Darin Morgan is from outer space.
November 10, 2007 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Darin Morgan wrote some of the most highly aclaimed TV scripts of the '90's. So the question is, "Where is he now?"

X-Files: Humbug
X-Files: Jose Chung's From Outer Space
X-Files:Highlights from War of the Coprophages
Millenium: Jose Chung's 'Doomsday Defense'
Millenium:Somehow Satan got behind me

Google video has a full episode of perhaps his finest work, Clyde Bruckmans Final Repose but it's teeth-gnashingly slow, in low res and has asian subtitles.

Somehow Satan got behind me
The 'M' Word -- An unproduced Night Stalker script [PDF]
posted by oh pollo! (33 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Darin has always been a visionary. That's why he went on strike nearly 10 years before anybody else.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:17 AM on November 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

I was just wondering this the other day. Weird.
posted by jonson at 7:43 AM on November 10, 2007

They are making a new X-Files movie. It is supposed to come out next summer. Why they would not throw a boatload of cash at Darin Morgan to write it is beyond me.
posted by flarbuse at 7:49 AM on November 10, 2007

On strike?
posted by klangklangston at 8:36 AM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

At this point, I would probably only watch an X-Files sequel if I learned that Morgan wrote the screen play. They ruined that franchise with the first film.

Morgan was one of the best writers ever on X-Files. Clyde is my second favorite episode of the series, next to Beyond The Sea.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:37 AM on November 10, 2007

I aksed a similar question years ago, and ended with the same answer. The guy makes J.D. Salinger seem extroverted.
posted by dzot at 8:47 AM on November 10, 2007

Is anyone else but me irritated by people who really should know better using the word "wherefore" when they mean "where," when it really means "why?"
posted by cerebus19 at 8:51 AM on November 10, 2007

At least one other person, because I came in here to say the same thing.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:59 AM on November 10, 2007

Wherefore do you ask?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:16 AM on November 10, 2007

Man, anyone ever see the X-Files episodes written by William Gibson? Those were awful.
posted by delmoi at 9:23 AM on November 10, 2007

Man, anyone ever see the X-Files episodes written by William Gibson?

I find the first one (in season 5) goofily charming, and the opening sequence is effective, even if the rest of the episode is hilarious/lame.

The latter one I found so offensive that it's what made me stop watching the show regularly. Everyone involved is smarter and should know better than to play the "HURF DURF FPS = MURDER TRAINER. GAMERZ = IMMATURE BOYZ LOL" card unquestioned.

That episode might as well have been written by Jack Thompson.

Jose Chung's is my favorite X-files episode next to the Cancer Man backstory one. And Clyde Bruckman's is up there as well.

I would not complain if the guy did more TV. Or movies. Or anything.
posted by sparkletone at 10:05 AM on November 10, 2007

From what I've read, Darin Morgan liked the scripts he wrote even less than he liked working in television, or working at all for that matter. But his X-Files episodes are still some of the best things I've ever seen on television, especially "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose."

In addition to the episodes listed above, he also wrote a particularly wonderful scene in "Quagmire" from season 3, which I couldn't find on YouTube. It's the one where Scully and Mulder are stranded on a rock in the middle of the lake. He's not the credited writer on the episode, but if you're a Morgan fan, you can definitely tell it's him.

Vince Gilligan wrote a Morganesque episode in Season 4 called "Small Potatoes" in which Morgan himself starred. In some of the articles I read about Morgan, he reminds me a little of his character in that episode, Eddie Van Blundht*--a man who, despite his talents, ultimately feels like a loser.

According to this website, he wrote an episode of Bionic Woman. If that's true, I'll definitely watch it.

Good lord, I'm nerdy.

*The H is silent.
posted by bluishorange at 10:27 AM on November 10, 2007

I saw the first couple episodes of this new Bionic Woman, and even if I found out Morgan was writing an episode of that, I will not watch it again. Bionic Woman can't get cancelled fast enough for my taste. It's not that the original Wagner series was better, but the original series insulted my intelligence less often than this 21st century reboot.

With the luck I been having, Bionic Woman will continue on for ten seasons and yet this will be the last season for Heroes. Everything on TV that I love dies, and everything I hate fluorishes. Whut's up wit dat?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:35 AM on November 10, 2007

Before anyone else gets too wrapped up in oh pollo!'s link to Clyde Bruckmans Final Repose, the episode cuts out about 5 minutes early.

*grinds teeth*
posted by maryh at 10:50 AM on November 10, 2007

Heh, cerebus19 and Horace Rumpole, I came here to bitch about that my own self.

