Theatre of the Mind ~ The Unnatural
1. Everybody sing: Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the field. Tell me a tale of a Roswell Gray, and how he turned into a human one day. For it's root, root, root for Duchovny, he didn't write more (it's a shame) ... for it's one, two, three cheers of joy for this old ball game! Play ball!!
2. I didn't know the Cactus League meant that real cactuses could play.
3. It's the fine X-Files tradition of nepotism (Piney is Daniel Duchovny).
4. Double D found his inspiration for Josh Exley in the true story of a New Mexico minor league player named Joe Bauman who played for the Roswell Rockets. Bauman never made it to the majors, but set a record by hitting 72 homes runs during the 1954 season.
5. You never know when life will throw you a "curve," as when the lighthearted game on the diamond turns into a much deadlier game with the arrival of the KKK.
6. In The Big Inning ...
7. Budget problems initially prevented Vin Scully (for whom the enigmatic Agent Dana Scully is named) from being hired for this small voiceover, but Scully agreed to meet an XF sound crew in his Dodger Stadium broadcast booth and record the part for free. In his description of the TV game, Vin mentions Bellflower, hometown of Chris Carter.
8. Love Scully's "intentional walk" to the basement toting her boy's books.
9. TWC1: Let's start out by saying that Mulder looks *fine* in this episode from beginning to end, but I'll "sacrifice" and try to keep my gushing to a minimum. But with his nose stuck in that book? Hoo-boy!
10. Did you bring enough nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicle for the rest of the class?
11. Before you point out too much about Mr. Live-It-Up, Ms. Live-It-Up, I'd like to point out that it's Casual Saturday and you're wearing the same thing you wear to the office every other day.
12. Well, I won't sit idly by while either one of you hurl cliches; here's a few from me: "Actions speak louder than words. He who hesitates is lost. Make hay while the sun shines. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Where there's a will, there's a way. Strike while the iron is hot. Love makes the world go around. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." Do you see a pattern developing here?
13. It's the old "squeeze play"! Nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicle fight!
14. Did anyone else just hear Scully *giggle*?
15. Box Scores = The Pythagorean Theorem for Jocks. That's right; put it in terms that only a Math Geek could understand. (BTW, for the non-Math Geeks, the Pythagorean Theorem asserts that for a right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.)
16. Scully doesn't look too upset about this Mulder ditch. I think she's gonna go home and take a bath. You rebel.
17. Written and Directed by David Duchovny. His first at-bat. :::sigh:::
18. Thank you Director Duchovny (Triple D) for knowing what I like: Footwear!! (And I certainly hope he left his wedding ring and cigarettes at home for this visit to Arthur Dales' apartment.)
19. Speaking of which, why would Mulder be going to this apartment building to see Dales when he just saw Dales in Florida a few weeks ago? It couldn't be that the timeline is messed up, could it?
20. TWC2: Timeline problems aside, woo-hoo! He can be my "designated hitter" anytime.
21. Though DD wrote this story with the original Arthur Dales (Darren McGavin) in mind, sadly McGavin suffered a stroke two days into filming "The Unnatural" and was unable to continue. Duchovny scrapped what had been filmed and wrote new scenes for the "other" Arthur Dales.
22. Big Mulder fans - Me too.
23. "Wait a minute. I like baseball." Okay, pop quiz: I've always thought this would make a great XF trivia question: In which episodes (other than "The Unnatural") has Mulder mentioned something about baseball or used a baseball analogy? Let's see ... I can think of "Home" (his "eau de ball" speech), "Blood" ("I played right field"), "The Red & the Black" ("how to throw a curve ball"), "Amor Fati" (victory cap, tie goes to the runner), "Redux II" ("how 'bout those Yankees"), "Never Again" ("having an NY tattooed on my ass"), "Hollywood AD" (Willie Mays), and "Vienen" ("tell the kid I went down swinging"). Can you think of any others? I can only think of one for Scully, but it was a good'un: The Goldberg Variation ("I like baseball too." Wonder why? Wink, wink).
24. Actually, since Duchovny's and Mulder's favorite sport is basketball, I'm surprised he didn't write this episode about basketball-playing aliens. I mean, how else to explain Dennis Rodman?
25. He can only remember Scully's birthday every four years, but he knows how many home runs Mickey Mantle hit from both sides of the plate. Men. Go figure.
26. Mulder has a tough time wrapping his brain around the notion that something as simple as baseball might provide the answers to his complicated crusade.
