coblentz for individual achievement in editing for a series, single camera production; and one for the team headed by Thierry Couturier for sound editing for a series. John Bartley was also nominated for an Emmy for cinematography for the 1994-95 season, but his nomination was for "One Breath." Based on episodes like "Duane Barry" and the overall strength of Season 2, the show was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series for the first time.

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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 "Duane Barry."

Polly