Hollywood A.D. 7×18: Is this a real fake or a fake fake?


Champagne and strawberries. That’s my man.

Is it the year of Hollywood or the year of our Lord? Or is it the year of Walter Skinner?

Well, it’s definitely the episode of Walter Skinner, since seeing him act silly for once is about all I need to get by. About all I need. Not quite all I need.

“Hollywood A.D.” is David’s second outing as both writer and director on The X-Files, but it lacks the focus of his earlier effort, “The Unnatural” (6×20). “The Unnatural” was a story about belonging and bonding as brought to you by baseball. This is more of an end of the year keg party on film. I can’t view it as an X-File, only as an act of gleeful self-effacement.

There’s a story within a story within a story, here. We have the X-File of the Lazarus Bowl, The X-Files as a show, and then the Hollywood machine behind The X-Files. David Duchovny is smart so, plot-wise, it’s surprisingly easy to follow considering how complex it is. What’s confusing for me is figuring out what’s important. Is there a theme here? What’s sincere and what’s a joke? Is there a point? Am I supposed to take seriously that bit at the end about Hollywood taking real people’s stories and rendering them meaningless? Is something meant to be significant or are we just having fun?

Fun is good, but if it’s fun we’re meant to be having than the potentially serious themes about religion, belief, and faith as a form of insanity are distracting. There are things just tossed into the script, like gnosticism and latin phrases, that he can’t actually expect the audience to understand the meaning and implications of unless they have a religious or academic background in such things. The resurrected Micah Hoffman throws his, “Noli me tangere, baby.” at Scully like it’s an in-joke that would take too much time to explain.* It’s an in-joke extravaganza.

Going over the heads of the unfamiliar is one risk, offending those who are familiar is another. I won’t get into that but I’m sure there were irritated fans out there. The relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus can be a touchy subject. *cough* The Da Vinci Code *cough!* And those pictures in Micah Hoffman’s studio were a bit much…

If he had explored those religious ideas and made a serious episode out of them, we might have something more to talk about. As it stands, I think it’s best to ignore the religious themes completely and focus on the comedy, because the situational humor and the one liners are basically all this episode has going for it.

“Hollywood A.D.” is probably the most meta The X-Files ever got. It’s like David Duchovny threw a house party and invited the cast, the crew, his family and his friends and they’re sending a home video of them waving to the fans. It does make for some memorable moments. I personally find the little rib nudges about David as Mulder having a crush on his then real-life wife, actress Téa Leoni, absolutely adorable. Dang it, I loved them together.

The parade of friends is so long it would take the entire review to name them all, but I am going to shout out David Alan Grier. It was completely age inappropriate but I used to love him on In Living Color back in the day. Oh, the 90’s. Good times.

Another highlight is watching Scully teach Tea Leoni how to run in heels. And they just keep going in the background while Gary Shandling quizzes Mulder about his dressing habits. That bit cracks me up every time.

And, of course, who could forget the three-way bathtub conversation? Because that really is all kinds of hilarious.

The bottom line is that the parts of it that are funny are really, really, funny. But as an episode, it’s disjointed.


I wish this had been an out-and-out comedy instead of a comedy burdened down by an X-File that was never fully explored. We never do find out the whole story. Micah Hoffman was resurrected, then died again. He wasn’t Jesus then, I take it? Who was the corpse Scully autopsied???

But I’m not here to moan and gripe. The only question for me is, is it worth it?

Is it worth it? Well, Scully’s face as she watches Hollywood Scully and Mulder make out on screen is pretty much priceless, so… yes?


P.S. I’m in love with Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

P.P.S. Mitch Pileggi isn’t far behind.

Them bones, them bones, them dry bones:

So… Scully’s Catholic again?

Speaking of Scully, she would have freaked out so much more during that autopsy. Anyone in their right mind would have lost their mind.

All that talk about Richard Gere and the guy who plays Micah Hoffman actually looks like him to me.

I heard Heisenberg! Another X-FilesBreaking Bad connection.

Heck, he even brought back Chuck Burke. Thank you for that, David Duchovny.

Forgive me if my skepticism is showing, but I can’t see Skinner and Wayne Federman being buddies. Ever.

Why do I see palm trees outside a Washington, D.C. cafe?

That shot of the Nokia phone is also making me feel nostalgic.

That moment when an almost complete stranger intimates to Mulder that Scully and Skinner are having a fling.

*This is the Latin version of what Jesus said to Mary Magdelene after His resurrection in John 20:17 – “Touch Me not…”

Best Quotes:

Wayne Federman: She: Jodi Foster’s foster child on a Payless budget. He’s like a… Jehovah’s Witness meets Harrison Ford’s “Witness.”


Wayne Federman: How about the Shroud of Turin?

Cardinal O’Fallon: No, afraid not, but we do have the Bathrobe of St. Peter.

