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FOX

SERIES INFO

Creator:
Chris Carter
Cast:
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
FBI agents Mulder and Scully investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
French DTS 2.0
German DTS 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
German
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
German

Runtime: 9061 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 12/8/15

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary for Two Episodes
• Series Introduction from Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz
• Two Introductions from Executive Producers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
• “Chris Carter Talks About Season One” Featurettes
• Two Deleted Scenes
• International Clips
• Special Effects Clip
• “The Truth About Season One” Featurette
• “Behind the Truth” Featurettes
• TV Spots


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The X-Files: The Complete First Season (1993-94)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 19, 2017)

One of the most iconic TV series of the 1990s, this package provides the entire first season of The X-Files. This Blu-ray set includes all 24 episodes from the 1993-94 run.

DISC ONE:

Pilot: “Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is instructed to debunk an FBI project dubbed ‘The X-Files’, paranormal cases that have been reopened by Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny).”

As I mentioned in my handful of prior X-Files reviews, I didn’t watch the series as it aired. I saw the two theatrical films and also checked out a compilation disc called Revelations back in 2008.

This means I had moderate understanding of the characters and situations. Because of that, “Pilot” didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

“Pilot” sets up the series pretty well, and it offers a good story in its own right. I expected it might simply be expository, but the tale in play proves quite interesting, and it sure leads it toward the future in a satisfying manner. All that and Gillian Anderson in her underwear, too!

Deep Throat: “Mulder and Scully investigate the mysterious case of a military test pilot (Andrew Johnston) who disappeared after experiencing strange psychotic behavior.”

For the series’ second episode, X-Files looks at UFOs – or a reasonable approximation. Though the story progresses fairly well, it feels a bit underdeveloped – not surprising, given the series’ infancy at the time. Still, it has some good moments – and we get a fun guest turn from a then-teenaged Seth Green as a stoner.

Squeeze: “Mulder and Scully search for a humanoid killer whose savage murder spree reoccurs every 30 years.”

Both “Pilot” and “Deep Throat” offered elements that introduced/advanced the series “mythology”: its overriding character/story themes. “Squeeze” does nothing of the sort, as it provides a total standalone episode.

I think fans prefer the “mythology” shows, which I get since they build toward something grand, but the standalone programs can be fun, and “Squeeze” works well in that regard. It offers an interesting case and allows us to see the gradual development of the characters’ personalities.

Conduit: “Mulder becomes obsessed with solving a case that closely parallels an ‘encounter’ he experienced as a child.”

“Conduit” occasionally feels too heavily influenced by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Despite the latter knock-off elements – and a scenery-chewing guest turn from Carrie Snodgress – “Conduit” turns into a reasonably satisfying exploration of the series’ focus on alien abductions. I don’t know how much it advances the “mythology”, but it comes with a provocative tale.

DISC TWO:

The Jersey Devil: “Mulder and Scully track a legendary creature that has roamed the New Jersey countryside for over 40 years.

With “Devil”, we get a terribly silly episode. The aspects related to the title character seem goofy at best, and a subplot about Scully’s personal life feels forced and artificial. I won’t call “Devil” an awful show, but it’s not good.

Shadows: “Mulder and Scully investigate the deaths of two men believed to have been killed by a powerful psychokinetic force.”

After the weak “Devil”, S1 rebounds with the more effective “Shadows”. It seems fairly creepy and involving, and it comes with some interesting twists. It turns into a pretty good standalone show.

Ghost in the Machine: “On Halloween, Mulder and Scully investigate the death of a corporate executive who may have been murdered by a thinking computer.”

Early 1990s movies/TV shows didn’t handle issues related to computers and artificial intelligence well, and that severely dated quality mars “Ghost”. The whole thing seems too silly to succeed. It’s mildly interesting to see Mulder interact with his old partner, but the story flops.

Ice: “Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate when a team of geophysicists stationed at a remote Alaskan outpost are killed by a parasitic alien life form.”

I can’t be the only one who thinks that plot synopsis sounds awfully similar to the story for John Carpenter’s 1982 update of The Thing, can I? Nope, though it appears fans like to view “Ice” as an “homage”, not a rip-off.

I can’t help but lean toward the “rip-off” view myself – not that this makes “Ice” a bad episode. As derivative as the story might be, the show still generates reasonable drama and tension. Despite the lack of plot creativity, “Ice” works fairly well.

