The X-Files: Sunshine Days

Case: The Brady Bunch returns.

Destination: California, Washington, DC

“I mean, I’ve been working this unit for nine years now. I’ve investigated nearly 200 paranormal cases. We are due for some incontrovertible proof. I want vindication – for Mulder and for all of us.”

Scully spends most of this episode happy that she is witnessing a phenomenon that she just might be able to prove. Of course, it’s never that simple. The X-Files is almost at its end, with one last story before the much-hyped finale. The creative team of the show decided to give this episode the last dash of X-File whimsy.

Apparently, not every viewer was happy with this tale. The ending episodes were heavily hyped and promoted as a major event, so some did wonder why the show was wasting the penultimate episode on The Brady Bunch. I remember thinking that it sounded like a lame idea, but on viewing – I definitely changed my mind. I love this one; it’s like our agents are saying goodbye to the past in a way that there isn’t any room for, in the finale. Here, we just have a sweet and woebegone little story that really got me, right in the feels.

In showcasing The Brady Bunch, the production seems to be saying that a fictional world can be a great thing, but there comes a time when one needs to step into the real world to live their life. I’ve been mesmerized by the idiot box (I prefer screen of dreams) for as long as I can remember. There are whole other galaxies to explore in there. I’ve seen not only outer space, but also England in the Victorian era. I’ve ridden horses on the Ponderosa's land in Bonanza and chased criminals in a Ford Gran Torino with Starsky and Hutch. I’ve journeyed with Anne Shirley to Green Gables and I’ve sung all over Austria with Maria in The Sound of Music. Give that up to only live in boring reality? Never! Some might say that it’s rude of The X-Files to tell us that it’s over and we should stop obsessing over their fictional world, but the episode’s so cleverly well done, that I forgive them.

The story also has a haunting quality and several times I am reminded of The Shining when viewing this one. Mostly, though, I just love watching Doggett, Reyes, and Scully work their last case, together. Everything changes when Mulder returns and even though I love Mulder – his return signals the end of John and Monica’s story. That’s too bad because the characters have just become a wonderful team, one that I would have happily watched for several more seasons.

The case begins as two dudes drink too much and decide to visit a home where one guy was sure that he had seen the interior of The Brady Bunch house. Now, both guys are killed and that’s sad… however, I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. They shouldn’t have died, but then they shouldn’t have been trespassing, either. Oliver warns them to leave, but they don’t listen. He didn’t want to hurt those boys and I’m sure he doesn’t like having to fix the roof, over and over again, either. Doggett later says that throwing someone out of the house like Oliver did, it wasn’t voluntary, anyways. His power wanted them gone and he didn’t know how to stop it.


I love seeing the Brady house and that weird horse statue, once again. I was between four and nine when the show aired, so I probably watched re-runs, mostly. I don’t remember being obsessed with it, I just thought that it was entertaining, for the most part. The television programs were limited back then, you have to understand. During the morning we watched cartoons, the afternoons were dominated by soap operas, and in the evening – we had three or four channels of mostly family-type shows. Then it was news, late night, and fuzz. I wasn’t as picky, then, about my entertainment.

Anyways, I’m loving the interaction between our three FBI agents, the guest cast, and the stunts are pretty cool, too. The part where Doggett is upside down on the attic ceiling’s a lot of fun. Have you ever walked around your house while looking into a hand mirror at the ceiling? You should try it, sometime. It’s trippy, literally.


Anyhow, Michael Emerson (Lost) is great as Anthony/Oliver Martin. Sweet little Anthony becomes Oliver when he felt lonely as an adult. His telekinetic powers and psychokinesis let him create his own world; the one where he’s the happiest. Some of my favorite dreams are ones where I’m with the characters of my beloved television shows. They don’t occur often enough, alas, and are hard to remember when they do. My last one – I was in the backseat of the Impala with Sam and Dean Winchester in the front, so that was great. I was a case! I just wish I could remember what we were talking about, but sadly I can’t.

The other thing that I enjoy about this tale is the relationship between Anthony and Dr. Rietz. I love the old film that they show with a young Anthony and I love the backstory. It’s reminiscent of Poltergeist as we learn that the young boy was the center of a case where objects flew around his house, rooms got cold, and strange voices were heard. After six months, the manifestations stopped and Dr. Reitz left Anthony alone again with his working mother. He became isolated and lonely, so he clung to the thing that made him happiest – enjoying The Brady Bunch with his doctor. Now, because of his powers, he didn’t have to just watch – he could bring the Bradys to life around him. That’s so cool, but still sad. I don’t know if I can adequately describe how this episode affected me, or the lure of fantasy, in general. I frequently have to pull myself out of some fantasy world and go back to doing real life tasks. It’s hard enough now, so I can’t imagine how hard it would be if I was someone who could control my surroundings to actively join in. I’d probably just want to stay in fantasyland.

