CTP Episode of the Day - 08.29.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Nisei (3x09)
Original Air Date: November 24, 1995
Written By: Chris Carter, Howard Gordon & Frank Spotnitz
Directed By: David Nutter

Video of an alien autopsy puts Mulder and Scully on the trail of a conspiracy involving Japanese scientists that may shed light on Scully's abduction.

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M: Scully, after all you've seen ... after all you've told me you've seen. The tunnel with medical files, the ... the beings moving past you, the implant in your neck, why do you refuse to believe?

S: Believing's the easy part, Mulder. I just need more than you. I need proof.

M: You think that believing is easy?

Some "Nisei" Tidbits & Musings:

-- "Nisei" is the Japanese word for a child born in America or Canada to Japanese parents (who were born in Japan). Translated literally, it means "second generation."

-- "It was just logistically huge," co-executive producer Bob Goodwin said of this two-part story, which was actually delayed several weeks -- after initially being conceived as a stand-alone episode -- to fine-tune and expand the concept as well as allow more time to plan its production.

-- By Season 3, the big two-part episodes had become a tradition, said Chris Carter, giving the show a chance to expand its increasingly popular "mythology" as well as giving Agents Mulder and Scully a chance to investigate things that had somehow affected them personally.

-- Trained Rangers were used to play the tactical team in the opening sequence, part of a concerted effort to ground the show in reality at all times. "We have a lot of technical advisors, because I try not to fake everything, [but rather] try to make everything as realistic as possible," said prop master Ken Hawryliw. Of the trained soldiers, he added, "They know what they're supposed to be doing, rather than just putting a gun in an extra's hands."

-- The opening scene was particularly difficult to film, said Chris Carter, "because we were not allowed by Fox Standards and Practices to show actual bullet hits. So we had to shoot the scene in such a way that we could cut around it. And it's very difficult to show men suffering from the result of being gunned down without actually showing the cause and effect. So ultimately we spent a long time in the editing room with the censors going frame by frame through the material and making sure it lived up to their standards and to ours which was always the negotiation."

-- The number of the boxcar in which the teaser's alien autopsy takes place is 82594. This is a reference to the date, August 25, 1994, that Chris Carter first stepped behind the cameras, directing the Emmy-nominated episode, "Duane Barry." The date reappears periodically throughout the rest of the third season.

-- A 10-year-old boy played the alien on the autopsy table, while his twin sister served as the alien on the train car. "They tolerated all this adhesive," said special effects makeup supervisor Toby Lindala, noting that the girl had no problem with the oversized dark contact lenses used to create the alien eyes. Two new alien heads were designed for this episode.

-- "Nisei" was directed by David Nutter who was one of The X-Files most prolific directors in the series first three years. He directed such classic episodes as "Ice," "Beyond the Sea," "Tooms," "Little Green Men," "Irresistible," and "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose."

-- One of the interesting aspects of directing a two-parter, said Nutter, stemmed from the awareness that one of your colleagues would handle the other half. "Knowing that Rob Bowman was going to follow me, my only hope was that I could keep up," Nutter said. "He was such a wonderful visual stylist." Each of the directors had a different approach, with Nutter saying he always sought to "stay back out of the way" of the material, so that a viewer wouldn't necessarily be conscious of the choices he made or distracted from the reality the show attempted to convey.

-- Scully's joke about the hokey Alien Autopsy special on Fox turned out to be ironic since Fox repeated the special the following night -- a scheduling move that wasn't anticipated when the episode was being produced -- airing promotional spots for the special during this hour's initial broadcast.

-- I often wish Mulder would get a nail file and quit using that letter opener to clean under his nails. He uses it for the same purpose in several episodes; and it must have been one of the only items to survive the basement fire since he used it prominently in Season 6's "Alpha."

-- Mulder's second gun reeks of an internet-inside joke, since Mulder's fumble-fingers where guns were concerned was a popular topic of discussion back in the day. (And just for the record, this episode marked the 14th time that Mulder dropped his gun -- he dropped it twice in the episode "3.")

-- I think Mulder's "beacon in the night" comment might have spawned the Mulder/Skinner slash-fic explosion (or at least fueled it). (And David Duchovny's comments in the bloopers about "getting his ass licked" didn't hurt! < g >)

-- A return to those glory days when Mulder once again donned his "One Breath" funky poaching sexy super stud outfit of jeans and black mock turtleneck. Hoo-boy!

