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Blu-ray Review The X Files: The Complete Season 5 Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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The X Files: The Complete Season 5 Blu-ray Review

Season five was a watershed year for Fox’s The X Files. Not only was the show’s popularity at its zenith (its only year cracking into the top twenty shows), it also earned its all-time high sixteen Emmy nominations (only winning two, however, and losing out on its last year as a Best Drama Series contender to The Practice). Having already won a Peabody Award for Distinguished Achievement in Programming, the show really had nowhere to go but down, but that didn’t stop the producers from conjuring up a wildly eclectic mix of comic and dramatic encounters for our intrepid heroes. The season also served as a set-up to The X-Files: Fight the Future feature film that debuted in the summer after the fifth season aired, a movie shot before season five filmed but which was based on the events that were going to occur in the already plotted season five.



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, Other

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 15 Hr. 8 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: 3.5/5

To prevent the show from growing stale, the show’s writers turned the series on its ear by reversing the stances on extraterrestrial possibilities of its two lead characters: now Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is more open to belief than her now-jaded partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), and it takes the entire season (albeit a shortened one: only twenty episodes) to bring him around to once again considering the possibility that extraterrestrial encounters with human beings on Earth had been occurring for quite some time. Scully’s growing belief stems from a haunting two-part episode broadcast around Christmas where Scully finds she’s the mother of a potentially hybrid child and a subsequent two-episode encounter with Cassandra Spender (Veronica Cartwright) who firmly believes she has been abducted by aliens and feels a calling that another close encounter is about to occur. Her introduction to the series coincides with an enigmatic new agent who joins the bureau, her son Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens) who considers the alien beliefs sheer nonsense and is one of the most instrumental in convincing Mulder of their farcical nature.

 

Elsewhere during the season, there are good times and bad times for the Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis) as the Elders have tired of his ineffectual way of handling Mulder and Scully’s prying into their attempts to keep their activities quiet while rogue agent Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) continues to pop up here and there never seeming to be loyal to any one side. Apart from the extraterrestrial episodes, there are a number of other paranormal experiences with our heroes which the writers have dealt with in a number of comic scenarios and homages to genre titles of old (more than in previous seasons) and which quite often Mulder or Scully handle on his or her own while the other is away on other business. Separately or together, they must deal with a camouflage creature, a Mutato (an episode in homage to Frankenstein filmed in black and white which earned seven Emmy nominations), a mind control serial killer (based on a previous season’s show “Pusher”), another artificial intelligence gone haywire, a bewitched doll, a Xeno-grafter, a blind woman with second sight, a Seraphim, and an insect man.

 

As the season came to a close (along with the show’s five years of filming in Vancouver with production moved to Los Angeles for the last four seasons of the show), it wasn’t surprising that once again the X Files office was closed down and torched with Mulder and Scully seemingly set on different career paths for the next season. Season five did allow David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson great opportunities to traverse the gamut of emotions in their performances from wry comic turns to the depths of affecting drama (even if Mulder's reversal on his beliefs never rings true and seems manufactured to add to the show's conflict between the leading characters), and both actors once again earned Emmy nominations. So, too, did guest actors Veronica Cartwright and Lili Taylor (as that blind woman who can see through the eyes of a killer). Along with series regulars Mitch Pileggi (more in command than ever) and William B. Davis (who offered a great surprise at season’s end), fine performances were also turned in by guest actors Charles Cioffi, John Finn, Richard Belzer, Anthony Rapp, John O’Hurley, Karri Turner, John Pyper-Ferguson, Diana Scarwid, Luke Wilson, John Neville, Brian Thompson, Fredric Lane, Garret Dillahunt, Darren McGavin, Glenn Morshower, Sam Anderson, and Mimi Rogers.

 

Here are the twenty episodes contained on six Blu-ray discs in this season five set. The names in parenthese refer to that episode’s speaker on the audio commentary available for that episode:

 

1 – Redux
2 – Redux II
3 – Unusual Suspects
4 – Detour
5 – The Post-Modern Prometheus (writer-director Chris Carter)
6 – Christmas Carol
7 – Emily
8 – Kitsunegari
9 – Schizogeny
10 – Chinga
11 – Kill Switch
12 – Bad Blood
13 – Patient X (director Kim Manners)
14 – The Red and the Black (writer-director Chris Carter)
15 – Travelers
16 – Mind’s Eye
17 – All Souls
18 – The Pine Bluff Variant (writer John Shiban)
19 – Folie a Deux
20 – The End



