Sunday, December 20, 2015

X-Files: How The Ghosts Stole Christmas 'Shipper Survey

'Tis the season to be cranky, fa la la la phooey.

This wasn't really a fun episode to watch back in the day.

To all the Germans visiting this site during these holidays, apologies for ruining Mithras Festivus Saturnalia for you.

Here goes:

X-Files: How the Ghosts Stole Christmas 'Shipper Survey

SPOILER SPACE for those who think the Ghost of Christmas Future will be played by The Guy Who Will Always Be Known As Doogie Howser

Okay, here we go...

1) Once upon a Midnight Clear-y, while Scully gift-wrapped, weak and weary...there came a beeping gently bleeping on her cellular phone (all right, it ain't Poe, but poetry ain't my gig, you dig?). She drives out to "Somewhere in Maryland" (If it's Crofton, my older brother needs to re-appraise his property value...) on Christmas Eve to find Mulder staked out in front of a condemned home. You realize:

A) That Scully isn't out caroling with her mother like she's supposed to! Damn it! When is Sheila Larken going to make her mandatory appearance this season so she can call Mulder "Fox"?!?!

B) That "Somewhere in Maryland" doesn't cut it for your rabid X-Phile, who'll most likely chart the location according to stellar cartography, time of day, nautical measurements, and determine the exact location to be...Vancouver?!...whoops, didn't carry the two on that longitudinal calculation...

C) That it would have been so much easier on them if Fox had swung by Annapolis to pick up Dana at her mother's ("Hi, Fox!" "Mrs. Scully, PLEASE stop calling me that!...") before driving to this...quaint bed and breakfast...

2) Scully wants to know what the hell is going on. "Mulder: Stakeout. Scully: On Christmas Eve? Mulder: It's an important date. Scully (borderline ticked-off): No kidding." Mulder wants a stake-out on this house on Christmas Eve. Scully complains that she's got an early morning with her family at 0600 hours and that she's got some wrapping to finish up. As Mulder spies at the back of her car, spotting all the presents already wrapped, you realize:

A) That the Blessed One has been caught fibbing! <gasp> Oh My God, now she DOES have something to confess to her priest!...<hang head in shame>

B) That Scully quite simply isn't in the mood to house-shop...she's comfortable with her new apartment in Georgetown as is...<shrug> <writer of survey is home-shopping though, so where's them classifieds?>

C) That this is Dana's subtle way of saying she wants to sit at her mom's house in front of the Christmas tree...sipping warm tea...with Fox...under the mistletoe...<wink> <wiggle eyebrows>

3) Scully does her best to avoid temptation, but the next thing you know she's sliding into Mulder's car wanting to know what the big deal is about an abandoned house. Mulder says it's not abandoned, that the former occupants are returning, and thereby hangs a tale. Scully quickly realizes this is a haunted house and Mulder wants her to go "ghost-busting." As he tells a tale of young lovers seeking to escape the horrors of war and plague in 1917, you note:

A) That there's a trout-shaped package in Scully's backseat that she should give to the Punk now for getting her out in the middle of Andover and locking the car doors on her all with this warped desire to chase ghosts...

B) That "ghost-busting" is a trademark owned by Dan Ackroyd and various other suits in Hollywood, and you'll be sure CC will be hearing from their lawyers in the morning

C) That this idea of a lovers' pact doesn't sound so great... why didn't that ghostly couple go to Vegas for an Elvis wedding like Moose and Squirrel are supposed to?...

4) Scully doesn't buy it. Mulder, slightly disappointed that she doesn't believe in ghosts, gets out of the car and goes to enter the gothic house alone. Scully, at first worried Mulder should have somewhere else to go, tries to talk herself into not following him ("I'm not going to do it. My New Year's resolution."). But as she pats her jacket for her car keys, you wonder:

A) Whether or not the Blessed One will have to seriously kick the Punk's ass for taking her car keys

B) Why Scully doesn't believe in ghosts after five years and a half years of doing this show...and not only that, but Ahab and Missy are bound to be spinning in their graves...

