When Darin Morgan wrote for The X-Files, he penned such classic episodes as
'Humbug' and 'Clyde Bruckmans Final Repose', for which he
won an Emmy. One of his season three scripts was the outrageous 'Jose Chung's From Outer
Space', he which fictional novelist Jose Chung
(played by Charles Nelson Reilly) tried to make sense of a bizarre Mulder and Scully investigation by interviewing those involved. The episode was
an instant favorite amongst fans, and was another prime example of Morgan's unusual talents.
Morgan's brother Glen was one of the key figures in The X-Files for several years, and eventually X-creator Chris Carter gave Glen and partner James Wong for control on his other series, Millennium. Under
Morgan and Wong, Millennium moved into intriguing new directions that it wouldn't have dared during it's first series. Also onboard for the second batch of shows was Darin, who took the position of consulting producer at his brother's request. He confessed to not being the biggest fan of the debut season. "The problem wasn't that it was too dark. It just wasn't too good. If the stories were better, who'd care if they were dark?"
the second season's most ambitious episodes was 'Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense', Darin's first script for Millennium that
brought back Charles Nelson Reilly's eccentric writer character . In addition to penning the episode, Morgan also made his
'Doomsday Defense' centered on Frank Black and comrades Peter Watts (Terry O'Quinn) and Detective Geibelhouse (Stephen James Lang) investigations into the bizarre death of a man who was part of a popular and controversial new age cult called Selfosophy. Chung himself aided Black, and was then established as a possible target for Selfosophy followers when he publishes a story making fun of their beliefs. Also involved was a deranged axe murderer who was killing those he believed to be one the three anti-Christs predicted by Nostradamus.
The outlandish and often hilarious proceedings were a far stretch from the show's usual grim chills, and many involved with Millennium were more than a little startled by Morgan's script....including star Lance Henriksen. "I'll tell you what happened," the veteran actor explained. "When I first read the script I got really angry. I said, 'What? Are you [Morgan] trivializing the show?' But when I first saw Charles Nelson Reilly doing a scene, I said to myself, 'What am I upset about?' Reilly is a warm, wonderful human guy and I completely surrendered to the story and script that. But, when I first read it, I was very angry. I got with Darin and said, 'Darin, is this what you do? Take something you really like and respect and then absolutely trash it?' He just looked at me like he was afraid of me, I was so angry. But he's a sweet guy. Darin's a nice guy."
"Darin elevates television verbiage," said Charles Nelson Reilly of Morgan's output. "It's not just another episode of an extraterrestrial or detective show."
Darin's scripts, such as 'Final Repose', 'Humbug' and 'Doomsday Defense' are overflowing with eccentric, or outright bizarre characters, and the writer admits to having an understand of such misfits. "Discomfort with normal society, I guess. People look at me, and I don't look strange. They don't even notice me, and yet I've never really felt like I fit in anywhere."
Darin's brother Glen knew the episode would be extremely edgy, but thought it would be worth the risk. Nevertheless, it was something of an
ordeal. "The scientologists were not happy with us," remembers
Morgan of the reaction to the episode by representatives of the Church Of Scientology, who object to Jose Chung's criticism of the millennial self-help movement. "We kept saying, 'This is not about you'. But they didn't
believe us, and went back and forth. Ultimately, the episode was a great experience, and I wouldn't trade that. However, you don't like being called a religious bigot, and you don't like getting constant phone calls."
Despite the fact that 'Doomsday Defense' brought back a popular X-Files
character, and even screened directly after that popular series, the episode faired surprisingly poorly.
"The ratings just went
down," says Glen Morgan. "It wasn't like they carried over and dropped in the second half hour. After The X-Files,
people turned it off. It was one of our lowest rated shows, and I really believed it would be of the highest rated
The shows writer/director is known for his talents, but also for his self-hating opinions on his career. What he did with 'Doomsday Defense' didn't change his outlook. "I may never direct again," he said. "It's been kind of a terrible experience, and I don't even want to write again, so I don't know what I'm doing. I don't want to do anything. That's the problem."
Darin Morgan received much acclaim, and set himself up for a second Millennium gig as writer-director...the equally
spectacular and even more wild 'Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me'. Charles Nelson Reilly himself received a well-deserved
Emmy nomination for Guest Actor in a Drama Series, and won somewhat of a career revival (it was nominated the next year
for his guest appearance in The Drew Carey Show).
Despite poor ratings and Scientologist backlash, 'Jose Chungs Doomsday Defense' remains one of the imaginative and original hours in the history of TV.
READ MY DETAILED REVIEW OF THIS EPISODE