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

As with the other Blu-ray seasons of The X Files, the original 4:3 framing has been reformatted to 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Purists may complain, but the results don’t appear to have been compromised when one compares these transfers to clips in the bonus features which have the original framing. While sharpness is usually very good, this season features occasional soft shots that are not always simple glamor photography. Color is very good and skin tones are always realistic and appealing, and black levels, very important to the show’s effectiveness, are variable from good to outstanding. The grayscale for the episode “The Post-Modern Prometheus” is quite impressive. The episodes have been divided into 15 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

The audio tracks for the series are presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and the lossless sound here has been superbly executed to wring the most out of the sound elements which are present. There is 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 Emmy-nominated music by Mark Snow gets a nice spread through the fronts and rears.



Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

Audio Commentaries: the best one is writer John Shiban’s for “The Pine Bluff Variant” where his enthusiasm for his work and the on-screen results are very easy to hear. There are no silent passages as with the other commentaries, and he has lots of behind-the-scenes information to offer without spilling much about the seasons to come. The other commentaries are loaded with spoilers though they, too, occasionally offer good information for fans who are familiar with the show.

 

Introductions to “The Post Modern Prometheus” and “Bad Blood” (1:32, 1:51, SD): producers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz recall behind-the-scenes facts about the episodes.

 

Deleted Scenes (9:27, SD): five scenes spread over three discs in the set with optional commentary by Chris Carter.

 

Special Effects Commentary (13:44, SD): producer Paul Rabwin comments on special effects needs and execution for episodes on five of the six discs in the set.

 

International Clips (SD): on five 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:

  • “Redux” – German (0:54), Italian (1:02), Japanese (1:31), Spanish (1:12)
  • “Christmas Carol” – German (2:05), Italian (1:08), Japanese (1:25), Spanish (1:28)
  • “Kill Switch” – German (1:20), Italian (1:09), Japanese (0:56), Spanish (0:51)
  • “Patient X” – German (1:19), Italian (0:54), Japanese (0:51), Spanish (1:10)
  • “The End” – German (0:54), Italian (1:14), Japanese (1:26), Spanish (1:25)

 

The Truth About Season 5 (19:23, SD): directors Rob Bowman and Kim Manners, writer-producer Frank Spotnitz, creator Chris Carter, producer Paul Rabwin, writers Vince Gilligan, R.W. Goodwin, and John Shiban, and actors Dean Haglund, Veronica Cartwright, and Mimi Rogers recall highlights from the fifth season of the show.

 

Threads of Mythology: Black Oil (31:40, SD): going back to 30,000 B.C. and tracing its history in the show’s mythology, this featurette offers a timeline of this alien parasite from crew members Chris Carter, John Shiban, Howard Gordon, Frank Spotnitz, Rob Bowman, Paul Rabwin, and special effects supervisors Mat Beck and David Gauthier.

 

FX: Behind The Truth (11:31, SD): eleven segments featuring cast and crew members from the show offering behind-the-scenes snippets of information as promos for the series when it was shown on FX.

 

Inside The X Files (45:29, SD): a television special which served to catch viewers up on the show during its first five seasons in anticipation of the feature film release that summer.

 

FX Featurette (1:54, SD): a brief promo for the series.

 

TV Spot Ads (10:41, SD): forty promo spots for Fox’s original broadcasts of season five’s episodes.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Season five was an above average, turning point season for The X Files, and the Blu-ray set brings the twenty episodes to home video in their best-ever video and audio quality. Recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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CraigF

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Just a reminder that S5 and the subsequent seasons were all originally in widescreen format.


Thanks for the review, I think I liked S5 a bit more than you did, I only bought S4-6 on BD (so far...), I thought they were the best ones (have all the DVDs).
 

CraigF

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^ I don't know the details of that, but I was just referring to the boilerplate from the previous BD seasons' reviews. It's not like we've ever had the S5+ on disc any other way, this is the original/only disc framing (isn't it?, I just got my seasons this week, not watched anything yet). That's very different than S1-4 so deserves different commentary IMO. In my case, I have no reason to keep S5+ DVDs, but I would keep S1-4 DVDs ("purists").
 

Matt Hough

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I based that only on the 4:3 video clips that are used throughout all of the bonus features. I had no idea what the original formatting for the episodes was.
 