Cast footnote: modern viewers will recognize actor Steve Hytner from his stint as Kenny Bania on Seinfeld. However, when “Ice” first aired, Bania didn’t exist, as the character wouldn’t debut for another year.

DISC THREE:

Space: “When a space shuttle mission is sabotaged, Mulder suspects it may be the work an alien spirit that inhabits the body of a former Gemini astronaut.”

Like virtually every TV series, X-Files needed time to get into a groove, and “Space” reminds us how inconsistent it could be in its initial season. The use of the “face on Mars” offers intrigue, but the end result becomes campy, silly and poorly-acted. It’s a consistently goofy and weak episode.

Fallen Angel: “The future of the X-Files project is jeopardized after Mulder secretly infiltrates the government cover-up of a UFO crash.”

After the lousy “Space”, S1 rebounds with the excellent “Angel”. This episode simply “feels more X-Files”, and I like the introduction of conspiracy theorist/truth-seeker Max Fenig, as he adds some spark to the proceedings. The show still feels “immature” in the greater scheme of the series, but it demonstrates progress.

Eve: “Mulder and Scully search for two missing girls who disappeared after their fathers were murdered in an identical fashion.”

With “Eve”, we get another good show, and like “Angel”, it’s one that fits the series’ MO well. It gives us the spooky weirdness we want from X-Files and find a compelling story in this solid show.

Fire: “Mulder and Scully join forces with an inspector from Scotland Yard when a man with pyrokinetic powers stalks members of the British aristocracy.”

After two consecutive strong episodes, S1 sags with the mediocre “Fire”. I like the glimpse of Mulder’s ex-lover, but the rest of the story seems trite – especially when it sticks Mulder with a fear of fire. This isn’t one of the season’s worst shows, but it’s wholly forgettable.

DISC FOUR:

Beyond the Sea: “Scully believes that the psychic predictions of a death row inmate are the only hope in apprehending a vicious murderer.”

In a twist, Scully buys into the paranormal side of things while Mulder becomes the doubter. That creates an involving subtext, and the use of Scully’s dad adds drama to the proceedings. This turns into a solid show.

Gender Bender: “A religious sect member capable of changing gender becomes the prime suspect in a murder spree.”

Outside of some creepy atmosphere, “Bender” fizzles. It lacks much of a story to maintain our attention and simply seems to plod along as it meanders toward its finale. The visual design gives it some positives but the end result becomes a bore.

Lazarus: “The consciousness of a dangerous criminal possesses an FBI agent who is also Scully's ex-boyfriend.”

After the tedious “Gender Bender”, S1 bounces back with “Lazarus” – but only to a minor degree. The story feels contrived and awkward, as it telegraphs too many points and also suffers from some poor guest acting. It’s not a terrible show but it’s mediocre at best.

Young at Heart: “A criminal believed to have died in a prison years earlier wages a vendetta against Mulder.”

I can’t call “Heart” the most original episode, as it feels like something that would’ve formed an 80s horror movie. Still, it works considerably better than the last couple of shows, and I like the manner in which it puts Mulder on the defensive. That’s enough to turn this into a mostly winning program.

DISC FIVE::

EBE: “Mulder and Scully become the focus of a misinformation campaign when they attempt to trace the government's secret transport of an alien life form.”

“EBE” stands as a significant episode if just because it introduces “The Lone Gunmen”, supporting characters popular enough they earned their own (briefly-lived) spinoff series down the road. Even without the Gunmen, “EBE” delivers a solid show. It creates an intriguing alien mystery and tells its tale in a rich manner.

Miracle Man: “The agents investigate a ministry led by a man whose son possesses the power to heal, and to kill, with a touch of his hand.”

So-called “faith healers” offers an easy target, but “Miracle” manages to create an interesting story around them. The episode avoids most of the campy pitfalls related to the subject and even manages to tie in the narrative to the series’ “mythology”. All of this adds up to a solid show.

Shapes: “A creature, possibly from Native American lore, is suspected of killing a man, bringing Mulder and Scully to the Indian reservation where the attack occurred in order to uncover its identity.”

One fun aspect of the show comes from its connection to “the very first X-File”, as Mulder tells us of that history. Other than that, though, “Shapes” seems fairly lackluster. It essentially acts as a twist on the wolfman legend and it fails to become anything memorable.

Darkness Falls: “A group of loggers working in a remote forest unearths thousands of deadly insect-like creatures that paralyze and cocoon their victims.”

“Darkness” offers a reasonably good show. It doesn’t advance the series’ overall narrative but it delivers a fairly creepy “monster episode” with some solid chills.

