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Blu-ray Review The X Files: The Complete Season 1 Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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The X Files: The Complete Season 1 Blu-ray Review

One of the first dramatic series on the fledgling Fox network to hit it big nationwide was Chris Carter’s The X Files, the creator’s throwback to the spooky, unexplainable events suspense series that as a youngster had fascinated him from the 1960s and 1970s. Beautifully produced and filled with eerie, otherworldly phenomena, The X Files ran a healthy nine seasons and spawned two feature films. The first season which laid the foundation for all the weirdness to follow has now (like the other seasons both separately and in a box set) been released on Blu-ray to thrill a new generation of genre fans.



Studio: Fox

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, Other

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 18 Hr. 6 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

keep case with leaves

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 12/08/2015

MSRP: $29.99




The Production Rating: 4/5

Ambitious, conscientious FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is tasked with keeping a watchful eye on Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), assigned by his superiors to investigate “The X Files,” cases where unexplainable, potentially paranormal activities have occurred. Scully, a trained physician and a person of science, scoffs at the mere thought of anything otherworldly making her the perfect person to keep Mulder (known around the office as "Spooky" Mulder)grounded and to report back to her superiors in the bureau about any activities of his that go beyond the scope of his office. During their first year together, however, the team comes into certain close contact with what appears to be alien lifeforms as well as a string of other paranormal persons who continually test Agent Scully’s fierce conviction that there is a rational explanation for anything that appears unconventional. By the end of their year together, Scully has finally found proof for herself about alien existence and worse, that the United States government is involved in some kind of subterfuge with extraterrestrials and human hybrids that all seems decidedly murky and potentially life-threatening.

 

Along with several of the season’s twenty-four episodes which involve UFOs and possible alien encounters, Chris Carter and his writing staff have concocted a host of other strange individuals for Scully and Mulder to cross paths with (Carter admits that the series was intended to be a Kolchak: The Night Stalker for a new generation, and those who are familiar with that series can certainly see some striking parallels between the two shows). True, some of the ideas here have been liberally borrowed from the writings of Stephen King, Rod Serling, John Carpenter, and others, but that doesn’t make the episodes any less creepy or enjoyable. The duo must deal at various times with poltergeists, a particularly nasty case of artificial intelligence, body swaps and reincarnations, a Manitou, a faith healer, a Firestarter, centuries old lethal fireflies, two different episodes involving telekinesis, and two episodes involving a ninety-year old creature with elasticized limbs who must devour five human livers every thirty years to survive. In most of the episodes, terrific special effects convey these marvels and convince us all (except the ever-skeptical Agent Scully) that these unconventional personas wander among us.

 

The two stars not only establish their appealing characters quickly and adroitly, but their chemistry together is terrific. True, Dana Scully’s continuing skepticism becomes pretty ridiculous after a dozen episodes featuring weird events have passed before her eyes, and she doesn’t fully come around to a grudging respect for her partner’s unshakable beliefs until the season finale. Along the way, Mulder is occasionally guided by “Deep Throat” (Jerry Hardin), a mysterious individual who sets the team back on the right path when they occasionally go astray dealing with the alien encounters (though occasionally he prevents their success in their investigations and doesn’t try to hide the fact from them). Near the end of the season, the team comes under the firm hand of Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) who would continue as a thorn in their sides for several more seasons. Among the many famous faces guest starring in these extraordinary tales are Cliff De Young, Seth Green, Donal Logue, Carrie Snodgress, Gregory Sierra, Xander Berkeley, Felicity Huffman, Susanna Thompson, Harriet Harris, Mark Sheppard, Brad Dourif, Graham Jarvis, Jason Beghe, Titus Welliver, Maggie Wheeler, and Zeljko Ivanek.