Wayne Federman: You’re kidding?

Cardinal O’Fallon: Yes, I am.


Wayne Federman: I like the way you guys work– no warrants, no permission, no research. You’re like studio executives with guns.


Mulder: Well, you know, sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction.

Wayne Federman: Well, fiction is quicker than truth and cheaper. You want my advice? You’re both crazy.

Mulder: Well, why do you say that?

Wayne Federman: [To Mulder] Well, you’re crazy for believing what you believe. [To Scully] And you’re crazy for not believing what he believes. I’ll leave you with that. Thank you.


Scully: You’ve seen this movie 42 times?

Mulder: Yes.

Scully: Doesn’t that make you sad? It makes me sad. {Editor’s Note: What would Scully think of us?}


26 responses to “Hollywood A.D. 7×18: Is this a real fake or a fake fake?

  1. I’m not a huge fan of this episode. It’s too meta and inside jokey for me. Although I love the lighter side that we get to see of Scully. She smiles so much! David likes to bring out that side of her in his episodes. The conversation between M/S in his apartment and at the end are some of my favorites.

    Also, Scully can read Greek? Of course she can. I’m surprised she couldn’t understand the Aramaic.

    • Because Scully magically knows everything she needs to know, like the scientific name for nicotine off the top of her head even though she’s a non-practicing pathologist who probably hasn’t run into nicotine poisoning ever…

  2. I found the main plot a bit hard to follow. I re-watched it in its entirety recently, but I still got confused by the end of the storyline. Other than that, this is a fun episode. I loved the Marilyn Monroe crack from Skinner.

  3. I confess, I love this episode, and it was one of the many episodes I hated as a kid. (I couldn’t stand Beyond the Sea the first time I saw it because it was so scary to me; it gave me nightmares. I can’t get enough of it now). I choose to see this episode as hilarious and block out all the problematic religious stuff. Scully (or Gillian’s stand-in *that poor girl!*) running back and forth while Mulder talks to movie Mulder about how he dresses makes my day. There is so much fun about this episode that makes my day. But, hey, in real life I’m a counselor…in a prison…so it really doesn’t take too much comedy to make my day.

  4. Pingback: Season 7 Wrap Up – You don’t want me looking foolish. | Musings of an X-Phile

  5. I have been doing a bit of patchwork re-watching—mostly the “funny” episodes. This is next on my list. I forgot about Garry Shandling! I wonder if The Larry Sanders show is streaming somewhere….

  6. Statler: Well, how do you like the film?
    Waldorf: I’ve seen detergents leave a better film than this!
    – The Muppet Movie, 1979

    And thus begins my second kindest remark about “Hollywood A.D.”

    Continuing on my Celebrity Vanity Project jihad, “Hollywood A.D.” was meta where meta was neither needed nor desired. Perhaps this entire season is a CVP in motion. Leave that crap to “Supernatural”, I say. Salome discussed avoiding other work by DD/GA in an effort to not kill her XF buzz – I would posit this episode is a major X Files buzzkill for that very same reason. I don’t want to live my part time fangirlness in a world in which Hollywood is making X Files movies. (Back in the day, Entertainment Weekly’s need to produce an entire cover story attempting to explain the unexplainable plot of FtF was bad enough.) I don’t want to see DD flirt with his real world wife. (I’m not of the “TL is the Yoko Ono of XF” camp as some are, but I don’t want DD’s personal life references in my show.) Most of the jokes weren’t actually funny and the “X File” here wasn’t interesting or sensical. The teaser isn’t engaging beyond the superfluous “why are Shandling and Leoni here?” and “nice Paradise Lost reference that any observer of pop culture is aware of” moments.

    This may be in large part of my origin as an XF fan girl during the original run. I experienced the insane highs and (in hindsight) inevitable “this makes no sense because I bothered to pay attention” lows, in addition to the easy out of succumbing to the ease-of-use pop culture self-referential temptations later in the series.

    The Hollywood guy sitting through what is supposed to be an actual investigation, albeit Skinner’s “buddy of mine” explanation, doesn’t pass muster. Who thinks Skinner would tolerate this guy currently much less in his college years as a roommate? Granted I loved Mulder’s “Sir, have I pissed you off in a way that’s more than normal?” line at the end of this scene but I need more than a throw away line to make up for this complete and utter disregard for the suspension of disbelief this episode asks of me as a viewer.

    – Can I believe that mystical events happen in L.A. that don’t involve dropping acid or David Lynch? Not with the help of this episode, no.
    – Skin-man’s Hollywood producer friend is as welcome in my X Files universe as Jar-Jar Binks is in Marin County, CA. Catacomb’s dancing skull and hands, really? Why?
    – Dead men wake up, walk and talk in Scully’s morgue and she doesn’t pass out as she did in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”? (A reasonable response, for even She of the Cast Iron Stomach.)

