Darren McGavin, David Duchovny, and “The X-Files”

9 07 2009

I’m a big fan of The X-Files. My husband and I are currently watching the entire series and movies again, in chronological order. He missed a lot of episodes during the show’s run, and he is enjoying seeing them for the first time.

We’re in the middle of the 6th season, which exhibited a renewed spirit and creativity following the company’s relocation from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Last night we watched “The Unnatural,” which was David Duchovny’s first directorial effort and his first solo writing credit for the series. It was originally written as the third episode to feature the character Arthur Dales, who started the X-Files. Dales was played by the great character actor Darren McGavin, of “Night Stalker” and “A Christmas Story” fame, in two earlier segments. Alas, McGavin fell ill and had to be replaced by another fine actor, M. Emmit Walsh, after a bit of rewriting.

When I first saw “The Unnatural,” I couldn’t help wondering what might have been, had McGavin been able to play Dales. I assumed he had not been able to shoot any footage – but happily, I was wrong. The DVD includes two deleted scenes with McGavin playing Dales. Watching him, especially in the final poignant, heartfelt scene, in which Mulder gently comforts the grieving Dales by validating his work, was like being given a wondrous gift. Those scenes were McGavin’s last onscreen work, and the folks who put together the DVDs did us all a great service by including them.

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One response

10 07 2009
SLJ91

Oooo! I had no idea McGavin had actually shot scenes for the ep. I’ll have to track down the DVD. I really like the Unnatural–I have a couple of quick bits that I think should’ve been cut (the white child and the black child walking around with their arms around each others’ shoulders is a bit heavy-handed), but generally it’s really nice work.

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