The X-Files:
Jose Chung's
'From Outer Space' (1996)

Season 3: Episode 20
(Original Air Date: April 12, 1996)

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J.C. Mašek III... The J and C STILL stand for Jose Chung!!!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

I've made absolutely no secret of my admiration for prolific author Jose Chung or the fact that I've read every book he's ever published! The only reason I've yet to review any of his works on this site is that... Well, I'm not worthy to!

One of the coolest things about the guy is that he allowed himself to be portrayed in a popular prime time television show created by Chris Carter! The episode, as written by Darin Morgan (with probable uncredited contributions by Mr. Chung himself) and well directed by "THE" Rob Bowman, tells the tale of the interviews and research that he went through in order to write one of his most famous and influential (not to mention critically acclaimed) book, best known as Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space"!

And what, pray tell, what show is worthy (or appropriate) enough to detail such a momentous piece of research? Why The X-Files, of course! The choice of this show demonstrates not only the integrity of Ten Thirteen productions, but also, with all due respect, Mr. Jose Chung's own sense of humor!

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The choice of Charles Nelson Reilly to play the illustrious Maestro Chung might, on initial glance, also seem to be a bit of humor, however, anyone who has seen interviews with Jose Chung knows how perfectly Reilly captures the essence of Chung! Trust me... Charles Nelson Reilly is excellent in this role. He brings both a whimsy and a dignity to the character or, at least, brings out those qualities that Jose Chung already had.

Before I do any sort of recapping, I want to point out that this is STILL an episode of The X-Files! Morgan (presumably at Chung's suggestion) places the characters of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) in the roles of Reynard Muldrake and Diana Lesky, the two agents Chung details in the novel (well, you know... you read it!). After all... those weren't their REAL names anyway, so why not Mulder and Scully?

Morgan and Bowman (and Chung) start with the tale of a young couple on a date (Sarah Sawatsky's Chrissy and Jason Gaffney's Harold). Everything seems to be going relatively well until the couple is ABDUCTED BY ALIENS!!!

Man, I tell you, Alien Abduction ruins MORE first dates. Damn it!

Lucky for us X-Files viewers and Jose Chung readers (but unlucky for him), the whole thing is witnessed by a bystander that we'll call Roky Crikenson (here played by William Lucking)! The unlucky part shifts into HYPERDRIVE when the "festivities" are interrupted by a bigger, stronger, meaner Alien named Lord Kinbote (Tony Morelli)... or so HIS side of the story goes.

You see, that's the crux of this episode... and it's a twisted and turning mystery worthy of a Jose Chung novel in and of itself!!! Like some Space Age version of Rashomon, everybody's got their own take on what really happened that fateful night... and its aftermath.

Who could be telling the truth? Harold and Chrissy? Their stories contradict themselves and each other. Hell, they even describe an encounter with a Cigarette Smoking Alien (here played by human Mike Fields)!

Roky? Come ON, have you read the BOOK? The guy Roky's based on was (and is) a TOTAL Nut! But even his story has to have SOME truth to it (or else the great Jose wouldn't have constructed part of his book around it).

Then there's Blaine Faulkner (Allan Zinyk), an unreliable witness to be sure! I wouldn't trust that guy to return a VIDEO for me... Let me rephrase that... I ESPECIALLY wouldn't trust that guy with videos!

Well, the military was involved, right? Surely we can trust the word of Air Force Lieutenant Jack Schaefer (Daniel Quinn)! Yeah! Try and FIND him! Note, Shaefer's name was NOT changed for Chung's book, or this episode!

And then there's the cop in charge of this investigation, Detective Manners (Larry Musser). According to Chung the man can't stop swearing enough to give a straight answer.

Folks, not even the accounts of Special Agents Mulder and Scully (or should I say Muldrake and Lesky?) can be completely counted on. Scully admits to having memory blackouts relating to the whole thing while Mulder asserts that the two "Men in Black" that he encounters either were or strongly resembled, get this, Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek! That's right... the Wrestler (turned Governor) and the Game Show Host!

Lord KNOWs who is telling the truth... and Lord KNOWs who would KNOW if they were!

Capable director Rob Bowman keeps this unique hour of television very interesting the whole way through and manages to capture a great, great deal of the tried and true HUMOR that both Morgan and Chung himself do so very well! If moments are played as a joke, it's clear that Chung himself thinks they're a joke (or considered them so during his research). Further, in deference either to the paranormal basis of the host show or to Chung's own knowledgeable (and altogether witty) style, certain characters, though based on the real players in this saga, were given names reminiscent of real (though different) people to keep the saga going.

To a degree, the humor and the drama sometimes lead to a confusing grey-area (pardon my pun, you Zeta Reticulan Enthusiasts), but that may well be part of the point. Just as this episode and the accompanying novel-length tome illustrate, we just don't really know what's 100% real and based in fact, what's implanted, remembered wrong or just, plain made up by Jose Chung.

Alas, I would tell you to ask him yourself at a book signing or Science Fiction convention, but alack, the great, great Jose Chung, one of the greatest writers of all time, the leading literary light of his generation, who composed profound stories in a style that made Proust seem pallid, whose lovable flamboyancy made him not only a literary icon, but a cultural one as well, passed away not long after his next book, Doomsday Defense hit stores. Research for that one was detailed on another Chris Carter series called Millennium in an episode called, of course, "Jose Chung's 'Doomsday Defense'"!

This is, needless to say, a tragic loss to us all, however we do have his great writings to peruse at will and we do have one of the best ever episodes of The X-Files to show for it... in his tribute... in his memory. We still may never know what really happened, but we can laugh out loud at one of the best and definitely the funniest episode of The X-Files ever aired while still taking note of the serious parts. You may not need to watch your back or wait your visitation... but something is going on behind the curtain... Jose knew it and we all feel it once in a while! Still... that doesn't mean we can't all laugh about it! Laugh with me as I award "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" Four and one half Stars out of Five! Watch the Skies, heed the warnings and don't forget to laugh. Lord Kinboat and the Cigarette Smoking Alien would be offended if you didn't!

Rest assured... no matter what you end up believing, you can bank on seeing ME in the next reel! And by the way... To avoid fainting keep repeating "This is not happening. This is not happening. This is not happening."

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The X-Files: "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" (1996)
Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who is solely responsible for his Reviews
And for the fact that he's thinking of buying a Cherry Picker...
It appears to be a GREAT WAY to meet people!
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"Jose Chung's 'Doomsday Defense'"