DISC SIX:

Tooms: “Eugene Tooms, a supernatural killer whom Mulder helped incarcerate, is released on parole.”

We first met Tooms back in the season’s third show – it sure didn’t take him long to get paroled! “Squeeze” was a solid episode, so I’m fine with a sequel via “Tooms”. It also introduces the Skinner character and lets the Cigarette Smoking Man speak for the first time, factors that make it important in the series’ mythology.

Born Again: “An 8-year-old girl is the prime suspect in a series of bizarre, seemingly unrelated deaths.”

Shows with spooky kids can be overdone, but “Born Again” offers an intriguing twist on the theme. It goes down unexpected paths and becomes a winning program.

Casting footnote: just as “Ice” brought us a pre-Seinfeld Steve Hytner, “Born” lets us meet Maggie Wheeler before she played the grating Janice on Friends.

Roland: “When scientists at an aeronautics lab die under mysterious circumstances, the agents suspect a mentally challenged janitor may be the culprit.”

While the inclusion of a mentally-disabled character makes me fear this will become “a very special episode of X-Files”, “Roland” manages to overcome its potential pitfalls. From the start, we can tell that something unusual is afoot, and the program develops its themes well.

The Erlenmeyer Flask: “Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) tips Mulder to a critically important case involving a missing fugitive and the cloning of extraterrestrial viruses.”

Season One ends with “Flask”, a fairly good finale for the year. It can be a bit meandering at times, but it brings affairs to a head and creates enough intrigue to send us toward Season Two.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The X-Files appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Note that for Season One, that represents a change from the original aspect ratio, as those episodes used 1.33:1.

From what I’ve read, even though the Seasons One through Four episodes ran 1.33:1, they were “protected” for 1.78:1. The degree to which the cinematographers “protected” the image remains up for grabs, though. Some sources feel notable cropping occurred, while others don’t see such problems.

Because I didn’t own prior DVD packages, I couldn’t directly compare episodes to examine the nature of the potential alterations. I can say that as I watched the Seasons One programs, I didn’t notice any obvious/egregious cropping.

The framing seemed natural to me and didn’t lead me to note clear framing issues. “Protection” or not, I’d prefer the shows to have remained 1.33:1, but I can’t complain about the framing as executed here.

I also felt fairly pleased with the image quality of the episodes, as they clearly looked better than ever – though perhaps not quite as good as they could/should have looked. Actually, I only observed one notable issue that bothered me: edge haloes. Quite a lot of these could be seen throughout the series, and the haloes could be rather prominent at times. These didn’t turn into a consistent/terrible distraction, but they didn’t please me.

Except for the haloes, sharpness seemed positive. Occasional examples of slight softness occurred, but not to a prominent degree.

Note that the softest scenes tended to be those with “uprezzed” visual effects. Although those behind the Blu-rays recreated many effects for high-def, some of the shots couldn’t be redone in that way, so those used the original footage. Not a ton of these occurred, so they failed to create substantial distractions, but they did lead to more than a few examples of visuals that lacked clarity.

Given the subject matter, colors tended to be subdued, with blues as the dominant hue. The palette choices varied from episode to episode to some degree, and they made sense for the series. The Blu-rays reproduced the hues in a satisfying manner.

Print flaws remained minor. I saw a fair amount of grain, which suited the photography, and only a handful of small specks popped up along the way. These were rare and inconsequential.

For the most part, blacks looked deep, and shadows showed nice smoothness, an important factor since so much of X-Files takes place in low-light/nighttime circumstances.

Overall, I felt happy with the X-Files transfers. Despite the edge haloes and some other minor concerns, the shows looked good – certainly between than fans have ever seen them. I’m not all that happy with the altered aspect ratios, but I’m still pleased with the visuals as a whole.

As for the series’ DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, it seemed pretty good, though it betrayed its source. One shouldn’t expect movie-quality sound from a weekly TV series, so even with the 5.1 spread, the tracks remained somewhat restrained.

Still, for TV audio, the mixes worked nicely. Most of the soundscapes focused on the forward channels, where various elements demonstrated good localization and involvement. Road vehicles and flying crafts managed to move around these channels in a satisfying way,

Surround usage was less interesting, but the back speakers managed to add some kick to the proceedings. Components such as the aforementioned flying crafts – jets, UFOs, helicopters – provided the most information, though other effects such as explosions also occasionally broadened to the rear channels. While the surrounds didn’t contribute a lot, they gave us a decent sense of activity.

