Long after closing time in a Vancouver bookstore, Charles Nelson Reilly turns to Millennium writer and director Darin Morgan and proudly bellows, ”I said all the f—ing words! Did you notice that?”
It’s been a bit trying for the ’70s game-show staple to nail this scene, in which his character, novelist Jose Chung, throws a book signing and nobody comes. But even though Reilly has slogged through innumerable takes, struggling with Morgan’s dense, erudite script, he’s got nothing but praise for him. ”Darin elevates television verbiage,” says the flamboyant actor. ”It’s not just another episode of an extraterrestrial or detective show.”
Morgan introduced Reilly’s Truman Capote-esque author in the uproarious 1996 X-Files episode ”Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” which had Chung retracing Agents Mulder and Scully’s investigation of an alien abduction. In one fell swoop, Morgan lampooned the show, the lunatic fringe it documents, and, by extension, its more fanatical viewers. Says X-Files and Millennium creator Chris Carter: ”He has such a gift, it’s frightening.”
And Carter took full advantage of it. After his latex-encased debut on The X-Files as a man-size fluke worm in the now classic 1994 episode ”The Host,” Morgan went on to become the show’s secret weapon, writing and starring in a half-dozen stellar episodes. One of them, 1995’s ”Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” netted Emmys for Morgan and guest star Peter Boyle and exemplified the typical Morgan script: off-kilter, high-minded, hysterical — yet also including some of the show’s more poignant character studies.
Although Morgan’s story lines — which added deadly sideshow freaks and dung-addicted robotic cockroaches to X‘s paranormal mix — irked some purists, they won over legions of new fans, broadening the show’s appeal by exploiting its willingness to make fun of itself.
Now, with Mulder and Scully safely established as household names, Carter has embarked on a makeover of his other sci-fi franchise. To up Millennium‘s edge-of-your-seat creepiness, he hired X-Files vets Glen Morgan and James Wong as exec producers. They, in turn, called on 32-year-old Darin (younger brother to Glen) to inject some soul into the apocalyptic thriller and its impossibly dour main character, Frank Black (Lance Henriksen). To wit, a consulting-producer gig, as well as Darin’s directorial debut and first Millennium script, ”Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense” (airing Nov. 21). So what exactly is consulting producing? ”It means I don’t have to go to the office every day,” says Morgan. ”Just sit in story meetings, read scripts. It’s kind of vague.”
According to Carter, the brothers Morgan work closely yet very differently: ”They’re both extremely original voices. Glen has his own remarkable talents and works well within a system. Darin, it seems to me, works outside of one.”
In fact, outside is a generally apt tag for Darin. He speaks of an affinity for the misfits populating his stories, a ”discomfort with normal society, I guess. People look at me, and I don’t look strange. They don’t even notice me, and yet I’ve never really felt like I fit in anywhere.”