Jose Chung's From Outer Space
|"Jose Chung's From Outer Space"|
|The X-Files episode|
Agent Dana Scully reading the titular book. The cover is a parody of Whitley Strieber's Communion.
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Rob Bowman|
|Written by||Darin Morgan|
|Original air date||April 12, 1996|
"Jose Chung's From Outer Space" is the 20th episode of the third season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. The episode first aired in the United States on April 12, 1996, on Fox. It was written by Darin Morgan and directed by Rob Bowman. "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" earned a Nielsen household rating of 10.5, being watched by 16.08 million people in its initial broadcast, and also received praise from critics.
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. In this episode, Mulder and Scully hear, and promptly investigate, a story about an alien abduction of two teenagers. Each witness provides a different version of the same facts. Within the episode, a thriller novelist, Jose Chung, writes a book about the incident.
The episode is a stand alone episode, like most episodes of The X-Files, and follows the normal Monster-of-the-Week pattern of the show but features more humor than typical via manipulation of point of view, leading to multiple re-tellings of certain events with varying degrees of unreliable narrators.
A teenage couple in their car are captured by a pair of grey aliens who are soon confronted by a giant third alien from another race. Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is interviewed concerning the case by author Jose Chung, who is seeking to write a book about alien abduction. Scully claims that the girl, Chrissy, was found with all her clothes inside out, appearing to be the victim of rape. Her date, Harold, is brought in by the police, claiming that they were abducted by aliens. The foul mouthed local detective, Manners (whose words are humorously replaced with the word "bleep"), does not believe him, but agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) has Chrissy undergo hypnosis in which she describes being on a spaceship surrounded by aliens. Harold claims to have encountered a cigarette-smoking alien on the ship who kept repeating, "This is not happening." Mulder is convinced that Chrissy and Harold were abducted by aliens, but Scully thinks it is more plausible that the two teenagers simply had sex and are struggling to deal with the emotional aftermath.
The agents then speak to a man named Roky Crikenson who claims he witnessed the abduction of Chrissy and Harold, having written his witness account as a screenplay entitled "The Truth About Aliens." He recounts a visit from a pair of men in black who told him what he thought he saw the night before was merely the planet Venus, and threatened to kill him if he told anyone otherwise. Roky's screenplay describes a giant third alien, calling himself Lord Kinbote who took him to the center of the Earth. In telling Roky's version of events to Jose Chung, Scully explains that Roky suffers from a "fantasy-prone personality." Mulder, however, thinks that Roky's story contains some partial truths and decides to have Chrissy re-hypnotized. This time Chrissy claims that she was captured by the military, not aliens, and that they brainwashed her.
Chung speaks to a science fiction fanatic, Blaine, who found an alien body that was recovered by the agents and Detective Manners. Blaine claims that Mulder shrieked like a woman when he saw the alien and that Scully threatened him not to say anything. Blaine video tapes Scully performing an autopsy on the alien, which is quickly released as a video labeled "Dead Alien! Truth or Humbug?" that is narrated by the Stupendous Yappi (from "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose"). The autopsy reveals that the alien is actually a dead Air Force pilot in an alien costume. His superiors arrive to claim the body, but find it missing. Mulder tricks the military officers into revealing the identity of another missing Air Force pilot, Lieutenant Jack Schafer.
As Mulder remembers it, he found Schafer walking naked down the highway. Mulder takes Schafer to a diner, where the pilot explains that he and his partner were piloting a military UFO while dressed as aliens. He thinks that he and his partner were abducted by real aliens, but given that he may not even exist himself, he cannot be sure. His superiors soon come to take him away. A diner cook, however, claims that Mulder was there by himself and asked him questions while ordering piece after piece of sweet potato pie.
Mulder, returning to the motel, finds the men in black (played by Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek), in Scully's room. The agents later head to a site where the reported UFO crashed, where the bodies of the two Air Force pilots are recovered. Mulder visits with Chung, pleading with him not to publish the book since it will further discredit aliens and those who believe in them. Chung publishes the book, which Scully reads in her office. Mulder watches footage of Bigfoot. Harold professes his love to Chrissy, who rejects him in favor of her newfound commitment to philanthropy.
Writer Darin Morgan had pieces of the script for a long time, drawing inspiration from research he had done on hypnosis and a book on government coverups and UFOs that theorized that UFOs are a phenomenon that manipulate space and time, but are not piloted by aliens. Morgan had the idea for the teaser in mind before becoming a staff member on the show. The narrative style was influenced by a casting session Morgan witnessed where an actor auditioning sounded like Truman Capote. From this he came up with the idea to have a writer covering the case. Capote died in 1984, and second choice Rip Taylor was unavailable, so the role of Jose Chung ended up going to Charles Nelson Reilly. Jesse Ventura was cast as one of the men in black, while the other, which Morgan had originally wanted Johnny Cash for, went to Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. The role of Lord Kinbote went to stuntman Tony Morelli.
