CTP Episode of the Day - 12.01.06 The Jersey Devil

Today's Cherished Episode: The Jersey Devil (1x04)
Original Air Date: October 8, 1993
Written By: Chris Carter
Directed By: Joe Napolitano

Scully and Mulder investigate murders thought to be the work of a legendary man-beast living in the New Jersey woods.

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"Keep that up, Mulder, and Ill hurt you like that beast woman."

Some "The Jersey Devil" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The "real" Jersey Devil was never associated with Atlantic City. It was a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens, a large and dense forest in southern New Jersey further inland than Atlantic City. The Devil was often described as a bipedal flying creature with hooves, but there were many variations. The legend inspired the name of New Jersey's NHL ice hockey team, the New Jersey Devils, and many other pop culture tributes -- including the title of this episode.

-- As opposed to some hairy bigfoot, Carter wanted to present the Jersey Devil as an evolutionary throwback. "The idea was not to make this a monster, per se, but almost a missing link," he suggested.

-- The episode time frame was supplied by the toe tag on the body which read August 29, 1993.

-- The subplot showed Scully trying to balance having some semblance of a personal life against the dedication (bordering on obsession) that Mulder had toward his work. She met with a married friend Ellen (who uttered the immortal line, "I thought you said he was cute"), who had a child named Trent (Scully's godson), and who asked her if Mulder was someone with whom Scully might get romantically involved. Though she did go on a date, Scully opted to pursue cases with Mulder instead of that path.

-- The purpose of those scenes, Carter said, was "to show the life she was passing on. I just wanted to open Scully a little bit for the audience."

-- "The Jersey Devil" included the first reference to Mulder's predilection for porn. Scully caught him looking at a model in a "girlie" magazine, which he attempted to cover up by saying she was an abductee who had been held in an anti-gravity chamber. ("Anti-gravity's right," Scully quipped.)

-- To film the scene of Mulder in Atlantic City, David Duchovny was filmed in front of a blue-screen and stock casino footage was matted in later -- considerably cheaper than a location shoot in New Jersey would have cost.

-- In the autopsy report on "Jane Doe," the name of the coroner was K. H. Hawryliw. Ken Hawryliw was the prop master on the show. He was also referenced or made appearances in "DPO," "Pusher," "The Unusual Suspects," and "Trevor."

-- Mulder chowed down pretty heartily after Scully sprang him from jail (on what appeared to be a strange combination of eggs, salad, and tortilla chips), but in the shot when they were leaving the diner, Mulder's plate still appeared to be full, with fries on it and a side order of toast.

-- Joe Napolitano directed this episode and "Darkness Falls."

-- In real life, Michael McRae, who played Ranger Peter Brullet in this episode and who also appeared in "The Pine Bluff Variant" is married to actress Bonnie Bedelia, perhaps best known for her roles as Bruce Willis's wife in the Die Hard film series, Harrison Ford's wife in Presumed Innocent, and as race car driver Shirley Muldowney in the film Heart Like a Wheel. Old folks like me might remember that she was the girl who finally got Little Joe Cartwright to the altar in Bonanza (although like all women who fell in love with the Cartwright clan, she met an untimely demise shortly after the honeymoon). And just to prove that all things have X-Files connections, her brother in that Bonanza episode was played by Andrew Robinson, Dr. Ian Detweiler in "Alpha." Bedelia is the sister of Christopher "Kit" Culkin and aunt to his seven children, including Macaulay, who became a star in the Home Alone films.

-- Gregory Sierra (Dr. Diamond) was best known for recurring roles on Sanford & Son (as Julio Fuentes) and Barney Miller as Detective Sergeant Chano Amenguale.

-- Reminded that it has been more than 13 years since she played the elusive and feral Jersey Devil in the X-Files episode of the same name, Claire Stansfield said, "Wow! I hope I still look the same in a thong!"

-- Stansfield's appearance as the beast woman was partly the result of her friendship with David Duchovny, who she'd met while shooting a commercial. (She also worked with him on the erotic Red Shoe Diaries series.) After Duchovny was cast as Mulder in The X-Files, he recommended her to Chris Carter for the role of the Jersey Devil. No one had heard of The X-Files when Stansfield went to Vancouver to film the episode, which was only the fifth to be produced. For her and for the cast and crew, it was just another job.

-- "We had no idea it was going to be as huge as it was," she remembered. "For me, it was really just a great vacation and getting to hang out with David. So I said, 'Sure!' Then I saw my thong."

-- Stansfield spent most of the episode running around nearly naked; her entire wardrobe consisted of the thong (to prevent the audience from getting a more thorough glimpse of the natural world than prime-time television allowed), a long wig ("They taped it all on to my breasts, which was rather goopy at the end of the day," recalled Stansfield), and make-up dirt.

-- It wasn't the kind of outfit a girl would want to wear in front of her mother. However, Stansfield had to do just that, since her mother lived in Vancouver and was a guest on the set every day. She recalled her mother's reaction to the small crowd of curious onlookers who gathered on the days they were shooting in Vancouver's streets: "Oh honey, can't they brush your hair a little?"

