Transcript of the DVD Audio Commentary by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz for the episode 'Jump The Shark'

Transcribed by: Libby
Edited by: X_Follower

Frank: This is Frank Spotnitz. I was Executive Producer of The X-Files and of the short-lived Lone Gunmen TV series.

Vince: Hi, this is Vince Gilligan. Executive Producer as well.

John: This is John Shiban. Executive Producer too. We are the Lone Gunmen.

(they laugh)

Frank: This episode, very self-consciously, was an elegy for the Lone Gunmen, both the Lone Gunmen TV series and the Lone Gunmen as characters, which is why this montage draws on both X-Files and Lone Gunmen images, and really is about who the Lone Gunmen were.

John: And who Morris Fletcher was. It was a little way to introduce him.

Frank: Right.

John: He was one of our favorite characters, first from The X-Files in 'Dreamland' and 'Dreamland II', and we brought him into the Lone Gunmen series then. Just loved writing for him.

Vince: Played by the wonderful Michael McKean, of course, who we were very fortunate to get.

Frank: Michael, just to digress for a moment, was cast in 'Dreamland' in the sixth season, and we just had a terrible time figuring out who was going to play the part of Morris Fletcher, and just by luck ended up with Michael and we were so thrilled that we sought every opportunity to cast him again, both in The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen.

John: And he was so amazing. Sometimes he would come up with the best lines for scenes that are still in the show. He was a really, really a creative guy to work with.

Vince: That's true. I was watching this again last night and there's wonderful ad-libs. Some of the funniest lines in this were stuff he just came up with off the cuff.

Frank: So you're wondering, if you've seen this episode, undoubtedly you have if you're bothering to listen to the three of us (they laugh) blather on, you know, if we loved the Lone Gunmen so much, why did we kill them here? And you can tell from that opening...

John: (exclamation of surprise)

Vince: You gave away the ending!

Frank: You can tell from that opening that this is already sort of, you know, elegy to them because it talks about, you know, it alludes to the fact that sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. We wanted this to be very special and, sad to say, the way to do that, we realized, was to make this their final appearance. It wouldn't just be another Lone Gunmen episode, it would be *the* Lone Gunmen episode.

John: Note the shark.

Frank: 'Jump The Shark'. Ha-ha. Somebody want to talk about what that means - jump the shark?

Vince: Jump the shark is, I guess it's the name of a website and the name is...

John: Vince is getting distracted.

Vince: I'm sorry I get distracted.

Frank: This was a terrible casting session, having to cast this part.

Vince: You don't see a lot of this on The X-Files usually. Jump the shark relates to an episode, a very classic episode, of the TV show 'Happy Days' in which Fonzie had to water-ski over a shark tank, and very nearly died, but luckily didn't for fans of 'Happy Days' everywhere. And it refers to, the phrase has come to refer to the moment when a TV show sort of reaches its tipping point and goes from good to bad.

John: I don't think anyone's listening to you right now at this moment.

(they laugh)

Vince: Testing, testing.

(they laugh)

Vince: So I think we were sort of self-consciously sort of riffing on that. I think in the months leading up to this episode being done, as happens with a lot of great television shows, there were certain folks on the Internet and whatnot, were talking about has The X-Files as a series jumped the shark, and we figured, you know, whether or not that was true, it was certainly up to the individual to decide, but we thought we'd sort of take the onus of it ourselves by naming an episode 'Jump The Shark'.

John: This whole scene that you're watching right now was shot at a tank at Universal Studios and the background digitally enhanced to make it look like the Caribbean. I thought it was amazing, the way it looked, you really would not know it.

Vince: Really. I was thinking last night, watching it, 'Man, it's really amazing.'.

Frank: Yeah. Many of these angles were shot, sort of low angle up at the sky or you'd see the wall or ground that digitally had to be improved.

John: Tour buses going by.

Vince: And they had to put that digital white spot on his nose throughout the entire scene, at the cost of 87,000 dollars.

(they laugh)

Frank: Very tough.

Vince: Yeah.

Frank: So this was very intentionally, you know, James Bond-ish here because we just thought that was so much fun for Morris' character that he'd be living this James Bond, Jimmy Buffett existence that gets disturbed here.

John: Much like we do now.

Frank: Yes.

Vince: He was actually described in the script as looking very much like Jimmy Buff-- dressing very much like Jimmy Buffet, you know, in the opening scene here.

Frank: So somehow this is going to lead to the downfall of the Lone Gunmen. Here it becomes an X-File, here.

Vince: Oh, I'll mention your friend, the big deal, the friend of yours, it was a big deal getting the rights to that blueprint there.

