When word leaked last year that the feature film debut of The X-Files would take place mostly in Dallas, it seemed appropriate. After all, the stock-in-trade of the hit TV show—whose protagonists, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), hunt for evidence of alien life on earth—is the government conspiracy. Where better to set its big-screen spin-off than the conspiracy capital of the Western world?
Certainly Dallas officials were happy to hear that one of next summer’s likely blockbusters will be a two-hour infomercial peddling the city as a destination for residents of this and other planets (“See the downtown intersection where Scully got a nosebleed!”). They were even happier when it looked as if the as-yet-untitled movie might even be shot on location. Indeed, the film’s director, Rob Bowman, traveled to Texas to scout around the Metroplex. But according to Roger Burke, the executive director of the Dallas–Fort Worth Regional Film Commission, it was more convenient to shoot closer to Vancouver, where the show is filmed, so they ultimately decided to replicate the look of Dallas in the Los Angeles area. Time was also a factor, says Mitch Pileggi, who plays FBI assistant director Walter Skinner on the show and in the movie. “We were all jammed up,” says Pileggi, who attended the University of Texas at Austin. “We went right from last season into the movie.” Will Southern California look like Dallas? “Maybe not to Texans,” he says, “but it will to the rest of the world.” One reason: After a hush-hush meeting attended by police chief Ben Click, fire chief Dodd Miller, city attorney Sam Lindsay, assistant city manager Levi Davis, and economic development director Mike Marcotte, the movie was given unprecedented permission to use the official logos for D.A.R.T. and the city’s police and fire departments.
Why police and fire? Although the plot of the movie is something of a secret, it’s known that a federal office building in Dallas blows up while agents Mulder and Scully are in the city for the first time in X-Files history. (The show, however, has been there before, in an episode that reveals the identity of JFK’s real killer: the shadowy government operative known as Cigarette-Smoking Man.) In addition, a working title for the film, Blackwood, refers to a fictional Texas town. And if you believe the Internet buzz, the opening scene takes place in an ice cave in North Texas around 35,000 B.C. (roughly the time Stanley Marcus first went to work at Neiman’s).
What does it all mean? X-philes everywhere can’t help but speculate; neither can we. Our best guesses about the Dallas connection: • Ross Perot’s ears receive transmissions from outer space. • Big hair hides the alien implants. • The success of Barney is unexplained phenomena. • The site of Stephan Pyles’s old restaurant is a gathering place for ufologists, whose new motto is “The Routh is out there.” • Dallas is home to the real Cigarette-Smoking Man: Herb Kelleher, the five-pack-a-day-puffing CEO of Southwest Airlines.
The simplest answer, however, may be that the hole in the top of Texas Stadium makes it the perfect place for “them” to land. Could it be that Barry Switzer’s coaching ability has been…abducted?