 

Here are the twenty-four episodes contained on six Blu-ray discs in the season one set. The names in parentheses refer to the speaker on the audio commentary for that episode:

 

1 – Pilot (Chris Carter)
2 – Deep Throat
3 – Squeeze
4 – Conduit
5 – The Jersey Devil
6 – Shadows
7 – Ghost in the Machine
8 – Ice (bowing to Carpenter’s The Thing, my favorite episode of the season)
9 – Space
10 – Fallen Angel
11 – Eve
12 – Fire
13 – Beyond the Sea
14 – Gender Bender
15 – Lazarus
16 – Young at Heart
17 – E. B. E.
18 – Miracle Man
19 – Shapes
20 – Darkness Falls
21 – Tooms
22 – Born Again
23 – Roland
24 – The Erlenmeyer Flask (R. W. Goodwin)



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

Though purists will likely be unhappy, Fox has reformatted the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the original broadcasts into the more modern widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Apart from a few shots that appear off kilter and oddly framed, these new widescreen transfers generate a very cinematic feel for the show and present generally excellent sharpness (apart from some glamor photography for some of the ladies) and outstanding color with realistic and appealing skin tones. Black levels vary from outstanding to just okay, and there is an occasional moiré pattern to be glimpsed in grillwork of cars or in fabric weaves. The programs have been divided into 11 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The new audio tracks for the series are presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and the repurposed sound has been superbly executed to wring the most out of the audio elements which are at the company's disposal. There is consistently good separation of effects to fill the surround channels, and there is even occasional directionalized dialogue though most of it is relegated to the center channel. The show’s eerie, driving music also gets a nice spread through the fronts and rears though most of the activity is geared toward the front soundstage.



Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

Audio Commentaries: the two that are present are both interesting for first timers to the X Files universe, but intense fans likely know the information creator Chris Carter and director R. W. Goodwin relate in their tracks. There are also silent passages in each one as the men think of things to talk about.

 

Pilot Introduction (1:10, SD): creator Chris Carter and director Frank Spotnitz make brief comments.

 

Deleted Scenes (2:54, SD): two scenes are offered.

 

Chris Carter Talks About Season 1 (35:16, SD): spread across the six discs, creator Chris Carter recalls specific memories about some of the outstanding episodes.

 

International Clips (SD): on each of the six discs, brief excerpts from certain episodes are offered in a variety of languages. Here are the episodes with their running times and languages:

  • “Pilot” – Spanish (1:05), German (1:13), Italian (0:54)
  • “The Jersey Devil” – German (1:03), Japanese (1:16), Spanish (2:25)
  • “Ice” – Italian (1:08), Japanese (1:05), Spanish (1:03)
  • “Space” – German (1:12), Japanese (0:58)
  • “Fire” – Italian (1:05), Japanese (0:59), Spanish (0:52)
  • “Beyond the Sea” – German (1:10), Italian (1:05), Japanese (1:25), Spanish (1:01)
  • “E. B. E.” – German (1:06), Italian (1:04), Japanese (1:08), Spanish (1:23)
  • “Tooms” – German (0:48), Italian (1:08), Japanese (1:04), Spanish (1:18)
  • “The Erlenmeyer Flask” – German (0:57), Japanese (0:50)
“Fallen Angel” Effects Sequence (0:33, SD): very brief, funny raw footage for special effects

 

Introduction for “Beyond the Sea” (1:38, SD): both Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz consider this one of the pivotal episodes of the season.

 

The Truth About Season 1 (11:05, SD): members of the crew describe the difficulty of getting the show on the air and maintaining high quality throughout the season, gratified by the show’s growing popularity as the season progressed. They also talk about effects work of which they are proud and their favorite episodes of the season.

 

FX: Behind the Truth (12:37, SD): twelve one-minute promo spots featuring various members of the cast and crew which aired on FX when the network began showing the program.

 

TV Spot Ads (14:04, SD): forty-seven promotional spots for Fox broadcasts of the show.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

It’s little wonder that The X Files caught on in a major way during its first season on the air. Though it wouldn’t grow into a top twenty show for a few years, the groundwork was certainly laid here for even more mysterious and suspenseful episodes to come. Recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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The Obsolete Man

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The one thing you didn't mention, which shows how little it really affects the episodes, is that most of the effects and stock shots were just upscaled from the old videotape masters.


Space, for example, has a lot of upscaled NASA footage.


And most of the off kilter or soft shots you mentioned most likely came from either upscaling effects or missing original footage that had to be upscaled and reframed from the 4:3 video masters.


I can say when I was watching the S1 discs, I was looking out for those things and checking the new framing and all that, that's why I noticed them. But as you work your way through the series, you stop noticing because overall, the episodes look great and the stories are engaging enough that you just don't notice anymore.
 

