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Click above to purchase "The X-Files The Complete Third Season" at amazon.com

 

The X-Files
The Complete First Season

review by Anthony D.

 

Studio: Fox

Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Retail Price: $149.98

Features: Documentary, Deleted Scenes, Promotional Material, Episodic Commentary, Creator Introductions, Special Effects Clips, DVD-ROM Game

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search

Seven discs. Twenty-four tales. Twelve creator interviews. Seven special effects sequences with visual effects producer. Five deleted scenes. Forty-six promotional spots. Seventeen short "Behind the Truth" spots. Innumerable conspirators. One F.B.I. Assistant Director. One Cigarette Smoking Man. One Ratboy. One off-the-wall science fiction novelist. Aliens too numerous to count. Three weird and wacky consiracy theorists. An entomologist named 'Bambi.' Cockroaches. Two brooding federal agents. The truth is in here, in FOX's deluxe "The X Files: The Complete Third Season."

Federal Agents Dana Scully (the divine Gillian Anderson) and Fox "Spooky" Mulder (the equally divine David Duchovny) continue their paranormal (and normal) pursuits as Chris Carter's hit television series hits a major stride. Season Three heightens the phenomenon that "The X Files" had become internationally with its seven Emmy Award nominations and its second Golden Globe Award for "Best Dramatic Series." The series' third season, like the two season prior, mixes stand alone tales of the unnatural with the series stock in trade "Conspiracy" stories. As simply as possible, the Conspiracy is a group of wealthy, highly placed (in government or business) individuals who somewhere in the late 1940's/early 1950's made a secret pact with extraterrestrial beings, allowing the alien invaders to colonize the earth. And it is in the third season of "The X Files" that many of the truths of the invasion, the colonization and the conspirators come to the surface; or do they? One can never be too sure of anything as far as "The X Files" is concerned - - characters whom we believed to be dead often reappear amongst the living, and not as ghosts.

The first two episodes of the third season offer up such a story: David Duchovny's Mulder - - who if placed in a desert and told that "the truth is out there," would reply, "where's the shovel?" is assumed dead, having been buried in a truthful desert, in a train's boxcar with the gruesome remains of what appear to be alien life forms. Oh, yeah - - said boxcar has been set on fire by the series most mysterious, and well-defined within the confines of television scripts, villain: The Cigarette Smoking Man. Of course, Mulder does not perish, but is found by some Native Americans who perform "The Blessing Way" ceremony to insure his continued pursuit of the truth. The follow-up episode, "Paper Clip," contains what is most likely the most memorable line ever uttered to The Cigarette Smoking Man's face as Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) warns, "This is the part where you pucker up and kiss my ass," when he tires of the C.S.M's stealthy threats.

Also within these two episodes, rife with The Consiracy, Dana Scully is having her own share of turmoil. By seeking out Mulder's whereabouts, she has been taken off active duty with the F.B.I., she attends a funeral for Fox's father where she is warned that her life is in danger from the consortium and in a stunning turn of events, her sister is mistakenly shot by the consortium's inept assassin Krycek (known to fans of "The X Files" as "Ratboy."). To top things off, she finfs that somehow an implant of unknown origin has been placed in her neck! Is this implant of alien origin? Or has the government in which Scully trusts been tampering with her body and mind as well? If it's any consolation for non-X filers, most of these questions still haven't been adequately answered by the end of the series Eighth Season!

If the so-called "Conspiracy" Episodes are the brains of "The X Files," and are represented by the Third Season's "The Blessing Way," "Paper Clip," "Nisei," "731," "Piper Maru," "Apocrypha," "Wetwired," "Talitha Cumi" and to a lesser extent, "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space,'" then the stand alone episodes often offer up tales to tickle the funny bone, "War of the Coprophages" "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'"as well as tales of human monsters "Grotesque," "D.P.O.," "The Walk," "Oubliette," "The List," "2Shy" and "Pusher" then tales of the inexplicable "Revelations," "Hell Money," "Avatar" and "Quagmire." Like most television series, there are also episodes which are so bad, that the question of "What the f*** were they thinking?," arises. It's difficult to watch "Syzygy's" twist on "Carrie" without a dumbstruck expression, and "Teso dos Bichos" has gained the unfortunate nickname of "Attack of the Killer Pussies" with its killer feline cast. Even if this episode is one of the worst of any of any season's output, it at least has the distinction of naming a character Dr. Lewton in honor of fourties horror producer Val Lewton, who was responsible for: "The Cat People" and "Curse of the Cat People."

Two of the finest episodes ever of "The X Files" appear in this third season anthology, and both of these episodes are ideal viewing for diehard fans such as I, as well as neophytes: "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" are both magnificent stand alone episodes, wherein little or no knowledge of the characters is required. "CBFR" gives guest star Peter Boyle a brilliant showcase for his acting talents as the titular character, an "everyman"- type who has the depressing gift of being able to see other people's deaths before they die. He is called upon by a "doubting" Mulder and a "faithful" Scully (in a twist of their usual attitudes which works) to assist in capturing a killer whose victims are all fortune tellers, palm readers or tarot readers. "JCFOS" also turns the tables, with a wacky look at Mulder and Scully distilled through the eyes of science fiction writer Jose Chung as portrayed by "Match Game" regular Charles Nelson Reilly (a role which he would reprise on Chris Carter's "Millennium"). Jose's look at our lovable agents, include a cigarette smoking alien, a cyclopian alien, a "girly screaming" Mulder (arguably David Duchovny's finest second on the series), Alex Trebeck and Jesse "the body" Ventura as suspicious Men in Black. JCFOS is a dazzling experiment in self-parody which most television series would be loathe to attempt, and yet as written by Darin Morgan and directed by Rob Bowman (who would go on to direct the first film from the series: "The X Files: Fight the Future"), manages to turn the world of our brooding agents into an amusing world of bemusement.