    Well, I am grateful this teleplay’s author acknowledges that Scully is a practicing Catholic . I wish DD had at least attempted to be creepy with the Aramaic script reading moment but beginning the forensics scene with a Beatles reference kills any option for an actual XF creepy moment. Koo-koo-ka-ju.

    “You’re crazy for believing what you believe and you’re crazy for not believing what he believes.” Thank you for penning this extraordinary insight. Darin Morgan is weeping at this moment, that he did originate this stunning observation.

    I never noticed GA’s stunt double running in heels in the b.g. before this viewing. Don’t really care. Def not caring about to-furkey. Tripartite bath tub scene has lost its luster 15 years later. “Right below you and Agent Scully”. OK, I’m still happy they are on the same floor 15 years later, but then the Tea Leoni reference comes up again and there goes my suspension of disbelief again. This is the low fat cream cheese Scully made reference to in “Bad Blood”. Difference here is that “Bad Blood” was funny because it played upon their (and our) perceptions of each other after the years of personal and professional married life. This is making fun of Hollywood, a place I could care less about when not producing quality fare. Like now.

    The Jesus/Judas analogies are far too easy but looking beyond the lazy writing are those glorious moments that make any episode shine. First, the Plan 9/Ed Wood Investigative Method scene:

    Scully: How ma-
    Mulder: 42.
    Scully: You’ve seen this movie 42 times?
    Mulder: Yes.
    Scully: Doesn’t that make you sad? It makes me sad.
    Forty-two is the meaning of life according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is very important in the Cosmic Scheme of Things. Secondly, their timing and relationship in these scenes is what hooked me in 1993. MS-a-licious. This is one of those moments of Special Something. (M/S, DD/GA inspire the Capitalization instinct in me.) Watching them watch Plan 9 From Outer Space makes so much sense to me, I don’t know how Darin or Vince didn’t beat David to it.

    Four weeks probation/vacation in Los Angeles shines a literal light on how much I hate the move to L.A. Damned sunlight, stop shining on my lawn!

    One of my top twenty (maybe ten?) M/S moments, Scully’s cognizance of Mulder’s sometimes tenuous hold on sanity during the Plan 9/Ed Wood Investigative Method scene:

    Mulder: Crazy people can be very persuasive.
    Scully: Well yes, I know *that*.

    This moment marries up with their lovely scene at the end of the episode in the sound stage. Granted, the revelation of the Hoffman/O’Fallon murder suicide has no real impact as the “X File” wasn’t the thrust of the episode, however the two of them sitting among the artificial greenery sharing popcorn (a pattern begins to emerge) and recounting the “plot” was an emotional high for me. Her question, “You do know there are real dead people out there, right? That this is a movie set?” , to which he responds, “The dead are everywhere, Scully” is pure magic. She’s grinning and flirty but when considering their course of their relationship, her question is both tongue-in-cheek and cutting – she has lived and loved throughout his ongoing flirtation with insanity, and she continues to find dark humour in the reality of her relationship with Mulder. (I’ll save more of this line of thought when Salome reviews IwtB…) Her giggle when producing the “bureau credit card” as she wraps her arm around his and their laughing and hand-holding upon departure from the sound stage, this all takes on another dimension post “all things” and pre-”Requiem”. They’re going on an FBI-sponsored date night and I’m happy to see your tax dollars at work here.

    P.S. Scully in a dress with a hair band! I love her look here, so simple and elegant. I’m a woman, I’m going to notice her hair a clothes. Mulder only changes when the XF mathematic formula of “Scully distress is directly proportional to Mulder scruffy beard” comes into play, most noticeably during “One Breath”.

    • I know you’ll see my thoughts in the Season 7 Wrap Up, but yes. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

      Skin-man’s Hollywood producer friend is as welcome in my X Files universe as Jar-Jar Binks is in Marin County, CA.

      I just want to make sure people see that sentence.

      You know, if David Duchovny was good at anything, and he was good at a lot, it was at writing Shippy moments. He’s awfully sentimental for someone that claims to be a skeptic who doesn’t believe in the afterlife.

    • Hey

      Just finished watching this tonight. Agree with you 100%

      Did not like this ep…at all. Even the tub scene and the final scene with them talking in the studio..all felt too forced or trying to too funny, hip, alternative??

      I was aware of my confused sneer while watching and thinking…”where the hell is any cohesion in this script?” It was literally like watching three or four eps in one where there is little to no closure. Or there is little import when there is like with the hand wave murder suicide of Michah and the priest.

      I get (I think) what DD was going for but to me it was a mess.

  7. And again, my kingdom for an edit function. Seriously, WordPress, it is almost 2016. We’re open sourcing artificial intelligence yet I can’t edit my own post??

