"Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense"

#MLM-209

Written by Darin Morgan

Directed by Darin Morgan

Edited by James Coblentz

Aired November 21, 1997

Summary: When Jose Chung becomes the target of a religious group known as Selfosophy, Frank Black teams with the flamboyant writer to investigate a string of bizarre murders.

 

  Season Two on DVD

 

  Full Transcript Available

 

Synopsis:  As a series of still photographs pass into view, author Jose Chung describes the life of Juggernaut Onan Goopta, who went to college hoping to become a famous neuroscientist and instead was overcome by dementia and institutionalized. During his hospital stay, Goopta decided to become a writer. His first literary works were so incompetent they were mistaken for "brilliant parodies." Chung met Goopta when his stories were published in a detective magazine. When that publication folded, a desperate Goopta "changed the course of human history" when he published the first in a series of highly- successful self-help books and founded the "Institute of Selfosophy," which taught members how to shed negative thoughts. It was an enormous success. Anyone responsible for internal criticism of the organization was reprogrammed, and if that failed, dubbed a "Ratfinkovitch" and excommunicated from the church. 

While performing research on "the newly arising belief systems at the end of the millennium," Chung encountered Joseph Ratfinkovitch, who was excommunicated for reading Chung's most recent fiction. Ratfinkovitch's body is discovered inside his apartment, the victim of an electrocution. Giebelhouse contacts Frank, hoping he can shed some light on the case. As the group examines the crime scene, Chung steps forward and claims that he is responsible for Ratfinkovitch's death. He explains that when Playpen magazine ran an excerpt from his short story, the Selfosophist Institute grew offended. They instructed members to buy up all existing copies. However, Ratfinkovitch read, and enjoyed, the story.

Ratfinkovitch was then approached by, Mr. Smooth, a fellow Selfosophist. Using a device called an Onan-o-Graph, Smooth attempted to recounsel Ratfinkovitch. According to Chung's version of events, the device malfunctioned and Ratfinkovitch was inadvertently electrocuted. When Chung admits he made the whole thing up, Frank and Giebelhouse meet with a Selfosophist spokeman, Robbinski, who insists his fellow members are incapable of murder. Despite this, Mr. Smooth attempts to control his homicidal rage after reading — and being offended by — Chung's story. He sends Chung a clown doll impaled with a variety of knives. Chung contacts Frank with the news. He explains that the antagonist in his story sends similar threats before committing murder. At the conclusion of the story, Chung states, the "Selfosophist Psycho" confronts and kills the author. 

Chung accompanies Frank to the scene of a (seemingly unrelated) murder on a college campus. The victim is Professor Amos Randi, a Nostradamus scholar. Frank concludes that the perpetrator is targeting victims he considers to be Nostradamus' Three Anti-Christs — and will attack two more authority figures. But Chung does some profiling of his own. He determines that the killer, who was fulfilling self-interpreted prophecies, targeted his ex- girlfriend's teacher. The trail, Chung believes, leads to a Hollywood movie theater. The next victim, it turns out, is a ticket girl at a Hollywood movie theater. Frank realizes that Chung's profile predicted the murder, and later concludes that Chung is the killer's third Anti-Christ. He, Watts and Geibelhouse race to Chung's hotel. Smooth, however, arrives first. He pulls out a gun and berates Chung for ridiculing the church's beliefs.

Frank suddenly bursts through the door. Smooth takes a shot at Chung, misses, then sprints from the room. Frank follows Smooth onto the rooftop. Smooth convinces himself he can leap onto a neighboring building and escape. But all the positive thoughts in the world cannot save him, and he plummets downward to his death. Meanwhile, the "Nostradamus Nutball" surprises Chung and murders him with a pick axe. Later, Frank begins reading one of Chung's books, entitled Doomsday Defense. In it, Chung predicts the millennium will bring forth "one thousand years of the same old crap."

Photographs:

- Quirky novelist Jose Chung

- Frank assists in examining the murder

- Frank follows Chung to his book signing

- Giebelhouse and Frank discuss the case

- Chung receives a peculiar death threat

- Frank watches helplessly as Chung dies

- Frank and Chung discuss the future

- Frank and Chung compare profiles

- Goopta's hero, Rocket McGrane

 

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Media Reviews:  "['Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense' is] written with the density of a Simpsons cartoon.  You'll scream till you laugh, or laugh till you scream. Be dazzled, be wildered.  Four stars." —Matt Roush, USA Today

 

"After a year and a half of doom and gloom stories, one of the most astounding television writers of the nineties, Darin Morgan, is allowed his fractured take on Millennium and Frank and author Jose Chung investigate murders that lead them deeply into the world of a pseudo-religion called Selfosophy (read as Scientology). Bizarre is exactly the word for it as Millennium takes sharp aim at itself and has fun with it." —Michael Patrick Sullivan, Underground Online

