CTP Episode of the Day - 07.13.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Trevor (6x17)
Original Air Date: April 11, 1999
Written By: Jim Guttridge & Ken Hawryliw
Directed By: Rob Bowman

A violent prisoner gains the ability to walk through walls -- unleashing a series of horrifying murders.

(Thanks to chrisnu for today's episode pics.)

"Dear Diary, today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested spontaneous human combustion."

Some "Trevor" Tidbits and Musings:

-- The character of Trevor Gurwitch -- and the entire episode -- was named after Trevor Marquiss, a young nephew of producer John Shiban who lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.

-- The name of Ken Hawryliw -- unpronounceable and virtually unspellable -- is well known to serious students of The X-Files. As the show's Vancouver-based property master from 1993 to 1998, he was responsible for many of the vital design details of the show, including such signature props as Mulder's and Scully's FBI ID documents, and the Alien Bounty Hunter's retractable stiletto. What only a few close friends knew was that Hawryliw was also a screenwriter. He had a few scripts optioned in Canada before he went to work for the show, but when he started on The X-Files, he put his writing career temporarily on hold. He had a terrifically demanding full-time job, and he realized that just being around the show would be a great learning opportunity. "The scripts were so good," he said, "and I was working so closely with such great story minds, that it couldn't help but make me -- eventually -- into a better writer."

-- Hawryliw made his first move in 1998, when The X-Files left for Los Angeles, and he shifted to Millennium to supervise that show's prop department for its third and final season. He decided then to team up with Jim Guttridge, an L.A.-based composer/screenwriter whom he'd met through a mutual friend. "Jim was a big fan of the show," recalled Hawryliw, "and he'd written an X-Files script that he asked me to help get to Chris. I read it, and though it really wasn't written like an X-Files script, I told him I thought the premise was really good. And Jim said, 'Why don't we make a deal? You help me rewrite it into an X-Files script and we can submit it together."

-- A couple of script submissions and a dozen pitches later, "Trevor" was born. "When the idea for 'Trevor' arrived, it worked itself out fairly quickly," said Hawryliw. "The basic leap that we took -- what Frank [Spotnitz] refers to as the 'beautiful idea,' which every X-File has to have -- was that there's this unique man who can walk through walls. Now, who would this ability best apply to? Well, a convict, obviously -- a guy in prison who would want nothing more than to get out of prison. But then we had to give him an even stronger, more compelling reason to want his freedom, and that was where his son came in."

-- Hawryliw said that several intense conversations with a Canadian theoretical physicist convinced them that the emerging science of superconductivity could provide a useful explanation for Pinker Rawls's unusual abilities.

-- In the opinion of director Rob Bowman, however, the real key to the appeal of "Trevor" was elsewhere, in the complicated psychology of Pinker Rawls and in the highly charged relationship between himself and June, his ex-girlfriend. "Pinker is a crazed killer, but not a monster," said Bowman. "I think a monster is a guy who kills indiscriminately, without remorse. But although Pinker is mercurial and ultimately not fit to be on the loose, I think we gradually come to realize that his prime motivation is not all bad. I mean, in truth, the real villain of the piece is June -- an upwardly mobile woman who basically sold out her boyfriend, then gave up her son so she would be more attractive as a single woman. I think she makes an interesting contrast to Pinker -- a man who'd do anything to get out of prison and be with his son."

-- Bowman felt that several scenes in "Trevor," including the one in which June tells Pinker their son's name, provided some of the best dramatic moments of the season. However, getting them up on the screen was -- as usual -- a more or less uncharted adventure. After Hawryliw and Gettridge handed in their first draft, substantial changes were ordered. Originally set in Oklahoma's "tornado alley" and in a conventional state prison, Rawl's lockup was changed for budgetary reasons to a Mississippi work farm, and filmed at the Veluzat Ranch, a spaghetti Western-type set (highly modified by The X-Files crew for the occasion) in Canyon Country, north of Los Angeles.

-- Originally, too, the show included an effects-laden action sequence in which Mulder pursues Rawls from one end of a motel to the other; Rawls takes a shortcut by passing through the motel's interior walls. The scene was eliminated both to save money and to shift the episode's emphasis from the supernatural to the emotional.

-- In early February, the script was given an intense polish by Vince Gilligan and John Shiban, then released to a production staff rounding quickly into their final quarter of the shooting season.

-- To play the lead guest role of Pinker Rawls, casting director Rick Millikan read a number of actors without success. At the last minute, thankfully, he thought of calling John Diehl, a supporting player in many movies including Nixon and Stargate, but perhaps best known as Crockett and Tubbs's fellow detective on the first three seasons of Miami Vice. "He'd been on my list to put into the show since Day One," said Millikan. "It turned out the producers liked him too -- he'd read for us a couple of times already -- and we were able to get him in without even a reading."

-- Among those who auditioned to play Pinker Rawls was actor John Hawkes. Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz didn't think Hawkes was right for that role, but there was something about the actor that they liked. So they wrote the part of Phillip Padgett, Scully's admirer in "Milagro," especially for him.

