CTP Episode of the Day - 10.20.06 - Miracle Man

Today's Cherished Episode: Miracle Man (1x17)
Original Air Date: March 18, 1994
Written By: Howard Gordon and Chris Carter
Directed By: Michael Lange

The agents investigate a young faith healer who seems to use his powers for both good and evil.

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's pics.)

"I was raised a Catholic, and I have a certain familiarity with the scripture. And God never lets the Devil steal the show."

Some "Miracle Man" Tidbits & Musings:

-- After graduating from Princeton University in 1984, New York native Howard Gordon came to Los Angeles with his writing partner Alex Gansa to do a movie based on the life of Lord Byron. Once in L.A. they ran into a small problem: "No one knew who Lord Byron was," Gordon said.

-- So instead, Gordon and Gansa wrote and sold a spec script for St. Elsewhere and began tutoring high school students for the SAT test. The SAT work turned into a thriving business and led to Gordon's first real job, as one of his students was the daughter of a producer on ABC's Spencer: For Hire. Gordon and Gansa pitched some ideas for Spencer and went on to write more than a half-dozen scripts for the detective show.

-- From there, the team joined the Emmy-nominated series Beauty and the Beast as staff writers, and were later named producers, which gave Gordon a chance to learn the inner workings of a TV show. Gordon and Gansa were then signed to a two year deal with Witt-Thomas Productions during which they produced several pilots. Country Estates, a pilot produced for ABC, caught the attention of Chris Carter who invited them to join The X-Files as supervising producers. The team wrote the Season 1 episodes "Conduit," "Ghost in the Machine," "Fallen Angel," "Lazarus," and "Born Again"; and then Gansa departed from the series to pursue independent projects. ("Born Again" was filmed after Gansa's departure.)

-- "Miracle Man" was Howard Gordon's first script written without his longtime partner.

-- Gordon wrote or co-wrote several scripts each season before departing from the series in 1997 to pursue other projects. After writing several episodes of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, Gordon created his own show, the short-lived Strange World in 1999. Strange World went to seed after 13 episodes, but Gordon and Strange World (and former X-Files) writer Tim Minear's services were quickly snapped up by Buffy creator Joss Whedon on another project: Angel. After two years with Angel, Gordon jumped ship in 2001 for Fox's mega-successful 24, where he would write several episodes in Season 1 and 2, then craft the entire story arcs for Seasons 3 and 4. Gordon temporarily left 24 in the middle of the 2004 season to re-join Minear as co-creator of another Fox series, The Inside. Following that series' quick cancellation, Gordon rejoined 24 as executive producer and show runner. The series won the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy for its excellent fifth season.

-- In addition to this episode, Michael Lange directed "Young at Heart," "Ascension," and "Unrequited."

-- "Miracle Man" was our first season clue that religion was going to be an important part of the X-Files. Though Scully had worn her cross since the "Pilot," her religious beliefs really hadn't been touched upon until this episode. And of course, as we learned later, we would get at least one (sometimes more) episode with religious overtones in every season and Chris Carter would ultimately weave religious symbolism into the very fabric of the show.

-- The episode took place in the town of Kenwood and Kenwood County, Tennesse. There is a town of Kenwood in the Clarksville area, but it is in Montgomery County, Tennessee.

-- When Mulder and Scully visit the Miracle Ministry, Mulder said, "I think I saw some of these people at Woodstock." He probably saw them in Scully's video, as it was quite obvious that all the tent revival scenes that supposedly took place on three different days were shot at the same time. Close-ups of the same extras sitting in the same places wearing the same clothes were used for different revival meetings, and the woman who later died was clearly shown sitting in the front row at an earlier prayer meeting.

-- Reverend Hartley may have had a Cadillac for every day of the week, but he apparently only had one suit and one tie. He hadn't changed clothes since Scully's video either.

-- The episode featured Mulder's second "Elvis" reference: "This is the part where they bring out Elvis." (The first was in "Shadows.") Mulder's fascination with Elvis was a trait created by Glen Morgan and James Wong as a joke because they knew that David Duchovny was not a fan of the King.

-- The Reverend Hartley's vanity license plate read "BHEALD."

-- Oopsie! In the establishing shot of the courthouse, the subtitle read "Kenwood County Courthouse," but you could clearly read on the building that it is the "DeKalb County Courthouse."

-- When Scully reads through the list of diseases that have been healed by Samuel, one of them is "spontaneous remission of metastatic cancer," which is exactly what will happen to her five years in the future.

-- Another example of why Scully is a pathologist: when the girl collapses at the revival, she shouts for someone to get an ambulance, checks the girl's pulse, and proclaims her dead. Shouldn't Dr. Scully have made an attempt at reviving her (no pun intended)?

-- Scully's fondness for horror films also gets a mention in this episode, as she said that The Exorcist was one of her favorite movies.

-- The autopsy Scully performs on Margaret Hohman sets the timeline for this episode: March 7, 1994. It also provides an 1121 reference; the time is 11:21 (11/21 is Chris Carter's wife's birthday).

-- The autopsy also gives us an early glimpse of Squeamish!Mulder.

-- I know Mulder loved his sister, but I found it hard to believe that he toted around her picture while he was out investigating cases. The gratuitous photo-packing was a little too heavy-handed for my taste.

-- Faith healer Samuel Hartley was one of Scott Bairstow's first acting roles. He went on to play Newt Call in Lonesome Dove: The Series and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years. He later played the abusive Ned Grayson in the Fox series Party of Five. Bairstow worked for Chris Carter again as the star of the short-lived Harsh Realm playing Lt. Thomas Hobbes.

-- Bairstow ran into legal trouble a few years ago. In January 2004 he was sentenced to four months in jail in Washington State following a modified guilty plea to second-degree assault. He also agreed to undergo a sexual deviancy evaluation and to be under supervision for one year following his release. He had originally been charged with second-degree rape after he was accused of having sex in 1998 with a 12-year-old girl related to his ex-wife, continuing the relationship with her until 2001.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Walter Marsh (Judge) was the Druggist in "Unruhe" and the Pathologist in "Christmas Carol." (He passed away on September 17, 2005.) Campbell Lane (Hohman's Father) was Calusari #3 in "The Calusari," and the Committee Chairman in "Tunguska/Terma." Lisa Ann Beley (Beatrice Salinger) was a Student in "Little Green Men." Roger Haskett (Deputy Tyson) was the Coroner on "Travelers."

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

Polly