TravisR

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CraigF said:
It's not like we've ever had the S5+ on disc any other way, this is the original/only disc framing (isn't it?, I just got my seasons this week, not watched anything yet).
Yeah, all the DVDs of the S5 to S9 episodes have all been 16x9 but those episodes were originally aired and composed for 4x3. Although there was one of their 'special' episodes (Triangle from S6) that was intended to be seen and originally aired at 1.78.
 

Carabimero

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This is where I usually stop watching, at the end of season 5. To me, the show lost something after this and never got it back. But the first five seasons are great.
 

TravisR

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Carabimero said:
This is where I usually stop watching, at the end of season 5. To me, the show lost something after this and never got it back. But the first five seasons are great.
The earliest years are the best but I think S6 still had some gas in the tank, S7 and S9 are the weakest years of the series but S8 is unfairly dismissed in my mind. Yes, David Duchovny had left but that lit a fire underneath the writers' asses. Between that, the addition of Robert Patrick, great mythology episodes (focusing on the search for Mulder which is something that the viewer cares about) and some really good monster of the week episodes, I think S8 is one of their most successful years and the best year of the show from the second half of the series.
 

Carabimero

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It's been so long since I watched season six, and I don't think I've seen seasons 7-9 except once when they were originally broadcast. I just remember thinking that after the fire, it was never the same. I'll give season 6 another look.
 

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The movie was between seasons 5 and 6 right? I think that's about where I started losing interest and not watching consistently.


Rewatching the episodes with these releases, I'm reminded of why this show never made it into that very top level of all time favorites (though I still enjoy it plenty) - it's the way the mythology episodes and monster of the week stories were so completely mutually exclusive. I didn't find it believable that, for example, Scully could handle an alien fetus in the S1 finale, and then in the next episode, be completely dismissive of the possibility of anything supernatural or alien existing. That dichotomy got worse and worse as the show went on, and I think the movie is where I finally lost patience. Because the thing is, I loved the movie. It was the coolest thing ever at the time I saw it. And then the show comes back for a sixth season, and for most weeks, the events of the movie would be completely ignored. Given the things we saw happen to Mulder and Scully and the things they themselves witnessed, I didn't see how it was possible that they wouldn't at least be talking about it every day, making small moves towards pursing the truth.


I really liked what "Fringe" did in this regard - it was clearly influenced by the X-Files, and it had a mix of mythology and monster of the week episodes, but during the monster of the weeks, they would never act like the mythology wasn't happening. They'd at least throw a couple lines here or there to show that they were still working on the larger mystery in the background, or take a second to say "Well, I believe all that bizarre mythology stuff, but this thing here is just crazy" or whatever.


I was excited to read that the new episodes will have mix of both mythology and monster of the week elements and not be so rigidly one or the other.
 

Carabimero

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For me, there were ultimately too many questions and not enough answers. I don't count THE X-FILES as an all-time great for the same reason I don't count LOST that way...both shows started out incredibly focused and emotionally titillating and satisfying, and in my opinion both simply got diffused and emotionally diluted by the end.
 

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Carabimero said:
I don't count THE X-FILES as an all-time great...
Not that The X-Files didn't have shortcomings (my biggest gripe would be that they stacked more and more on top of the mythology as the series went on) but I would say that it deserves to be seen as one of the great shows because it was the first TV show that looked like a movie. Maybe that falls more into influence or legacy rather than greatness but I think nearly all TV shows of the last 15 years (from the greats to the junk) owe a debt to The X-Files for blazing a trail that made TV look and sound better.
 

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TravisR said:
Not that The X-Files didn't have shortcomings (my biggest gripe would be that they stacked more and more on top of the mythology as the series went on) but I would say that it deserves to be seen as one of the great shows because it was the first TV show that looked like a movie. Maybe that falls more into influence or legacy rather than greatness but I think nearly all TV shows of the last 15 years (from the greats to the junk) owe a debt to The X-Files for blazing a trail that made TV look and sound better.
The legacy of X-Files in undeniable. And despite its shortcomings, I remain a fan - it is enjoyable rewatching the series now, and it holds up very well.

I'd probably disagree slightly and say Twin Peaks was the first show that looked like a movie, but that in no way takes away from what the X-Files achieved. To deliver solid mysteries for 20+ episodes a season, with great acting and production designs is one hell of an accomplishment. The actors make me forget I'm watching actors and not real characters, and to me that's one of the greatest things you can say about a show.
 