C) Why Dana just doesn't invite Fox over to her mom's house...Bill and his family are staying at a hotel, so nobody's feathers will be ruffled tonight as they sit by the fireplace humming "Winter Wonderland" and looking up at the mistletoe and... <phone rings. Writer: "Oh, hi, Mary. No, I do not have a mistletoe fetish!... and by the way, do you need those research papers back for grading?... Oh, the students flunked anyway...Sorry about that...">

5) Scully storms into the house after Mulder, asking if he took her car keys. He says no, and then the doors slam shut as lightning strikes through the fog-filled hills of Bowie, MD. At this point, you:

A) Know the Punk is lying through his teeth, and he's got the Lone Gunmen outside operating a dry ice machine and strobe lights/sfx equipment all in some elaborate hoax to scare the Blessed One into a false confession that she Believes... but it won't work!

B) Scream, hide under the sofa, and rediscover all those Canadian quarters you keep getting in the vending machines instead of real American coinage like you're supposed to when you get change back from soda machines! I mean, I can't trade those Canadian coins back for American quarters! It's a bloody rip-off! I hate getting the wrong change, dammit! I hate it I hate it I hate...<writer gets tackled by medics> <they give tranq injection> <writer smiles, becomes calm> <sings> Oh, the weather outside... is frightful... hmm-hm-hmm-hm-delightful... la-da-la-la-la-da-da, let it snow let it snow let in snow...

C) Hope this bed-and-breakfast has a nice downy-filled mattress that Dana and Fox will find warm and cozy... <deep sigh>

6) They're locked in the house. There's noises upstairs, chains rattling, floors creaking. Scully sees a shadowy figure during the flash of lightning. And there's something about that grandfather clock... You take this all in and:

A) Wait for Scully to state one of her "Scully Rational Explanations" (trademark pending) to convince Mulder to help her kick the damn doors down!

B) Recognize the grandfather clock from an episode of "Hart To Hart"! This is what happens when you move your production to L.A.! You keep seeing the same rock formation in the desert again and again and again and...but I digress...

C) Wonder why the camera hasn't spotted that mistletoe in the foyer yet... <phone rings> <Writer: "Nancy? Yet Another Nancy? Hey, how, look, it's Christmas. I have to write about mistletoe. It's not a fetish, okay???...">

7) As expected, Scully hauls out her SRE (note: oh, to the newbies, this stands for Scully Rational Explanation). I'd write it down, but I wouldn't finish it until Easter. To wit, we react to the potential horror of haunted houses because the concept of such is so ingrained into our collective consciousness. Ghosts reflect not the reality of an afterlife but the Living's desire to believe in some form of immortality. Mulder doesn't hear a word of it, which leads you:

A) To want Scully to turn on the lights in the house, use the clock to smash open the doors, get in her car, hot-wire the ignition, and drive home to be with people who actually listen to what she has to say

B) To stop using an Ouija board to contact the dead, since that doesn't seem to work, and use something else that would attract those spirits that are young and immortal... something like Pictionary!...

C) To count all the words Dana uses that connotes sexual imagery... hmm, I count nine! <sigh>

8) A door (once locked) squeaks open. "Tell me you're not afraid," whispers Mulder. Yes, Scully whispers back, "I'm afraid... but it's an irrational fear." You:

A) Note that, as the Blessed One is showing us, there is no weakness in being afraid... there is, however, a serious problem of hanging out with Punks that keep getting you in trouble!...

B) Recite the "I will not Fear" speech from "Dune"... "Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will go out to a bar, actually approach cute women, flirt with them, ask for their phone numbers. And if they throw drinks in my face, I will wipe it off before it spills onto my pants. But I will not fear."

C) Want Fox to comfort her by holding Dana close and answering, "Let that feeling you feel be not fear, but hope... and trust... <smooch> and love..." <after he kisses her, then you can swoon>

9) They enter a room, a library (Hey! My kind of haunted house :-)) of sorts where Scully notes how the lights are turned on, and that there's a log on the fire. Someone, squatters perhaps, has moved in here. Mulder openly wonders why anyone would want to be in a house that's cursed. As Scully grouches, "It's not enough that it's haunted? It has to be cursed?" you shout at the screen:

A) see B)

B) see C)

C) "WHAT? Couples die here on Christmas Eve?! NOW YOU TELL US?! Head count, buddy! One gal, one guy equals one couple! Fox, you BLEEPING Punk!"