Audio quality showed some age but usually appeared good. Speech was consistently intelligible; I heard a little edginess at times, but the lines mainly felt natural and distinctive. Music offered nice range and warmth.

Like the dialogue, effects could be a bit rough at times. However, these elements mostly seemed accurate and concise. The effects didn’t boast great dimensionality, but they came across with pretty positive punch. Within expectations for audio from a weekly TV series, I thought X-Files presented good sound.

Two Season One episodes come with audio commentaries. Across these tracks, we tend to hear a mix of episode specifics and broader series-wide observations. This means we hear about story/character areas and the show’s “mythology”, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, effects, music, editing, and related subjects.

“Deep Throat”: series creator/writer Chris Carter. Carter gives us good notes – when he speaks. He lets too much dead air pass, which makes the commentary drag too much. Still, the content works well enough to make this one worth a listen.

“The Erlenmeyer Flask”: director RW Goodwin. Goodwin tends to do little more than narrate the shows. While he gives us the occasional nugget, the chat seems slow and without much concrete information.

Short featurettes accompany 12 episodes as Chris Carter Talks About Season One. We find segments for “Pilot” (4:54), “Deep Throat” (1:29), “Squeeze” (3:31), “Conduit” (4:16), “Ice” (2:05), “Fallen Angel” (4:19), “Eve” (1:52), “Beyond the Sea” (3:16), “EBE” (2:22), “Darkness Falls” (2:42), “Tooms” (1:59) and “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (2:28).

In these, Carter gives us specifics about the shows and how they connect to the series. Though brief, the segments offer some interesting details.

For Season One, we find two Deleted Scenes for the “Pilot”. These last a total of two minutes, 54 seconds and show Scully’s boyfriend. I don’t believe the boyfriend character ever appeared on the series, so his appearance here offers an interesting view of how Scully could’ve developed.

With International Clips, we can view some scenes with a few non-English dubs. These cover “Pilot”, “ “The Jersey Devil”, “Ice”, “Space”, “Fire”, “Beyond the Sea”, “EBE”, Tooms”, and “The Erlenmeyer Flask”. The languages offered vary per clip, but we always get some mix of German, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian. I don’t

Alongside “Fallen Angel”, we find a Special Effects Clip. It lasts 33 seconds and shows us the scene before effects were added. It’d work better if it displayed “after” as well, but I guess the disc’s producers figure we’ve seen the show.

On Season One, Disc One, we get a 36-second Series Introduction from writer/executive producer Frank Spotnitz. This was created for a 2008 compilation DVD called Revelations. It doesn’t introduce the series – it introduces that collection of episodes. As such, it’s a perplexing piece to include here.

We also get introductions from Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz for “Pilot” (1:10) and “Beyond the Sea” (1:38). They tell us a smidgen about the show’s characters and conceits. Of the two, the intro for “Sea” is better, but neither tells us much.

The Truth About Season One runs 11 minutes, five seconds and features Carter, producer/director Daniel Sackheim, supervising producer/writer Howard Gordon, director David Nutter, co-producer Paul Rabwin, visual effects producer Mat Beck, composer Mark Snow, and actor Dean Haglund.

“Truth” covers aspects of the series like effects, music, photography, story/character areas, cast and performances. “Truth” seems a bit scattered and unfocused, but it still delivers some interesting notes.

With Behind the Truth, we find 12 short clips. These fill a total of 12 minutes, 37 seconds and offer notes from Spotnitz, Haglund, Beck, Snow, Goodwin, writers/producers James Wong and Glen Morgan, executive producer Howard Gordon, special effects coordinator Dave Gauthier, makeup effects artist Toby Lindala, animal trainer Debbie Coe, casting director Rick Millikan, props assistant Kathie Sharpe, story editor John Shiban, set decorator Shirley Ingot, assistant set decorator Brad MacMurray, and actors William B. Davis, David Duchovny, Jerry Hardin, Tom Braidwood and Bruce Harwood.

These snippets were created to promote the series’ reruns on the FX channel. That means they remain superficial, but some good nuggets emerge along the way.

47 Season One Television Spots occupy a total of 14 minutes, four seconds. These give us promos for all of Season One’s episodes.

As I watched Season One of The X-Files, I encountered the “growing pains” I expected, as the shows could be inconsistent. Despite those ups and downs, the season worked pretty well, and it got into more of a groove as the year progressed. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio as well as a reasonably useful set of supplements. I enjoyed S1 and look forward to the next season of X-Files.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main