-- Another daily presence on the set in those early days was Chris Carter. Stansfield recalled that Carter and Duchovny had already become good friends. As Duchovny's friend, she got to know Carter as well. "He was just the coolest guy!" she reported. "As a woman you couldn't be more in heaven than sitting on a set with Chris to your left and David to your right, with your mom behind you giving you the big thumbs up."

-- However, the Jersey Devil herself looms largest in Stansfield's memory. "I've never played any character like that before or since. To become feral like that, your sense of smell and sound and hearing becomes heightened. I got to be instinctually based as opposed to intellectually or emotionally based. I remember loving it, because it was something so different as an actor."

-- Stansfield's stunt double was also a bit unusual. Finding a double for the six-foot-one Stansfield was often challenging. Finding a tall professional stuntwoman in Vancouver, who would wear the Jersey Devil's nearly non-existent wardrobe, proved impossible.

-- "They got a stripper," said Stansfield, adding with mock chagrin: "That's the one who didn't want to wear her robe at all, ever, on the set. So here's me thinking, 'I've got the damn job. Tell that woman to get off the set, go and wait in the trailer and put her robe on!'" The double ended up doing only one of Stansfield's stunts, a climb over a fence. "Not that I couldn't do it, and I begged them to let me," said Stansfield. "But it was at the beginning of the shoot, and had I hurt myself ... She could have been replaced, but I couldn't."

-- Among the stunts that Stansfield did herself was the Devil's tussle with Mulder. Considering her costume, she was especially glad to have a good friend playing opposite her for that scene. "It was so much easier for me to straddle him in a thong because he was my buddy, he made me laugh. I wasn't uncomfortable. That's such a gift as an actor ... to not even have to think about it. Because that character certainly is not aware of, 'I'm a woman, I'm naked, I'm straddling you.'" She added, with a laugh, "And this is pre-David being the sexiest man on the planet. He was my buddy. I still laugh when I see him, because I can't believe he's turned into this icon!"

-- Stansfield has been far from idle since her Jersey Devil days. Because of her appearances as the evil shamaness Alti on Xena, Warrior Princess, she became a name in science fiction fandom. She made many appearances at sci-fi conventions, where she produced and performed in the evening cabaret shows with her fellow actors. One of her specialties in those convention cabarets was performing fan fiction with the other actors. Naturally, these performances never failed to delight the all-fan audiences.

-- She explained her continued interest in the convention circuit: "I said, 'If you want me to do shows, I have to perform. Then I at least feel as though I'm being an actor.' I love to give the fans what they want, but I also need some kind of creative outlet or I start to feel like it's a factory. They kept booking me, and it wasn't because I was popular. It was because I put on these shows. For me as a producer-director, I got paid and then I had a thousand people who loved whatever I was doing. You couldn't put on a play and get that many people and raise that much money for charity."

-- The Jersey Devil was not forgotten, though. Stansfield still gets requests, through the mail or at conventions, for her to autograph her Jersey Devil trading card. And of course, there are the residuals for every "Jersey Devil" rerun, video, or DVD, and even tie-ins like an X-Files trivia game. "It's like, 'Oh, thanks Chris!' There's no trivia game for most TV shows I've done. X-Files just keeps on giving."

-- Even more rewarding than the conventions has been Stansfield's expanding career as a director. She has directed commercials and music videos, and even has a digital studio in her California home where she can edit and produce as well as direct. "I now have a pretty good little career going from my home," she said, "where I can choose on what level I want to do it and still make money, where as an actor, you have no control."

-- The directing went so well that Stansfield has more or less quit acting altogether. "I've been so lucky. I have always worked, and I've had a very interesting career and can't complain, but at 40 years old and nearly six foot two, as a woman, the odds are just so stacked against you," she said. "I had lost my passion for it. I know so many talented actors who don't even have agents."

-- So what is she doing now? "Trying to still look good in a thong!" she laughed.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Michael McRae (Ranger Peter Brullet) was August Bremer in "The Pine Bluff Variant." Andrew Airlie (Scully's date Rob) was an Attorney in "Sanguinarium." David Lewis (Young Officer) was Vosberg in "Firewalker" and Agent Kreski in "Oubliette." D. Neil Mark (SWAT Team Officer) was Deputy Scott Kerber in "Pusher." Rhys Huber (Scully's godson Trent) was a Little Boy in "Revelations." Hrothgar Matthews (Jack) was Phoning Man in "The Host," Creighton Jones in "Our Town," Galen in "Talitha Cumi," and a Paramedic in Fight the Future. Bill Dow (Father) was Dr. Newton in "War of the Coprophages" and Dr. Chuck Burks in "The Calusari," "Leonard Betts," "Biogenesis," "Rush," "Hollywood A.D.," and "Badlaa."

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's episode 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 "The Jersey Devil."

Polly