10) Mulder notices something about the floorboards, and Scully turns to notice the stairs to the upper floor of the library is gone. She turns back to see Mulder doing that "Spooky-Face-with-a-flashlight gag." She screams, and you scream:

A) "Shoot him!"

B) "Shoot him!"

C) "Kiss him, then shoot him!"

11) They lift up the floorboards to find a dead body, then Mulder spots another one next to it. Scully suddenly notices how the dead woman is wearing her clothes...and that the dead guy is wearing Mulder's outfit. As they put two and two together, you:

A) Relish the fact that there are other women who emulate the Enigmatic One's fashion style... uh, that IS another woman under the floorboards, ya?...

B) Wait for them to calmly and quietly place the wooden pieces back where they belong before running the HELL OUT OF THERE!

C) Wonder if the bodies were holding hands...<sigh> What a way to go-go...

12) They try to run for it, but they keep stumbling into the same room. They figure on splitting up to see if either room leads to a way out, but they wind up getting separated when the door closes between them. You:

A) Suffer a post-traumatic flashback to an episode of Scooby-Doo that had the same stunt as this

B) Task the two for separating like that: Rule #2 of Haunted Houses specifically states "You must never split up with the group to investigate a darkened room all by your lonesome."

C) Worry that Dana and Fox will never get a chance to break Rule #1 of Haunted Houses: "Never have sex." :(

13) Mulder shoots the lock on the door only to find a brick wall now between himself and Scully. Then, the door at the other end of the room opens, and...Ed Asner walks out?! This leads you to picture:

A) Alan Alda showing up later as a Conspiracy figure known as "Korean War Doctor Who Has Nightmares About Losing His Arms Man"

B) Shannon Doherty showing up as Bitchy, uh, Witchy Woman... oh, wait, can they afford a cross-over episode like that?...

C) Pope John Paul II as himself blessing Fox and Dana's wedding... well, rule is you hold the wedding in the bride's church, and if Dana's Catholic, then bring in the head honcho to do a job this important, ya?...

14) Ed Asner talks to Mulder about why he's there. Ed describes himself as an expert on behavior relating to the paranormal, and classifies Mulder as a narcissistic, overzealous, self-righteous egomaniac, "you kindly think of yourself as single-minded but you're prone to obsessive compulsiveness, workaholic, anti-socialism... Fertile fields for the descent into total whacko breakdown." He sees Mulder as lonely, chasing "paramasturbatory illusions" and having to trick his own partner into doing things for him. He evens suggests Mulder stole her car keys just to get her inside the house. When Mulder quietly stares back, looking either shocked or guilty, you:

A) Scream, "You DID steal her car keys! You Punk! Shoot him, Scully!"

B) Query, "Paramasturbatory? What is THAT? Would that be <explicit bodily function> to an alien sexual partner? Eeeeeeeewwwww..."

C) Weep over the possibility that, yes, Fox does indeed stay home alone instead of going over to Dana's to sit by the fireplace and glance ever so innocently at the mistletoe hanging overhead... <phone rings> <Writer: "Hi, Zod, I was expecting your call. No. Look. Mistletoe. Christmas. I have to write about mistletoe, okay? Would you prefer I have them eat fruit cake, like that's even possible?...">

15) Scully is having a hard time with her door, too, until Lily Tomlin walks into the room. Scully screams, Lily screams, Scully fumbles for her gun, shouting she's a federal agent. Lily asks some questions about why she's there, finding out that they're looking for ghosts, even though Scully doesn't believe in them. Lily mocks Scully for having such a lonely life, hanging around someone just to prove him wrong, that she "can see it in your face. The fear, the conflicted yearnings, a subconscious desire to find fulfillment through another. Intimacy through co-dependency, etc." As Scully gets defensive, you answer:

A) "Scully, no! That was so embarrassing. Let Mulder do the girly screams, okay?..."

B) "Right. Furniture is draped. Having house painted. Sure. That doesn't explain the cobwebs, swirling dust, floating candelabra, dancing brooms, meddling kids and crazy mutt running around, etc."

