|The X-Files episode|
Mulder and Scully, aghast, watch the finished film, "The Lazarus Bowl." Many critics commented on the "self-reflexive" tone of the episode, facilitated by use of the movie.
|Episode no.||Season 7
|Directed by||David Duchovny|
|Written by||David Duchovny|
|Original air date||April 30, 2000|
|Running time||44 minutes|
"Hollywood A.D." is the nineteenth episode of the seventh season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network in the United States on April 30, 2000. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "Hollywood A.D." earned a Nielsen household rating of 7.7, being watched by 12.88 million people in its initial broadcast. The episode was met with largely positive reviews, with many critics approving of the episode's humorous nature.
The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal, while the skeptical Scully has been assigned to debunk his work. In this episode, Wayne Federman, an entrepreneurial Hollywood producer and college friend of Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) picks up the idea for a film based on the X-Files, however Mulder and Scully find that the level of realism in their fictional portrayal is somewhat questionable. Meanwhile, during the filming of the movie, Mulder and Scully research the mysterious "Lazarus Bowl", an artifact that supposedly has the words Jesus Christ spoke when he raised Lazarus from the dead.
"Hollywood A.D." was written and directed by series star David Duchovny, his second writing and directing credit after the sixth season episode "The Unnatural." The episode—written with a "self-reflexive" tone—features a myriad of guest stars, including, most notably, Garry Shandling and Téa Leoni, who portray Mulder and Scully, respectively, in the episode's fictional movie. The episode itself contains several in-jokes and references deliberately placed by Duchovny.
Walter Skinner's old college friend, Hollywood producer Wayne Federman, is involved in a film project about the FBI. During Federman's research phase, Skinner gives him access to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who are investigating the attempted murder of Cardinal O'Fallon. Federman tags along and constantly interrupts the agents. While searching the catacombs of O'Fallon's church, Mulder finds the remains of Micah Hoffman, a missing 1960s counter-culturalist. Searching Hoffman's apartment, they find bombs and counterfeiting tools, as well as forged gospel of Mary Magdalene. Mulder and Federman return to the church and search the catacombs, finding several skeletons and pieces of the forged gospel. Federman wanders off and stumbles upon animated bones, who attempt to assemble a shattered piece of pottery. He panics and leaves the scene.
Mulder and Scully examine the pottery. Scully tells Mulder the story of "The Lazarus Bowl", in which the aunt of Lazarus had been making a clay bowl when Jesus Christ resurrected him. The words of Christ were then recorded in the grooves of the bowl, much like a phonograph record. Mulder brings the relic to Chuck Burks, who, after performing a sonic analysis, discovers voices in Aramaic; in one portion part of the audio, one man commands another to rise from the dead.
Mulder visits O'Fallon, who admits he bought the forged gospel from Hoffman, but believed it was real. Meanwhile, during Hoffman's autopsy, Scully experiences a vision wherein he comes back to life on the operating table and begins talking. Later, at the church, Scully sees a vision of Hoffman in Jesus' place on a large crucifix. Mulder arrests O'Fallon for Hoffman's murder, but Micah Hoffman walks in, unscathed. He tells the agent that while he initially created the forgeries to make money, he came to believe he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and bombed the church to get rid of the "blasphemous" forgeries. Skinner suspends Scully and Mulder for four weeks because of the mix-up. Sixteen months later, O'Fallon kills Micah Hoffman in a murder-suicide. As such, the X-File is never truly solved.
During their suspension, Mulder and Scully venture to Hollywood to view the production of Federman's film. It is revealed that Federman's movie will be called The Lazarus Bowl, and Garry Shandling will play Mulder and Téa Leoni will play Scully. After filming is done, Mulder and Scully attend a screening of the film with Skinner, but are thoroughly disgusted at how their case, and they, are portrayed on the big screen. The episode ends with dead people coming to life on the movie set, and Mulder and Scully holding hands, presumably on their way to dinner with the FBI credit card Skinner gave them after watching the movie, hinting at the continued romantic relationship between Mulder and Scully that has been suggested in the last few episodes.
