CTP Episode of the Day - 09.01.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Nothing Important Happened Today (9x01)
Original Air Date: November 11, 2001
Written By: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz
Directed By: Kim Manners

While forces inside the establishment attempt to stifle them, the Agents find a connection to their case with suspicious murders relating to water.

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"He's gone. He's just gone.

Some "Nothing Important Happened Today" Tidbits & Musings:

-- Although many X-Files fans were not excited about the start of the show's ninth season, the series' key writers and producers were. "When Season 8 ended, we weren't sure whether the show would be back for a ninth season," said Frank Spotnitz. "So there was a lot of drama behind the scenes. But once we got the word that there would be a ninth season, I felt no hesitation like I had at the beginning of Season 8 in terms of whether the show had creative vitality. I felt Robert Patrick was great, we still had Gillian Anderson, and I thought Annabeth Gish was going to be great."

-- "Season 9 was an exciting season to be going into," remembered Vince Gilligan, "because we were, in a sense, starting anew. Two new agents were running the X-Files office."

-- "David Duchovny was not available," said John Shiban, "Gillian Anderson was, but we all knew that Season 9 would be her last year. It was the end of her contract and she intended on moving on. So we felt like we were working on a new series, that this was a new beginning. So there was a lot of talk of where the mythology should go."

-- So without many of its long-time fans on board, The X-Files kicked off its ninth season with Annabeth Gish (Agent Monica Reyes), who had appeared in several episodes at the end of Season 8, now a series regular and with Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) finally rewarded with a spot in the opening credits (and deservedly so).

-- Season 9 also kicked off with a violent content warning; parental discretion advised.

-- As explained in the second part of this two-parter, the episode title, "Nothing Important Happened Today," is an entry that King George III wrote in his diary on July 4th, 1776. Little did he know that on the same day an ocean away the United States of America declared independence from the British Crown.

-- The teaser offers up an Ex-Xena on the X-Files -- how appropriate! "When Chris Carter came back from hiatus," said Frank Spotnitz, "one of his first ideas was to bring in Lucy Lawless, which was great."

-- "I'd seen her at a couple of different functions, and she had come to me and told me she was a fan of the show," said Carter. "So when we approached her, she was game. She was a good sport, as we had a very physical role for her. She's hot stuff, so it was good to be able to put her into the show, and use her through the course of this two-parter."

-- "Lucy was a lot of fun to work with," recalled Robert Patrick. "She's got a great sense of humor and obviously she knew what she was doing. She had a lot of fun. I think she thought we all took it a little bit too serious. But then again, we weren't making Xena, we were making The X-Files.

-- Kim Manners recalled filming the episode teaser: "When we were shooting the bar scene, I said, 'We've got to do it this way. You've got to do this with that line, and do this with this line.' And she said to the guest star, 'Boy, it was never this detailed when we did Xena. I just kind of rode the horse in, and screamed, and cut somebody's head off, and that was a print."

-- "Lucy was a real trouper," said Manners. "I mean, we had her seat belted into a car, 13 feet underwater. And we had her with the hookah that she'd breathe through. And we'd roll the camera and the stunt guys would take the hookah away from her. And she'd sit there for 40, 45 seconds without breathing, obviously. And we'd cut, she'd just raise her hand and they'd bring her the hookah. She never once complained. In a later scene, she pulled Robert down by the feet and we had her on a wire rig with which we pulled her down into 19 feet of water. She did a fantastic job."

-- Lucy Lawless is of course best known as Xena: Warrior Princess, a role she created on the series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and continued on her own long-running series. Since Xena ended she had a cameo on the film Spiderman and has done guest-starring roles on many TV series. She was a regular on the 2003 short-lived series Tarzan which also starred Mitch Pileggi. She can currently be seen stretching her vocal chords on the Fox series Celebrity Duets.

-- The opening credits got a major revamp for the last season. The basic concept was still there, but some images were added [and some -- sadly -- removed]. The credits included a nod to the fans; a flash of a document contained the names of many online X-Philes (as well as some anagrams of XF characters -- for example, "Deform Lux" was Fox Mulder) under the heading "FBI Contacts, Witnesses and Contributors." Some of the names on the list were changed in the credits each week.

-- The heading on the document in the credits that appeared in the advance screening copy of the episode included the line "Possible Hybrids."

-- Starting with this episode, James Pickens Jr. (Kersh) was billed under the "Also Starring" heading.

-- One of the earliest mistakes of Season 9 (IMBO) was beginning this episode only 48 hours after the big Mulder/Scully smooch with their baby between them that ended Season 8. Allowing these characters to have only two days of being a happy family was wrong. They deserved more.

-- And Mulder *certainly* deserved a better ass double. We'd know that very fine ass anywhere, and the one in the shower wasn't even close.

-- My opinion of five years ago hasn't changed one bit -- I think that Scully's Season 9 hair is just plain awful. But putting my bias aside, that's quite a bit of hair growth in 48 hours. I sincerely hope that Scully has quit her job at the FBI and become a spokesperson for Hair Club for Women. < g >

-- The episode credits (for the two-parter) list five infants in the role of Baby William -- Rikki and Rowdy Held, Ashley Knutson, and James and Travis Riker.

