REPOST - CTP Episode of the Day - 04.19.06 - E.B.E.

Today's Cherished Episode: E.B.E. (1x16)
Original Air Date: February 18, 1994
Written By: Glen Morgan & James Wong
Directed By: William Graham

Scully and Mulder discover evidence of a government cover-up when they learn that a UFO shot down in Iraq has been secretly transported to the U.S.

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"Mulder, you're the only one I trust."

-- Title: As explained in the episode, "E.B.E." stands for Extraterrestrial Biological Entity.

-- The idea for "E.B.E", according to writer/producer Glen Morgan, was to provide an episode for the fans who wanted more back story on the character of Deep Throat. "I thought it would be really cool if he admitted he had killed an alien," said Morgan. "And the whole thing was written to get to the line, 'A lie is best hidden between two truths.'"

-- Although the fans wanted to know more about Deep Throat, Morgan recalled that the network opposed the episode that showed Deep Throat as an unreliable character with questionable motives. "The network felt that Deep Throat was a stock character who shouldn't be explored by the writers," Morgan said. "They thought he was just a guy who should feed Mulder information."

-- But Morgan and writing partner Jim Wong and their boss Chris Carter felt strongly about the episode, and used fan responses about the Deep Throat character in their arguments with network executives. "We went in with the online comments, which, at the time, were presenting some very challenging, articulate notions about who Deep Throat was and his impact on the show," explained Morgan. "This convinced the network to leave the storyline alone."

-- Though it was written to explore the character of Deep Throat and featured a memorable sequence where Deep Throat discussed his motivation in helping Mulder -- having killed an alien while working for the CIA -- "E.B.E"s most lasting and durable legacy was clearly the Lone Gunmen.

-- The idea for the Lone Gunmen first arose when Glen Morgan and writer Marilyn Osborn ("Shapes") went to a UFO convention in Los Angeles in June 1993, shortly before Morgan and James Wong began to write any material for the series. Morgan recalled seeing a trio of guys at the airport -- "three guys sitting behind a table, one in a suit and tie, one in a really crummy tee shirt with long hair -- a mixed bag of paranoia. They didn't seem to connect, and then they started telling people about the magnetic strips in twenty-dollar bills, and in no time there were a half-dozen people tearing up $10 and $20 bills. They were the scariest guys." So Morgan and Wong wrote the characters into the "E.B.E." script; then came time to cast the trio.

-- Bruce Harwood had zero familiarity with the show before being cast as the nattily attired Byers. A native of British Columbia, Harwood had appeared in such locally produced TV shows as 21 Jump Street, MacGyver, and Wiseguy as well as a TV movie remake of the musical Bye, Bye Birdie. He even played a computer technician in the ill-fated sequel The Fly II, but admitted it was "pretty bad. It's only funny if you know the people, because they all get slaughtered at the end." After his initial appearance on The X-Files, Harwood had no idea the trio would ever appear again until being called back for a second episode. "When I came on set I started hearing weird stories about how popular we were," he said. Harwood felt the Gunmen's wardrobe attributed to their appeal, because they look "so incongruous together."

-- Dean Haglund was well known on the Vancouver stand-up comedy and improvisation circuit and won the role of Langly, the Lone Gunmen's most flamboyant member, from more than 30 aspirants who auditioned. He had done lots of improvisational theater and also appeared in various movies and TV shows that filmed in the Vancouver area, including The Commish, Sliders, and Street Justice, but since he spent most Friday nights on stage, he was completely unfamiliar with The X-Files when he auditioned. "I spent half the audition on the phone," he confessed, so was surprised when he won the role. He didn't meet the other two-thirds of the Lone Gunmen team until shooting on "E.B.E." began, having read for his role with various other actors.

