CTP Episode of the Day - 11.01.06 - Space

Today's Cherished Episode: Space (1x08)
Original Air Date: November 12, 1993
Written By: Chris Carter
Directed By: William A. Graham

A mysterious force is sabotaging the United States' space shuttle program and Scully and Mulder must stop it before the next launch.

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's pics.)

"I have to admit, that fulfilled one of my boyhood fantasies."
"Yeah, it ranks right up there with getting a pony and learning how to braid my own hair."

Some "Space" Tidbits & Musings:

-- Writer and series creator Chris Carter admitted that he wasn't entirely satisfied with this episode, which was structured around the famous "face on Mars" photograph. The producer remembered lying on the bed in his hotel room in Vancouver thinking, "Wouldn't it be weird if that face came down on me?" -- the exact image duplicated in relation to Colonel Belt.

-- Certain logistical constraints contributed to Carter's frustration with this installment, among them the fact that it was impossible to show the beset astronauts in the space shuttle, making it necessary to deal with all that action offscreen. "You just couldn't do it on an eight-day television budget," he conceded.

-- Carter wasn't happy with the special effects in "Space" in general. Mat Beck, the visual effects supervisor on the show, had only four days to create all the special effects in the episode and wasn't able to complete them all. He had to cut corners and make do where he could.

-- "Space" was designed in part to be an inexpensive hour -- after the series had exceeded its budget on some earlier episodes -- using NASA footage that could be acquired at a relatively low cost. But as it turned out, constructing the large control room set ended up making "Space" the most expensive episode of the first season.

-- In addition to this episode, Graham also directed "E.B.E." and "Travelers."

-- Lt. Colonel Marcus Aurelius Belt is most likely named for Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, Roman Emperor from 161 to his death. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors" who governed the Roman Empire from 96 to 180, and was also considered one of the most important stoic philosophers. Marcus Aurelius' work Meditations, written on campaign between 170-180, is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty and has been praised for its "exquisite accent and its infinite tenderness." Marcus Aurelius' principle from Meditations, "for any particular thing, ask, 'What is it in itself? What is its nature?'" was publicized in the movie The Silence of the Lambs.

-- In the teaser, Lt. Belt is shown as the Viking Orbiter Project Director in 1977, meaning that his days as an astronaut were probably done by that time. In his dream, Lt. Belt is shown on a spacewalk (using stock footage from NASA) which appears to be taking place outside a space shuttle. The first space shuttle flight was in 1981.

-- Oopsie! Michelle has her car accident in the pouring rain; yet minutes later when Mulder and Scully arrive (before her wheels have even stopped spinning), the heavy rain is gone and only a light mist remains.

-- Paging Dr. Scully! Mulder barked the order to "get a doctor" to help the seriously wigging out Colonel Belt -- yet he only needed to look to his right to find one. Moments later, after remembering that she went to medical school, Scully orders 10 milligrams of Diazepam.

-- I can't help but laugh at Mulder and His Amazingly Mystifying Hypnotizing Focus Finger! Who said he wasn't a psychologist??? (Oh, yeah. He did.) < g >

-- Carter admitted he was a bit overwhelmed when the episode was being filmed, shooting in September as the show itself premiered, with reviews and other input pouring in from all sides. "Everything was happening at once," he said. "At the time, we were just trying to put this balloon aloft."

-- Ed Lauter (Lt. Col. Belt) is a veteran of television and film, including roles as Major Claremont in Breakheart Pass, Charles Strub in Seabiscuit, and Captain Knauer in the original version of The Longest Yard (he played Duane in the remake). Other than Burt Reynolds, he was the only actor to appear in both versions of that film.

-- Susanna Thompson (Michelle Generoo) went on to play the recurring role of Karen Sammler in Once and Again. She also played Judith Webster in the short-lived but critically acclaimed series The Book of Daniel.

-- Terry David Mulligan (Mission Controller #1) was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer in Olds and Red Deer, Alberta, for four years. After leaving the Mounties, he was a radio DJ for 20 years, then became a VJ and producer on the Canadian music video cable TV channel MuchMusic. He appeared as an Interviewer in the Steven Spielberg miniseries Taken and played a reporter on the big screen in 2005's Fantastic Four.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Tom McBeath (Scientist) was Detective Gwynn in "3" and Dr. Lewton in "Teso Dos Bichos." Norma Wick (Reporter) played a Reporter in "War of the Coprophages," and a Newscaster in "Folie a Deux." Alf Humphreys (Mission Controller #2) was Dr. Pomerantz in "The Blessing Way" and Michael Asekoff in "Detour." David Cameron (Young Scientist) was also a Deputy in "Small Potatoes."

-- Every fan has their "best" and "worst" list of X-Files episodes and I have to believe that "Space" appears on more "worst" lists than perhaps any other episode. I'd venture a guess and say that the majority of fans consider it the worst episode of Season 1; and many consider it the worst episode of the Mulder/Scully era -- the first seven seasons -- if not of all time (though I don't think it was quite that bad). In other words, we most likely already know how you feel about "Space" -- so just for the heck of it, as you talk about how bad this episode is, can you also think of something nice to say about it? How's that for a challenge? I'll go first! Here are some "nice" things about "Space":

-- The first scene between Mulder and Scully (on the steps of some Washington, D.C., building somewhere) where Scully was sharing Mulder's sunflower seeds.

-- Mulder and Scully both looked pretty "nice" throughout the episode (especially hair and wardrobe).

-- In the scene where Michelle told Mulder and Scully that Colonel Belt had collapsed and they followed her out of the office, Mulder guided Scully out with his hand on the small of her back. Aww!

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

Polly