Assistant Director Walter Sergei Skinner even gets his very own stand alone episode in "Avatar," which may or may not be about a succubus working her wiles on Skinner. "Avatar" stands out not only because of its intriguing use of a secondary character in a major story line, but for the excellent script written by co-star David Duchovny. The season ends with a memorable acting turn by "The Invaders" star Roy Thinnes, who as Jeremiah Smith, is capable of miraculous healings, and who may hold the key to the truth(s) which Scully and Mulder are pursuing.

The highest compliment that I can grant the video quality truthfully, is to say that broadcast television has never looked this good. Granted with the dark nature of the series itself, there's bound to be many, many scenes cloaked in darkness, multitudinous shadowy appearances, gleams of flashlights knifing their way through the gritty fog; and with some minor grain in evidence, FOX has faithfully represented "The X Files" with all of its atmospheric characteristics solidly in place. Although the video quality varies from episode to episode, for the greatest part of a nearly twenty four hour presentation the subdued hues rings true. The most noticeable grain occurs in pitch black exterior night scenes. The precise clarity of the discs allows the viewer the rare opportunity of checking out the make-up designed to hide co-star Gillian Anderson's sexy mole (for the uninitiated, Ms. Anderson's natural beauty mark can be found right below her left nostril).

Recorded and broadcast in Dolby Surround, the set offers up a base heavy soundtrack, with astonishing use of the surround channels. Mark Snow's signature theme rings true, creating a mysterious mood with its foreboding whistled tones. The dialogue is firmly centered, with ambient sound creating a broad, enveloping soundfield.. Considering the fact that "The X Files" is a television series, the audio portion is as active as many feature films, the soundtrack rates way above average. For those with a truly alien penchant, you can opt for the French Language soundtrack.

"The X Files: The Complete Third Season" not only devotes an entire disc to Special Bonus Features, but each of the episodic discs contains supplemental treats as well:

International Clips: "Paper Clip," " The Walk," " War of the Coprophages," " Piper Maru," "Pusher" and "Talitha Cumi" each offer up short, representative scenes in French, Italian, German, Japanese and Castilian.

Audio Commentaries: Two complete episodes are granted intelligent commentaries by the writer and director. "Apocrypha," the concluding episode of a two-part arc (and basis for the film, "The X Files: Fight the Future"), features Kim Manners and series creator Chris Carter speaking liberally throughout the episode's running time. Fan favorite "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" features director Rob Bowman and writer Darin Morgan explaining the comic aspects of "The X Files."

Deleted Scenes: These sequences can be accessed episode by episode, or as a whole on the seventh disc, all featuring optional commentary by Chris Carter. Represented with very short scenes are, "The Blessing Way," a Scully scene cut for time restraints, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," with a scene which didn't make it past standards and practices; "The List," "Revelations" and "Avatar" also have deleted scenes.

Disc Seven itself is The Holy Grail of the set. Aside from the previously mentioned features common to the episodes, the seventh disc showcases the promotional end of "The X Files."

Promotional Spots: These 46 short (30 seconds to one minute) trailers are seen in their entirety for each episode. Used at the end of each broadcast episode, and throughout the week before the broadcast, they're nothing more than commercials, but enjoyable for X Files fanatics. Likewise the "Behind the Truth" Spots, originally broadcast on the F/X cable channel offers seventeen short peeks into what goes into the making of these episodes.

Held over from the double feature videotape releases of twelve episodes are Chris Carter Interviews, which merely serve as introductions to those episodes. Seeing Carter, and hearing his voice, cannot remove the surfer dude image he has tried to live down. Carter is a very enthusiastic guy, quite a contrast to the deadpan, hang-dog performances of series star David Duchovny. Carter also holds court, alog with several writers and directors on the thirteen minute Documentary, "The Truth About Season Three," which is a great introduction to what the season is about, and where the season is heading.

Some more behind the scenes footage is represented by Special Effects Sequences, where the viewer is treated to the discovery of how stunning effects are created (CGI, time lapse photography) on a limited budget.

For viewers with a DVD-ROM drive, Disc Seven also features a brand new DVD-ROM game, "Mere Words."

The third season is as good a time as any to get involved in the phenomenon of "The X Files." It is the season that saw the empowerment of Dana Scully, with Gillian Anderson truly coming into her own as an actress; saw David Duchovny branch out his talents with comic turns, self-parody and script writing. A season which allowed secondary characters to carry entire episodes, and a season which brought "The Conspiracy" out of the darkness to center stage beneath a great white spotlight (or was that a flying saucer?). Bringing "The Conspiracy" to the front also paved the way for the film. It should not be a season of confusion for the non-X filer, but rather a season of discovery, akin to the discoveries our agents are making on their quest for the truth. Regular viewers of the series of course will lap up every minute of this set, which despite its $150.00 price tag, can be purchased for about a third of that in many locations. I would say that whatever the cost, every penny is well-invested in taking home "The X Files: The Complete Third Season."

(5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(3.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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