Theatre of the Mind ~ How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

Before I begin, I'd like to apologize for taking so long to get the TOTMs rolling again. Unfortunately, real life intruded and kept me from these mindless pursuits for a while but now I'm ready to go again and should be able to keep them coming pretty steadily from now on.

The absolutely amazing thing to me is where does the time go? I mean it seems like we just had the big Season 8 finale, and now here it is Christmas Eve. Boy, tempus fugit, huh? (Well, that's another story.) So anyway, Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! What's everybody been up to since the finale? I'll bet as we all make our holiday preparations this Christmas Eve, the little Mulder family is planning their first Christmas together. Putting up the tree, hanging the stockings with care, assembling all the toys for little Will to play with, Mulder dressing up as Santa. Gosh, it sure brings back memories of Christmas Eves past. I can almost hear the Christmas music . . .

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
With an X-File compelling and Mulder is telling you, "Please, do not fear."
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

It's the hap-happiest season of all.
With those holiday greetings and clandestine meetings, you'll both have a ball.
It's the hap-happiest season of all.
Mulder's butt you'll be roasting if he's only boasting and strands you out here in the snow.
Hearing scary ghost stories and tales of the "gories" from Christmas Eves long, long ago.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
We might have mistletoeing and if they keep going,
I'll stand up and cheer!!!!!
It's the most wonderful time, yes the most wonderful time, it's the most wonderful time ... of the year!

1. It was a dark and stormy night. I always wanted to write that.

2. Christmas Eve 1998. Somewhere in Maryland. M&S are in my 'hood.

3. Are we sure this is Christmas? Looks and sounds more like Halloween. (BTW - love how the spooky harpsichord music fades into Der Bingle. I've got the sudden urge for some Minute Maid. You youngsters won't understand that.)

4. I always pictured Mulder as a DC 101 (WWDC 101.1) hard rock radio station kind of guy, but being the company man he is, he's listening to WWCC 101.3 on his radio dial.

5. Scully might want to start taking hostages when she hears "Silent Night," but I bet she smiles knowingly when she hears, "Joy to the World." (wink, wink)

6. Christmas Eve? An important date? No kidding. It's my birthday!

7. Don't Scully's packages *already* look wrapped to you? Is she gonna rewrap them?

8. Who could resist that sad little, "Oh . . ."?

9. Left cheek sneak? Will 1013 *ever* get beyond the bathroom humor?

10. If Mulder really wants to seek out apparitions, if I was him, I'd blow this pop stand and get on over to the Scully Family Christmas and see if he can find Charlie.

11. Can't blame Scully for lacking enthusiasm about Christmas. It hasn't exactly been kind to her lately.

12. TWC1: Mulder tells a good spooky story despite Flowbee hair. They don't call him Spooky for nothin'.

13. Larkspur Lane - a nod to Nancy Drew? Maybe M&S are gonna play Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy. Kinky.

14. A brooding but heroic young man. A sublime beauty with a light that seemed to follow her wherever she went. Two angels descended from heaven whom the gods could not protect from the horrors being visited upon this cold, gray earth. Why does this story sound so familiar?

15. Mulder, have you been paying attention for the past 5 years? Why would you think that she believes in ghosts?

16. I prefer the blooper version when Scully says, "The decks are hauled . . ." and Mulder says, "I think you've been sampling the egg nog."

17. Scully, have you been paying attention for the past 5 years? Why would you think that he has anyplace to be on Christmas Eve? He *never* has anyplace to be.

18. If Mulder took *me* on a ghostbusting date, he wouldn't have to steal my car keys to get me to stay. And I wouldn't be trying to give up following his silly notions as my New Year's resolution, either.

19. Darn, I thought the Big Ass Flashlights would get to celebrate Christmas with a night out.

20. A white Christmas? In Washington, DC? I'll be right back. I gotta run to the store for bread, milk, and toilet paper!

21. Locked in an empty house with Mulder all night. What to do, what to do? Trying to get out was *not* the first thing I thought of.

22. We're on number 22 and it's still the teaser. I think we're in big trouble.

23. I think Scully might have just seen one of those ghosts she doesn't believe in.

24. Is she making fun of him with that "advanced degree in psychology" crack?

25. Leave it to Scully to suck all the air out of this ghostbusting date with a patented Rational Explanation. But that quickly turns to irrational fear.

26. Ladies first. He's got your back.

27. Just an observation of one of those little things that fascinate me: Mulder almost always goes down a ladder forwards; Scully always backwards. I don't know why it fascinates me; it just does.

28. Indian Guide say always good to have footwear close-up before putting ear to ground.

29. Wasn't there a ladder there just a minute ago?

30. The old ghost-story flashlight scare trick! Don't knock it; for these two, this is significant foreplay.

31. If the corpse had to wear one of Scully's outfits for all eternity, I wish it had been the red suit.

32. "How embarrassing." "Yeah, well, you know what? He's wearing yours." Not so funny now, is it, Mr. Blackwell?

