The Lone Gunmen and The X-Files

The Lone Gunmen (2001)
The X-Files (1993-2002)
Type: Spin Off
Group 2

    I once sat down to write a piece of fan fiction about the Star Wars universe and suddenly realized there were no, well, losers in the Star Wars universe - bear in mind this was before Jar Jar was around. Han Solo came the closest and that's not very close: he was a thief who was on the run from mobsters for messing up a job. That said, he turned out to be uber-clever, cool and was actually a con man with a heart of gold. Dah! Where were the regular people? The folks looking to be heroes and not really doing so well? With that in mind I started the stories of The Jedi Who Sucked (Which can be found by clicking here - hey, my site, I can give myself a plug if I want hehehe).

   But I don't mention this just as a plug. You see, while the Star Wars universe does not have such bumbling heroes, The X-Files universe does. The X-Files is of course the dark and moody series that chronicles F.B.I. Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully's (and later Agent John Doggett's) investigations into the supernatural, the strange and Alien/Government conspiracies. But early on creator Chris Carter decide to create some background players to represent the real world "conspiracy nuts" - the folks who publish small circulation papers screaming out that the government is lying to you, that the Free Masons are taking over the world that... that... any time someone tries to reveal something important like CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED powerful people step in and stop them. These characters were the trio of John Byers, Melvin Frohike and Ringo Langly collectively known as The Lone Gunmen, publishers of the conspiracy exposing newspaper The Lone Gunman.

   The Lone Gunmen - the greatest bumbling heroes around. Whenever Mulder and Scully needed some extra help, and some comic relief, they'd pay a visit to these guys. Byers is the suit and tie, mild mannered accountant type. Frohike is the shorter funkier, crankier, more casually dressed one. He's also as close as these guys get to a Lothario. He might not get the girl but its clear he has an eye for the ladies if not the looks to lure them in (no offense Frohike). Langly is the long blonde haired computer wizard with a taste for Dungeons And Dragons and computer games. He's also even crankier than Frohike. All that said, they still rank as less kooky than Mulder. When introduced they explained they love Mulder because his ideas about aliens and conspiracies were more out there than their own.

   Between the 5th and 6th season an X-File feature film was made. Filming of the movie ran into the time frame of when the series was being shot which meant that stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were not fully available to work on the TV incarnation of the X-Files. Solution: a flashback episode showing the origins of The Lone Gunmen and their first meeting with Fox Mulde. It focused almost solely on them and that would not require much screen time for the series' primary leads. The episode was really cool. It was so cool that the next season they did a follow up episode focusing on The Lone Gunmen. With two solid outings under their belts, it seemed only logical to give the Gunmen their own show.

   In 2001 the Fox network premiered the spin off series The Lone Gunmen. Where Mulder and Scully fought dark forces with skill and dour looks, The Lone Gunmen fought dark forces that didn't take them seriously while at the same time they also tried not to get themselves too badly killed.

   To offset fears that three nerds might not be able to anchor the show, Chris Carter introduced two new characters. Jimmy Bond was the antithesis of his namesake, James Bond. While handsome, athletic and good hearted, Jimmy was hardly the sharpest crayon in the box. After being helped by the Gunmen himself he began to fund their efforts and to act as a sort of fourth member of the team - The Zeppo of the Conspiracy Marx Brothers.

   The other new character was a Mata Hari type known as Yeves Adel Harlow. It is doubtful this was her real name since it is an anagram for Lee Harvey Oswald - the perfect woman for a bunch of guys named after the same guy. A dark haired spy for hire, she would at times alternately show up either to steal the fruits of the Gunmen's labors for herself or to help the guys out of a jam. Actually, she usually would try and do a little of both. Just as the Lone Gunmen weren't as inept as they sometimes appear, Yeves wasn't as cold and ruthless as she'd have people believe.

