We posted my first TV review for Ain’t It Cool (and likely my first TV review of any stripe) on April 7, 2000. That review was AICN post #5596. The post you’re reading now is #79722.
When I was asked to take over the struggling TV desk at Ain’t It Cool, I had another job running a Los Angeles-based movie magazine. (Before that I worked as a film critic for a number of other print periodicals – print because there wasn’t much of an Internet in the 1980s.)
I ran that magazine for exactly 18 years. It was the longest I ever held a job. Until today. Because today marks my 18th anniversary as AICN’s TV editor.
Judd Apatow’s superb new Garry Shandling HBO docuseries features a brief clip of Shandling’s appearance on “The X-Files” (Shandling played himself, an actor hired to play a movie character based on Spooky Mulder). As I watched the clip I thought to myself, “How did I miss THAT episode?”
Well! I just discovered I did not miss it. Not only did I not miss it, I reviewed it in AICN post #5805, published April 30, 2000. I discovered this while trying to confirm the date we posted #5596.
The episode, written and directed by David Duchovny (!) shortly before he stopped being a regular on “The X-Files,” is titled “Hollywood AD” and (I now realize) contains one of my all-time favorite X-Files scenes.
My review from last century:
Fox is promoting the wiggens out of the tonight’s appearances of Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni, so I felt obliged to try to spill a few beans:
1) Shandling and Leoni are barely in the show, popping up briefly at the top of the episode, and again toward the end. Shandling and David Duchovny, so memorable together on “The Larry Sanders Show,” exchange dialogue only once and very briefly; the conversation focuses on Mulder’s penis, but isn’t nearly as funny as intended. Most of the show is about a Hollywood producer following the FBI guys around for research.
2) Shandling and Leoni play themselves, cast in a movie playing characters based on – and named for – Mulder and Scully.
3) Tonight’s episode – written and directed by Duchovny – is SO self-mocking it made me wonder if the series lead is trying to sink the “X-Files” before he jumps. It is obviously meant as a comic episode, and I did find myself laughing hard at one split-screen scene toward the end, as Scully, Mulder and Skinner -- all visiting Hollywood -- phone each other while simultaneously luxuriating in bubble baths and sipping champagne (yes, you read correctly):
SKINNER: Agent Mulder, this is associate director Skinner, I hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time.
MULDER: No sir, I’m just, um (glancing down at the bubbles), at the computer.
SKINNER: Listen, I just wanted to apologize for coming down so hard on you during the Hoffman/O’Fallon case.
MULDER: I appreciate that, Skin-Man!
SKINNER: Don’t call me that.
MULDER: So what are you up to right now, sir?
SKINNER: I’m taking a bubble bath.
MULDER: H – Hold on one – just one second sir.
(Mulder hits the switch-hook)
MULDER: Hey Scully! Skin-Man is calling me from a bubble bath!
SKINNER: It’s still me, Mulder.
MULDER: Uh - sor – well, just hold on one second, sir.
(Mulder hits the switch-hook more forcefully)
MULDER: Skinner is calling me from a bubble bath!
SCULLY: Wow! He’s really gone Hollywood!
SCULLY: You know, Mulder, speaking of Hollywood, I think Tea Leoni has a little crush on you.
MULDER: (utterly dismissive) Yeah, right, like Tea Leoni’s ever gonna have a crush on me!
SCULLY: I think that Shandling likes you a bit too.
MULDER: (fascinated) Really?
Is it me, or is the "The X-Files" different now?
I warned you not to defy me!