27. My Best Friend's Martians? Well, my best guess on that one is that M. Emmett Walsh appeared in the movie, "My Best Friend's Wedding" and perhaps that's a slight homage. "My Favorite Martian" was of course a 60s sitcom starring Ray Walston and Bill Bixby. BTW, Emmett Walsh did a great job of "pinch hitting" with very little preparation time. (The blooper reel of him blowing his lines and Duchovny feeding him the cues is priceless.)
28. Mulder equates love with women? There might be hope for the boy yet!
29. The idea that passion can change a man is the crux of this story. Just as most good stories about baseball are not about winning and losing but about passion for the game.
30. TWC3: Love the stubble! This man knows the meaning of Casual Saturday. "I'm so ripe, I'm rotten." Me too.
31. My favorite line: "Mr. Mulder, maybe you'd better start paying a little less attention to the heart of the mystery and a little more attention to the mystery of the heart." Truer words were never spoken.
32. The "Pete Rosebud" bank was one of the most expensive props built for Season 6. When the prop masters could not find any antique or toy that would fit the bill, they designed and built their own.
33. Say! I've got a story idea for Season 9! Let's have a flashback episode where Fred Lane plays the youthful version of the *sister* named Arthur Dales. I don't really need to see the goldfish.
34. I'm not sure exactly what Dales was reading from on the bus ("Vous etes sans coeur, Mademoiselle," which translates to "You have no heart, Mademoiselle"). But I do wonder why he wakes up in someone else's clothes ...
35. Great effect of the alien reflection in the bus window next to the sleeping Exley. They should write this concept into the mythology so it'll make those aliens easier to spot.
36. Back in the present, I thought Dales was waiting for Chinese food? Why are they eating hot dogs? Maybe they ate their Chinese food an hour ago and they're hungry again.
37. Dales and Mulder are obviously kindred spirits ... or at least their refrigerators are ... as Dales' fridge contains only condiments, beer, and liquor. Mix in Mulder's old OJ and you got yourself a Screwdriver.
38. TWC4: Woo-hoo! Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer weiner
39. Take what you can get, Poorboy. You made out better than the Pizza Guy in "Bad Blood."
40. I like the use of Poorboy (forever young) as the transition between past and present.
41. Just a chaw between your cheek and gum.
42. Thanks for that quick action, Arthur. We all *know* what can happen when you get a BEE on you!
43. "Error." How come the green goo on the mitt isn't toxic to everyone nearby?
44. Wow! The alien bounty hunter hasn't aged a day in 50 years! Must be all that face stretching they do in outer space.
45. I can fully understand a guy tanking the game so he doesn't have to play for the Yankees. (Don't throw things, okay?)
46. So Dales was once a young man who wanted to get to the heart of the mystery too? And so he does, and finds that humans and aliens have one thing in common: girly-screams.
47. No laughing or smiling. You don't suppose Mulder & Scully are aliens, do you?
48. If we could all find happiness in the "useless but perfect," like baseball or a rose, what a wonderful world (or universe) it would be.
49. Jesse L. Martin (a member of the original Broadway cast of "Rent") shows off his singing skills.
50. The hubcaps of the bus are painted like baseballs. How cute!
51. A fitting tribute to The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio, who passed away a month or so before this episode aired as we fade from past to present. Joltin' Joe has left and gone away ...
52. Hot dogs, Chinese food, pizza - what, no peanuts and crackerjack?
53. TWC5: Woo-hoo! I got your drift. I played left drift in high school.
54. "To be a man is to have the heart of a man. Integrity, decency, sympathy: these are the things that make a man a man " If this is how Double D defines what it is to be a man, I love him even more.
55. Clever use of the "Colony" clip (also a DD inspired story where we first met the ABH) to take us back to the past.
56. Playtex gloves! That'll keep you safe from green goo.
57. Hey! You're messing up my neato chemistry set! Oops! Green goo is the least of your problems.
58. Ex, a murderer? Say it ain't so!
59. Sliding down a giant razor blade into a big old glass of lemonade? Huh?
60. Pffffft. Gosh, we haven't heard that in a while!
61. David Duchovny has crafted three fine characters and three fine actors brought them to life: Frederic Lane portrays the Young Dales as a man of honor, decency, and integrity whose loyalty to the man he has come to call friend is more important to him than doing his duty. (A quality he most certainly shares with Mulder.) Jesse L. Martin portrays Exley as a sweet, humble, and gentle being, whose courage in asserting that his human face *is* his true face, transforms him into what he wanted most to be, not a famous man, just a man. His love for something completely unnecessary allows him to spend his last moments laughing, something he could not do in his other incarnation, and die with more dignity and honor than most men will ever know. And M. Emmett Walsh, in spinning this fanciful tale about "baseball and aliens and bounty hunters" shows us a man who is a crusty curmudgeon but who also still feels the pain of losing a good friend 50 years later. And in the blink of an afternoon, these three characters join forces to teach Mulder (and us) a thing or two about life, love, passion, and humanity. Oh, and baseball.
