I have very fond recollections of the Lone Gunmen. Partly this is nostalgia for a time when only a small number of highly eccentric individuals, such as these three, believed in conspiracy theories (as opposed to half the internet today). Also they are among the very few TV stars that I can really identify with (I like to think I combine Byers’s scintillating personality, Frohike’s stunning good looks and Langly’s impeccable fashion sense).
Actually I really do have a rather tenuous connection with Byers – or rather with Bruce Harwood, the actor who played Byers. If you look back at the December 2002 issue of Fortean Times, then on page 52 (the letters page) you will see the names “Bruce Harwood” and “Andrew May” in close proximity to each other. How this came about is a rather long story, but it’s an interesting one – so here it is.
Back in 2001, the Lone Gunmen briefly had their own TV series as a spinoff from The X-Files (see the publicity image at the bottom of this post). I saw most of the episodes when they were shown in the UK the following year on the Sci-Fi Channel – with the exception of the pilot show, which was missing from the UK run. I found a full transcript of that episode online, and it reads like a fictionalized version of a fairly standard 9/11 conspiracy theory… except that it had aired in the US six months before 9/11. This bizarre coincidence wasn’t mentioned when Fortean Times ran their first article on 9/11 conspiracy theories in September 2002, so I sent them the following letter:
The pilot episode of the Fox TV series The Lone Gunmen, which first aired in March 2001, involved a conspiracy theory as persuasive as anything which emerged post-9/11. In that episode, the Lone Gunmen (three characters who will be familiar to viewers of The X-Files) uncovered a plot by a group of Pentagon officials who were unhappy with the decline in defence spending following the end of the Cold War. The plotters seized control of a domestic airliner en route from Washington DC to Boston (not by hijacking it, but by hacking into its flight control computer), and set it on a collision course for New York’s World Trade Center. Their reasoning was that in the wake of such a high-profile atrocity, extremists around the world would be quick to claim responsibility, an outraged government would declare an all-out war on terrorism, and defence budgets would soar. In the TV version, the Lone Gunmen foiled the plotters, saving the plane and the Twin Towers. Tragically, in the real world six months later there was no such happy ending. Whether or not the US military/industrial complex really was behind the attacks, there’s no denying that it’s profited from them. The pilot episode was omitted from the Sci-Fi channel’s UK run of The Lone Gunmen, but a full transcript can be found at http://www.insidethex.co.uk/transcrp/tlg179.htmAs it turned out, Bruce Harwood sent them a letter saying pretty much the same thing. Needless to say, the intimate perspective he was able to offer meant they printed his letter in preference to mine. He concluded by saying “I think it’s safe to say that our pilot … will never be seen on network television anywhere. Ever.” – after which they printed the last sentence of my letter.
I was more than happy with this result. It was only the second time I’d had something of mine printed in Fortean Times – and it linked me with one of my favourite characters from the X-Files!