Usually when Hollywood types deign to use some D.C. geography to advance the latest techno-political-romantic conspiracy thriller, they screw it up royally, situating the Capitol dome next to the White House, which of course is right across the street from the Pentagon.
Not so with The X-Files. For not only does The X-Files showcase standards like FBI headquarters (even going so far as to pinpoint its address on Pennsylvania Avenue NW), bottom-of-the-screen teletype often indicates that someone at Fox research has been doing his homework: Crack pipe-toting gangstas hail from Petworth, a nerdy hacker hides out in Rehoboth, Del., and FBI and Pentagon bureaucrats commute home to northern Virginia. And when the Grand Conspiracy's evil ringleader, the Well-Manicured Man, isn't serving as omniscient puppeteer, he's tending his horses in Charlottesville.
Like everything else on the show, the geographic truth-telling is no accident. According to Washington location manager Carol Flaisher, its D.C. savvy comes from the top: "[X-Files creator and producer] Chris Carter knows Washington fairly well, I think," she says. Still, most of the actual footage for the show is shot at X-Files headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia (soon to move to L.A.); according to officials who serve as liaisons to the television and film industries, very little that makes it to the small screen is actually D.C. Nonetheless, camera crews were here the weekend of March 7 to shoot a few cutaways and establishing shots for this summer's much-hyped X-Files film. "We shoot everything from government office buildings to sinister-looking buildings," says Flaisher.
As long as Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are occasionally traipsing through your back yard in their quest for the Truth, we thought a historical map of the show's local shenanigans might be worth a look. The story lines have piled up over the years, as have the pushpins on the X-Files map of D.C. Actually, if you connect the dots and closely examine the pattern, it resembles the FBI code word for the World War II-era Justice Department file indicating the government's knowledge of the alien cancer spreading throughout communities outside Nevada's Area 51, but that's a different story....
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW Mulder dragged the mysterious Mr. X away from a performance of Wagner's "Ring" cycle in order to find out more about an alien bounty hunter and his mysterious craft. (In order to get a transition shot, Flaisher used an acquaintance, reportedly a staffer at the D.C. Film and TV Office, to stand in for Mr. X. True conspiracy: It's said that he didn't have a SAG card.)
Watergate Hotel & Office Complex, 2650 Virginia Ave. NW After the X-Files investigative team was temporarily disbanded, Scully and Mulder met in the underground parking lot here to avoid FBI scrutiny. Not a great place to hide these days, by the way.
Japanese Embassy, 2520 Massachusetts Ave. NW One high-ranking diplomat here helped develop a human-alien hybrid with superimmunity. The Red-Haired Man picked him up in a limo and, right there on Massachusetts Avenue, killed him. And no, he did not dispose of the body in one of the abundant potholes.
Burkina Faso Embassy, 2340 Massachusetts Ave. NW Though the action mostly took place in New York, a minister from this embassy tried to cover up a murder committed by the Teliko, an African folk-tale-come-to-life who survives on the pituitary fluid of other blacks, sucking them of all life and color. Guess that explains Harold Brazil.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Independence Ave. between 12th and 14th Sts. NW Look for voluptuous entomologist Dr. Bambi Berenbaum of the USDA's Agricultural Research Services. She was last seen tracking down alien robot cockroaches, many of whom seem to have offices in the new Ronald Reagan building.
Georgetown University Medical Center, 3800 Reservoir Rd. NW Scully and Mulder's boss, assistant FBI director Walter Skinner, was treated here after what at first appeared to be a random shooting. But the shooter turned out to be the same man who killed Scully's sister. (Gasp!)
J. Edgar Hoover Building, 935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Mulder's office is in the basement. Even the rats have ID badges.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Here is where a former Green Beret who--with invisibility skills learned from 25 years in a Viet Cong POW campstalked a general during a rededication ceremony. We always wondered who the shadow representative of the District was.
George Washington University Art Department, Smith Hall of Art, 801 22nd St. NW Keep away from any art classes with John Mostow, a student possessed by a gargoyle, who slashed the face of one of his class's models. A dead FBI agent even turned up in Mostow's nearby studio, his corpse covered with sculptor's clay. Maybe it's time to crack open that sculpture in front of Ben & Jerry's in Adams Morgan and find out what's inside.
National Naval Medical Center, 8901 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda Scully and Mulder were treated here for accelerated aging. The therapy was successful, so they didn't end up spending their last years out at Leisure World.
Rockville Stay clear of the Women's Health Services Center, an abortion clinic that's home to multiple clones of Mulder's kidnapped sister, Samantha. So that's why everyone in Maryland looks the same.
Apartment of Special Agent Dana Scully, 3170 W 53rd St. #35, Annapolis. This has been the site of kidnapping, murder, and at least one appearance of her father's ghost, no doubt in search of crabcakes.
College Park Scully studied physics at the University of Maryland as an undergrad, plus got her M.D. before joining the FBI. She still maintains close ties with various faculty members. The Terps Are Out There.
Apartment of Special Agent Fox Mulder, 42-2630 Hegel Place, Alexandria You'll find no bed (he sleeps on his couch), but a plethora of porn. Tap water was once tainted with hallucinogens, which may have made Old Town seem more reality-based.
Crystal City The security computer at the world headquarters of the Eurisko Corp. had artificial intelligence and was known to go on killing sprees. It is also rumored to be responsible for the capricious traffic lights throughout the region.
Rosslyn Living in the shadow of the Pentagon, and in the safe burg of Rosslyn to boot, you'd think General Thomas Callahan and his family would be safe. But Mrs. Callahan got iced by a quadruple-amputee Gulf War vet who could astrally project himself into others' psyches. Beats taking the Metro.
Fairfax County It looks just like a random RV parked in a nondescript Fairfax field, no? Wrong. Inside once sat a computer with a conscience, a wicked sense of humor, homicidal impulses, and access to every database in the universe--no doubt the hostile presence behind your billing problems with District Cablevision and Pepco.
In the DC area, but tougher to pinpoint:
Office of the Lone Gunmen The clandestine retreat of Mulder's favorite geekazoid conspiracy buffs is never given. Hmm, where do ultranerdy whiteboy conspiracy buffs hang out, other than in Sidney Blumenthal's office?
Dunaway's Pub This is Mulder's favorite bar, where he met the ill-fated Deep Throat. It looks kind of Cleveland Park-y, but he never seems to have much trouble parking.
Headless Woman's Pub This vaguely Georgetowny bar is where Mulder took Scully to celebrate her birthday with beer, singing waiters, and a sparkler-impaled pink Hostess SnoBall. Scully later went back to the pub only to witness the murder of a fellow FBI agent. The true target may have been one of those guys who go table to table selling roses.
Northeast Georgetown Medical Center After a few episodes of being missing and presumed dead, Scully showed up at this ICU; it now seems to be the hospital of choice for the show's writers, despite the fact that Georgetown is nowhere near Northeast. Do you get the feeling the Fox legal department had something to do with this?
Ambassador Hotel In the hotel bar, Skinner, in the throes of a painful divorce, picked up a legal-secretary-turned-callgirl and made mad, passionate love to her upstairs, only to awake beside her spine-crushed corpse. Has Dick Morris taught us nothing? CP