   Like I said though, these aren't your glitz and glamor heroes. These are guys who get sick because their van runs out of gas and while siphoning gas from other vehicles they end up swallowing some. These are guys who can't change a flat on their car because they ditched the spare to make room for night vision goggles. These are guys who try to help a man brainwashed out of his true identity only to have that very guy beat the crap out of them every time he gets a flash of his original - and less than stable - personality. The people they help beat them us as they are helping them! Ya don't see that sort of thing happening to that other James Bond and his companions, okay?

   Watching the first few episodes of the show, I had serious worries about The Lone Gunmen. The writing and tone didn't seem quite right. I like bathroom humor as much as the next guy. Heck, done right I love it. But at the start The Lone Gunmen seemed determined to wedge shock humor in even if it wasn't appropriate. And when they introduced Jimmy Bond I was just as worried. He was introduced as a guy trying to start a football league for the blind amid a flurry of embarrassingly bad blind jokes. Again, wouldn't mind if they were funny but they weren't. They were painfully stupid. And the initial portrayal of Jimmy was that of an idiot who had no idea he was an idiot. He seemed, like his football players, to be someone we were intended just to laugh at, not to like. Eccch. I kept thinking it would be nice if he was aware that he wasn't so bright, if when he did something stupid he'd be aware of it, feel bad about it so we could sympathize and laugh with him.

   Then, after a few episodes, something happened to the show. There were still gross out jokes but they were actually worked in smoothly as part of the plot. In one episode Frohike had to check an old lady's ass for a birthmark forcing him to run around after several elderly suspects and attempt to pants them or catch them in the shower: tasteless, yet a part of what was going on and a situation where we could feel for Frohike's plight. And they started to deal with Jimmy in the way I had hoped. He knew he was the big dumb guy. Ironically, many times he would come up with the needed clue or concept only to have it ignored because he was thought of as the dumb one.

   The show really hit its stride with it's episode about a water powered engine. Finally getting a box of what they think are government documents under the Freedom of Information Act, the guys find all they've been given is a cinder block as a cruel joke. At the bottom is one document that Jimmy tells them might be important. They ignore him and tell him to shred it. He reads a name off the document that rings a bell for Frohike just as the document goes in the shredder.

   After reconstructing the document, Frohike explains that the name is the name of the man he met as a child who had a car that ran on water as fuel. He hopes the document will lead him to that fabled car. The trail takes them through many misadventures. The shock humor highlight has Langly mistaken for a veterinarian and forced to jam his hand into a cows behind. Again, normally this might just be an easy crass joke. But at the start of the show, they were smart enough to show flashbacks of the Gunmen as kids. For Langly that scene showed him on his father's farm, sure computers were the way of the future and refusing to help with his fathers cows which he clearly loathed. With that in place, the scene wasn't just a one level shock joke. There was a sort of cruel twist-of-fate-childhood-nightmare-thing going on as well.

   The path leads them eventually to a missile silo where the car is stored and that is soon to be demolished. With Yeves and Jimmy above, the Gunmen descended into the underground silo. Just as they discovered the car was gone the silo was destroyed. This lead to the best Jimmy scene yet. Late at night, hours after the destruction and with no hope of success, Jimmy continued to try and dig through the rubble to reach his trapped friends, throwing away rock after rock, a man truly and literally trying with all his might to move a mountain to save his friends. Heroic ignorance. A great picture of a man leading entirely with his heart. And we got to see Yeves reacting to this. We got to see the up till now cold barracuda moved by this man's concern for his friends. Great character development for the two new players.

   Of course in the end it turned out the guys did escape the silo. And they did recover the car. They thought they needed to save it from a major car company who wanted to destroy it. Only in a twist it turned out the car company in question wanted to use the engine to revolutionize the car industry. The Gunmen realized that this was a worse scenario, that a pollution free engine would lead to such a boom in building that it would hurt the earth worse than the pollution would. Thus the engine was hidden away again, but not before the whole gang got to give the car a good couple of rides. Because at its heart that's what this episode was about - childlike love of cars, magic and friends... with some poopie jokes thrown in for good measure.

   If they had gotten renewed and had kept making episodes like this one, this show could have been great. Unfortunately, the first few really bad episodes permanently drove most potential viewers away and the show died a quick death after only half a season on the air.