Frank: Yes, that's actually the Jupiter 2 from Lost in Space as becomes clear in dialogue in this scene here. It's a very complicated story but fortunately we were next door, our offices at Ten Thirteen Productions where we wrote and produced The X-Files, were next door to Kevin Burns who's a documentary filmmaker on the Fox Lot. So we were able to call Kevin and facilitate getting permission to use the Jupiter 2, and I just mentioned it to him in passing that we were going to mention Jupiter 2 in The X-Files, and he said, well, you know, you're going to have to get the rights.

Vince: And he was great about it, but then Fox, I guess, it was tricky, right?

Frank: It was tricky.

Vince: Cliff Bole, his name just came up in the credits, he's the man that directed this and did a wonderful job. He directed three other X-File episodes as well, including 'Bad Blood' and 'Small Potatoes', he's a great guy. This was probably episode 450-something as far as hours of television he's directed. He's just a wonderful guy and very funny and full of great stories, and we felt fortunate to get to work with him one last time right before The X-Files ended.

Frank: All these episodes, you know, you look back on them and there's that sense of bitter-sweetness, that it was the end of The X-Files and we were very aware that this'll be the last time we work with Cliff, this'll be the last time we work with many of these actors. This, by the way, is the second episode of The X-Files where we had to merge with another TV series. We did it with Millennium, and then here we're doing it with The Lone Gunmen. And you just want to kill yourself because it's unbearably complicated.

Vince: It is tough.

John: Very hard.

Frank: So the way in was the supersoldier lie, that sort of made it an X-File, and then it was a way into the world of the Lone Gunmen TV series here. And all these characters that you're going to see here obviously, you know, Zuleikha Robinson's character, and Stephen Snedden's character, had never been seen in The X-Files TV series, so we had to re-introduce them.

John: It's kind of a strange thing when you're actually, we had always done one or two shows at the same time it seems, over at Ten Thirteen, but you're always able to keep them separate, and then when you bring them together, it's a little like bringing friends from different, friends from school and friends from work, it can throw you into, it can be very confusing in a way because you're kind of, you're familiar with it and the audience is not, and you're not sure, it was an interesting process, though.

Vince: It was so tricky, like you say, because you have to explain, you have to assume half the audience knows all the characters intimately and doesn't need explaining who Jimmy Bond is, for instance, and then you have to assume the other half of the audience has never seen the Lone Gunmen television show, for instance, and probably the truth was way more than half probably never saw it. But it's tricky because you want to explain who everybody is but you don't want to, you know, bring the drama to a screeching halt while you bring everybody up to speed.

Frank: I've got to say, just watching this scene again with Michael McKean, it is amazing how he picks up every beat of a scene and understands it, not just dramatically but comically. It's, you know, it's such a gift to a writer and a producer.

Vince: Feels so lucky to have gotten to work with Vincent St. Hubbins from Spinal Tap, I forget what his character's name was.

Frank: Now look at that. That is one of the worst continuity, you know, in the history of The X-Files, is outside the Lone Gunmen's door, in fact, the Lone Gunmen's office is, you know, constantly changing. And here it was supposed to match somewhat what it looked like in their spin-off but, you know, the truth is you never see much of it. It was designed to be a cheap set because they were never going to be, you know, characters you return to enough to build a standing set.

Vince: This set existed in two different countries as well. It originally, the first X-Files, the first Lone Gunmen set existed up in Vancouver for the first X-File episodes where the boys appeared, and then it moved down to Los Angeles, and then it moved back up to Vancouver for the shooting of the Lone Gunmen series. There's probably, like, fifty of these things at some point or another.

Frank: Just for those interested, the Lone Gunmen were actually originally created by Glen Morgan and James Wong in the first season of The X-Files, and they were comic relief characters. We didn't even know their first names until the beginning of season, was it four or five?

John: It was four, it was with...

Vince: No, season five, I think, it was the start of season five.

Frank: Oh, it was because the movie was shooting and we had to come up with an episode that didn't have David and Gillian.

Vince: Right.

John: Right, right.

Frank: And so Vince wrote 'Unusual Suspects', or Usual Suspects.

John: 'Unusual Suspects'.

Vince: 'Unusual Suspects', which was the name Chris Carter came up with, which is a great name for an episode.

Frank: But that was really the story, the episode that fleshed out the characters, gave them past, gave them first names, and really the dynamic amongst the three of them began to be much deeper and more, you know, nuanced, and they really started to play more individual roles. I think a lot of their dialogue previous to that, you know, was interchangeable, who was saying what. You know, they just looked differently and you relied on that to convey a lot about who their characters were. It's amazing, the three of us have been off the show for a year and already it's, like, was that season 4 or season 5?

