Filmed in Vancouver: X-Files

Day 136 – May 16, 2007

Originally uploaded by gregs365days.

Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

The X-Files was filmed in Vancuover during its first five seasons, running from 1993 – 1998. Following the non-Vancouver filming of the movie the series moved down to California for filming. The fifth season was the ratings peak for the show.

Title: The X-Files
Stars: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
Canadian Content: Very little, the show takes place exclusively in the United States
Lasting Impact: Produced a new wave of shows combining detectives and the supernatural, none of which lasted as long. Made David Duchovny think he could have a film career. Helped lead to an increase in sci-fi genre filming in Vancouver.
Good or bad: Generally good. For the first few seasons it was one of the best shows on television with sharp writing and generally good acting.

Hollywood television shows filmed in Vancouver generally make apologies for their location, using tricks to hide the local and pass it off as Somewheresville USA or an alien planet. Though I have yet to hear it one can almost hear a character on Stargate shouting, “This must be an alien planet, it’s been raining for twenty days straight.” Not The X-Files though, it didn’t hide it’s location it embraced it. Sure the show never actually took place in Vancouver, Canada being outside the FBI’s juristiction, but the overcast skies of the lower mainland and the moody woodlands around Vancouver were as much a character on the show as Mulder and Scully. The location of most of The X-Files episodes during those five seasons always seemed a little bit foreign to most Americans, saving those from Washington State, a bit odd and that worked well for the show.

For Vancouverites it was one of the first times that a show filmed locally could be enjoyed without apologizing. It was amoung the best of television at the time and those first few seasons standup to viewing even more than a decade later despite advances in special effects and a dozen copy-cats shows. Special Agent Fox William Mulder and Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully M.D. were interesting characters, played by actors that seemed breed for the roles. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were the characters, and that might explain why neither has been able to get a really good career going after the show. We were used to shows being filmed locally that ended up on the USA Network not on one of the major networks (there are a few exceptions which we’ll touch on in later posts).

After leaving Vancouver the show never quite had the same success. Though one of the prime reasons for its relocation away from Canada Duchovny eventually left the show to become a Special Guest Star on a number of episodes, and eventually the show got so mired in its own convuloted continuity that it became unwatchable for any but the most dedicated fan and eventually ground to a halt. By that point Duchovny had managed to alienate most of Vancouver by doing the talk show circuit to express how much he wanted out of Vancouver. Key quote, “Vancouver is a very nice place if you like 400 inches of rainfall a day.”

In the end the golden years of The X-Files were when it was in Vancouver. LA never quite had the same mood, nor the same uniqueness that the lower mainland managed to give the show. In LA it looked like every other show on TV, and lost one of the key elements for what set it apart. Along the way though it taught Vancouver that we can actually enjoy the TV that’s made here, and that Hollywood North was more than a place where oddly stilted Can-Con productions were made for export to Australia and West Germany. It was also one of the first of the new wave of Sci-Fi shows to be filmed in Vancouver, saving money on crew and locations that was funded into special effects. These days we have Battlestar Galactica being filmed in town, and at least part of that is because of The X-Files.

Metroblogging Vancouver Does X-Files:

– Matt discovers a X-Files landmark in town [mbv]
– Vancouver’s Gift to the world: Hollywood North [mbv]

2 Comments so far

  1. Vivien (unregistered) on July 29th, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    I really enjoyed reading about Vancouver and the days when The X-Files filmed there. However, I need to say that the comment that David Duchovny made on Conan O’Brien about the rain in Vancouver was a joke – and a scripted one at that. Unfortunately for him, though, I think this fact could be printed on the front page of every media outlet in North America and at the end of the day he’d still be carrying around his faux albatross.

  2. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on July 29th, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

    Yeah, but because it was a scripted joke doesn’t mean he wasn’t unhappy with the rain. He made rain jokes elsewhere too (I remember him on Leno around the same time telling rain and Robson Street Starbucks jokes). I don’t buy that a scripted joke absolves him of any guilt, though let’s be clear it’s not exactly like he denied the Holocaust, rather I think it shows that clearly he thought about it before hand and it wasn’t just an off-the-cuff thing.

    Still I’d be more likely to fault Duchovny for the typical hubris of an actor on a hit show thinking they’re bigger than the show. It’s common (see David Caruso), and having the show shot in Vancouver must have felt to him like another thing keeping him from the Hollywood stardom that surely was within his grasp.

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