Charles "Chuck" Burks (played by Bill Dow) was a scientist and a friend of FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder. As Burks had expertise in graphics analysis, he was one of a number of sources who occasionally assisted both Mulder and his FBI partner, Special Agent Dana Scully, during their assignment to the X-Files. (TXF: "The Căluşari", et al.)
In the late 1970s including 1979, Burks traveled through India, an experience that Mulder would later term "a tour of duty on the old hippie trail." (TXF: "Badlaa", "The Căluşari") Burks shot a video of his travels and had remarkably long hair at the time. (TXF: "Badlaa") In 1979, he witnessed a guru named Sai Baba create an entire feast out of thin air, using holy ash known as "vibuti." (TXF: "The Căluşari")
Subsequently, Burks essentially "succumbed to the glamors of academia." (TXF: "The Căluşari") By 1995, he had become a doctor, running the Advanced Digital Imaging lab at the University of Maryland, in College Park, and had designed special imaging software to extract hidden information from photographs. (TXF: "The Căluşari", "Badlaa")
Assisting X-File Investigations
In 1995, Burks was consulted by Mulder, regarding a photograph taken seconds before the death of two-year-old Teddy Holvey in an amusement park three months beforehand. Mulder sought Burks' assistance in the belief that a balloon in the photograph seemed to be inexplicably being pulled against the direction of the wind. While the FBI agents visited his lab, Mulder introduced Dr. Burks to Scully as "the king of digital imaging" and Burks corrected Mulder that he himself could extract hidden information – rather than details – from a simple photographic print. As he began to extract such information from the amusement park photograph using the software he had created, Burks explained the procedure to Agent Scully. He then showed her that processing the photograph revealed a pattern in the image that he referred to as "a concentration of electromagnetic energy", evidencing Mulder's subsequent claim to Scully that a poltergeist had clearly been responsible for Teddy Holvey's death. Burks sat smirking at Scully and, despite her criticizing his methods to Mulder as being coincidental, Dr. Burks did not answer her criticisms himself. Instead, he merely raised his eyebrows at her in response to Mulder having lengthily revealed to her the impossibility of Teddy Holvey having escaped from his own child restraints.
Shortly afterwards, Teddy Holvey's father, Steve, died as the result of becoming caught in the garage door of the Holvey residence and Mulder found an ash-like powder in the same garage. Even though Mulder had already had the FBI analyze the substance, both he and the FBI technicians were perplexed by the strange powder, so Mulder sought Dr. Burks' expertise as a second opinion. Immediately recognizing the ash as vibuti, Burks was amazed to encounter the substance again. He explained what the substance was and, with the help of Mulder, he recounted to Scully how he had previously encountered the powder. At one point, he reminded her of the parable of how Jesus had miraculously created loaves and fishes, in an effort to explain to Scully that the vibuti was known to materialize out of thin air, but Scully responded to Dr. Burks' recollection with a sarcastic comment that further criticized his photograph technique. Burks agreed with Mulder suggesting that the vibuti may have been created as a result of an energy transference that could have activated the garage-door opener, but Scully doubted the theory and instead suggested – for the first time – that Teddy's brother, Charlie, might be considered as a suspect. (TXF: "The Căluşari")
In 1997, Dr. Burks was excited when the pair of agents visited his lab with a complete cross-section of a human head, as Burks had never worked with a sample of human tissue before. Even though Mulder was not yet forthcoming with an answer to Burks asking what he was looking to find, Dr. Burks was nevertheless enthusiastic about experimenting on the tissue sample. He spoke with Scully about the process of taking an aura photograph while he took such an image of his current specimen. Burks claimed that, with the same equipment he was now using, he had managed to capture phantom images of whole leaves that had been cut in half and the vestigial image of a lizard's tail long after it had been cut off. After developing the image he was currently working on, Burks showed it to the FBI agents, commenting that it showed some kind of energy happening around the specimen. He was extremely surprised when Mulder revealed that the man's head from which the specimen had originated had been decapitated, initially laughing off such a possibility until Mulder confirmed it for Burks. (TXF: "Leonard Betts")
In 2001, Burks was contacted by Agent Scully concerning a case that may have involved some sort of mysticism. Burks told her about Indian mystics, which turned out to be exactly what the case entailed. John Doggett was not impressed with Burks and was rather brusque with him. However, Burks' theory of the mystic was proven to be true when an interrogation subject turned out to be an illusion cast by the mystic that did not appear on a video camera. (TXF: "Badlaa")
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It is possible that Burks was meant to only be a one-time character depicted in the Season 2 episode "The Căluşari". This can be inferred from actor Bill Dow's appearance as Dr. Newton in the Season 3 episode "War of the Coprophages", and it is extremely rare for a recurring character to be cast as another character after he or she has been introduced. Bill Dow also appeared as the father of the family from "The Jersey Devil" before the first appearance of Charles Burks.