Vince: Who are you again?

(they laugh)

Vince: Hartwell College, named after, I have to get this in here, my girlfriend Holly, that's her middle name, Hartwell.

John: College? No.

Vince: College is her last name, actually, no. This is the wonderful Zuleikha Robinson, of course, who we're all secretly in love with, or at least I am.

Frank: Ah, the secret's out.

Vince: Yeah. She was a real sweetheart. She was always fun to work with. Was Professor Houghton named after anybody?

Frank: Houghton-Mifflin?

Vince: Houghton-Mifflin, yes.

(they laugh)

John: We get ten cents every time.

Vince: The only book I ever read, yeah, see spot run.

Vince: Uh-oh. Uncomfortable silence.

Frank: I'm just enjoying the show.

John: Yeah.

Frank: No, I was just thinking about how, you know, this is the type of scene where if you know who she is, it's working on one level, and if you don't know who she is, it's working on another level. But either way the narrative is tracking, and that's the kind of thing that you just pull out your hair trying to figure out.

Vince: I like that little thing that came out at the end of the gun. That was neat, and that was all added in digitally, I guess, huh?

Frank: Mm-hmm.

John: Yes.

Frank: The other thing that's brought to my mind here, listening to this, is Mark Snow's music and how fabulous it was throughout the life of the series, but how he had to be versatile and really walk the line between comedy and drama in episodes like this. And that was always, the question is how far do you go with the comedy in the score. And usually less was more, as is so often the case in this show.

Frank: There's a shoe. She's a murderer.

John: Uh-oh.

Frank: And that wasn't one of our more successful chest pieces. Now here's a little foreshadowing, Joey lives. Now, see, the Lone Gunmen are going to die and we're already planting the seeds.

Vince: Pay attention, class. This is writing 101.

Frank: But for us this was also, you know, Langly always wore that Ramone shirt, especially in the early days of the show, their appearance on the show, and so this was, you know, harkening back to that. And now, he's going to make a little defense of Joey here in a moment that really can serve as a defense of the Lone Gunmen.

Vince: I guess it was Glen Morgan or Jim Wong, a big Ramones fan, is it?

Frank: Yeah, I think so. Glen was, is, they're still around.

Vince: Yeah, and doing quite well.

Frank: These three guys, you know, we just came to love, we love the three of them and love their characters, and we were so delighted with their performance in the spin-off. We really felt it was a huge challenge to go from these, you know, recurring characters who appeared, you know, a few times a season, to carrying their own show, and we just really were very pleased and impressed with the job they did.

Vince: That's a good point. Bruce and Dean and Tom, all three of them are wonderful guys to work with, they really rose to the occasion. They did a wonderful job on the series and it was a pleasure for thirteen episodes of the Lone Gunmen, I wish it had gone a hundred and thirty but that was not to be. But it was a wonderful experience and these guys were a big part of the reason for it being wonderful, they were an awful lot of fun to work with. They always gave 110 per cent and just did a great job.

John: Lois Runtz. Where's that from?

Vince: I don't know, that just sounded good, I think.

Frank: You know, the irony, if they ever do Lone Gunmen on DVD, then this can be shown, is that in the season finale, the series finale as it turned out, of the Lone Gunmen, there was an entire scene purporting to explain Yves Adele Harlow's real background. It was a great scene that got cut out for time, but it had a completely different name and completely different backstory.

Vince: Oh, did it? Was it a different name?

Frank: It was a different name.

John: And she was English. She was Esther...

Vince: Oh yeah, Esther.

John: All about her braces.

Vince: Oh yeah, because he had something about some Czechoslovakian orthodonture or something. That was fun. And here, of course, is...

Frank: That's completely unintelligible to people watching this.

(they laugh)

Frank: It made sense to us, though.

Vince: This was, of course, our wonderful Stephen Snedden, who along with Bruce and Dean and Tom and Zuleikha was the fifth reason that this was such, the Lone Gunmen series, was such a fun series to do.

Frank: We had a terrible time casting Jimmy Bond which to us seemed like a very clear character but nobody could get it right until we found Stephen. And then once we found him, it was just never a question, he was the right guy for the role. And he was another actor, it was just like every time he got the script he just nailed it. He's one of those guys, he's just on the ball. And, you know, in series television that's so extraordinary because the volume of work is so great and he just really delivered, you know, more than you would ask for every time.