-- A snide joke and a fortuitously timed trip to the men's room reactivated Tom Braidwood's acting career, though he was and continued to be happily ensconced on the other side of the camera. Braidwood, the first assistant director on The X-Files, happened to be walking by while the producers considered actors to play Melvin Frohike. At that moment, director William Graham, a long-time acquaintance, noticed him and observed, "We need somebody slimy ... someone like Braidwood." He emerged from the bathroom to be greeted with a chorus of, "Ah, Frohike," and a star was born.

-- Braidwood conceded that he didn't have much choice in the matter but enjoyed his return to acting. "I always missed it," he said. Braidwood acted in theater before finding steady employment behind the scenes on shows like Danger Bay and 21 Jump Street -- the latter a credit he shared with Glen Morgan and James Wong. Despite his duties as an A.D., Braidwood knew his periodic appearances were fun for the crew (who labeled a bicycle he rode around the studio the "Frohike Mobile." He noted that Lone Gunmen scenes were "usually done pretty quick and dirty. We get all our words out okay and move along." Braidwood added that his two partners usually got all the hard work, actually telling the story, and he just said things like "she's hot" or "she's tasty" as he lusted after Agent Scully. Given Frohike's lecherous nature, Braidwood was fond of telling people that it was "pretty tough being the only romantic interest on a major TV hit."

-- "E.B.E." was the fifth first-season episode written by the team of Morgan and Wong.

-- The truck driver in the teaser was listening to WSM Radio 650 in Nashville, Tennessee. WSM was founded in October 1925. Its call letters stood for "We Shield Millions," which was the motto of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company which owned the radio station. The station relied mostly on classical and dinner music for its programming fare, until the night of November 28, 1925, when a 77-year-old fiddler named Uncle Jimmy Thompson hosted a show called the WSM Barn Dance.

-- To say the show's format was informal would be an understatement. Most of the music was unwritten; somebody would call a tune and away the musicians would go. The programs were almost exclusively instrumental and featured a marked emphasis on fiddle tunes, and Uncle Jimmy's fiddling served as the clarion call to come to the WSM studio to play and/or listen. And come they did. In fact, so many people turned up at the small National Life studio that a new auditorium soon had to be built to accommodate the overflow crowds. Two years later, the show would be renamed "The Grand Ole Opry," and it wasn't long before the Opry became known as one of the most entertaining country music shows on radio. Today, it is the longest running live radio show in history.

-- Mulder told Scully he too created globes of blue flame "when I eat Dodger Dogs." The Dodger Dog is a hot dog named after the Major League Baseball franchise that sells them - the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodger Dog is a foot-long ballpark frankfurter, 100 percent pork (no fillers or byproducts) wrapped in a steamed bun. Almost 2 million are devoured at the ballpark each season. The hot dogs have been called "Dodger Dogs" since the franchise moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958. The success of the hot dogs spawned a small chain of restaurants in Southern California, and Dodger Dog weiners are sold to the public in Southern California supermarkets under the Farmer John brand. Long-time Dodgers announcer Vin Scully (for whom a certain X-Files FBI agent is named) is the spokesperson for Farmer John's. As X-Files fans know, the Dodgers were Chris Carter's favorite baseball team.

-- When first seen in "E.B.E.," Langly was sporting a Ramones tee-shirt, a nod from Glen Morgan to one of his favorite bands. "I love the Ramones," said Morgan. "I must have seen them at least fifteen times in concert with my brother growing up." The Ramones song "Blitzkrieg Bop" was used in the pilot episode of Morgan and Wong's short-lived series, Space: Above and Beyond.

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-- Byers said that Vladimir Zhirinovsky was the leader of the Social Democratic Party in Russia. The name of his party was actually the Liberal Democratic Party.

-- Mulder said "the most heinous and evil force of the 20th century" was Barney. He was referring to the big purple dinosaur, the star of the very popular children's TV show Barney & Friends.

-- There was a bit of good-natured pressure while filming the scene where the Lone Gunmen showed Scully the magnetic strips in $20 bills. "The props man came up to me and said, 'These are twenty dollar bills,'" explained Bruce Harwood. "'You've only got ten chances.'" "But we kept doing it wrong," Dean Haglund said. Glen Morgan estimated the group destroyed about $120.