As for Darin Morgan: yes, I would love to see him work more. But I bet he doesn't have to.
posted by GrammarMoses at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2007

He gave Charles Nelson Reilley his shining moment on television.
posted by cazoo at 11:26 AM on November 10, 2007

Holy crap! I've been force-feeding my girlfriend the wonder of Darin Morgan. He's so excellent. I'd sell my capacity to grow hair if I could read his unpublished work - I imagine his filing cabinets to be full of the world's strangest fanfic.

A little birdy told me that he's working on a feature script with Sam Hamm.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:40 AM on November 10, 2007

I had never seen these before, though I have seen a few X-Files episodes before. I found all full versions of these episodes after some google searching, though.

Clyde and Jose were both great, but man is War of the Coprophages a work of squirm-inducing, twisted genius. That scene where the cockroach crawls across the screen is pure brilliance. That must have been responsible for more shrieks than any other moment in the history of television.
posted by empath at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2007

Cazoo: "He gave Charles Nelson Reilley his shining moment on television."

Gotta grant him that. I never really thought of Reilley as anything other than that loudmouth on Match Game before Jose Chung. I thought the scene between Reilley and Anderson was entertaining on multiple levels. Funny, enchanting, adorable... I'm not metrosexual. Honest.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:18 PM on November 10, 2007

Those all really were very memorable episodes. I didn't know that Darin Morgan was the unifying feature. Darin Morgan episodes were for their host series like Don Rosa-stories were for Donald Duck. Exquisite details and bold strokes for characters.
posted by Free word order! at 1:32 PM on November 10, 2007

Yeah, Charles Nelson Reilly, he's our man,
He can't heal the sick with the touch of his hand,
He can't walk on water, can't make wine flow;
Just another greedy actor on the late late show!

I don't piss, I don't shit, I'm gettin' no relief,
People shake their heads in disbelief.

posted by item at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2007

Morgan & Wong episodes were brilliant: Darin Morgan episodes were idiosyncratic, rich and fascinating, but they weren't conventional enough to allow the guy to write consistently for TV.

Bruckman, Jose Chung and Humbug are three of the best sci-fi series episodes ever written. But you couldn't build a whole series around them.
posted by jrochest at 3:49 PM on November 10, 2007

It's a shame he's wasting his talent in science fiction.
posted by dhammond at 6:32 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I give dhammond a 9.7 for effective but unsubtle trollery.
posted by Justinian at 6:40 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Believe it or not, I was a big X-Files fan, but the way that Chris Carter and the writing staff COMPLETELY killed that show is unforgivable. I don't dislike Carter as a person, but as a professional, he's a total shithead.
posted by dhammond at 6:52 PM on November 10, 2007

It's funny -- I was just talking to a friend of mine tonight about "The X-Files" (and other shows that started out strong and gradually became unwatchable), and both our favorite episodes were Darin Morgan scripts: I love "Final Repose" so much I'd run away and marry it, while she prefers "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." On their own, they're both just terrific hours of TV, but what makes them great in the context of the series is that they're offbeat without descending into self-parody...a delicate balance that some of the later (intentionally) funny episodes weren't quite able to strike. I think "Final Repose" wins for me because it's touching, hilarious, and as suspenseful as the best of the straight episodes, which seems damn near impossible to pull off, really; even Morgan only managed that trifecta once. (Of course, the best guest star ever didn't hurt.)

On the "Bionic Woman" tip, although it really is a pretty much terrible program, I happened to see the "Education of Jamie Sommers" episode a few weeks ago when NBC was running reruns against the ALCS and the World Series (and, as a Clevelander, there was only so much I could watch), and I did find that it was a dramatic improvement over the episodes I'd suffered through previously. It wasn't great, but it was kinda fun and had some cute moments (and one really good scene where Jamie extols the virtues of James Joyce's "The Dead" [!]), and I found myself wondering why the fuck the show wasn't generally this good. Now I guess I know...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:31 PM on November 10, 2007

It's a shame he's wasting his talent in science fiction.

Actually, I often have the reverse impression about writers -- it's a shame they're wasting their talent writing straight work and tiny bedroom dramas.

Or put it another way: "straight" fiction covers a very small segment of the world; things that could be happening more or less right now somewhere else in the world, according to the laws of nature.

If it's in the past, it's historical fiction or often science fiction these days. In the future, science fiction. If somehow the laws of nature are broken, it's fantasy.