62. Tonight's Informational Moment: Larry Doby became the first African-American player in the American League, playing his first game for the Cleveland Indians on July 4, 1947, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the Major League color barrier with the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers (and two days after Exley's passing, according to the date stamp in the teaser).
63. Hey, it's time for the seventh inning stretch! (And I know it'll make it tough to finish reading this TOTM, but the Cut-Off Man says no more beer after this point!) Okay, back to the game!
64. Duchovny could have left us right there and it still would have been a fine, fine episode. But "oh, no, no, Ms. Scully." There's more. He hasn't spent six years on the X-Files and not learned a thing or two about bookends.
65. TWC6: This is undeniably the finest footwear shot in the history of all footwear shots. Toes digging in the dirt in the batter's box, the jeans, the toe to top camera pan hoo boy! It's a grand slam!
66. The jersey that Mulder is wearing is that of Josh Gibson, who might have also been a slight influence in the molding of the Exley character. Gibson was known as the Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues, and he played primarily for the Homestead (Pennsylvania) Grays. The Negro Leagues did not keep accurate records, but Gibson was said to have hit 84 home runs in one season and 962 in his 17-year career. He died at the age of 35 a few months before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. In 1972, he was finally recognized for his outstanding achievements, when he became the second Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
67. GPM: Can you just imagine that phone call? Hi, this is Fox Mantle ...
68. Don't see any "nicely wrapped presents"? Scully, you are obviously not looking hard enough.
69. TWC7: Love that Michael Jordan tongue action. He looks so young! There's also a "corked bat" joke in here somewhere, but I can't quite seem to find it.
70. "Tomboy" Scully who runs around shooting snakes with bb guns never hit a baseball? I find that hard to believe. I think Scully just knows where this evening is headed. You go, girl.
71. TWC8: HOLY. FLAMING. COW. This is not just the Holy Flaming Cow Moment in this episode. It is *THE* Holy Flaming Cow Moment in Eight Years of the X-Files: "Get over here, Scully." Oh. My. God. It is definitely not a bad piece of ash. And I'm *not* talkin' about the bat.
72. MSRM: And this is probably the MSRM scene to end all MSRM scenes as well. I just love how Mulder's confidence grows throughout his "hips before hands" instruction, at first not touching Scully's hips at all during "batting practice," then a tentative touch, and then confidently guiding her as he stands behind her and holds her close. This entire end scene was a nice combination of sweet and seductive. The mysteries of the heart are finally more important than the heart of the mystery.
73. Is that your nice piece of ash, Mulder, or are you just glad to see me?
74. Did you ever think you'd hear Dana Scully say, "I'm in the middle"? In any context?
75. And oh the sweet nothings whispered in her ear. (Well, except for that biological clock thing which we might be able to explain away now). But especially, "How you threw away a promising career in medicine to hunt aliens with a crackpot, albeit brilliant, partner." Who knew that Mulder was such a romantic? And who knew that David Duchovny was a shipper at heart?
76. And she giggles ... again.
77. If David Duchovny did a fine job with creating the characters mentioned above, he did a better job with providing us his take on the Mulder/Scully relationship and the two characters as individuals. We've always known that he loves the character of Mulder, but he makes it abundantly clear in this episode that he loves the character of Scully as well. In the "bookend" pieces he allows her to be playful, flirty, even a little crude; she gets to give as good as she gets. And she gets to giggle. More than once. Most importantly, Duchovny has boldly gone where the rest of the XF writing staff appears afraid to tread: to build upon what almost happened in that Hegal Place hallway nearly a year ago. Mulder's "birthday gift" clearly shows how much he loves Scully, how much he wants to be with her, to be close to her, and to take their relationship to that next level. And at last she doesn't run away.
78. This episode lucked out by coming on the heels of "Milagro," which provided the perfect "leadoff" for the Mulder/Scully relationship to take a dramatic turn. And "The Unnatural" didn't waste that opportunity. The "hit and run" was definitely on! How nice to see Mulder & Scully breaking out of their "joyless myopia," having fun, enjoying each other's company, letting all the troubles of their world fade away, at least for a little while. Ex said, "I didn't know the unnecessary could feel so good," and it's quite appropriate that at the end of this episode, Dana Scully learns the same lesson. The wall around her heart began to crumble in "Milagro" and now there is a clear path.
79. "The Unnatural" deserves The Wave: it was pure enchantment from beginning to end, capped by Mulder and Scully's "pop fly's" that magically turned into stars. And I'll just bet you that before the night was through, Scully was the one wearing that jersey. (Trust me; it was a sure thing.)