-- Bruce Harwood felt the Lone Gunmen were best explained by the line his character delivered in their first scene with Mulder and Scully: "That's why we like you, Mulder. Your ideas are weirder than ours."

-- A historic Mulderism: "I think it's remotely plausible that someone might think you're hot."

-- "E.B.E." was famous for introducing viewers to the Lone Gunmen for the first time, but there were two other notable "firsts" in the episode. Mulder used his apartment window to signal Deep Throat for the first time, although he didn't use the masking tape "X." He put a blue light bulb in his desk lamp, opened the blinds, and turned off all the other lights. Mulder didn't get a roll of masking tape until "One Breath." Viewers also saw Mulder sleeping on his couch for the first time (while he waited for Deep Throat to make contact).

-- In addition to Dodger Dogs, baseball got another mention in this episode when Deep Throat noted that "pitchers and catchers report for spring training this week" (placing the episode timeframe in mid-February 1994). Deep Throat suggested he and Mulder might take in a game at Camden Yards, which was the Baltimore Orioles' home stadium. Camden Yards, the first in a new era of ballparks, opened in 1992. The duo would have had to make the trip to Baltimore to see a game, as at the time "E.B.E." was filmed, Washington, D.C., had no baseball team. The Washington Senators left the Nation's Capitol in 1972 to become the Texas Rangers; and the District of Columbia had no baseball team for 33 years. But in 2005, the Montreal Expos franchise was moved to D.C. and the team became the Washington Nationals.

-- "When I think back to 'E.B.E.', I think of that scene, Deep Throat and Mulder sitting in Washington when they have a very sort of interesting discussion where Deep Throat gives him some information that sets the whole caper in motion," recalled Chris Carter. "And then Deep Throat ends up becoming a character of certain misinformation, and in the end, prevents Mulder and Scully from learning what it is that they want to learn. So I think it helped to take his character in an interesting direction, which was to make him as much a man who could be trusted as sometimes mistrusted. We cast Jerry Hardin in that role, and I think he brought that character to life in a way that helped give the show a believability, which was so important if we were to do those wild conspiracy ideas."

-- When discussing the photo that Deep Throat gave him, Mulder said, "When I first saw the Gulf Breeze photos, I knew they were a hoax." Gulf Breeze is a small town in Florida which became famous in 1987 as the site of a large number of UFO sightings.

-- Mulder and Scully's discussion about the authenticity of the photographic evidence provided by Deep Throat was a conversation that perhaps defined the duo's relationship from that point forward. Mulder said Scully was determined not to believe, and Scully said Mulder was too determined to believe; but she also imparted her true feelings: "I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to a belief as you. Itís so intense that sometimes itís blinding. But there are others who are watching you, who know what I know and whereas I can respect and admire your passion, they will use it against you. Mulder, the truth is out there but so are lies." Mulder brushed her off and left, but in the next scene we learned that he did listen to her and discovered the photo was a fake, just as she said. This set the tone for the rest of the series.

-- The meeting between Mulder and Deep Throat in front of the shark tank was filmed at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park.

-- "Kennedy assassinations or M.I.A.s or radiation experiments on terminal patients, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Roswell, the Tuskegee experiments." Mulder reeled off quite a list of events that may or may not have had some extent of government cover-up or lies. Most were fairly well known. The Tuskegee experiments refer to a program where the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for "bad blood," their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all. The experiments got their name from the Tuskegee Institute, the black university founded by Booker T. Washington; its affiliated hospital lent the PHS its medical facilities for the study, and other predominantly black institutions as well as local black doctors also participated. A black nurse was a central figure in the experiment which went on for 40 years, between 1932 and 1972. Even when penicillin -- the first real cure for syphilis -- was discovered in the 1940s, the Tuskegee men were deliberately denied the medication. The story finally broke in The Washington Post in July 1972; and under the glare of publicity, the government ended the experiments. But by that time, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

-- Mulder tearing his apartment apart looking for a bug was an homage to the final scene of The Conversation.