Writing and filming
"Hollywood A.D." was written and directed by series star David Duchovny. The episode was written after Duchovny received positive feedback on his last creation, season six's "The Unnatural". Duchovny originally approached executive producer Frank Spotnitz about the possibility of writing another episode. Spotnitz gave him the go-ahead and was soon given a rough copy of the script. Series creator Chris Carter was very happy with the story, calling it "a smart, [...], quirky, and intelligent idea" and he later described it as "outside the norm, even for The X-Files." Once the script was approved, Duchovny took on an active role in preparing for the episode.
There was a considerable amount of stunt work and choreographing done for "Hollywood A.D." Two stunt doubles were hired for the scene where Shandling tackles Leoni and they tumble down a hill into an open casket. Some of the stunt men were even cast in non-stunt related jobs. Several were "transformed" into zombies, a process which took five hours. The zombie dance sequence at the end of the episode took two days to film. The first day was shot during active production and the second was scheduled for the blue screen work that was required.
Duchovny cast several of The X-Files' technical crew members in the episode. Tina M. Amedrui, the show's actual craft services woman, portrayed Tina, the craft service woman for Wayne Federman's movie. Bill Roe, the show's photography director, was cast as the vegetarian zombie. Assistant director Barry K. Thomas was cast as one of the men on the movie set, Paul Rabwin was cast as a producer, and special effects coordinator Bill Millar was cast as the movie's director. Duchovny also cast his brother, Daniel, as the assistant director. Several of the family members and friends cast by Duchovny were able to apply for their Screen Actor's Guild card and were able to apply for a health insurance plan.
Téa Leoni, who portrayed a fictionalized version of herself portraying Scully in the production, was married to David Duchovny when this episode was filmed, a decision casting director Rick Millikan considered "clever." Duchovny also cast his friend and fellow actor Garry Shandling as a fictionalized version of himself portraying Mulder. Shandling had originally been sought out to play the part of Morris Fletcher in the sixth season episode "Dreamland." The joke about Garry Shandling having a crush on Mulder came from a recurring joke from the TV show The Larry Sanders Show, starring Shandling. In the recurring joke, David Duchovny has a homosexual interest in Shandling's character.
The joke about Mulder wanting Richard Gere to appear in the movie stemmed from the fact that Duchovny's acting was often compared to Gere's. Duchovny decided to turn the idea into a joke, saying, "we used to always have the joke on set that when they do the movie it's going to be Richard Gere and Jodie Foster [playing Mulder and Scully]. So I originally wrote the teaser for Richard Gere and Jodie Foster and I just started to think about it and you know, it's so much funnier with Garry and Téa." The episode featured several uncredited celebrity cameos. During the premiere of the movie, Duchovny's Return to Me costars Minnie Driver and David Alan Grier appear as members of the audience. In addition, Chris Carter, the show's creator, made a cameo during the theater scene. The appearance was his second in the series.
Broadcast and reception
"Hollywood A.D." first aired in the United States on April 30, 2000. This episode earned a Nielsen rating of 7.7, with a 12 share, meaning that roughly 7.7 percent of all television-equipped households, and 12 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 12.88 million viewers. The episode aired in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Sky1 on May 7, 2000 and received 0.80 million viewers, making it the second most watched episode that week. Fox promoted the episode with the tagline "Garry Shandling as Agent Mulder? Téa Leoni as Agent Scully?"