 

"This season, [Frank Black] has a wry, biting wit that comes out at surprising moments. Initially it's a strange fit you don't immediately think of Lance Henriksen as the sort to laugh, or even smile but it soon gets there, allowing the show two of its finest but purely comic episodes, 'Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense' and 'Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me.' The comedy never lessens the tension, though." —Tony Whitt, Now Playing Magazine

 

Trivia:  "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" is the first of two Millennium stories scripted by Darin Morgan, the eccentric and talented brother of executive producer Glen Morgan. The comedic-minded Darin was reportedly reluctant to work on the typically dour Millennium but an agreement that offered him the opportunity to both write and direct his episodes convinced him to join the show's staff.

 

In daring to spoof the infamously litigious Church of Scientology, Millennium drew considerable protest from those Hollywood insiders loyal to the religion. Word of the script spread and Darin Morgan's story immediately earned the ire of Scientologists.  Executive Producers Glen Morgan and James Wong subsequently visited the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles and spent several hours discussing the script with church officials. One of the agreed upon changes was dubbing Darin Morgan's fictional religion Selfosophy rather than Selftology. Darin Morgan later noted how trying the experience was from a creative standpoint, commenting, "It seemed like a very simple freedom of speech issue.  You take free speech for granted until certain people are threatening you, whether it be legally or otherwise, to shut up. And it isn't until that happens that you go, 'How much am I willing to stand up for this?'"

 

In covering the show's conflict with the church ABC News reported, "It's no secret that the Church of Scientology wields considerable power in Hollywood after all, its members include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley. But according to the Hollywood Reporter, that influence was recently used on the Fox series Millennium. Seems some members thought that an upcoming episode of the paranormal series dealing with the murder of a member of a New Age cult called Selfosophy hit a little too close to home." The Hollywood Reporter's initial report commented, "Execs on the show and at the studio had taken concerned calls from within the Scientology organization and from reps of industry people who belong to Scientology, as one studio individual described it."

 

Featuring the character of novelist Jose Chung, who first appeared in The X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," this episode acts as the first clear crossover between Chris Carter's two shows.  When the episode first aired, fans of The X-Files were outraged that a beloved character had been killed off while visiting Millennium.

 

Bringing back one of The X-Files' most popular guest stars and guest characters seemed like a surefire way to boost Millennium's chronically low ratings numbers. An appropriate scheduling choice made on the part of the Fox network only increased those odds. On the night "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" first aired Friday, November 21, 1997 it was preceded by a showing of The X-Files' "Jose Chung's From Outer Space"; Fox prepared a Jose Chung double feature for the fans, primarily in an effort to draw a larger audience to Millennium in its difficult Friday night timeslot. Unfortunately, the event didn't work out as planned. While Fox registered a significant number of viewers for The X-Files rerun, the producers were stunned to discover that those numbers disappeared once that episode of The X-Files came to an end. A low percentage of the audience carried over into the regular Millennium timeslot. Glen Morgan later noted that "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" was one of the second season's lowest rated episodes.

 

Thespian and comedy veteran Charles Nelson Reilly took out a full page ad in the November 21, 1997 issue of Variety expressing "loving thanks to Chris, Darin, Rob, Gillian, David, and Lance." Reilly's enthusiastic performance as the irreverent Jose Chung earned Millennium its only non-technical Emmy Award nomination, for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.

 

Death Toll:  5

 

Title:  Like The X-Files episode that introduced the character, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," this episode takes its title from the fictional author's most recent tome.

 

Soundtrack:  

"Dance and Dream" by Norman Chandler

"Let's Get Goin'" by Johnny Lightning

 

Awards:  Emmy Award - Charles Nelson Reilly, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Nominee)

 

Starring:

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts

Stephen James Lang as Detective Giebelhouse

 

Guest Starring:

Charles Nelson Reilly as Jose Chung
Patrick Fabian as Ratfinkovich
Richard Steinmetz as Mr. Smooth
Dan Zukovic as Robbinski

Scott Owen as the Nostradamus Nutball

Alec Willows as Det. Twohey

Murrey Rabinovitch as Juggernaut Goopta

Sandy Steier as the Anti-Porn Feminist
 

Production Credits:

Production #5C09

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Mark Freeborn
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Consulting Producer Chip Johannessen
Consulting Producers Darin Morgan
Co-Producer Robert Moresco
Co-Producer Paul Rabwin
Producer Thomas J. Wright
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis

Executive Producer Glen Morgan

Executive Producer James Wong

Executive Producer Chris Carter

 

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