Vince: He did. I think Stephen's going to have a big career ahead of him. I think he's very funny and obviously a heck of a lot smarter than Jimmy Bond, although with just as big a heart. So...

Frank: I'm not smarter than Jimmy was.

Vince: No. Would be funny if I said he's even stupider than Jimmy.

(they laugh)

Frank: Right. Let's do the alternate track where we're just mean to everybody. This is far too polite.

Vince: Enough of this, enough of this...

John: Start talking about the problems.

Frank: The gloves are coming off now.

John: The things we didn't like.

Frank: Now, see, this is the scene, you know, Vince actually had to write this, but this scene, I think it was Vince who wrote this, am I right?

Vince: I don't even remember now.

Frank: But this is a bitch of a scene because this is really explaining Jimmy Bond, is explaining the whole backstory, this is what happened since the finale of The Lone Gunmen.

John: Right. Yes.

Vince: Oh yeah. This was a bitch. Can we say that?

Frank: You can say bitch.

John: You can say it, yes.

John: At the finale of The Lone Gunmen, we still didn't know whether or not the show would continue, and we wrote it as a cliffhanger.

Frank: We were the only ones who didn't know whether the show would continue.

(they laugh)

Vince: As a matter of fact, I should mention on the TV show King of the Hill, I talked to a writer on that show a while back, and they loved The Lone Gunmen, but they had an episode, and they work months ahead, by the way, and doing animation, and they had an episode before the Lone Gunmen series even went on the air, they had one of their characters wearing a T-shirt that said: 'Bring Back The Lone Gunmen'.

(they laugh)

John: Ouch.

Frank: Somehow they knew before it went on the air? We [...] doomed...

John: Wow. Thanks. That's almost a compliment.

Vince: He explained it to me. They were big fans of the show but they just sort of had a feeling...

(Frank laughs)

Vince: ...Fox wasn't going to get behind it or something. They have a long history of not being treated super well by their, I don't know how deep into that I should get, but they're a good bunch of guys over there.

Frank: And in the alternate audio track [...] tell the truth about that.

Frank: There's always a little James Bond thing going on with the Lone Gunmen TV series, and whatever that thing is she's got over her mouth, that's very much James Bond.

Vince: You can buy that over the Internet now.

John: Emma Peel regulator.

Vince: Yeah, along with a mask with zippers for eye holes.

John: Sharks.

Frank: More sharks.

Vince: Now, see, that always bugged me that that was the best shark they could get, because that doesn't look like a shark to me because it's got spots, but it's supposed to be a shark. Hence the name.

John: The shark wranglers.

Vince: Yeah. Here's a little spoiler. This turns out to be the bad guy.

John: (exclamation of surprise)

Vince: Frank already ruined the ending.

John: Everybody already moved on to the next episode.

Vince: Yeah. You know who was a great guy to work with, was Robert Patrick. I miss him too. He was obviously not on the Lone Gunmen series, but he and Annabeth were wonderful additions, I thought, to the last two seasons of The X-Files, and, to my mind, didn't get enough credit for just doing a great job.

Frank: Yeah. They did some outstanding work. Actually, this episode is probably one of the most thankless they had to do the entire...

Vince: That is true.

John: Yeah. They had to really carry it.

Vince: It was such a balancing act to give, there's so many characters in this episode, and we haven't even met Jim Fyfe yet, his character coming up. And there's so many characters that need to be serviced in this thing that-- oh, here's Jim. Kimmy? Kimmy the G--? Kimmy?

John: Kimmy. Twin brother.

Vince: It's been a long--

Frank: Yes.

Vince: Kimmy the Geek. This guy is funny, I like this guy. This guy needs his own TV show too. But it was so hard to service all these characters and as Frank alluded to a second ago, you know, it's hard to give everybody their moment in the sun.

Frank: This episode actually almost never was, because there was zero support for doing it from the studio. They were, like, hostile to the idea.

John: Who? What?

Vince: I think less than zero.

Frank: And it was just a constant, you know, fight to, please give us the money, please make the deal, please negotiate with these actors. They just didn't want to do it. And we were determined that, you know, this was the last year of The X-Files and we were going to have our farewell with these characters. And actually when we finally decided that this would be their death, it became a much stronger argument with the studio and helped push them to make the deal. But, you know, so many times it was like a game of chicken, like that's the only script we're going to write, it's going to have those characters in it, so you'd better please make these deals. And, you know, 'Do you have to have Stephen Snedden in it, do you have to have Zuleikha Robinson, do you have to have Jim Fyfe, do you have to have Michael McKean?', you know, everything was yes, yes, we do. And it's just kind of a miracle we actually pulled it off.