-- Suitcases ... lots and lots of suitcases. But thankfully, that awful blue one from the "Pilot" is not among them.

-- "We needed to know more about who Monica Reyes was," said Frank Spotnitz. "So that led to the creation of the Brad Follmer character, played by Cary Elwes." "We wanted to add a love interest for Annabeth's character," added Chris Carter. "He was so much different than Doggett, he was so much different than Mulder. He was a person that was physically attractive, a terrific actor, and had a kind of quality that we saw we could use, which was, I don't want to say devious, but there was something going on behind Cary's eyes."

-- "From the start, we knew we wanted someone who was basically anti-Doggett," continued Spotnitz. "Cary embodied that perfectly -- an Ivy League, polished, well-dressed, slick careerist. It made a great conflict, especially when they had feelings for the same woman."

-- "I just knew right away that this was something I wanted to do," remembered Cary Elwes. "And so subsequently I found out from Chris that he'd pretty much written the part for me. Follmer was chasing after a girl, and he wanted some unfinished questions answered."

-- The character of Brad Follmer was named after creator Chris Carter's executive assistant.

-- Cary Elwes appeared in six Season 9 episodes as FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer. Elwes shot to fame as Westley in the 1987 classic The Princess Bride. He went on to star in a string of successful films including Glory, Days of Thunder, Hot Shots!, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Twister, Liar Liar, and Kiss the Girls.

-- "There was a lot of underwater work in this episode," explained co-executive producer Michelle MacLaren. "And underwater work is very time-consuming and very challenging. And the actors, both Robert Patrick and Lucy Lawless, were incredible. We shot part of the underwater footage in a tank at Universal, and then we had to find a facility that we could bring in huge vats of water, for lack of a better explanation, that looked like a water filtration plant."

-- The water filtration plant was actually an electrical facility. "We were scouting the location," said production designer Corey Kaplan, "and suddenly we realized that we had an amazing amount of voltage going through this place, and we were bringing in three swimming pools! That was definitely a little scary." The pools constructed in the plant were only four feet deep, so Lucy Lawless -- who is six feet tall -- had to be down on her knees to get the shots of Shannon McMahon with just her eyes above water.

-- Though Lawless appeared to be nude in her scenes in the water and in the water filtration plant, she was actually wearing a bathing suit. "It was not so much hiding what we weren't supposed to see, as hiding the fact that she was wearing a bathing suit," said visual effects producer Mat Beck, "because it was wrinkling and her body was being pushed in a way a naked body would not be. But, as had happened so many times in the past, shadows were your friend on The X-Files. And by manipulating shadows and generating shadows, it was kind of a little shadow fan dance."

-- Chris Carter said that the names "Shannon McMahon" and "Ryan Bracker" used in the episode did have some significance, but he declined to share that significance with the rest of the class.

-- The worker at the Greater Maryland Water Reclamation Facility is named after Roland McFarland, the FOX network's Vice President of Broadcast Standards.

-- John Casino who played Roland McFarland in "NIHT" is best known for his stunt work, and often doubles for his good friend, Kurt Russell. He has appeared in many of Russell's films including Tango & Cash, Backdraft, Captain Ron, Stargate, Executive Decision, Escape from L.A., Breakdown, Vanilla Sky, and Dreamer.

-- "You make it sound like I go home from work with Post-its on my ass." When did this become The SeX Files and why didn't they let people have sex when I was actually interested in the participants? < g >

-- "He's just gone" (just like most of the audience.) and "It makes sense in its own way." Major disappointments from a team that had given us so much over the years. The Powers That Be didn't understand until it was too late (and maybe not even then) that adding a cast of thousands and sexing-it-up was no substitute for intriguing characters and good writing.

-- Writer Steve Maeda's name was listed on Doggett's list of soldier friends.

-- One of the high points of "NIHT" (for me) was the shot of the 10 pencils still stuck in the ceiling (surrounded by many holes) above Mulder's old desk (after Monica breaks her pencil), accompanied by a very subtle and beautiful variation of The X-Files theme. Thank you, Mark Snow, for a lovely underscoring of a lovely moment.

-- "NIHT" contains some references to the cancelled Lone Gunmen series, including both Frohike and Byers making references to being "unemployed." When the Gunmen meet with Doggett, Langly still has a blue face, which was a reference to an incident in the series finale of The Lone Gunmen, "All About Yves."

-- Follmer's comment that Doggett put his "tit in a wringer" was a reference to a famous quote by former Attorney General John Mitchell during Watergate. He said that Washington Post owner Katherine Graham would "get her tit caught in a wringer" if she didn't call off Woodward and Bernstein on a story that much of the media world was then ignoring. Of course, Mrs. Graham didn't, and the rest is history.

-- Another very cute moment was the shot of Frohike trying to reach the peep hole on Doggett's door.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Sheila Larken reprises her role as Margaret Scully. And Mulder's aquarium appears in Scully's apartment. :::sniff:::

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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 "Nothing Important Happened Today"!

Polly