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Josh Steinberg said:
I'd probably disagree slightly and say Twin Peaks was the first show that looked like a movie...
There's no 100% right answer but I see Twin Peaks as one of the shows that led the way for The X-Files. I consider The X-Files as the real beginning point for TV looking like a movie because it seemed like once The X-Files became a hit, all dramas had to do it.
 

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TravisR said:
There's no 100% right answer but I see Twin Peaks as one of the shows that led the way for The X-Files. I consider The X-Files as the real beginning point for TV looking like a movie because it seemed like once The X-Files became a hit, all dramas had to do it.

Totally fair. And Twin Peaks got to run basically as a miniseries for it's first season where all episodes were shot ahead of time like a movie (I think), and then only had a second season, while X-Files kept it going for 9 years. It's really amazing they had the run they did, and on Friday nights no less.
 

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I don't dispute how influential the show was, even to myself, I'm just saying that if I take the actual episodes, pound for pound, and forget about the show's legacy, the episodes, on a whole, don't stand up to a consistently all-time great show like The Shield or The Wire. One could argue that nearly 40% of THE X-FILES episodes simply weren't that good, that unlike other show's continuing story arcs, THE X-FILES lost its way. That's the point I was trying to make, not that the show doesn't deserve influential status.
 

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Carabimero said:
One could argue that nearly 40% of THE X-FILES episodes simply weren't that good, that unlike other show's continuing story arcs, THE X-FILES lost its way.

I feel like I must be one of the odder types of X-Files fans - it seems like no one is that into the mythology, instead favoring the monster of the week episodes, where I'm the complete opposite. I think they made the mythology so intricate and compelling that after a certain point, it was no longer believable that someone as obsessive as Mulder would dedicate as much of his life to solving relatively ordinary cases while never mentioning the overall mythology except for the mythology episodes. I don't know how you have the events of the movie, which are both life changing for the characters and potentially world changing for the rest of humanity, and then act like nothing happened for 16-18 episodes that follow.


I'm not saying I'm right and that everyone else is wrong, but I am a little surprised that the thing I love about the show is the thing that most other people seem to dislike! :)
 

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Josh Steinberg said:
I feel like I must be one of the odder types of X-Files fans - it seems like no one is that into the mythology, instead favoring the monster of the week episodes, where I'm the complete opposite. I think they made the mythology so intricate and compelling that after a certain point, it was no longer believable that someone as obsessive as Mulder would dedicate as much of his life to solving relatively ordinary cases while never mentioning the overall mythology except for the mythology episodes. I don't know how you have the events of the movie, which are both life changing for the characters and potentially world changing for the rest of humanity, and then act like nothing happened for 16-18 episodes that follow.


I'm not saying I'm right and that everyone else is wrong, but I am a little surprised that the thing I love about the show is the thing that most other people seem to dislike! :)
I love both the monster-of-the-weeks and the mythology episodes. I don't know that even the writers would agree with me but I consider the mythology to be the heart of The X-Files. Those episodes had the BIG set pieces that set the show apart from everything else on TV at the time. The abduction scene in this season's Patient X and The Red And The Black still hold up today and they were absolutely spectacular back in 1998.


As for Mulder's tenacity looking into the conspiracy, I always told myself that he had hit an investigative wall and just had to give up and see what the Flukeman or Tooms or the inbred family were up to instead. Plus, he was employed by the FBI so if they said go investigate this, he had to do it unless he wanted to become the fourth Lone Gunmen. :)
 

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TravisR said:
I don't know that even the writers would agree with me but I consider the mythology to be the heart of The X-Files. Those episodes had the BIG set pieces that set the show apart from everything else on TV at the time. The abduction scene in this season's Patient X and The Red And The Black still hold up today and they were absolutely spectacular back in 1998.

The writers might not agree, but I wholeheartedly do! I was ten when the show started airing (the perfect age to get sucked into an alien-government conspiracy, at that age, I wanted to believe!), and those were the episodes that sucked me and my friends in. I remember that when the show aired, at least from the time of the first season through the movie, my friends and I tried to have sleepovers on Friday nights as often as possible so we could watch them together. There was nothing in our little world more exciting than an X-Files mythology - and nothing more crushing than the disappointment of having all of this stuff revealed one week, and then having swamp monsters or something the next week.


Travis, I feel like you answered this before but that you'd also be the best person to ask - how many times in the run of the series did they use a different tagline in the main title sequence? You had said the Blu-ray gets it right in all but two of the times they switched it?
 

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