   Before the show's end the Gunmen would receive a visit from their old friend Fox Mulder and post-cancellation the Gunmen cast - including Jimmy Bond and Eve - made a final appearance the next year in one of The X-Files final episodes. The episode titled Jump The Shark served as a sort of final episode of the Gunmen series. Michael McKean reprised his earlier X-File role of former government "Man In Black" Morris Fletcher. He pointed the X-File team towards Yves as one of the potential Super Soldiers they were looking into. Now when I say the X-File team, we're talking the B-Team. David Duchovny had in the final season left the show and Gillian Anderson had scaled back her appearances as well so the X-Files were being handled by Agents Doggett and Agent Reyes. So the agents in pursuit of Eve hooked up with The Gunmen. Since the end of their show it seems the boys had gone bankrupt and stopped publishing their paper. Yves had disappeared and Jimmy had been traveling the world in pursuit of her. It turned out that Eve was not in fact a super soldier. Fletcher had fed everyone a pack of lies just so they would hunt her down for him. Seems Fletcher was in fact working for Yves' dad. Yves' dad it turns out was a very bad man involved in funding terrorists and helping them to create virus bombs hidden in living hosts. Yves, whose real name was Lois Runtz, had been trying to track down her father and stop him. Even slimey Fletcher had no idea about that. In the end the gang tracked down the last human virus bomb and trapped him in an airtight space before the virus could be released. Unfortunately The Gunmen were trapped in the same area with him. The last shot of The Gunmen was them telling their friends not to open the doors. They would have to die to save others from being exposed. Cut to the Gunmen's closed caskets being burried in Arlington Cementary. Director Skinner had made that possible. He and Scully as well as everyone else was there to see these heroes to their final resting place.

   Yeah, right. I'm not buying it. No way the guys died. Proof? We didn't see them die. We saw them ready to give their lives and then we cut to CLOSED caskets being burried. Hello! This is The X-Files. This is a show where you can see someone get shot in face on screen, be hauled away to an incinerator and immediately burned up and still have them come back. Fox Mulder died and was burried and came back. You think with such a vague adios these guys are really dead. No way. Sure they could kill them with The X-Files being cancelled but we are talking about a franchise that could come back in some way. They weren't burning any bridges. Besides, if they were going to send them off for real the guys deserved an episode with more than just the B-team, where Mulder and Scully were both involved in more than a cameo capacity. But, okay, sure, I'll play. Oh my! They're dead and gone. Why God why?

   Unfortunately, it seems necessary to add one final postscript to this page. The first episode of The Lone Gunmen viewed today has an eerie and chilling feel to it that it did not have when it first aired. Airing in the Spring of 2001, the first episode climaxed with the villians taking remote control of a commercial airliner and trying to fly it into the World Trade Center. Needless to say, after September 11, 2001 that episode would seem anything but escapist entertainment. I've no doubt it may never see the light of day again. That said, I did watch the episode again following the horrible events of 9/11 and... oddly enough, where I thought the episode would be utterly disturbing and impossible to watch, by the end I actually found my spirits lifted by the show. I'm sure you might be thinking, "What?!?!? How can he possibly say something like that?!?!?" I can say something like that because the end of the show is the good guys win. They avert the disaster. They save everyone. Nobody dies. Nobody dies. In the shadow of the horrible real world events, seeing the events even fictionally turning out how I wished they had made me on some level feel better. Rewatching that episode ended up inadvertantly being escapism in a way I sorely needed when I sorely needed it.

Other X-Files Crossover Links
The X-files and COPS
The X-Files and Homicide: Life On The Streets
The X-Files and Law And Order: Special Victims Unit
The X-files and Millennium
The X-Files and Picket Fences
The X-files and The Simpsons
The X-Files and Strange Luck

Other The Lone Gunmen Crossover Links
The Lone Gunmen and Homicide: Life On The Streets
The Lone Gunmen and Law And Order: Special Victims Unit

Click here to return to main Crossover List

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