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Young at Heart   Credits   Gallery   Transcript   Background Information    

Production

  • In the lead-up to the writing of this installment, Scott Kaufer called upon Chris Carter – the creator of The X-Files, an Executive Producer on the series, and a long-time acquaintance of Kaufer's – with the suggestion of writing an episode together. "As soon as I got the series up and going," said Carter, "he came to me, but I would have gone to him anyway [....] We discussed reverse aging [as a concept for an episode], and we stumbled onto the progeria idea. He wrote a draft, and then I took it, and I rewrote it and added some elements, including the salamander hand." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 49)
  • This episode's script went through four drafts. These were dated 4th, 10th, 11th and 18th January 1994.
  • Much thought went into designing the salamander hand in this episode. One Saturday, Chris Carter called Director Michael Lange about this subject, wanting to meet with Lange and the prop master for breakfast the next day, to decide on exactly how the hand should look. On the Sunday morning, the group met for a breakfast which lasted at least two hours. Part of this duration was spent eating, though most of the time was taken up with looking at hundreds of amphibious hands in an encyclopaedic-type book about amphibians, a large publication which was a couple of inches thick and which the prop master had brought with him. The group finally chose an amphibious hand they believed would look right. (TV Zone, issue 79, p. 27)
  • The filming of this episode did not veer far away from the script. Michael Lange noted, "I think I stayed fairly close to the original draft." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 64-65)
  • When filming the scene in which John Barnett – using his salamander hand – strangles Agent Purdue, preparations were made for Fox's standards and practices department objecting to it. "We knew at the time that there potentially might be some controversy over this scene," explained Michael Lange. "Because of that Chris made sure that I got plenty of angles on the killing so that we could tone it down as needed." Lange described most of the coverage he shot for this scene as "fairly brutal." (TV Zone, issue 79, p. 27)
  • Requiring supposedly old black-and-white footage of Dr. Joseph Ridley and a child with progeria, Co-Producer Paul Rabwin contacted the Progeria Society. The X-Files' production crew then brought Courtney Arciaga, who had the disease, from San Diego to Vancouver. With Michael Lange directing, the footage was then shot. Co-Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin, who was involved in filming the scene, reminisced, "It was a very, very touching moment for us all [....] On an individual basis, when we contacted the parents [of Arciaga] we found out they were big fans of the show, as was the little girl. It was almost like a 'Make a Wish' kind of thing: it was wonderful." (X-Files Confidential, p. 65)

Trivia

  • This episode features numerous links to the novel Frankenstein. These include the idea of a doctor creating a monster as the result of unauthorized experimentation, the fact that the doctor explains his history and reasoning to a supposed neutral observer, the opening scene of a supposedly dead creature opening its eyes and the salamander limb that is grafted to the corpse, which echoes the novel's depiction of different bodies grafted together. Indeed, Dr. Joseph Ridley even admits in one scene that people referred to him as "Doctor Frankenstein" in the past.
  • When John Barnett dies in hospital near the end of this episode, it is the first time in the series that Mulder has been directly responsible for a death.

Reception

  • Michael Lange ultimately felt proud of this episode. "I liked the script very much [....] I liked it because it had a lot of good spookiness to it. To me, the intriguing part was the doctor's research into being able to reverse the aging process, which I wish we could have explored more." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 64 & 65)
  • R.W. Goodwin and Michael Lange – both fathers of several children – valued the way this episode enabled them to further awareness of progeria. "We felt it was good because it made the disease visible," Goodwin expressed, "so it helped create more public awareness of it." (X-Files Confidential, p. 65)
  • This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 7.2, with an audience share of 11. This means that roughly 7.2 percent of all television-equipped households, and 11 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 6.8 million households. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248)
  • Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 49) gives this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars and comments, "'Young at Heart' is one of those solid, above-average X-Files episodes that are enjoyable, round out the characters, yet are not the top of the series."
  • The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 16,  p. 31) characterizes this episode, without the inclusion of the salamander hand, as an "already chilling tale" and the hand itself as "unforgettable." The publication goes on to state, "The two actors who play [...] John Barnett are perfectly cast as two sides of the same coin, and Christine Estabrook's infatuation with Mulder provides amusement in an episode otherwise devoid of emotion."
  • In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman scored this installment 2 out of 5 stars. He critiqued, "The first half of the episode is really very good, enlivened by an exciting and comprehensible revenge plot, and a terrific performance by David Duchovny at his most paranoid and guilt-ridden. For a while it's really not an X-File at all, beyond the mystery concerning why an apparent dead man is making threats upon Mulder and his friends. It's well directed and tense, and even though it plays like a fairly standard cop movie, complete with courtroom flashbacks and hapless FBI agents getting offed because of a rookie's hesitation, it's convincing and engaging. Then, suddenly, things get very odd. It becomes a government conspiracy episode [....] It mutates into a story of peculiar and unexplained science [....] And it all gets unnecessarily operatic [....] All of this makes the story strangely top heavy, and more than a little pretentious. Mark Snow doesn't help with a score that wants to echo The Omen, with lots of choirs going nuts singing in Latin around every corner. And what gave the episode its hook, a chance to see a more personal side of Mulder as he is forced to face his youthful demons, gets sacrificed as it strains to be about global concerns [....] I like the flirty handwriting expert, though."

Cast and Characters

  • The CIA Agent who tries to obtain information from Barnett while doctors attempt to save him near the end of this episode is played by William B. Davis. Davis made many appearances in The X-Files television series as the recurring character the "Cigarette Smoking Man", whom other episodes establish as having many aliases. It is not specified whether the character Davis played in this episode is intended to be the same recurring character. The episode's script does not make this connection but official publication The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 16,  p. 31) does.
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