80. "Shut up, Mulder. I'm playing baseball."
Of course, there are many who only embrace "The Unnatural" for the "bookend" scenes -Mulder and Scully together in some of their shippiest moments in the series' history. If that's all you see in this episode, in my opinion you're missing quite a bit; but I understand the sentiment. Therefore, for those of you who are only interested in these two scenes, I offer this abbreviated version of "The Unnatural" TOTM.
Mulder & Scully at the Bat
The outlook wasn't brilliant for the X-Files staff that day;
The sun was out, the day was warm, the perfect time to play.
Working on the weekend and Fox Mulder was to blame.
So Scully had devised a plan to get back in the game.
Her partner was fully immersed, his nose stuck in a book.
When she dropped her cargo on his desk, he barely gave a look.
"Mulder, it's such a gorgeous day," Scully said with a hint of strife.
"Wouldn't you like to go outside and try to find a life?"
But Mulder proceeded to scan the page, only interested in the past.
So Scully decided it was time to win liberty at last.
Putting her plan in action she unwrapped her fine dessert.
She had Mulder's attention and it was time for her to flirt.
She licked her cone with gusto, as she knew it would entice,
And informed her jealous partner it was a dreamsicle made of rice.
They are an intellectual pair and know how to turn a phrase,
So neither could sit idly by as the other hurled cliches.
Then Mulder made a sudden lunge, causing them to wriggle,
And as they struggled playfully Scully gave a little giggle.
And when the dust had lifted Scully saw what had occurred,
He'd been reading about baseball the silliest thing she ever heard.
"You'd like the box scores, Scully, the Pythagorean Theorem for jocks.
Numbers speak to me, they comfort me, they even call me Fox."
But then he was distracted by a photo and details
Of a baseball game in Roswell and a man named Arthur Dales.
Scully went into her windup, and prepared to make the pitch,
But before she could release the ball look out! A Mulder ditch!
He defaced government property and Scully knew her day was done.
"You rebel," she called after him but she knew this was "Strike one."
Late that night she got a call that sent shivers down her spine.
"Come meet me at the ballpark," said "Fox Mantle" on the line.
"For a very special birthday gift it's either early or it's late."
"This better not be 'Strike Two'," she said, and was off to meet her "date."
She arrived to find him batting, with a kid there shagging balls,
And the way her partner looked this night would peel paint right off the walls.
And suddenly she knew they would explore a new frontier,
As Mulder looked her in the eye, and said, "Scully, get over here."
There was ease in Mulder's manner as she joined him in his place,
There was pride in Mulder's bearing and a smile on Mulder's face.
And when, responding to his urge, she stood against him flat,
There was no doubt that this was Team Mulder/Scully at the bat.
She felt his eyes were on her as they stood there in the dirt;
She felt his arms around her and the nearness of his shirt.
And while she had her lesson with his hand upon her hips,
She listened to his voice and felt the nearness of his lips.
It took six years but now she thinks she finally understands
How he really said, "I love you," with the phrase, "hips before hands."
Now Poorboy loads the pitch machine and now he lets it go,
And the evening air is shattered and the stars begin to glow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the moon is shining bright,
Mark Snow is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere noromos are filled with dread, but somewhere Shippers shout;
For there's lots of joy in Philedom Mulder and Scully are making out.
The biggest disappointment about "The Unnatural" was that DD didn't at least get an Emmy nomination for writing such a clever, whimsical, and well-crafted episode. (He was robbed! You're blind, ump, you're blind, ump, you must be outta you're mind, ump!) He managed to tie together in a neat little fascinating package the ongoing X-Files mythology and the mythology of baseball, issues of bigotry, humanity, and friendship (on several different levels), and he made it funny and touching to boot. To quote David Duchovny's script, "That which fascinates us is by definition true," and it's definitely true that with his first writing/directing effort, Duchovny has hit one out of the park.
Of course, the same can't be said for me. Even though I put on my rally hat, I'm afraid the TOTMs are destined to remain in the on-deck circle. They'll never make it to the "show." And I'm quite sure what Duchovny would say if he ever read this lame summary of his work:
"You certainly have a knack for turning chicken salad into chicken spit."
Oh well. Shut up, Duchovny. I'm playing baseball. Apologies to David Duchovny, Abner Doubleday, Ernest Thayer who wrote "Casey at the Bat" in 1888, to all Yankee fans, and to the New York Yankees (not really sorry, I hate those damn Yankees). "It's official. I am a horse's ass."
Polly, who has seen the life on this planet and that's why she's looking elsewhere.