  8. “I’m in love with Assistant Director Walter Skinner.” really did it for me, as well as Scully’s viewer reaction. Priceless. Now if only Duchovny’s sly sense of comedy could had been better framed, like within a coherent plot. I mean the whole church thing seemed very obligatory and therefore because only the send-up was on offer I felt a rather full sense of jump-the-shark gloom when I first watched this. It was just more self-conscious hokery-pokery along with X-Cops (though a marginally better ep. IMHO) and Fight Club (if only I could have cared about the characters) which would follow . In many ways this feels like a weaker entry of the he said/she said meta quad-trilogy; the others being Jose Chung’, Bad Blood and more recently Were-Monster. Thank goodness for the lite experiments that did pay-off this season.

  9. I would like to comment further on this episode in the future, but in my rewatching it for the 1st time in a long while, I simply cannot wait to mention this one thing, as it made me bat-crap, Mulder-On-A-Mission crazy. Why does Scully say “Authentification” while discussing the forgeries w/Micah & Mulder? Authentification is not a word in the English language. We say authentication. It is a word in many other languages, but not English. Don’t tell me David Duchovny didn’t know that when he wrote the script. We are all aware of his Ivy League education, in English Lit., no less; also, I’ve read his Princeton undergrad Senior thesis, the man knows his big words. Even if he did make that mistake, wouldn’t some script editor or assistant have noticed? Even he should have picked up on it later through table reads, rehearsals, filming. Come on! I noticed it as soon as she said it & I do not have a English Lit degrees from Ivy League institutions. Was this some kind of inside joke b/n D.D. & a friend or loved one? As in some people have pet peeves about certain words being used incorrectly, or mispronounced; or people using words that aren’t words? Who knows? I do not think it could just be an oversight, however, for a D.D. written & directed script to allow Special Agent Dana Scully, M.D. to use a word that isn’t a word without there being more to the story. I mean, hello, the woman throws out the appropriate medical terminology for nicotine like it comes up every day & can suddenly read Greek upon request. I Want To Believe – this was no mere mortal mistake on his part. Now this is a mystery! 🙃

  10. i just loved this episode. Do you know what, I love reading books and was great at Eng. lit , but dropped it at 16 because I found that overanalysis got in the way of enjoyment. I feel the same about this; I like to put those kind of questions on the shelf and just enjoy the ride and not overthink it. So much I laughed at, and the way Scully laughs with Mulder at the end and takes his arm as they go off to do untold things with the FBI credit card… loved it.
    And Skinner drinking champagne in a bubble bath, while Mulder tries to make a joke at his expense while not putting him hold? priceless

  11. Sure it’s crazy and disjointed and meta, but it made me laugh and was entertaining! That’s a win in my book

  12. Pingback: Brand X 7×19: They say these things kill people. | Musings of an X-Phile

  13. WTF is this episode? It’s a mess. What is it even supposed to be about? This is the 2nd worst episode for me in season 7, the first being “fight club”.
    For all the critics who said the x files has lost the plot, its become too silly, to light, this episode proves them right. The CGI dancing skeleton… awful. This episode kills any credibility the show has left. I don’t know how this script got a green light.

    I don’t understand why Scully experiences what she does in this episode, the corpse coming back to life, the statue talking to her, the significance of her cutting herself with the scalpel? Is this supposed to be bring her back to Christianity after her brush with Buddhism in “all things”? Also the fact she doesn’t discuss these incidents with Mulder. She doesn’t even seem moved or shaken by these “profound miracles”.

    The whole tone of the show is jarring. Skinner’s character, the sincerity of the priests conversation with Mulder, then outright comedy. Even Wayne is annoying and distracting, not funny. This is x files at its worst, and at its most self indulgent. It seems the whole episode was constructed merely to get to Act 4, ‘mulder and Scully having fun in Hollywood’.

    There were a few scenes which were slightly amusing. The bathtub scene, the x files “movie”, Scully showing tea Leoni in the background how she runs. It was good to see chuck back. Mulder and Scully do seem genuinely like a couple in this episode by the interplay between them. They even walk off into the sunset holding hands. This is nice.

    I think season 7 had lost what attracted viewers in the first place, good scary, dark, creepy stories. This is what I want from the x files.


  14. TBH, I could just watch the last 10 minutes of this episode over and over again, never see the rest at all and be perfectly happy. In that last 10 mins, you get:

    – The bubble bath scene
    – “I’m in love with associate producer Walter Skinner”
    – One of the cutest shippy scenes ever to be written, including hand holding, laughing and the idea of what they might be off to do with an FBI credit card for the evening. Finally they are actually acting like two people in love, and I adore it.

    The rest is pretty confusing/weird/pointless (apart from the Scully running up and down scene, which is priceless). I totally agree that they should not have tried to mix serious x-file with comedy Hollywood episode… the x-file storyline makes less than no sense. Never mind… just gonna stick to the last 10 mins on my next re-watch I think!

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