CTP Episode of the Day - 09.26.06 - Ghost in the Machine

Today's Cherished Episode: Ghost in the Machine (1x06)
Original Air Date: October 29, 1993
Written By: Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon
Directed By: Jerold Freeman

A computer with artificial intelligence begins killing in order to preserve its existence.

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"How come you two went your separate ways?"
"I'm a pain in the ass to work with."
"Seriously."
"I'm not a pain in the ass? We had different career goals. Jerry wanted the fifth floor."
"And you?"
"I was gunning for a basement office with no heat or windows."

Some "Ghost in the Machine" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The episode title comes from a phrase coined by Descartes as a way to explain consciousness: "The ghost is our soul, the machine our bodies."

-- "Ghost in the Machine" was also used by philosopher Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 article attacking Cartesian dualism - the idea that our body is a kind of robot haunted by a spirit or ghost (our mind). Arthur Koestler wrote a book in which he defended the dualist position titled "Ghost in the Machine" during the 1960's. Interestingly enough, Ryle also argued that all phenomena can be explained if you know enough physics.

-- Producer Howard Gordon, who wrote the episode with partner Alex Gansa, said "Ghost in the Machine" was "one of my biggest disappointments," feeling that the computer intelligence wasn't as well-defined as it needed to be compared to predecessors like those in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Demon Seed. "Fox felt it was a bit too pedestrian to be an X-File," said Gordon, who tends to be rather harsh when it comes to grading his own episodes, "and it was one of those instances where I'd have to agree with them."

-- Jerold Freedman also directed "Born Again."

-- The name of the company, Eurisko, is also the name of a famous artificial intelligence program at Stanford -- one which attempts to think like a human. The program also won a war game contest, beating all human opponents.

-- "Ghost in the Machine" begins an X-Files tradition: It's the first episode to feature something bad happening to someone (getting killed) in the bathroom.

-- Guest actor Wayne Duvall (Jerry Lamana) is the nephew of actor Robert Duvall. He was a regular on the CBS series The District and appeared in the films O Brother, Where Art Thou? with George Clooney and Evolution with David Duchovny.

-- "Ghost in the Machine" features one of the more memorable bloopers from the Season 1 gag reel. It features Mulder and Scully in an elevator .... and well, let's just say that while the elevator was going up, something else was going down. So to speak. < g >

-- Scully's home phone number is given as 202-555-6431, 555 being the standard prefix used in movies and television shows since it isn't used by the phone company and thus prevents people from receiving crank calls. It was widely thought that Scully lived in Annapolis during that first season, but a 202 area code on her home phone/computer (as well as the computer indicating "District of Columbia Phone Search") would make her home in D.C.

-- The time stamps are a bit unreliable in this episode. It appears to be nearing Halloween, as Jerry snags some candy from an office plastic pumpkin and Scully enters her field journal entry on October 24, 1993. However, when the Computer Operating System (COS) accesses the file, the date stamp is September 16, 1993.

-- Quite amusing that Scully takes a pen and draws on the computer screen to illustrate her point. Even more amusing that you can see other circles visible on the screen to the left, indicating there were a few takes before the one used.

-- In "Ghost in the Machine" we learned it's dangerous to go to the bathroom on The X-Files. We also received our first warning that it's dangerous to be a friend, relative, ex-lover, ex-partner, mentor, protégé, co-worker, dog, acquaintance, etc., etc., of one of our heroes, as that's a sure way to find yourself expendable. Mulder's ex-partner Jerry is the first of many to meet an unfortunate end.

-- The character of Deep Throat was supposed to be a one-time guest shot, but the producers liked the character so much that Jerry Hardin was brought back to play Mulder's informant again. In his second appearance, we learn that Deep Throat and Mulder have made some sort of "arrangement" regarding the sharing of information and that Deep Throat has major connections within the Defense Department.

-- Scully falls asleep reading the book "Obstacle Course" by J.F. Freedman. It is a coming of age story about a youthful foulmouthed sex obsessed teen boy in Annapolis who likes to sneak out to the Naval Academy obstacle course.

-- Oopsie! Scully picks up the phone to call for a trace when her computer is being broken into, but theoretically, her phone line should also be tied up by the computer. Okay, so perhaps she has two phone lines, but why would her computer hookup be on her main phone line?

-- Scully gives her FBI ID Number as "2317-616." 616 is the area code for Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Gillian Anderson went to high school.

-- 29 flights of stairs and they're barely even breathing hard. Those kids are in great shape!

-- The vacuum-sucking fan that Scully battled was, in fact, a last-minute addition when the originally scripted action involving an elevator shaft was deemed too expensive. The spinning fan blades "looked good," said Gordon, "and it was a helluva lot cheaper."

-- Scully uses her gun for the first time in this episode. She uses it to shut down the fan motor in the vent shaft.

-- "Ghost in the Machine" also offers an important moment early in the partnership where Scully disobeys authority to side with Mulder, despite threats to hold her accountable. It's one more step on the journey from company spy to trusted partner.

-- The computer "voice" is a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's very similar to the voice of the computer in the film, and a line near the end (after Mulder loads the virus) is very similar to a line in the movie ("What are you doing, Brad?" -- "Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?").

-- Once & Future Retreads: Blu Mankuma (Claude Peterson) was Detective Pennock in "Mind's Eye." Tom Butler (Benjamin Drake) was CIA Agent Ambrose Chapel in "Colony." Gillian Barber (Agent Nancy Spiller otherwise known as the "Iron Maiden") was Beth Kane in "Red Museum" and Penny Northern in "Nisei" and "Memento Mori." Mark Baur (Man in Suit) was Agent Brisentine in "The Host" and Matlock (an uncredited role) in "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man."

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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 "Ghost in the Machine"!

Polly