Critical reception to "Hollywood A.D." was mostly positive. The Montreal Gazette named the episode the sixth best stand-alone X-Files episode, writing that "Despite taxing our stomach for self-reflexive comedy, this David Duchovny scripted and directed episode manages to deliver some of the greatest laughs of the series." Rob Bricken from Topless Robot named "Hollywood A.D." the seventh funniest X-Files episode. Jessica Morgan from Television Without Pity gave the episode a B, slightly criticizing the dancing zombies at the end of the episode. Sarah Kendzior from 11th Hour Magazine wrote that, "My favorite [episode] this year may well be 'Hollywood A.D.', an ambitious, often ingenious and occasionally flawed sophomore effort concerning the entertainment industry, religion, and pretty much everything in between." Rich Rosell from DigitallyObsessed.com awarded the episode 5 out of 5 stars and wrote that "[the] scene from the 'movie' where Shandling/Mulder faces off against The Cigarette Smoking Pontiff, and his army of sniper zombies, is classic stuff, and earns 'Hollywood A.D.' high marks." Kenneth Silber from Space.com, while criticizing the episode for reveling in parody, noted that the episode was entertaining, writing, "'Hollywood A.D.' is a parody and, as such, will be unsatisfying to the many X-Files viewers, including this long-suffering reviewer, who'd like to see the series culminate in a dramatic, multi-episode denouement of its 'mythology arc'. Nonetheless, this episode has merit as a witty and imaginative parody."
Tom Kessenich, in his book Examinations, gave the episode a relatively positive review. He wrote, "'Hollywood A.D.' was Duchovny's nudge-nudge, wink-wink writing-directing effort for this season. [...] Duchovny did not fail to deliver an episode that truly reflected his own wit and intelligence. All the while remaining true to the spirit of the show that made him famous." Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club awarded the episode a "B+", and wrote that it "is muddled and frequently so in love with just being weird for weird’s sake that everybody forgets we need at least a little justification to pull everything together in the end." He also called it "a hard episode not to love, frankly." Handlen felt that the humor and sweetness helped to make the episode a success. He also wrote that Mulder and Scully's dynamic worked towards the episode's favor.
In popular culture
- On the "Killer Cable Snaps" episode of the popular science television series MythBusters, which aired on October 11, 2006, the possibility that audio could be transcribed onto pottery was tested. Clips from "Hollywood A.D." were shown during the segment.
- Shapiro, pp. 229-240
- Shapiro, p. 241
- Shapiro, p. 240
- Kessenich, p. 81
- "Top drawer Files: the best stand-alone X-Files episodes". The Montreal Gazette (Postmedia Network). 24 July 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Meisler, p. 64
- Carter, Chris, et al (2000). The Truth Behind Season 7 (DVD). The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season: Fox Home Entertainment.
- The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season (booklet). Kim Manners, et al. Fox.
- Shapiro, p. 281
- "BARB's multichannel top 10 programmes". barb.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2012. Note: Information is in the section titled "w/e July 17–23, 1999", listed under Sky 1
- Hollywood A.D. (Promotional Flyer). Los Angeles, California: Fox Broadcasting Company. 2000.
- Bricken, Rob (13 October 2009). "The 10 Funniest X-Files Episodes". Topless Robot. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- Morgan, Jessica. "Big Primping". Television Without Pity. NBCUniversal. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- Kendzior, Sarah (30 April 2000). "The X-Files "Hollywood A.D."". 11th Hour Web Magazine. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
- Rosell, Rich (27 July 2003). "The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season". DigitallyObsessed. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Silber, Kenneth (1 May 2000). "Mulder and Scully Pay X-Files Visit to 'Hollywood A.D.'". Space.com. TechMediaNetwork. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
- Kessenich, p. 131
- Handlen, Zack (February 9, 2013). "'Hollywood A.D.'/'Fight Club' | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "Killer Cable Snaps". MythBusters. Season 4. Episode 19. 11 October 2006. Discovery Channel.
- Kessenich, Tom (2002). Examination: An Unauthorized Look at Seasons 6–9 of the X-Files. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-55369-812-6.
- Meisler, Andy (2000). The End and the Beginning: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 5. Harper Prism. ISBN 0-06-107595-7.
- Shapiro, Marc (2000). All Things: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 6. Harper Prism. ISBN 0-06-107611-2.
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