CTP Episode of the Day - 07.14.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Ice (1x07)
Original Air Date: November 5, 1993
Written By: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Directed By: David Nutter

Mulder and Scully and a small party are trapped in the Arctic after the unexplained deaths of a research team on assignment there.

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

SCULLY: We found a way to kill it. Two worms in one host will kill each other.
MULDER: You give me one worm, you'll infect me.
SCULLY: If that's true, then why didn't you let us inspect you?
MULDER: I would have but you pulled a gun on me. Now, I don't trust them. I want to trust you.

Some "Ice" Tidbits and Musings:

-- Origin of the episode title? Well, they *are* in the Arctic.

-- There are certain similarities in this episode to the John W. Campbell, Jr., novella Who Goes There? which was the basis for the Howard Hawks/Christian Nyby film The Thing from Another World and John Carpenter's The Thing, primarily that "Ice" traps characters in a confined space with a killer who may be any one of them. Still, the idea for the hour actually started after Glen Morgan read an article in Science News about "these guys in Greenland who dug something 250,000 years old out of the ice." In order to give the FBI a reason to become part of the investigation, the venue was shifted to Alaska.

-- Another inspiration for this episode was purely budgetary -- previous episodes had gone slightly over budget, so Fox asked the producers to create an episode that was set in a confined space so only one set had to be built.

-- Morgan and Wong brought their friend David Nutter, one of their favorite directors, into the X-Files fold with this episode. He had directed episodes the team had written for 21 Jump Street, Booker, The Commish, Millennium, and Space: Above and Beyond. Nutter went on to direct 15 XF episodes in all, including other classics like "Beyond the Sea," "Tooms," "Little Green Men," "Irresistible," and "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose."

-- Stunt Coordinator Ken Kirzinger plays Richter, one of the men in the standoff at the beginning of the episode. The other man in the teaser is named Campbell, named for John W. Campbell who wrote the novella that served as an inspiration for the episode.

-- Timeline: The transmission date for Richter's call was November 5, 1993, and Mulder says they are there a "couple of days later."

-- The wall thermometer in the teaser reads -34 degrees Celsius. I'm no expert at converting Farenheit to Celsius, but I know that's really, really cold. Let's hope that was the temperature outside.

-- Character Denny Murphy was a huge San Diego Chargers fan, as were Morgan and Wong, the writers of this episode ("Fouts. Is. God!").

-- Actor Steve Hytner who played Dr. Denny Murphy had guest roles in several Morgan & Wong written productions including The Commish and Space: Above & Beyond. He appeared in several episodes of Roswell, but is probably best known for his recurring role on Seinfeld as Kenny Bania.

-- When actor Xander Berkeley appeared in "Ice" as Dr. Hodge he had already been a steadily working actor for more than 10 years. He made his first big-screen appearance in Mommie Dearest (1981), played Tom Hanks' roommate in the comedy Volunteers, (1985), and in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) he played John Connor's foster parent. He was Captain Whitaker in Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men (1992) and gave a good performance as Henry Hurt in Apollo 13 (1995.) He also had a great role as turncoat Secret Service Agent Gibbs in Air Force One (1997). His first television appearance was on M.A.S.H. and he guest-starred on many familiar TV shows in the 1980s and 90s. The standout role of George Mason on the second season of 24 earned him critical acclaim, and he also had a recurring role on C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation.

-- Jeff Kober (Bear) was also a very steadily working actor and a familiar face on television. He too had guest starring roles on many popular TV series dating back to a recurring role on the 1980s nighttime soap, Falcon Crest. He made several appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was seen on 24 this past season.

-- In an episode jam-packed with fine actors, Felicity Huffman was the least well known in 1993. In fact, she had very little film or TV acting experience when she played Dr. Nancy Da Silva in "Ice." Of course, she has become the most famous and the most decorated of the whole "Ice" ensemble, first finding fame and critical acclaim on the 1998 - 2000 Aaron Sorkin series Sports Night. Following guest roles on other series like The West Wing and Frasier, she landed the role of Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives, winning the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005. She played a man preparing to become a woman in the independent film Transamerica in 2005, and was nominated for an Academy Award. She didn't win the Oscar, but she did win a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Motion Picture.

-- Huffman is married to actor William H. Macy, whom she met when she was one of his students in the Atlantic Theatre Company. They were together 15 years before marrying in 1997. Huffman is the youngest of eight children, with one older brother and six older sisters. Her nickname is "Flicka" and she used Flicka Huffman as her stage name in a few of her early roles. The name "Flicka" comes from the book and movie My Friend Flicka (1943), a childhood favorite. Flicka means "girl" in Swedish.

-- BTW, Felicity Huffman starred on Sports Night with Josh Charles, who played Bryan, Christina Applegate's boyfriend in Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, the cast of which included a young actor named David Duchovny.

-- The episode proved a pivotal one in the career of makeup effects wizard Toby Lindala, who received his first major assignment on the show and subsequently became its resident ace in that department. Lindala remembered sweating it out when the prosthetic device he was using to create the effect of the worm moving beneath the skin started to tear. "His hands were trembling, he was so nervous," Glen Morgan recalled.

-- The space worm remains near the top of The X-Files gross-out meter, in part because the producers got away with more than they originally anticipated. Morgan admitted the plan was to let one scene involving the creature run a little long -- about four seconds -- "thinking Fox's standards and practices department would cut it down, and they didn't touch it."

-- The scene where Mulder and Scully pull guns on each other was Morgan and Wong's first idea for the episode. Everything else was written around that one scene.

-- David Duchovny's dog Blue is the daughter of the Border Collie featured in this episode.

-- Oopsie! The episode featured some magic microscopes that managed to mysteriously change magnification levels each time someone looked in them.

-- In the original script, Mulder and Scully's standoff ends with each of them removing the clips from their guns and Mulder tossing the clips out into the snow. Then DaSilva and Hodge vote to confine Mulder. When Scully doesn't vote, Mulder says, "Go ahead, Scully. Vote your conscience." Scully suggests they can't be sure that Mulder's not infected and says, "Let us examine you." "Us? Is that where we're at?" replies Mulder. As they argue, Mulder is overpowered by DaSilva and Hodge and they tie him up, then lead him to the storage room. I prefer the way it played out on screen much better.

-- "In here, Iíll be safer than you." Great line, great delivery by Duchovny.

-- Two words: Neck Check! It's a historic scene in the history of the Mulder/Scully partnership, filled with electricity and unspoken emotion, and after the Neck Check they emerge from Mulder's makeshift prison as a united front.

-- Richter's line during the standoff in the teaser -- "It all ends right here" -- is repeated by Scully near the end of the episode, in a wholly different context.

-- The end of the episode is good for a chuckle as the actors rub their hands enthusiastically in an effort to keep them warm, yet no breath is visible from their mouths.

-- "Ice" touched on many themes that would eventually become the core of the XF universe: partnership, paranoia, isolation, teamwork, and trust. It was the first time our heroes pulled their guns on each other; and sadly, it wouldn't be the last.

-- "Ice" was a favorite first season episode of nearly everyone who worked on the show. At the time Entertainment Weekly did a special issue featuring the series, both David Duchovny and Chris Carter ranked it as their all time favorite episode. (Gillian Anderson ranked it #2 behind "Beyond the Sea.") "I think 'Ice' was one of the first turning points for us," said Gillian Anderson; and David Duchovny proclaimed it "our first really rockin' show."

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

Polly