33. No phones in this episode so it's kinda hard to have a Good Phone Moment (GPM). So instead, we'll recognize the GFM (Good Flashlight Moment). As they go between the two identical rooms, they do give good flashlight!

34. You sort of knew that plan wasn't going to work as soon as they hatched it, didn't you?

35. It's Lou Grant! Do you think Mary, Rhoda, Murray, and Ted are in the other room with Scully?

36. Some ghostbuster. Every time the ghost takes a step forward, Mulder takes a step backward.

37. TWC2: Any shot of Mulder that starts at the footwear and works its way up is a good one!

38. It doesn't take an advanced degree in psychology to see that Mulder is about to get his head shrunk.

39. Overcome by the impulse to make everyone believe you? Single-minded? Prone to obsessive compulsiveness, workaholism, and antisocialism? Narcissistic, overzealous, self-righteous egomaniac? Convinced yourself you've seen aliens? Consider yourself passionate, serious, misunderstood? Most people would rather stick their fingers in a wall socket than spend a minute with you? Chasing paramasturbatory illusions that give your life meaning and significance you can't find elsewhere? Well, I agree, I don't think that pegs him *exactly*. I did say *exactly*.

40. Might as well call the men in the white coats. Total wacko breakdown dead ahead.

41. Two people separated by a perceived brick wall? Now we're getting somewhere.

42. TWC3: Great moment as Mulder drops the smile when Maurice asks if he stole Scully's car keys to get her to stay.

43. Afraid of the loneliness . . . yep, sometimes the truth hurts.

44. A real brick wall or one you've built in your mind? "Go ahead. Change your life." More on this later.

45. Ouch! Don't bruise that nose! We love it just the way it is!

46. Well, good gracious, hello! Is this the party to whom I am speaking? It's Ernestine!

47. If Scully's fear was irrational before, now she's scared sh**less! What a hoot trying to get her gun out of that holster. "Please, I'm a little on edge." I'll say.

48. "Oh, the gangly fellow with the distinguished profile?" :::sigh:::

49. These two have built so many brick walls, they should be members of the Bricklayers' Union.

50. Scully, the doctor is in. Chasing things you don't believe in? Conflicted yearnings? Subconscious desire to find fulfillment through another? Intimacy through codependency? Pretending it's out of duty or loyalty? Only joy in life proving him wrong? Well, I don't think that pegs her *exactly* either. Exactly.

51. Scully is now a *lot* on edge. Somehow, I was expecting her to say, "Oh, Mr. Grant!"

52. Miss Slice & Dice faints at the sight of a few little gunshot wounds. It's an irrational faint.

53. TWC4: Polly, is this display of boyish agility turning you on at all? You betcha.

54. She finds her partner *plenty* charming. It's just the brick walls that keep getting in the way.

55. Love that boyish fascination on Mulder's face as Lyda pulls the books out of the bookcase.

56. R. Grimes, the author of the book, "The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas," was named after X-Files assistant propsmaster Marty Grimes.

57. Lyda, if you were waiting for M&S to discuss their real feelings before they came out there, you could be having a long wait. In comparison, death seems trite.

58. When I first saw this episode, I thought that Lyda's line, "It isn't like you're going to be eating any Christmas ham, is it?" was another allusion that Mulder was Jewish. But Mulder's response seems to indicate that he thinks it means that Scully is going to shoot him. I know ambiguity is unusual on this show (hardy-har-har) but I'm still not sure of that one.

59. TWC5: But I am sure of Mulder's little smirk. Woo-hoo! And have I mentioned that leather jacket?

60. "We're not lovers." Good things come to those who wait.

61. Great effect as Lyda disappears and the gun falls into Mulder's hand.

62. I like the fact that despite what Maurice tells her, Scully has no hesitation unlocking the door for Mulder. Of course, that *could* have been a slight miscalculation, as it looks like "total wacko breakdown" might have set in. And Scully's face says it all.

63. TWC6: Anytime "Mulder" sucks on that lower lip? Hoo-boy!

64. Mulder doesn't look quite as shocked when "Scully" shoots him. Maybe he's thinking about Lyda's "plenty of time to work out that lovers thing while spending eternity together" comment.

65. TWC7: Mulder bouncing down those stairs just gets me every time. (And nice footwear!)

66. How many times have M&S held guns on each other over the years? Is this a quiz?

67. Awww, it's so sweet that he says she's not going without him. Even after "shooting" each other they are still together.

68. Bouncing down the stairs must have unclogged Leaping!Mulder's Brain, as realization finally dawns that this is all in their heads and they need to get the heck out of there.