Vince: I think there was a little horsetrading involved. The first deal that came back was [...]: you can have the episode where the Lone Gunmen die if we get to kill all three of you too.

(they laugh)

Vince: This is actually the actor... John Prosky?

John: John, yes.

Vince: Yes. His father is Robert Prosky who's a wonderful actor. And John's a wonderful actor himself. Robert was, if you remember, he was the desk sergeant on Hill Street Blues, not the first one, but he was on quite a while.

Frank: Yeah, among many, many, many other roles.

Vince: Yeah, among many other roles, a wonderful actor.

Frank: These scenes are always, you know, this is, like, became a staple of The X-Files, and trying to do it interestingly and different than the thousand others that precede it, it's always a challenge.

John: That always looked like dim sum to me.

Vince: Yeah, [...] looks like, what do they call those little [...] dumplings...

John: Pot stickers.

Vince: Yeah, the little sweet dumpling with the pork in the middle.

Frank: Actually, I recall that insert was reshot because the first time around there was no blood. You can see, actually it doesn't quite match as he pulls it out there, and it just looked like 'what the heck is that', so we had to add some blood.

John: To that first one, yeah.

Frank: The insert is the little piece of film that is not usually shot at the time the actors are shot. Shot afterwards and then cut into the scene.

John: It's not usually with the same hands, it's usually...

Frank: Yeah. Most directors hate inserts and try to avoid having inserts. It just becomes necessary sometimes to show what's going on. This scene, as I recall, I don't know whether it was a scheduling thing or whatever, but this was shot on different days.

John: Yes, they were not there.

Frank: They were not there. (laughs)

Vince: They never actually met Michael McKean. No, [...].

(they laugh)

Vince: That's right, I remember that.

Frank: Actually, you know what? I think there were some pieces we wanted for these scenes we never got. I seem to recall, like, there was pieces of Frohike we wanted we couldn't get.

John: We couldn't get Frohike but there were, as I recall, the close-ups of Doggett and actually I think some line changes in addition even that were shot after the first cut of the episode when we felt like 'oh, we need something here'.

Frank: Yeah, see the Lone Gunmen on their last legs. This was all, for us, you know, sort of a way of winking at what had become of the Lone Gunmen TV series.

John: Just like linking Cap'n Toby, this one over there...

Frank: One of the episodes.

Vince: As you can cut the bitterness with a knife.

(they laugh)

John: This brings back a lot of painful memories.

(they laugh)

Frank: I'll never forget, I was a judge at a TV award thing and somebody said: 'We were so surprised that you submitted The Lone Gunmen,' as if 'you would even bother to submit that show for an award'. But the three of us, you know, if it hasn't become clear, we'd loved the show.

Vince: We loved it.

Frank: We had a great time working on it.

John: Oh, we're very proud, well, I think we achieved with these characters and to make a whole world and to put a lot on screen. I mean, I think they were great episodes, right?

Vince: I concur wholeheartedly. I think all three of us were so proud of the show and I was heartbroken when it ended. And I also wonder if we're ever going to see it on DVD.

Frank: You know, I think this might be a good place to sort of urge the letter-writing campaign.

Vince: Yes.

John: Yes.

Vince: Please write letters to Fox.

John: The three of you who are listening to this commentary right now.

(they laugh)

Frank: Those three letters, or it's our three mothers.

(they laugh)

Vince: Oh, this little mirror. This is actually a mirror my girlfriend bought me because I like...

John: Yet another plug-in for Holly.

Vince: And they borrowed it as a prop and I'm not sure I ever got it back.

Frank: You know what I love? The first time I remember seeing this so obvious was in 'Unusual Suspects', which Kim Manners directed, did a fabulous job directing as he did so many episodes of The X-Files, but when you got these three guys, you're always stacking them up in the frame. You know, it's very artificial but it works, you don't think about how hokey it really is, but...

Vince: That's true. It's funny because coming up here there's a prime example of that, where Yves is in the foreground seated on the bed, and Jimmy's sitting behind her, and then the three guys are stacked up in the background. I like this framing in particular coming up here because it's just sort of nicely composed. Again Cliff Bole, the director. This right here.

Frank: Yeah, among the many, you know, objectives here, there was always sort of, what, beneath the surface love story between Yves and Jimmy, and that was something that had to come back in this episode, unbearably complicated, should have been a two-hour.

John: Yeah.

Vince: I was thinking that, watching it the other night, that it'd be nice if we had ninety minutes or two hours, but good luck.

John: Nice if we had a season two.