-- Mulder's apartment door always seemed to have the right equipment for every occasion. Sometimes it had a peephole (when one was needed), and in this episode, it appeared to have a doorbell.

-- "I just thought that it was so creepy," recalled Chris Carter about the possible abduction scene that took place right before Mulder and Scully's eyes. "They are following a semi down the road, have a bright flash of light, they get out of their car, and realize that the alien is gone. I thought it was very creepy, the inside of that truck, picking through those boxes and finding an elaborate little medical laboratory where something had been in the truck. It was a very strange scene and kind of creepy and wonderful, and it led to the finding of a similar kind of operation at the ending of the show, a nice little bookending of those elements."

-- The aliases for Mulder and Scully to get into the power plant provided by the Lone Gunmen were Tom Braidwood and Val Stefoff, two of the show's First Assistant Directors. (And of course, Tom Braidwood also played Frohike.) The real Val Stefoff played the bartender at the Headless Woman Pub where Scully celebrated her birthday in "Tempus Fugit."

-- Deep Throat told Mulder that following the Roswell incident of 1947, a secret conference of the world's major powers was held which included the People's Republic of China. He didn't say *exactly* when that meeting was held, of course, but the People's Republic of China was not founded until 1949.

-- Morgan and Wong's Season 4 episode, "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man," followed up plot points of "E.B.E." including Deep Throat's claim of murdering an E.B.E.

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-- William Graham who directed "E.B.E." also directed Season 1's "Space" and Season 5's "Travelers." Graham was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1980 for directing the acclaimed miniseries, Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. He was also nominated for a Razzie Award (honoring the worst in film) for directing the feature Return to the Blue Lagoon.

-- Roger Cross made his first of four appearances in The X-Files in the uncredited role of Officer Green. Cross is perhaps best known for his role as Curtis Manning in 24.

-- Most recently, writer Glen Morgan has been serving as an executive producer for the 2007 version of Bionic Woman.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Peter LaCroix (Ranheim/Frank Druce) was Dwight the tram operator in "Ascension" and Nathaniel Teager in "Unrequited." Allan Lysell (Chief Rivers) was Able Gardner in "End Game." Roger Cross (uncredited role of Officer Greene) was Private Kittel in "Fresh Bones," Lieutenant Brophy in "Pusher," and Agent Rice in "Folie a Deux." Ellie Harvie (Ticket Agent) was an OPO Staffer in "Hell Money."

-- The Lone Gunmen were initially thrown into this episode just for a laugh, and Glen Morgan wasn't happy with the result, feeling he and his partner had botched things a bit in terms of execution. "We had kind of written them off," he noted, until the producers started to hear about the response to the Gunmen along the Internet. That prompted a return appearance during the second season in "Blood" and eventually a recurring role on the series.

-- Chris Carter felt "E.B.E." was "a very successful episode overall. We didn't see an alien during the show, which was the amazing thing. We only suggested that, in fact, one was in the truck at some point."

-- "E.B.E." was ultimately about trust and the loss of it. Deep Throat said he trusted Mulder, but really he trusted no one, not even the tourists around the Jefferson Memorial. Byers, Langley, and Frohike didn't trust anyone either, not even Mulder. Mulder defended his trust of Deep Throat, even going so far as to thank him for all he had done, only to find that his unquestioning loyalty was perhaps misplaced. He learned that his crusade wasn't quite as noble as he once thought, and that while the truth was out there, so were lies. Scully defended her trust in the government that she served, only to find out that the only one she could trust was Mulder. And in the end, Mulder realized that the woman who was sent to spy on him had become the only ally that he could trust, implicitly and passionately.

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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 "E.B.E."!

Polly