I am writing, of course, of one Jose Chung, author of the amazing fact-based novel entitled Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'! To be sure, it was a surprising and risky choice for Carter and Morgan to devote an episode to the writing of such a book (in the episode of the same name: "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'"). What is not surprising at all is that since my introduction to Mr. Chung, I now own every single Jose Chung book ever published!
One year and seven months later, on Carter's other show Millennium, Darin Morgan brought us another tribute to the great Jose Chung. Only this time, the episode he brought us didn't focus on the thriving career of this legend of literature, his amazing investigative reporting style, his fascination with the truth, his dapper fashion sense. Sadly, this time out, Darin Morgan focused on the latter days of Jose Chung's fertile and influential career!
Dramatically portrayed in fitting tribute, as he was the previous year, by the great Charles Nelson Reilly, we are again granted a unique viewpoint into the heart and mind of Jose Chung in a way that only an admirer could possibly give to us. After the great success of From Outer Space, Chung is visited by a young man who was recently excommunicated from a certain religion created by a fiction writer. Morgan wisely changed the names of the writer and his litigious religion so as to avoid the possibility of Lawsuits, so the obvious players are substituted by failed writer Juggernaut Onan Goopta and his followers of the Selfosophy faith.
It may surprise many of the readers of both Goopta and Chung that these two famed men were colleagues way back when!
But back to the young excommunicant. Ratfinkovich (Note: that was his real name, though he was portrayed here by Patrick Fabian) was booted out of the religion that changed his outlook on life for reading a work of outside literature. Thus, he goes to Mr. Chung to reveal some of the Selfosophy secrets. These secrets are subsequently published in the literary periodical (with nude pictorials of beautiful women) known as Playpen (I have a subscription).
Soon after this shocking tell-all article, as most of you who follow the news are already aware, young master Ratfinkovich was murdered by an overzealous member of the Selfosophy religion, who just might have his sights set on Jose Chung next.
It's during this murder investigation that Detective Bob Giebelhouse (here brought to us by Stephen J. Lang) enlists the aid of the Millennium Group, as represented by Frank Black (portrayed by Lance Henriksen) and Peter Watts (here played by Terry O'Quinn). The friendship we see developing between Black (a fan of Chung's early work) and Chung himself is almost touching in its tribute, even as their combined profiling leads to some chilling revelations and speculations.
And those revelations and speculations can only fuel Chung's next opus, a work we now know as the coveted Doomsday Defense, all about a Millennium Group, which Chung has insisted was not based on any real organization. Still (at least as portrayed in this Darin Morgan directed and penned hour of television) there is a certain resemblance between the iconic profiler in Chung's book and Mr. Black, so who knows? Then again, this may well be part of Morgan's rather metafictional form of satirical commentary. After all, he did get David Duchovny to pose for the image of actor Bobby Wingood. Because of this, much like the very works of Jose Chung himself, it's difficult to determine what is real and what is, as Chung himself might say, "poetic license" in this evolving mystery.
While there are a number of shocking revelations concerning Selfosophy and Selfologists (like Dan Zukovic and Richard Steinmetz), "Nostradomus Nutballs" (like Scott Owen) and even Anti-Porn Feminists (like Sandra Steier... who is super hot!), the real tribute here is in the less dark, humorous moments, which Maestro Chung would have loved. The friendship and partnership between "Monsieur Noir" and this writing hero is treated respectfully, but with a "flamboyant" funniness that keeps the episode fascinating even as we know the end may be near for our friend.
And that's what makes "Jose Chung's 'Doomsday Defense'" one very fine hour of Television History. The humor is there, the fun is there, the darkness is there and even the glimpse at the genius of Jose Chung is there. In truth, due to its semi-bleakness, this isn't quite the rip-roaring hilarity train that The X-Files' "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" was, but then again, it's much funnier and much more engrossing than many episodes of this type of show have any business being.
If anything, it makes one want all the more, to read the original Playpen article... that is, if one can find it after the Selfologists bought up so many "Blasphemous" copies to destroy.
Until a reprint, as satire, social commentary, history, tribute, biographic fragment or just plain cool and bright episode of an overall dark and moody show, Millennium's "Jose Chung's 'Doomsday Defense'" is the best artifact we've got of this intriguing work. Metafictionalized or not, theoretical or not, this well-adapted, well-directed and well-acted tribute is fully worth Four Stars out of Five! At the time of this writing, we're right about eleven years after the last time we saw Jose Chung portrayed in a fictional work and we've long-since passed the Millennium itself. While some of the predictions and theories might be a little dated now, the funny and fascinating works and memories of one Jose Chung will endure long after doomsday, far into outer space. See you in the next reel... where I'll be reading the gospel of Lord Kimboat aloud to a smoking Alien. That is if the Selfologists let me get that far!
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