69. TWC8: Remember what I said about any shot of Mulder that starts at the footwear and works its way up is a good one? Twice in one episode is just a dream come true.

70. CC always said that he resisted using "big-name" guest stars because they would detract from the stories. (Note: CC thinks *everything* detracts from the stories. Maybe he needs to write better stories!) But FWIW, I didn't get that at all in this episode. Kudos to Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin for doing a fantastic job.

71. So Maurice & Lyda had a good game plan. How come they're psychobabble didn't work? Because despite the fact that there were some truths hidden in those observations of Mulder & Scully, and despite the fact that Mulder & Scully have been lonely at times, they are *not* alone. It's just that sometimes brick walls get in the way. Maurice & Lyda may not be sure of what Mulder & Scully were looking for at that haunted house, but *I* am. And I think they found it. More on that in a minute.

72. What I don't understand is the J. Cameron reference on the clock. Maybe CC borrowed it from the "Titanic" set or something. It's probably in Robert Patrick's trailer now.

73. What was I saying about loneliness? Poor Mulder. He hasn't even taken off his coat. Scrooge's "ghostly" Christmas Eve encounter left *him* deliriously happy. How come there's never a happy ending for Fox Mulder?

74. Do you get the feeling that Mulder does not have a good relationship with his upstairs neighbors? Maybe they know what happened in that apartment a year or so ago. Do you think they ever filled in the little hole in their floor?

75. TWC9: That little peek around the corner is just too cute!

76. Mulder's TV is a lot like his door peephole. It sure moves around a lot.

77. Hello, Scully. Mulder, you might just get your happy ending. Their scene together, as they each recognize just a little truth in what the ghosts had to say, is the start of something big. (Okay, I'm gettin' to it. Just one more minute.) I don't think the Ghosts Stole Christmas. I think they might have saved it.

78. TWC10: The ever-so-slight little smile and the twinkling eyes when Scully confesses that maybe, just maybe, she did want to be out there with him? That's a Holy Flaming Cow Moment if ever there was one!

79. MSRM: The X-Files Gift Exchange is in my mind, one of the sweetest scenes ever between these two. Even though they promised not to, they couldn't resist. From the sheer pleasure they take in surprising each other and then for just a little while all the "horrors being visited upon this cold gray earth" just fade away as they are kids again, rushing to the couch to tear off the paper and unwrap their hopes and dreams. Definitely not alone.

80. Okay, I confess I'm one of those who was glad we didn't find out what gifts they gave each other. I think it's so much nicer to fade out on that private moment between them and leave the gifts chosen to our imaginations.

81. The end scene music is just wonderful; and as it melts into Bing's rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," I give kudos to Mark Snow for underscoring a perfect ending to a near-perfect episode. Lyda and Maurice say they haven't forgotten the meaning of Christmas; and I don't think Chris Carter did either. Thanks, Chris, for giving us this lovely holiday gift!

82. "HTGSC" was the XF on a budget. Even though it looked incredible and was a great story, it was the least expensive episode made during Season 6. Think about it: Limited number of sets, no outside the studio locations, no extensive list of guest stars or supporting players. Basically just four actors doing what they do best. Feel free to give us more like this one any time and save a buck or two.

83. As alluded to several times in this TOTM, I think that "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" is the definitive turning point in the Mulder/Scully Relationship. When this episode ended, I felt as though the 'Ship had been christened with a bottle of champagne and launched into uncharted waters. The SS Mulder/Scully had set sail! Sure, it is destined to hit some choppy waters along the way (Here Be Monsters), but this 'Ship is no Titanic; remember, even the Love Boat encountered some rough seas from time to time. But everything always turned out all right in the end and the 'Ship always came in (please see "Existence"). M&S might *not* have had sex after they opened those gifts (as I have sometimes posited), but I believe at the very least Mulder put on some coffee, they sat and talked really talked for a long time, watched the snow fall, and slowly but surely, brick by brick, those brick walls came tumbling down. Yep, they found what they were looking for in that haunted house.

84. And FWIW, I don't think Scully made it to roll call under the tree. At the very least, she was fashionably late. Cause in my version, as dawn began to break and Scully said, "I really can't stay ...", Mulder said, "But baby, it's cold outside."

85. "I just gave myself chills."

Has anyone else noticed that since I made a solemn vow to make these TOTMs shorter, they have only gotten longer? Oh, well. My good friend Clare O. tells me that she likes them long because then she can always tell how much I liked the episode. Well, Clare O., I guess now you know how much I love "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas." Definitely in my top ten. But I'm still committed to trying to make these shorter. Well, I can *always* make that *my* New Year's Resolution.

You know, I think this was the best damn TOTM ever written. Oh, that's um, that's self-righteous and narcissistic of me to say, isn't it? I apologize, as always. Happy Holidays! God bless us, every one.