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Ivor Middleton

Ivor Middleton

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Even in one of the most celebrated ensemble production teams of the 1990s, Darin Morgan made fans sit up and take notice at his complex, noir-tinged, sometimes loopy scripts for the science fiction phenomenon "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002). The brother of "X-Files" producer Glen Morgan, Darin broke into the show's lore by donning full-body disguise as the ultra-creepy monster "Flukeman" in an episode of the show's second season, but was soon nurtured as a writer by creator Chris Carter. He established a signature stamp on the show with some of the most anomalously funny stories in the dark series' history, including "Humbug" and "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose." He followed Glen and writing partner James Wong when they became showrunners on Carter's second series, "Millennium" (Fox, 1996-99), and made a goofy return to "The X-Files" in front of the camera in 1997, playing the nerdy shapeshifter who notoriously romanced Agent Scully in the guise of Agent Mulder. His imprimatur would usher him to producing-writing jobs on a sequence of high-profile TV shows, including two short-lived reboots of the classics, "Night Stalker" (2005-06) and "The Bionic Woman" (NBC, 2007), another Fox sci-fi hit, "Fringe"...

Even in one of the most celebrated ensemble production teams of the 1990s, Darin Morgan made fans sit up and take notice at his complex, noir-tinged, sometimes loopy scripts for the science fiction phenomenon "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002). The brother of "X-Files" producer Glen Morgan, Darin broke into the show's lore by donning full-body disguise as the ultra-creepy monster "Flukeman" in an episode of the show's second season, but was soon nurtured as a writer by creator Chris Carter. He established a signature stamp on the show with some of the most anomalously funny stories in the dark series' history, including "Humbug" and "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose." He followed Glen and writing partner James Wong when they became showrunners on Carter's second series, "Millennium" (Fox, 1996-99), and made a goofy return to "The X-Files" in front of the camera in 1997, playing the nerdy shapeshifter who notoriously romanced Agent Scully in the guise of Agent Mulder. His imprimatur would usher him to producing-writing jobs on a sequence of high-profile TV shows, including two short-lived reboots of the classics, "Night Stalker" (2005-06) and "The Bionic Woman" (NBC, 2007), another Fox sci-fi hit, "Fringe" (2008-13) and brother Glen's teen mystery series "Tower Prep" (Cartoon Network, 2010). His episodes of "The X-Files" inevitably discussed among the series' best, Morgan's flare for the darkly comic and comically dark would make his name as one of the most distinctive, even cinematic writers of contemporary sci-fi television.

Darin J. Morgan was born May 12, 1965 in Syracuse, NY. His father, Wayne Morgan, an insurance salesman, moved the family to the San Diego suburb of El Cajon in 1975. An avid film buff, the father took Darin and his older brother Glen to the movies often to share his love of cinematic classics. Glen and Darin both found themselves mesmerized by the American New Wave films such as and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "Taxi Driver" (1976), while Darin also gravitated to classic comedies, including the films of silent greats Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd and screwball comedy impresarios Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder. Like Glen before him, he found his affinity fanned by El Cajon Valley's drama teacher Bob Howard, who encouraged students to write and stage their own productions. Upon graduation, Darin followed Glen and his high school buddy James Wong to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He majored in film and won accolades for his six-minute short "Legends of Doo-Wop" (1988), a mockumentary about two men (one played by Morgan) with some dubious claims to pioneering roles in the history of rock-n-roll. The film reputedly garnered the attentions of TriStar Pictures, and he bolted LMU for a three-picture deal with the studio.

None of his ideas wound up being produced, and Morgan again followed Glen and James, this time to Vancouver, BC, where they were working as writers and producers on a string of TV shows produced by Stephen J. Cannell Productions. Morgan scored some guest roles on two Cannell shows, "21 Jump Street" (1987-90) and "The Commish" (ABC, 1991-95). In 1993, a production for the Fox network arrived in Vancouver created by producer Chris Carter, who poached Glen and James, making them co-executive producers of "The X-Files." The show would follow two FBI agents, Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, respectively), as they investigated different paranormal cases each week, some stand-alone stories characterized as "monster-of-the-week" episodes; others bound by what was dubbed the "mythology," a Byzantine arc that would run the agents periodically afoul of a powerful shadow-government cabal. Tucked into Fox's Friday night lineup, it did not fare well in the ratings initially, but swiftly developed a cult buzz. In the second season, Glen scored a role for his brother as a monster-of-the-week, Flukeman, a creepy humanoid/worm hybrid. Morgan worked with Glen and James on one of their scripts, earning a story credit on the creepy-small-town-with-a-secret episode "Blood," and Carter gave the former a shot at penning his own story. Morgan's "Humbug" would be a surreal comic tale that saw the agents investigating murders among the preternaturally oddball characters of a community of circus performers.