Vince: Yeah, yeah, if we could. A lot of things would be nice.

Frank: This is why I say it was really a kind of thankless episode for Robert and Annabeth, because they're like the straight men and they just come in and make sense of things here and there. Look at all these characters.

John: It is. It's very hard to shoot, to cover everybody in a scene like this.

Frank: Yeah.

Vince: That was always a problem on the Lone Gunmen series, and actually the one I remember, the one episode I remember is one written by a writer friend of ours, a good guy named Tom Schnauz whose--

John: Who appears in this episode.

Vince: Who actually appears coming up in this episode, and he wrote an episode, you know, the three people listening to this, if you ever saw the episode, it was with midget wrestlers, and there was a scene...

Frank: Yeah, classic. Very serious [...].

John: Humanitas award winning...

(they laugh)

Frank: Why [...] that show make it? I can't understand.

Vince: Yeah. Why didn't we get the Peabody thing?

(Frank laughs)

Vince: But Bryan Spicer, who was our main director on the series, and directed, I don't know, six out of thirteen or seven out of thirteen, and is just a wonderful director, had a scene in that episode where he had, I think, nine people in a room, and the room was a--

Frank: ...a trailer.

Vince: A trailer.

John: Yes.

Vince: And he had to cover all of them, he had, like, two hours, three hours of shooting, and you need a shot of every single person running this entire five and a half page scene of dialogue. I remember him calling us and yelling at us, calling us up.

Frank: You know, this is the scene, this became the shape, you know, of The X-Files, we're in Act Three, it's four acts, you tell your stories in four acts and a teaser which is what comes before the opening credits, and this is the scene in Act Three where the audience has caught up to the whole shebang, that Morris actually planned that explosion at the beginning, and this was all a conspiracy in order to entrap Yves Adele Harlow.

John: Another remarkably difficult scene to write and work on, as I recall, because of the complexity and because of the baggage of the two series. But I think it works. It's helped by Michael obviously because he becomes sort of the charming narrator to everything we need to know.

Vince: That's true.

Frank: Yeah, what's great about this, you know, just looking at this as a producer looking back on his work, you know, it's just really well cast and everybody in the show is here because we wanted them back, because we knew the show was coming to an end and we wanted a chance to work with them one last time and...

Vince: That's so true. To reiterate, nobody wanted us to do this episode but us, and I think we're all pretty proud that we got it made.

Frank: 'Jump The Shark'. Shark cartilage.

Vince: Fonzie.

Frank: Fonzie.

Vince: Don't do it, Fonzie.

Frank: There they are again. Stacked up in the same frame.

Vince: Yeah.

Vince: By the way, I hope this never happens, what they're talking about, because that would be a pretty good way to sneak past a metal detector, he had, like, poison inside [...] or something.

Frank: Yeah.

John: Now you're going to be on a list, the...

Vince: Well, this is probably as good a time as any to mention, we talked about the Lone Gunmen series being on DVD, I don't know if we'll ever see that pilot again, because if you're one of the several people in the world who saw that, you know how it ends with the World Trade Center narrowly being missed by a jumbo jet, and that was obviously a solid year or so before the awful events of September 11th. And maybe rightly so, maybe that shouldn't be, who knows. I mean, it's obviously too close to that terrible day that the, I don't know...

Frank: But this episode was, you know, squarely conceived after 9-11 and, you know, terrorism is very much on people's minds, and that's the bad guy in this, it's a, you know, type of terrorist that'd be very hard to detect.

John: This is Humphrey Bogart scene.

Frank: Yeah. We always thought Frohike had a Bogart quality about him, hard-boiled, but just in such an unlikely source.

Vince: Tom Braidwood, I'm sure most of you all listening know this anyway, but I'll say that he was our First Assistant Director for years on The X-Files when it shot up in Vancouver, and he was not an actor, I mean, not trained as an actor but he...

Frank: He'd been an actor years before but changed careers [...].

Vince: Oh, ok, and I guess the very first time the Lone Gunmen appeared in an episode they had a hard time casting the part of Frohike, and the story goes, I wasn't around for it, but the story goes that Glen Morgan and Jim Wong were sitting with the director of that episode and saying who we're going to cast for Frohike. And Tom Braidwood walked by asking about, you know, some shooting schedule, and they said, one of the guys said: 'We need somebody sleazy like Braidwood.'.

(they laugh)

Vince: I don't feel I'm telling tales out of school because Tom himself told me that story.

John: I'm sure he wanted it broadcast.

Vince: Nobody's listening.