C) "Hey, more sexual terminology... 'yearning'... 'fulfillment'... 'intimacy'...add words like 'chocolate' and 'cookie dough ice cream' and Dana'll be flying through the roof!..." <wicked grin>

16) Ed Asner joins the ladies, having left Mulder in the other room to walk into brick walls. Scully gets even more antsy and orders them to raise their hands. She then spots a not-so-solid hole through Lily's midsection, and then, worriedly, lifts Ed's hat to see a very-solid hole through his head. As the poor girl faints, you shout:

A) "Scully, no! That was so embarrassing. Let Mulder do the fainting, okay?..."

B) "Head like a hole! Black as your soul! I'd rather die! Than give you control! <repeat twice> Bow down before the...oh, sorry, I'll stop singing...sorry..."

C) "Hey! They are ghosts! Dana's got to believe now! Does that mean she and Fox can finally end all this denial and DO IT?!?!"

17) The show returns to Mulder, who's now busy climbing up to the upper floor to see if he can escape that way. Lily shows up to block his exit. He figures out she's a ghost, and watches as she checks the books on the shelves, pulling them out without touching them, for the one she's looking for... "The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas." Lily asks Mulder why he and Scully are there, and assumes they came this night to fulfill a lovers' pact to kill each other and live (or should that be un-live?) together forever. As she hands Mulder his own gun, offering the temptation of "never being alone again," you:

A) Chuckle, knowing that the Punk couldn't even shoot the broad side of an Area 51 hanger!

B) Shake your head, knowing that the book-moving scene is a rip-off from "Ghostbusters" and that Dan Ackroyd and his suits WILL be calling CC for sure.

C) Worry, knowing that all Dana and Fox really need is a good chat with Mrs. Scully while she serves them hot cocoa (with marshmallows, yum!) while they sit near the fireplace under the mistletoe... <phone rings> <Writer refuses to answer>

18) Now it's Scully's turn, this time with Ed warning her as she awakens that Mulder is crazy, a sad lonely man who brought her out to this haunted house to fulfil some twisted desire, a secret lovers' pact to un-live forever. He even hands her the car keys, offering a chance to escape. Scully, hearing Mulder banging on the door, instead orders the door between them to be opened. Ed opens it, and Mulder steps in with gun blazing. As the scene cuts to commercial, you realize:

A) That if that's really Mulder pulling the trigger and not a ghostly trick, then the Punk is going to get the Mother of All Trout-Slappings once the Big Trout returns from its TOD in Iraq!!!

B) That Scully's going to have to wear Kevlar body armor off-duty too...

C) Hey! Fox didn't steal the car keys after all! Dana, you're not going to have to shoot him like we thought...<BLAM>...oh. Fox! You didn't have to shoot her! She was going to forgive you about the car keys!...

19) Mulder comes in shooting, shouting that this is the only way to end the loneliness. Scully refuses to shoot back, shouting that she doesn't believe Mulder would do this. <BLAM> Mulder finally aims at her and nails her in the gut. She falls to the floor as Mulder notes "Merry Christmas, Scully," and aims the gun at himself. But as the camera turns and reveals it's really Lily using her ghostly powers to trick Scully, you:

A) Curse Lily for not shooting Mulder first and giving Scully a chance to head back to San Diego and visit Det. Kersage again... oh, she's doing that next week?... okay...

B) Knew all along that Mulder wasn't real: C'mon, if he wanted to get back at her for shooting him in "Anasazi" he would have done that in the "Pusher" episode three years ago!...

C) Convince yourself that Fox was really shooting at this bee he saw on Dana's blouse... damn bee!...

20) Now it's Mulder's turn. He comes into the room to find Scully shot. She mutters that she couldn't believe he would do it, that she would...<BLAM> She nails him in the gut. As Mulder falls down, we see it's really Lily on the floor doing her best to trick him. You reply:

A) "Serves you right for stealing her car... oh, wait, he didn't do that. Serves you right for shooting the Blessed One... oh, wait, Lily did that... Oh. Okay. Serves you right for doing that scary-face trick with your flashlight, you Punk! ...That oughta stick..."

B) "Uh-oh. If Skinner and Krycek show up, the Slashers are going to paint bull's-eyes on them too!"

