Discs Are Rated
Click above to purchase "The X-Files The Complete Third
Season" at amazon.com
review by Anthony D.
The Complete First Season
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch
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
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
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
(5/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)