(Vince laughs)

Frank: Actually, the character of Frohike very nearly got killed in Season 4. There was episode, Morgan and Wong came back to the show at the beginning of Season 4 and they wrote an episode called 'Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man', and at the end of that episode Frohike was to be killed.

Vince: His head was [...].

(they laugh and talk over each other)

John: I still remember reading that first draft, that was like 'oh, my god'.

Frank: We were mortified. And we, I don't know, [...] Glen and Jim know this [...], but we lobbied Chris 'please don't let [...] kill', you know, we saw [...] as a huge asset to the show and we didn't want them brought to an end at the beginning of Season 4, and I know Tom Braidwood certainly lobbied Chris not to have himself get killed. And the ending was changed. I don't think they were too happy about that, but we certainly were 'cause, you know, they survived on the show and in the movie and...

Vince: And I think they're operating off the old Faulkner maxim of 'writer must kill his darlings'.

Frank: You know, one thing that you think about when you're doing the show or watching the show again, is that there's the presumption that the good guys are going to win, and that's, you know, kind of the rhythm of a television series, is just, you know, how are they going to get out of it, how are they going to get out of it, and, of course, this week we're not going to win.

Vince: Which is always a good way to end an episode, but then you don't have a series if [...].

(they laugh)

Frank: The clock is ticking. [...] It's the cliché in Hollywood, what's the ticking clock. You're always looking for the ticking clock in your stories, and when you can actually, literally get one, it really helps create suspense.

Vince: Where was this shot? This was over in Century City, was it a real hotel?

Frank: I think it is a real hotel. I never actually went to the location.

Vince: Yeah.

Frank: For those of us who write and produce in television, you'd be amazed how infrequently we get to the set.

John: We actually get...

Frank: You're so busy, you know, writing and editing and producing.

Vince: We're usually not up by 11 a.m. [...]

Frank: Yeah, it's the crack hangover [...].

(they laugh)

John: When you do twenty-two hours of one show and thirteen of another in a year, you're pretty busy.

Vince: That's true. Actually, we get mad sometimes when some of our writers would visit the set.

Frank: Because it is so much fun.

Vince: Yeah.

Frank: Get back and work.

Vince: Get back to work.

John: I thought it was nice that, it was by design but it took some massaging to use Morris' character from the beginning, was basically a scam artist, a man in black and-- there's Tom Schnauz.

Vince: Tom Schnauz. Hoo. Tom Schnauz. If you listen very closely--

Frank: (laughs) He wrote an entire speech.

Vince: He wrote an entire speech and if you listen very closely and which I suggest you do, this is a very sexually, very sexual innuendo about a missile flying into, I don't know what it is. Tom, a very disturbed young man.

John: Now he's part of history.

Vince: Yes. I love this scene coming up, because I always liked it when, I always loved the character of Jimmy Bond, because I love that he never wanted to hurt anybody, but I love the way, this was actually, you know, headbutts are getting kind of clichéd now, but this was a pretty good one, and Cliff and Stephen and the actor playing the security guard did a nice bit here. But I love how he apologizes to the guy first and coldcocks him.

Frank: This is nice, too, because it plays off the fact that they're reporters.

John: Now here's John Gillnitz, that's his name, and that's an important name and--

Frank: Oh yeah.

Vince: Oh, we didn't mention that when he got introduced.

Frank: That became our code. I think it was at the end of the third season or fourth season.

John: It was the end of the third season.

Frank: Third season. Whenever we worked on a script, you know, credited or uncredited, we started putting John Gillnitz's name in there.

Vince: And--

John: 'John' for John, and 'Gill' for Gilligan, and 'nitz' for Spotnitz, a little nod to ourselves, this.

Frank: It's all about us.

Vince: Yeah.

John: We made this.

Vince: Yes. I have to say, no one ever seemed to catch on to this, what it was.

(Frank laughs)

John: Not until very, very late, and because we even used him in the Lone Gunmen series.

Vince: Yeah. Very Hitchcockian. Sort of [...] Hitchcock would appear in every movie.

Frank: We actually put our faces in the Lone Gunman finale.

John: Yes, that's right.

Vince: That's right, yeah.

Frank: So if you want to see how handsome we are, go get a bootleg copy of it somewhere.

Vince: Again, write your congressman, see about getting the Lone Gunmen on DVD.

John: Now coming up to the big moment here.

Frank: Uh-huh. We had many, many discussions about how to do this.