The episode contained a number of references and in-jokes. Klass County was named after UFO author Philip Klass, whose line about the planet Venus being mistaken for UFOs was used by one of the men in black in the episode. The pilots dressed up as aliens were named after UFO authors Robert Schaffer and Jacques Vallee. MP Hynek was named after UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek. The character of Roky Crikenson is named after musician Roky Erickson, who claims to be an alien abductee. Chung gives Mulder the pseudonym Reynard, after the legendary fox. The alien autopsy video: "Dead Alien! Truth or Humbug?" referenced Morgan's first episode for the series, "Humbug". The video was a parody of the real life Alien Autopsy video aired by Fox. Detective Manners was named after director Kim Manners; the character's tendency to swear a lot was also influenced by his real life counterpart. Lt. Shaeffer molding his mashed potatoes into a mountain is a reference to the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The cover to Jose Chung's book was a reference to the cover of the book Communion by Whitley Strieber. Lord Kinbote was an homage to Ray Harryhausen, a director noted for his work in stop-motion model animation, with the footage of the character shot at high speed then slowed down and edited in post production to create a stop-motion effect.
This episode would be the last that Darin Morgan wrote for the series. The writer claimed that he could not keep up with the frantic pace of the show. Morgan would later write the similarly themed "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" for the TV series Millennium.
"Jose Chung's From Outer Space" premiered on the Fox network on April 12, 1996. This episode earned a Nielsen rating of 10.5, with a 19 share, meaning that roughly 10.5 percent of all television-equipped households, and 19 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. This totaled 16.08 million viewers.
The cast and crew of The X-Files reacted positively to the episode. Gillian Anderson cited the episode as being among her highlights of the third season. She said the episode was like dessert, adding "That's what kept it fun and that's what kept it worth doing all the time." Chris Carter said of writer Darin Morgan, "It's been a wonderful coincidence of timing, talent, and the success of the show, allowing it to stretch in a direction it would never have been able to if it had been a less successful or if it had been a younger show. Darin is a truly original comic mind. I don't know anybody in the world working in film, and that's what we work in here even though it appears on television, who has the voice Darin has. He is one in many million." Co-Producer Paul Rabwin said of the episode "An instant classic. One of those seminal episodes. You know, when people talk about The Twilight Zone, they say 'Remember "Eye of the Beholder"?' Or "Trouble With Tribbles" on the original Star Trek. 'Jose Chung' is going to be one of those episodes that is immediately revered." Assistant director Tom Braidwood appreciated Charles Nelson Reilly's presence, saying that he captivated virtually everyone and gave everyone a lift, nicknaming everyone on the crew. Executive Producer Robert Goodwin said that the casting of Reilly was the most fun of the episode.
"Jose Chung's From Outer Space" received praise from critics as well. Author Phil Farrand rated the episode as his favorite episode of the first four seasons in his book The Nitpickers Guide to the X-Files. Entertainment Weekly gave the episode an A, writing "A series so bleepin' ripe for parody brilliantly turns the tables on itself. Two (of many) guffaw-worthy moments: Mulder's squeal and the smoking alien." Reviewer Todd VanDerWerff from The A.V. Club gave the episode a rare A+ and wrote that the episode "is one of the very finest episodes of television I've ever seen, but I'm not sure it's a terrific episode of The X-Files. [...] If The X-Files were a Lord of the Rings-length novel, then "Jose Chung's" would be its first appendix, a source that is at once in love with the main text and critical of it, a place where real human concerns creep around the edges of the show's chilly implausibilities." VanDerWerff's colleague Zack Handlen wrote that the episode was "brilliant", but he did not feel it was as satisfying as he anticipated because it did not contribute to the series as a whole. Review website IGN named it the fourth best standalone X-Files episode of the entire series, writing, "it was 'Jose Chung's From Outer Space' in Season 3 that showed that X-Files could create a true comedy masterpiece that almost completely broke away from the show's usual format and tone." Den of Geek listed it as the tenth best episode of the series.
See also 
- Lowry, pp.193–195
- Edwards, p. 174
- Hurwitz and Knowles, p.87
- Lowry, p. 196
- Lowry, pp.196–197
- Genge, p. 175
- Morgan, Darin and Bowman, Rob (2005). Audio Commentary for "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" (DVD). Fox Home Entertainment.
- Lowry, pp.198–99
- Darin Morgan (writer and director) (27 November 1997). "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense". Millennium. Season 2. Episode 9. Fox.
- R.W. Goodwin, Rob Bowman, et al (booklet). The X-Files: The Complete Third Season (Liner notes). Fox.
- Lowry, p.251
- Edwards, p. 177}
- Lowry, p. 197
- Edwards, p. 176
- Farrand, p.223
- "X Cyclopedia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season 3 | EW.com". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 1996. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (August 15, 2010). ""Hell Money"/"Jose Chung's From Outer Space"/"Avatar"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- Handlen, Zack (August 22, 2010). ""Quagmire"/"Wetwired"/"Talitha Cumi"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
- Collura, Scott (May 12, 2008). "IGN's 10 Favorite X-Files Standalone Episodes". IGN. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Sordi, Nina (September 22, 2009). "Top 10 X-Files episodes". Den of Geek. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- Edwards, Ted (1996). X-Files Confidential. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-21808-1.
- Farrand, Phil (1998). The Nitpickers Guide to the X-Files. Doubleday Direct. ISBN 1-56865-503-7.
- Genge, Ngaire (1996). The Unofficial X-Files Companion II. Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-79024-6.
- Hurwitz, Matt; Knowles, Chris (2008). The Complete X-Files. Insight Editions. ISBN 1-933784-80-6.
- Lowry, Brian (1995). The Truth is Out There: The Official Guide to the X-Files. Harper Prism. ISBN 0-06-105330-9.
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- "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" on The X-Files official website
- "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" on The X-Files Wiki, an external wiki
- "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" at TV.com