-- After his first reading of the script, producer Paul Rabwin began thinking about a couple of interesting problems: How to film, without spending a fortune on special effects or post-production wizardry, (1) the sequences in which Rawls passes through walls, and (2) the follow-up shots where Mulder discovers that the substances Rawls has passed through are weakened and crumbling. Good writing, clever camera angles, strategic use of breakaway cement, and -- in the case of Mulder's trunk lid -- the miracle auto-body repair substance Bondo erased many of the difficulties. Others presented themselves periodically.

-- "A really good one," said Rabwin, "was during the sequence where Mulder pushes on a wall and a big chunk in the shape of a man falls out. The first time we did it, all we got was a big square hole, which didn't work. But we didn't want it to look like Bugs Bunny with his ears sticking out, either. So we designed a phony wall with a breakaway section that suggested, rather than outlined perfectly, a man's roundish head, shoulders, and upper torso."

-- Visual effect supervisor Bill Millar augmented the mechanically produced wind and flying debris in the prison storm scene with some computerized effects; the later shot of Jackie Gurwitch tossing hot soup in Rawls's face was partly an electronic construct, also. The climactic scene of Rawls being trapped and killed against the glass windshield of June's speeding vehicle was aided greatly by the near-dismantling of a 1972 Ford Country Squire station wagon by picture car mechanic Kelly Padovich.

-- One memorable behind-the-scenes moment undoubtedly belonged to hair department head Dena Green, who was instructed by Rob Bowman to sweep John Diehl's hair toward the back of his head in any scene immediately following one in which his character passed through a solid object. Dena Green was a California native. After honing her craft in a Los Angeles salon, she worked as Teri Hatcher's personal hairdresser on Lois and Clark and on the ABC series Brooklyn South.

-- Like many, many, MANY, X-Files retreads (including John Hawkes, Willie Garson, Jay Brazeau, Brian Markinson, and Timothy Webber, just to name a few), Catherine Dent (June Gurwitch) appeared in the 2001 Steven Spielberg miniseries Taken, which made Dakota Fanning a star. Dent is currently a series regular on The Shield, playing Officer Danielle "Danny" Sofer. Coincidentally, John Diehl also has a recurring role on The Shield. BTW, another star of Taken was Anton Yelchin, who starred in David Duchovny's film, House of D.

-- In addition to his work on the XF crew, Ken Hawryliw is also a footnote in several X-Files episodes. In "Jersey Devil," the name of the coroner on the "Jane Doe" autopsy report is K.H.Hawryliw. In "D.P.O.," his photo (and that of director Kim Manners) is on the yearbook page from which Darin Oswald had cut Mrs. Kiveat's picture. In "Pusher," the tabloid that Modell picks up in the grocery store contains his picture in the top corner with a caption that reads "Depravity rampant on hit TV show"; the picture shows Hawryliw with a strip-o-gram on his birthday. Hawryliw has also appeared on camera; he played Byers' co-worker friend, aptly named Ken Hawryliw, in "Unusual Suspects." He's shown playing Dig Dug on the computer in the FCC Booth at the Computer and Electronics Show and he's later shown being led away by police for hacking into the Department of Defense computers (which was actually done by Byers).

-- Not sure whether this was an intentional reference, but in the movie "Shocker" Mitch Pileggi played a man who was made of electricity named Horace Pinker.

-- Pinker losing his clothes every time he passed through a wall was a small but good touch which made perfect sense. On the other end of the scale, showing us Pinker stowed away in the trunk of Mulder and Scully's car was too much. The lingering shot on the trunk lid as the agents left was quite enough to clue us in that someone was hiding in the trunk -- we're experienced X-Philes, after all! Even more troubling was the fact that the trunk was closed but the trunk light was on. It caused me to distrust my refrigerator for weeks!

-- It was good to see that Mulder and Scully were still renting from Lariat. We missed them!

-- Special bullets were needed to take care of Pinker, so Mulder shows Scully his rubbers. Come on, you *had* to see that coming!

-- It took me several viewings of this episode to realize that with his last line, Mulder was tossing June's own words back at her when he said that maybe what Pinker wanted was another chance. That's all June said she wanted when explaining why she spent the money she found.

-- I admit that I really didn't care too much for this episode when it first aired, but repeated viewings and several X-Files-less years have given me a much better appreciation for it and I now count it as a very solid and enjoyable episode. It has great M&S interaction and communication, a pretty intriguing and spooky X-File, good performances by regulars and guest stars, and cool special effects. (Not to mention Mulder in that blue shirt, rolled up sleeves, and shades. Yowza!) So what I once discounted, I now find to be a pretty solid and interesting episode.

-- On the first day of filming, Ken Hawryliw and Jim Guttridge stood happily on the X-Files set to see their first script pages go before the camera. "It was extremely surreal," said Hawryliw, "but very, very much worth it."

-- After Millennium production ended in mid-1998, props master Ken Hawryliw decided to become a full-time screenwriter. He said, "I've been back and forth to L.A. every couple of weeks doing interviews for other shows and pitching feature ideas that Jim and I have worked on. 'Trevor' opened a huge amount of doors for us."

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