'Home' was the first episode of The X-Files to receive a parental warning when it debuted in 97, and Fox network vowed never to replay the episode. They went back on that eventually, however. And it's a good thing, because this was one show that was worth watching a second time. The episode did without any conspiracy angles, visual effects, aliens, or any form of supernatural activity in the least. Yet it was still one of the best hours the show's ever produced, as Mulder and Scully come across a family of inbred, mutated freaks in America's heartland. 'Home' (the name of the seemingly innocent town) boasted shocking images, taut direction and a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-ish atmosphere. 'Home' was directed by Kim Manners, written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, who had just returned to The X-Files following the cancellation of their series Space: Above And Beyond.
Wong and Morgan's concept of 'Home' comes from a very unlikely source... Charlie Chaplin! "He was touring England in a musical," explains Morgan. "and went to stay in this old tenement boarding house. The family that ran it evidently took a liking to him, and they said, 'Come on upstairs, we're gonna show you something we don't show to too many people.' So, he goes upstairs to this room with, like, a cot and a hanging bare light bulb, and the family wheels out a young man with no arms or legs. They stand him up and start singing and dancing, and the kid kind of flops around. Of course, Chaplin is horrified. When they're done, they lay the kid back, roll him under the bed and say, 'Wasn't that great?' And he's just mortified. I read that 13 years ago [in Chaplin's autobiography], and ever since then I'd thought, 'God, I've gotta do something like that!' "
"When we turned in the script for 'Home', everybody freaked out," laughs Wong. "We were getting calls from people at Fox saying that we were immoral people. But I'm proud of the fact that 'Home', at that point, was the only X-Files episode to get a warning [at the start] of the show."
Morgan, likewise, points with pride to 'Home' as a memorable, albeit controversial, episode. "I get a kick out of the fact that we have to defend it so often. I really liked the idea that we took a beating on that episode from the people on the internet."
Surprisingly, Morgan personally isn't particularly fond of the finished result. "It was okay," he says. "It's like my brother [Darin] said--it was like midrabge of what we've done. I thought Kim Manners did a good job, but I'm kind of lukewarm. I did like the sequence where the sheriff got it while the Johnny Mathis soundalike was singing. That's something Jim and I always wanted to do, you know: horror sequences. So, I liked that, but I believe that in the first few shows back [after the summer hiatus], David and Gillian have to get into it, and I didn't think they were juiced up in some scenes."
Wong agrees. "I also think that we needed to get back into Mulder and Scully's heads a little bit, and that episode helped is to do that."
Director Kim Manners is considered one of the show's finest directors, with such memorable episodes as 'Leonard Betts', 'Humbug', 'Die Hand Die Vertletzt', 'War Of The Coprohages', 'Field Trip' and the Stephen King-penned 'Chinga' under his belt. But it's 'Home' that perhaps standouts out the most on his resume.
"When I read the script, I knew that we had a Very Special Episode of The X-Files," Manners recalls. "It was the first X-Files script that I thought was truly in the classical horror vein, and I tried to direct it with that in mind. I thought back to the Vincent Price movie The House On Haunted Hill and some of the images in that, and just tried to deliver as much of a horror classic as I could. However, I didn't have any idea that it would probably prove to be one of the fans' favorite episodes of all time, and I certainly had no idea it would see the controversial welcome that it did when it originally aired. I didn't think we'd offend so many people," he adds with a laugh. "But there is something to be said in that. At least we got people's attention, and I'm proud of the episode. I think today it's one of my best efforts."
Fans certainly agree. The episode even received a mention in Entertainment Weekly's 'Best Of 96' issue, in which the following appeared: "Best argument against incest; This season's creepiest X-Files episode: "Home". Let's just leave Mommy alone in the car trunk, kids".