Far more of the world's great novels are fantasy or science fiction than you'd think, from Gilgamesh on. And there are many successful writers, like Will Self, who only write fantasy or science fiction and yet are never ghettoized as such (good agents are the secret?)

I challenge you to read James Tiptree Jr. or Gene Wolfe and make snide remarks about the field after that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:38 AM on November 11, 2007

And there are many successful writers, like Will Self, who only write fantasy or science fiction and yet are never ghettoized as such (good agents are the secret?)

Yeah, I think it's basically about marketing. Almost two decades later, it still rankles me that hacky-ass Bret Easton Ellis got all this attention for American Psycho, which wasn't really doing anything that hadn't been going on along the margins of genre horror for most of the '80s (but was also boring nearly to the point of unreadability for long stretches -- much unlike anything that was going on in straight-up genre fiction, where it's considered an important goal to entertain the audience, quaint as this notion may be -- which I guess made it more lit'ry or something). For some reason, these marketing decisions become academically relevant, but that doesn't make them any less bullshitty.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:25 PM on November 11, 2007

Actually, I often have the reverse impression about writers -- it's a shame they're wasting their talent writing straight work and tiny bedroom dramas.

Ditto. Relatively speaking, realism and naturalism are quite recent, if not outright fads. Great work has been produced in those genres, but the vast majority of interesting fiction, for my money, involves some sort of imagination beyond what we see every day. Big stories about life, death, excitement, magic, romance, poetry, and humor...these are the ones that I remember. After all, even Macbeth had witches.

It's not to say that realism is automatically bad - it's just that I can't think of any reason to assume that anything is better just because it is "realistic." The eggheads who rate literature for a living may have, for a time, decided that that was the way to go, but I'm afraid to say that, for most people (and most of history), people do actually relate more to the fantastic.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:12 PM on November 11, 2007


Darin Morgan is involved, apparently cuz his brother gave him a job. I like Darin Morgan.


us.imdb.com says Darin Morgan has been a consulting producer on six of the Bionic Woman episodes. I stopped watching before "The List" which appears to be the first one upon which he participated.

I find this frustrating. I now have a reason to tune in to Bionic Woman again, but I didn't want a reason to tune back in to that show. I'd already made my decision. It's boring. It's indecisive. Is the show saying feminism was a good thing or are women just one bionic implant away from living in crazy town? And the concept that because Ferrer's character's money was invested in doodads that now keep Jamie Sommers upright, he owns her? It's an old argument, and one that frankly bores the shit out of me, cuz there's no good answer here. Certainly there's no entertaining answer. At least not an entertaining answer that doesn't involve ordering Jamie Sommers to strip and perform sexual acts with other bionic ladies in a manner unacceptable during prime time.

I'm disappointed cuz I'd already written off this twenty-first century Bionic Woman Reboot as pointless, pedantic, gratuitous, excessive, unfunny, and a host of other negative adjectives I'm too bored to pull out of my ass right now.

Solely on the fact Darin Morgan's name is now attached to Bionic Woman, I have to give the series a second chance. When I'd already sold it down the river.

posted by ZachsMind at 6:08 PM on November 11, 2007

Saw Darin on Friday at the strike rally. I've worked with him and he is truly brilliant; he's the only person I've encountered who comes in with a first draft that could actually be shot without any changes. He's not one of those guys who just sits down and whips out a draft, though. He sweats blood over those things. But it shows.

If he writes a Bionic Woman script, I'll watch that episode. Otherwise, no, thanks.
posted by OolooKitty at 8:15 PM on November 11, 2007

Okay so Jamie and her beau are in a car accident, the guy is fine but half her body is ripped to shreds, and he breaks all these rules allegedly (tho we're later led to believe he'd been stalking her as a potential candidate blah blah) and turns her into the title of the show. Then later that same episode he takes one bullet to the chest, and the next episode he's not got a bionic ribcage now? WTF? Did the actor tick somebody off and get fired? How come she could survive an entire car wreck, but he couldn't survive one pesky little bullet?

I really don't wanna start watching this series again. I mean I like Morgan's work. I really do. This TV show takes suspension of disbelief and crushes it.

Oh! And by the way! It's not "THE" Bionic Woman. By the end of the first episode it's established Jamie Sommers is the SECOND Bionic Woman, so the TV series should really be called "Bionic Women" and it's blatantly obvious that what the first Bionic Woman's been up to is a hell of a lot more interesting than the lead character of the show. I could really care less about Jamie Sommers quite frankly.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:56 AM on November 17, 2007

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