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The Story Behind 'The X-Files' and 'Picket Fences' Crossover Episode You Never Saw (Thanks to CBS)

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 6, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 6, 2015 |

Over on The Hollywood Reporter today, there’s an interview/conversation between Tara Butters and her husband Marc Guggenheim. Butters is the showrunner for Agent Carter (which debuts tonight) and Guggenheim is an exec producer on Arrow. The two were also assistants on The X-Files together. It’s an interesting conversation about the superhero shows, and at one point, the two introduce the idea of a crossover episode between Agent Carter and Arrow, which are on two different networks, which prompts this exchange:

Guggenheim: You guys are the only people I can ask this question because you’re the only two who would understand the reference: We should totally do an Agent Carter-Arrow crossover the way they crossed over X Files and Picket Fences.

Butters: Picket Fences was on CBS and X-Files was on Fox and the networks wouldn’t allow it. So they had FBI agents who came in to Picket Fences who were originally supposed to be Mulder and Scully who they just recast.

Wait, what? There was a planned crossover episode between The X-Files and Picket Fences? Granted, I watched both series in their entirety on syndication, but I don’t know how that fact escaped me. But it’s true.

David E. Kelley and Chris Carter once struck up a conversation in a parking lot, and ended up planning these big crossover episodes. They even went as far as to write the scripts for the episodes, but apparently, they neglected to get permission from CBS (where Picket Fences aired). As they were about to shoot the episode, CBS nixed it. However, they simply modified the episodes and made them stand-alone.

The resulting X-Files episode was “Red Museum,” a season two episode of which I have no memory. Here’s the TV promo for it.

The episode was meant to take place in Rome, Wisconsin, the location of Picket Fences, but after CBS put the kibosh on it, the name of the town was changed to Delta Glen, Wisconsin. The episode involved the investigation of a number of kidnappings where local teenagers were recovered half-naked and drugged with either the phrase “He is one” or “She is one” written on their backs. (It also saw the death of Crew Cut Man, who had killed Mulder’s informant Deep Throat in a prior episode.)

It wasn’t a particularly well received episode, and all references to Picket Fences were ultimately scrapped. However, the Picket Fences episode was not scrubbed of its references to The X-Files, according to this piece.

The Picket Fences episode “Away In A Manger” also had a story concerning some freaky cow crap… so to speak. And it was independent of what went on in The X-Files. But it also clearly references the events of The X-Files episodes as having happened in the neighboring town of Delta Glen. Specific plot points and supporting characters are mentioned. Of course Mulder and Scully aren’t mentioned by name. That would attract attention from the network. When the cow calamities begin in Rome, one character starts going on about stuff that went on over in Delta Glen. Weird stuff happened there involving alien DNA, cows, a plane crash, and a doctor named Larsen - all from The X-Files “Red Museum” episode. And the same character talks about how they heard the F.B.I. was investigating all of it. No agent names of course. Everyone figures the dude saying this is just kooky. I mean, what F.B.I. agents would investigate such crazy stuff?

Brilliant, and the icing on the cake is that David E. Kelley stuck it to CBS and they didn’t even realize it.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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