Matt Hough

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Exactly right. The episodes are so well produced and directed that the techniques they're using seem superfluous to the story you're watching unfold.
 

Doug Wallen

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Watched the first disc and was utterly bowled over by the quality. I quickly adjusted to the 16x9 framing. Can't wait to introduce my son to this show. He was born the year it premiered and he has never seen it. Boy, is he in for a ride?
 

Johnny Angell

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What's in the series collection that makes it more expensive than buying the seasons separately? And I just noticed season 4 is $30.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Johnny Angell said:
What's in the series collection that makes it more expensive than buying the seasons separately? And I just noticed season 4 is $30.

Nothing. The complete series collection simply contains the 9 individual season releases (each in its own Blu-ray case, the exact same package sold individually), housed in a cardboard box. There are no extra bonus features that come only with the set.


I got the complete series set because at the time I preordered, that was the cheaper option, but if you can get all of the individual seasons for less than the complete series set, you'll be getting the exact same discs.
 

Matt Hough

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Yes, Josh is exactly right, and Fox sent me the box, but I'm reviewing them separately since I intend on viewing every episode and bonus feature and didn't want to do just a cursory spot check of the seasons.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Matt Hough said:
Yes, Josh is exactly right, and Fox sent me the box, but I'm reviewing them separately since I intend on viewing every episode and bonus feature and didn't want to do just a cursory spot check of the seasons.

If I hadn't missed the Fox Connect offer for the individual seasons at $10 each, I would have gone that way, but since I didn't have the chance to get that price, $150 for the entire box still seemed like a steal to me. As far as cardboard outer boxes go, it's not bad. I like that it's basically just a rectangle with the cases packed securly inside, instead of being one of those weird shapped oddities that doesn't quite fit anywhere and doesn't protect the discs within.


I'm halfway through the first season. Other than the mythology episodes, I hadn't seen any of these since they first aired, and not necessarily all of them. So far, it's been fun. I've found the episodes a little draggy sometimes, and I completely agree with you about Scully not believing what's right in front of her eyes is increasingly ridiculous.


When I watched the show when it first aired, I was hugely into the mythology episodes but annoyed by the monsters of the week episodes. Part of that was being younger and immature, and part of that was a feeling of "You can't tell us that the world is in imminent danger from an alien invasion, that our government is conspiring with them, and that all human life on earth is in danger of extinction... and then ask me to be interested in a swamp monster the next week." To a certain extent, I still have some of those feelings. They'll have the most insanely incredible mythology episodes where huge things of consequence happen... and then no one even mentions it the following week, and Scully goes back to not believing in any of it after seeing it the previous week. I think when "Fringe" came along in 2008, that handled the balance a little bit better. They had plenty monster of the week episodes, but their mythology was always going on in the background... the characters could at least spare a sentence or two to acknowledge that life-altering events in a previous week's mythology episode, or be working on a solution to the larger mythology in the background. I didn't like (and I guess still don't) how the X-Files would just act as if nothing had happened.
 

Johnny Angell

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Johnny Angell said:
What's in the series collection that makes it more expensive than buying the seasons separately? And I just noticed season 4 is $30.

I just checked out Amazon's prices again. For seasons 1-9, they are all priced at $15 except 4, 7, 8, 9 which are $40 each.


What gives with those higher prices on some of the seasons, don't understand why so high. Are the $15 prices expected to be temporary?


If you add up the prices for seasons 1-9 (including the $40 seasons) it's still cheaper to buy them individually.
 

JohnMor

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Johnny Angell said:
I just checked out Amazon's prices again. For seasons 1-9, they are all priced at $15 except 4, 7, 8, 9 which are $40 each.


What gives with those higher prices on some of the seasons, don't understand why so high. Are the $15 prices expected to be temporary?


If you add up the prices for seasons 1-9 (including the $40 seasons) it's still cheaper to buy them individually.

I picked up Seasons 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6 for $15 each. Then I ordered Seasons 7 & 9 for $15 each. It said they were out of stock as sold by Amazon but would be shipped as soon as available. (They're available at the higher prices from other sellers.) So that only leaves Seasons 4 & 8 to get cheaper at some future time. According to Target.com they'll be sold in stores in mid-January at $15 each, so maybe that will work out.
 

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