Vince: We did, we had many discussions about the ending, period, whether they should die or not, and I've got to say, I never wanted it to happen but I think it's absolutely the right way to end it. None of us did it lightly, to be sure, the intention was obviously a reverent one, I don't know if I'm using that word correct but I guess this is close as any, but the ending with these three guys dying was a lot, hours of discussion about 'should we even do it, should we not', and at the end I think Frank and John were right about doing it because as much as I love these characters, you want to see them go out as heroes. And we knew, damn well, pardon my French, we were never going to see them again, and, you know, the series was coming to an end, we're never going to get the Lone Gunman series going again, so why not have them go out with a blaze of glory.

Frank: Yeah.

John: Oh, they did show up once more.

Vince: [...], that's true, they did.

Frank: Some months after the show had gone off the air, I was listening to the, what's it called, the Wrath of Khan commentary, and at the end of that movie, as you recall, Spock dies, and the producer, Harve Bennett, says that they tested it and people hated them, were so mad that they killed Spock, and then they went back and they added the scene, which is the hopeful, optimistic scene, with Kirk on the bridge, and it changed the perception of the movie entirely. And I'll say, looking back at this episode now, that's one thing I might have done differently, is found some way to give you that sense of uplift at the end because it is just grindingly sad at the end of this.

Vince: Doesn't it look like the guy's dying of, like, Pepto-Bismol overdose?

Frank: I thought that was on purpose.

John: It's a tie-in, a product tie-in.

(they laugh)

Frank: Helped pay for the actors.

Vince: My stomach hurts!

John: This is sort of, the hand particularly, is a bit of an homage to Wrath of Khan but it wasn't our idea. We didn't ask for it.

Frank: Yeah, who? What did you just say?

John: No, this was [...] the actors.

Frank: On set? Thanks guys.

Vince: I knew I hated these guys.

(they laugh and talk over each other)

John: I'd do it again.

Vince: This is very sad.

Frank: I wondered where that came from. I gotta read the script next time.

Vince: Yeah, I gotta start watching this show.

Frank: Yeah, I think this is the most surprising dissolve. People watching it, it was like 'what'?

John: Yeah.

Vince: What the hell.

Frank: It can't be.

John: Yeah, exactly.

Frank: In fact, people are still saying it. You know, the six people who are still going on the website, 'the Lone Gunmen can't really be dead'.

Vince: This, by the way, we were very lucky to have a place that looks very much like Arlington National Cemetery within two miles of where we shot The X-Files. This is the Los Angeles Veterans Cemetery.

Frank: [...], yeah. This is actually on Veteran Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in west Los Angeles.

Vince: Yeah.

Frank: I lived across from this cemetery in college.

Vince: Aha, yeah, UCLA is right around here.

John: We had a big scheduling issue with this scene, it involved Gillian Anderson's availability and for a time we weren't even sure that she could be in this scene, but the three of us felt very, very strongly that we wanted to see Scully's farewell for these guys. They were kind of there for her and we really wanted to see her there for them.

Vince: I agree, it would have been such a shame if neither Mulder nor Scully had been, you know, at the funeral for these guys, and obviously Mulder couldn't have been here because at this point in The X-Files story he was still missing, but obviously he would have been.

John: Are you crying, Vince?

Vince: Yes. You know what? I wish this scene, I wish there was less dialogue in this scene. I remember we knew we needed to give everybody their moment, but actually, I was thinking about it last night, it would have been nice if it had been just less talking.

Frank: There actually was a line that Stephen Snedden had that he didn't like saying, because he thought it was [...] really bitter, and we did cut it out.

Vince: That's right.

Frank: There was more talk.

Vince: That's right.

Frank: But he didn't think Jimmy would be that bitter. And [...] agree with him, seeing it cut together.

Vince: You know, it's been kind of fun, doing this with the three of us. If anyone's listened to my previous voiceover tracks, you know they all suck.

(they laugh)

Vince: So this kind of works, this works well.

Frank: We're just going to do this at home.

Vince: We're like jazz musicians, riffing off each other.

Frank: This is a very nice Mark Snow cue here.

John: Yes.

Frank: Who else do we need to compliment very quickly before we go? It's almost over. Bill Roe, beautiful photography.

John: Yeah.

Vince: Bill Roe, great.

John: Corey Kaplan.

Frank: Corey Kaplan, great.

Vince: To everybody. We had the best crew, we had two wonderful crews. I don't think any show's been blessed with, I mean, this show was different, The X-Files, in that we had a wonderful crew in Vancouver and then a wonderful crew in Los Angeles, over nine years, and just everybody gave 110 percent.

Frank: So this is my last X-Files commentary. Thank you to Chris Carter, to the fans and to the fantastic cast and crew.

Vince: Thank you.

John: Farewell.

[The End]