The episode, a comic juxtaposition to the show's typical stark, sober tones, set a tone for Morgan's work, which was to explore different aspects of the main characters than typically seen, and started a buzz among fans. As of the 1995-96 season, even as Fox lured Glen and James away to create their own series, "Space: Above and Beyond" (1995-96), Morgan took on the title of "X-Files" story editor. But he felt unsatisfied by his previous script, and projected his disquiet into his next script, soon to be considered one of the rare comic classics of the series. "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" saw the agents attempting to track down a serial killer, sidestepping the assistance of a martinet TV psychic, The Stupendous Yappi (a hilarious character who would figure into later "X-Files" episodes), and seeking instead the counsel of an obviously clairvoyant but bitterly depressed insurance salesman (loosely based on Wayne Morgan). Peter Boyle went on to win an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the title character, while Morgan won the statue for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. He contributed another monster-of-the-week episode to the season, the skin-tingling bug-infested outing "War of the Coprophages," as well as a semi-mythology-tinged episode, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." The latter guest-starred Charles Nelson Reilly as a renowned author recounting one of the agents' abduction cases from multiples perspectives of all involved, with some distinctly surreal twists to some of their memories.

In spite of his Emmy win, Morgan decided to opt out of another season on staff, suggesting he could not keep up with the relentless pace of show production. Carter's Ten Thirteen Productions, however, became a skunk works of rotating talent as the growing pop cultural currency of "The X-Files" afforded him opportunities for new projects. For the 1997-98 season, Carter made Glen Morgan and James Wong showrunners on "Millennium," his new Fox series about Frank Black (Lance Henricksen), a profiler of serial killers. They introduced a mythology arc to that show as well and brought Morgan in as a consulting editor. He contributed two scripts to the show and directed them as well, including another multilayered comic pastiche guest-starring Reilly as Jose Chung, "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense," as the writer enlists Black for help against a conspicuously Scientology-esque cult targeting him over a story he has written about them. Also in 1997, Morgan returned to "The X-Files" in a featured guest-shot, playing Eddie Van Blundht, a nebbish loser who turns out to be responsible for a series of mysterious pregnancies, owing to his unique ability to morph himself to look like other people's husbands. His taking on the guise of Mulder, thereby attempting to seduce Scully, would be the much talked-about moment in the will-they-or-won't-they arc of the series. Morgan would also go on to some supporting roles in Glen and James' later projects, including their brief series for Dreamworks, "The Others" (NBC, 2000) and his and Wong's sci-fi/action feature film "The One" (2001).

Morgan's X-thread would continue as he went to work with "X-Files" veteran Frank Spotnitz, curiously enough on an ABC revival of a show that had inspired Carter to create "The X-Files." "Night Stalker" (2005-07), though boasting an impressive cast led by Stuart Townsend and Gabrielle Union, ostensibly rebooted the short-lived 1970s classic show about a reporter specializing in stories of the supernatural. But it lacked the neo-noir style and humor of its inspiration and failed to find an audience. In 2007, Morgan reunited with his brother, who had taken the showrunner job on another sci-fi reboot, "The Bionic Woman," but the older brother disliked the creative direction of the show, as did most critics and fans, and he departed after four episodes, with the show only lasting a half season. In 2008, Morgan took a consulting producer job on "Fringe" (2008-13), which some billed as a spiritual heir of "The X-Files," following an ad hoc team of a somewhat addled scientist, his brilliant headstrong son and a beautiful intrepid FBI agent as they investigate a connected series of supernatural phenomena. The Morgan brothers reteamed again in 2010 on "Tower Prep" (Carton Network, 2010) an innovative live-action show following a troubled teen who finds himself shanghaied to a mysterious high school for "problem children," where he must not only deal with the typical trials of growing up, but also how and why he came to be there and how to escape.

By Matthew Grimm

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