Oliver/Anthony is killing himself with the use of his powers and has to stop. He knows that he’s not strong enough to stop if he’s alone, so it’s wonderful that Dr. Rietz agrees to stay with him. Let’s hope that Dr. Rietz is healthy and lives a long time. I’m not really crazy about the part where Oliver/Anthony spins Skinner in his office, it just seems cheesy to me, but Scully and Skinner want to rub the proof in Kersh’s face and be validated, which would be fun.  Unfortunately, like usual on this show, it’s not meant to be.

Other Thoughts:

This is the 200th episode of The X-Files. There are plenty of meta moments here, as the characters talk about how long they’ve been researching the paranormal and the thought that Mulder’s life work will now never end. Doggett’s very proud of himself as he thinks that he’s finally become the agent that we need. Oliver’s real name, Anthony, is a homage to The Twilight Zone’s “It’s a Good Life.”

There’s no Brady house set, anymore. The old one’s torn down, so the crew had to build the interior of the house themselves. They did a really good job; from the green double front doors to the floating staircase.

The last episode had Mrs. Robert Patrick as a guest star and this one has Mrs. Mitch Pileggi in her reoccurring role as Skinner’s secretary.

Doggett calls The Brady Bunch the “perfect” family that everyone wishes they had. Loving parents, lots of brothers and sisters, everyone getting along. That does sound nice.

The ending scene, when John takes Monica’s hand, is wonderful. It brings back memories of Mulder and Scully’s relationship and how they used to reach for each other hands when they needed to. It also meant to me that John and Monica would stay together and that their journey would continue, even if we didn’t see it. The recent reboot has messed up that mind canon, for me, so I’m not happy about that. We’ll see what happens when the show returns, which’s a weird thing to write about a show from so long ago.

Quotes:

Reyes: “Smile, all of Southern California is watching us scratch our heads in confusion.”

Doggett: “Yeah, Judge, I want to toss the house of a man who makes people magically zoom into the sky. It has something to do with electricity and poltergeists and whatnot.”

Reyes: “I was wondering why a man with no criminal record would change his name and then I thought about the name, itself – Oliver Martin. It sounded familiar so I ran it.”
Doggett: “Through what, NCIC?”
Reyes: “No, a Brady Bunch web site. It popped right up.”

Doggett: “Cousin Oliver? Who the hell’s that?”
Reyes: “Carol Brady’s nephew. He came to live with the Bradys during the last season of the show.”
Doggett: “You’re speaking Greek to me, here.”

Scully: “A jinx. Cousin Oliver the jinx… oh, so maybe I watched an episode, or two.”

Skinner: “This kind of proof – it insures that they can’t shut you down. It means the X-Files will go on forever.” It could, possibly.

Anthony: “I can’t be alone.”
Dr. Reitz: “You won’t be. You’ve got me.”

Doggett: “So close, Dana. I’m sorry you don’t get your proof.”
Scully: “Me, too. Well, maybe I’ve had it these past nine years. If not proof of the paranormal, then…of more important things.” I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Doggett: “I think I’m getting the hang of this job.” “A to B to C.”  Doggett, I miss you.

I’m glad that there’s another sweet and comical episode at the end of the show’s nine-year run. I was impatient for the finale, the first time, but since the finale was such a disappointment in some ways…now I can really appreciate how enjoyable a sweet and funny monster-of-the-week story is, one more time.

Four and a half out of five footballs to the nose.

Mallena loves The X-Files of the past.

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

And one to go! (Plus the second movie. :)

Heather said...

Aw, I love this review, Mallena. You're so thoughtful in your analysis, it really touched me to read it. I love having dreams with my fav tv characters, they really are the best!

Mallena said...

Heather, thanks! I really need to keep a journal on my bed table so that I can write down my most memorable dreams. I have apocalyptic dreams, now and then, and I'm always happy in them. I'm never scared or sad, I just enjoy the adventure and feel relief that I don't have to worry about the pressures of my real life. Weird, I know. Zombies haven't showed up yet, luckily.