C) "Damn bee! Stop screwing up Dana and Fox's aim!"

21) Somewhere, an old record player plays a nice, sweet Christmas tune. Mulder and Scully crawl into the main hallway, blood trails in their wake. They see each other, aim, decide against it, and bitch to each other about getting shot. As Mulder stops to think, you realize:

A) That the Blessed One has exceptionally good upper-body strength if she's beating Mulder in the race to the doorway out of there

B) That the realtors in Maryland are going to have a tough time selling this property: "Oh, never mind those brownish streaks on the floor, Mr. and Mrs. Smith... and that growling noise in the upper bedroom, well that's just a loose window... that odd stench coming from that bottomless pit in the basement? That's just the neighbors..."

C) That the ghosts, to create a proper romantic mood, should be playing Dana and Fox's love theme... "Too Drunk To F---" by the Dead Kennedys... <romantic punk sigh>

22) Mulder stands up, figuring out the shootings were all a trick. Scully stands up as well, and they silently glance at one another. You know they're thinking:

A) MULDER: Hey, let's go back in and complain about this treatment we're getting. SCULLY: Do that and I'll shoot you for real, you Punk!

B) MULDER: Run? SCULLY: Run. MULDER: Ladies first. SCULLY: Oh, no. Go right ahead. MULDER: I insist. SCULLY: Let's not wait, shall we? We'll run together.

C) FOX: Oh, dear. I'm going to have to make up this Christmas to her. I wonder if I can get some massage oil for her at this late hour... DANA: I know he meant well, but this Eve hasn't turned out right. It's a good thing I bought some erotic incense for him to use later...

23) They run. You:

A) Praise Scully's ability to move that fast in high heels!

B) Clock them at Mach 2, running a little faster than those teenagers in "Rush". Oh, right, haven't uploaded that survey yet.

C) Swear they held hands quick-stepping it down those stairs!

24) It's morning. Mulder is watching "Christmas Carol (no, the Dickens version!)" on TV. There's a knock at the door. He answers it to find Scully, who is noticeably missing out on her family's 0600 meeting at the tree. She wants to confirm none of this night's events really happened. They fret a little: Scully trying to admit she doesn't live to just prove him wrong, Mulder trying to admit he's a bit self-obsessed (okay, paramasturbatory) about his quest, both of them facing up (a little) to their denials. As you wait for it, you wish:

A) That Mulder would make a New Year's resolution not to ditch Scully all the time, to listen to her, to be more supportive and short, to stop being such a Punk!

B) That the next time these two go after ghosts, they wear some body armor.

C) That they spray for bees right now before they kiss, dammit!

25) Mulder, apologizing for earlier saying they shouldn't exchange Christmas gifts, offers a tube-shaped gift to Scully. Scully offers a box-shaped gift to Mulder. They both grin like kids and sit down to open them. As the camera pulls away, you conclude with this thought:

A) "That better not be a Grail, Mulder! She's already got one! It's very nice-a!..."

B) "What the...? What kind of gift is tube shaped? Why did that box rattle like a video cassette? No, don't pull the camera away! We gotta see!..."

C) "Hey, dammit! Fox, you didn't put up any mistletoe!..." <phone rings> <Writer: "OKAY! Yes, I've NEVER kissed under a mistletoe, ALL RIGHT?! So I'm OBSESSED about the idea!...oh, Mom. You just called about the visit this Christmas... Uh, oh, that rant, uh, never mind...">

If you more often than not answered:

A) Then you are an OBSSEr who's giving out holy trout blessed in the waters of Scully's bathtub for Christmas...just right for slapping the Punk or Punkette in your life!

B) Then you are an X-Phile who's giving out those plastic alien fetuses in bottles for Christmas... much to the chagrin of your Trekkie friends, who would have preferred a Borg action figure.

C) Then you are a 'Shipper who's upset that there wasn't any snow this Christmas episode so Dana and Fox could make snow angels...or any carolers singing bright happy romantic Yuletide tunes...or any cozy fireplace scene sitting on plush rugs drinking warm cocoa...or any mistletoe <phone rings> <Writer: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO">

<singing> And have yourself...a Wicked...Kick-Ass... Christmas... Toooooooooo... ;-)

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