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1995 The Year That Was/Merger Mania

It’s spooky out there

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In the year’s final episode of The X-Files, FBI special agents Mulder and Scully investigate a rash of ”possessions” by huge shape-shifting entities of enormous power. As usual, Scully is skeptical.

Scully: This isn’t an X-file, Mulder. This is capitalism. Big fish eats little fish.

Mulder: [at his desk, looking over the case file] Seagram’s takes over MCA…Disney envelops ABC. Westinghouse swallows CBS. Time Warner’s absorbing the Turner empire…. It fits the pattern.

S: What pattern?

M: Remember those peaceable folk who all dressed alike — collarless shirts, black sack coats —

S: The Kindred?

M: One touched your hand, Scully, and practically had you in the sack.

S: Yes, but he wasn’t human. [Mulder holds his eyebrows aloft, waiting.] You mean —

M: [nodding] Michael Eisner. [Now it’s Scully’s turn with the eyebrows.] How else do you explain a $19 billion deal cinched in a Sun Valley parking lot?

S: Oh, and I suppose if we pricked Ted Turner, green goo would dribble out.

M: Or his eyes might yellow as he quadrupled in length, like our old friend Stretch. Listen to this: At the press conference announcing the merger, Mr. Turner said, [He reads.] ”I’m tired of being little all the time. I want to see what it’s like to be big for a while.”

S: Mmmm. [The phone rings. Mulder answers.]

M: …Yeah. Good. Signal corps? I owe you one. [He chuckles.] Yeah…more than one. [To Scully] Wanna visit the Smithsonian?

In an archive of the National Air and Space Museum…

Fenster: Some say radar kept us even in the Pacific War and that uranium decided it for us, but I say —

M: Fenster has a lot of wisdom, Scully, but he also has pictures.

F: Oh, indeed. These are just the radiomen. [He offers a sheaf of aging black-and-white glossies.]

S: What’s this about?

F: In 1943, members of the Ninth Army operating in New Guinea went schizy—talking back to trees, laughing in unison at nothing. These scars were found on the backs of their calves.

M: Identical divots. No entry wounds.

S: Is that the CBS eye?

M: And the Westinghouse W, impressed on GI flesh eight years before the logo was created.

S: So you conclude that an alien —

F: Radio waves reach outward forever. Whom would you have contacted first?

S: Bob Hope, I suppose.

M: Scully, it fits. The truth is they’re out there — watching us — on TV! And now they’re taking over. They’re consolidating the networks and cable and video, movies and music, books — everything. Eventually all of our entertainment will be controlled by them — and we won’t even know it. It won’t be like knowing that Viacom owns both Paramount and MTV and that Clueless is a Paramount movie. We’ll be at the mercy of some cosmic Clueless House Party! [A beat. He exhales deeply.]

S: Do you think they’ll cancel The Real World?