-- Gillian Barber played Beth Kane in "Red Museum." In that episode, the catch phrase was "He is one." In this episode, when Barber (as Penny Northern) sees Dana Scully, she says, "She is one."

-- Oopsie! After Mulder breaks into the ship, he leaves the door open, but it is closed in a subsequent shot.

-- "Nisei" lays the groundwork for a plotline that won't fully develop until the following season: that women who were abducted all contract cancer -- including Scully.

-- This episode marked the first appearance of the red-haired and lovelorn Agent No-First-Name Pendrell, who was named for Pendrell Street in the west end of Vancouver where the series was filmed. Pendrell was played by Canadian actor Brendan Beiser who was actually born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, a Canadian psychiatrist, held a professorship at Harvard in the late 60s/early 70s. When Brendan was six, the Beiser family moved from the U.S. to France for a year before returning permanently to Canada. Brendan studied theatre at Concordia University in Montreal and continued his theatrical training under the supervision of William B. Davis (Cancerman) and Mark Bauer at the William Davis Centre for Actor's Study in Vancouver.

-- Mulder has a new phone number in this episode: 202-555-0199.

-- The boxcar that Mulder is interested in is numbered 82517. 5/17 is the birth date of producer/writer Frank Spotnitz's wife.

-- Robert Ito (Dr. Ishimaru), a Canadian-born actor of Japanese descent, was for many years a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada before turning to acting in the mid-1960s. He was best known for his seven-year stint as Dr. Sam Fujiyama on the popular TV series Quincy, opposite Jack Klugman.

-- The "Red-Haired Man," the National Security Agency's Man-In-Black in this episode, is given the name Malcolm Gerlach in The X-Files DVD collection, though he is never named onscreen.

-- Steven McHattie, who played the Red-Haired Man, was familiar as the villainous Gabriel in the popular TV fantasy-drama Beauty and the Beast (for which Howard Gordon served as a producer), as well as for his recurring role as Elaine's psychiatrist, Dr. Reston, on Seinfeld. He also starred in the title role in a 1976 TV-movie James Dean about the legendary film actor.

-- "Just that stunt, with Mulder jumping on top of the train, we worked six weeks on that," Goodwin said. The stuntman was cabled, so although he jumped off the overpass to create that feeling, he never actually landed on the train. Despite that, stunt coordinator Tony Morelli said the jump itself wasn't particularly difficult compared to some of the other stunts that had been executed on the show.

-- There was also alarm about using David Duchovny in such a potentially dangerous situation, but the actor enjoyed the opportunity to make the short jump onto the moving train. "It was fun to jump on a train, fun to jump off a train," Duchovny said with an arched eyebrow. "It was something I hadn't done."

-- Though for Mulder not to put his phone in his pocket before attempting to jump on the train was just plain silly (and simply served as a plot device for this episode's companion piece "731"). If this keeps up, he'll have to strap a cell phone to his ankle.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Raymond J. Barry reprised the role of Senator Richard Matheson that he created in "Little Green Men" and would play again in "S.R. 819." Steven Williams made his seventh on-screen appearance as the mysterious "X." Gillian Barber, who played Penny Northern in this episode and in "Memento Mori," also appeared as Agent Nancy Spiller in "Ghost in the Machine" and as Beth Kane in "Red Museum." Paul McLean (Coast Guard Officer) was Dr. Josephs in "Shapes" and played Special Agent Kautz in "Anasazi" and "Zero Sum." Roger Allford (The Harbormaster) played Garrett Lorre in "3." Carrie Cain-Sparks (Train Station Clerk) was the Maid in "Our Town" and a Duty Nurse in "Small Potatoes." Bob Wilde (Limo Driver) was a Detective in "Roland," Rand in "Little Green Men," and George Vincent Dyer in "All Souls."

-- "These two-part mythology episodes, as hard as they are, are the most beloved by the crew," said Chris Carter, "because we were doing more than anyone ever believed we could do on television in the time allotted and for the money we had to spend. So 'Nisei' was yet another example of pulling a big fat rabbit out of a hat."

-- "Nisei" won two 1995-96 Emmy Awards: One for Thierry J. Couturier for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, and one for Michael Williamson (Production Mixer), David J. West, Nello Torri, and Doug Turner (Re-recording Mixers) for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

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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 "Nisei"!

Polly