The X Files: The Event Series Blu-ray Review

Return of the iconic series is a mixed blessing 3.5 Stars

The X Files: The Event Series was something of a mixed blessing event at the start of 2016 with the return of one of the most iconic series of the last quarter century featuring episodes both involving and infuriating.

The X-Files (1993–2002)
Released: 10 Sep 1993
Rated: TV-MA
Runtime: 44 min
Director: N/A
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Cast: Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi
Writer(s): Chris Carter
Plot: Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.
IMDB rating: 8.7
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Fox
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: TV14=TV-14
Run Time: 4 Hr. 23 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 06/14/2016
MSRP: $29.99

The Production: 3/5

If you’re going to resurrect an iconic series, the smart thing would be to involve as many people from the original work as possible and then stay as true to the mythology which had been established as it’s possible to be. Fox’s The X Files: The Event Series certainly employed many of the key people who were instrumental in creating the nine-season smash hit for the network, but while the six episode reboot which premiered in January 2016 offered some of the pleasures of the original work (bringing back its beloved stars and some of the creature delights typical of the series at its best), other aspects of the show’s mythology (particularly the alien takeover scenario which formed the basis for the show’s foundation for nine seasons and two feature films) have been tampered with and not for the better.

Having once again gone their separate ways, former FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are reunited when a burgeoning conspiracy involving a new direction of human-alien interaction is brought to their individual attentions. Once into investigating, it’s not long before the old basement X Files office is reopened with the two outsiders – the believer and the skeptic – once again ready to scrutinize the paranormal aided by their old boss Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) once again as the stern father figure doling out assignments and sarcasm over his agents’ return to the tarnished FBI division.

The mini-season of six episodes is bookended by the alien conspiracy plotline (now altered to insist that it’s human beings who are using alien technology from decades ago to “thin the herd” and give Earth its fresh start: a narrative arc which lays waste to nine seasons and two movies of stories involving extraterrestrial tampering on Earth with governmental sanction) that will likely anger devoted fans of the series (and if that doesn’t infuriate them, the cliffhanger ending to the series with no more episodes planned despite great ratings for the show probably will). In between, however, are four “monster of the week” episodes which offer the kinds of weird and wacky X Files thrills for which the series is known. The “Garbage Man” episode in particular brings to mind some of the classic creatures from seasons long past, and the “Lizard Man” episode written and directed by Darin Morgan offers the kind of twist on the expected story which gives the show the poignancy and cleverness which were at one time watchwords of the program at its best.

In interviews, the stars expressed an eagerness to return to the roles of their greatest fame, but David Duchovny especially seems less than enthusiastic in performance during some of the episodes. Gillian Anderson overall gives herself over more fully to reinvesting in the Dana Scully character (and her character has the more emotional journey of the duo since she must deal with her mother’s (Sheila Larken) coma during one of the episodes. Mitch Pileggi isn’t given much of importance to do during the show’s return, but William B. Davis as the Cigarette Smoking Man is absurdly brought back from certain incineration at the end of season nine for half of this new mini-season. Were the network eager to bring the show back on a permanent basis, two younger Mulder-Scully clones turn up in the final two episodes of the series: Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose as Agents Miller and Einstein who could pick right up where Duchovny and Anderson left off: he a firm believer in the paranormal and she a devout scientist. They already share wonderful dual chemistry and would make excellent leads for a new series of adventures. Among those famous faces guest starring in these new episodes are Joel McHale, Rance Howard, Doug Savant, Rhys Darby, and Annabeth Gish.

Here are the six episodes contained on two Blu-ray discs in the Event Series set. The names in parentheses are the speakers for that episode’s audio commentary:

1 – My Struggle

2 – Founder’s Mutation (writer-director James Wong, creator Chris Carter)

3 – Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster (writer-director Darin Morgan, actor-podcaster Kumail Nanjiani, stars David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson)

4 – Home Again

5 – Babylon

6 – My Struggle II (writer-director Chris Carter, producer Gabe Rotter)

 

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The program is presented in its widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is offered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Superior in every way to the network broadcasts, sharpness is generally excellent (except for occasional soft shots), and color is rich and full with believable skin tones throughout. Black levels are also quite wonderful, and contrast has been dialed in with consistency. Each episode has been divided into 12 chapters.

Audio: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix may not have the overall thrust and power of a sci-fi feature film, but it’s very impressive for a television mix with dialogue solely contained in the center channel and the surround fronts and rears used for Mark Snow’s always interesting and atmospheric music and the thoughtful placement of ambient sounds throughout the soundfield.

Special Features: 4.5/5

Audio Commentaries: three commentaries are offered (see episode list above). None of the three offers exemplary supplemental information on the production of the episode though Darin Morgan’s commentary with super fan Kumail Nanjiani who also acted in the episode makes for by far the liveliest exchanges. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson recorded their comments separately and are edited in at certain moments but have little to say since they hadn’t seen the episode put together and get wrapped up watching it rather than speaking. James Wong’s commentary is rather dull, and Chris Carter’s commentary on the finale does too much explaining of what’s happening on screen.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (5:21, HD): two scenes may be watched separately or in montage.

Gag Reel (9:38, HD)

The Makings of a Struggle (53:35, HD): from the table read through to the final wrap, this behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the two-part alien-based episodes feature soundbites from creator Chris Carter, producers Glen Morgan and Gabe Rotter, production designer Mark Freeborn, director of photography Joel Ransom, editor Heather MacDougall, and stars Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi, Joel McHale, among others.

Season X (1:23:16, HD): key members of the cast and crew of each episode (including the writer, director, and stars) offer background comments on the making of each of the six episodes of the “event series.”

Monsters of the Week (10:54, HD): Podcaster-actor Kumail Nanjiani offers his choices for the nine top monsters from the show, one choice (with accompanying clips) from each of the nine seasons during the show’s original run.

The X Files: Green Production PSA (2:44, HD): a brief vignette on how the cast and crew made concerted efforts to recycle as much as possible during the making of the show in Vancouver.

Grace (9:36, HD): a Twilight Zone style short film created by Karen Nielsen.

Overall: 3.5/5

The X Files: The Event Series was something of a mixed blessing event at the start of 2016 with the return of one of the most iconic series of the last quarter century featuring episodes both involving and infuriating. The Blu-ray release of the new episodes offers outstanding video and audio presentations and detailed behind-the-scenes looks at the production of the show which fans will undoubtedly savor. But there is no denying that most of us felt the show could have and should have been better.

Published by

Matt Hough

author,editor

9 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review, Matt.

    But here's a laugh: Just got the blu-ray, and on the cover sticker, it says "New Episodes Answer All Questions" (!) and "Extras Reveal More Secrets!"

    Does anyone really feel the series "answered all questions"? Or any?

  2. Overall, I enjoyed these episodes but the big problem was that the two weakest episodes were the last two to run. Between that and a completely unexpected and unwelcome cliffhanger*, fans probably don't have the best memories of this season.

    * I saw Chris Carter point out that the show almost always went out on a cliffhanger and that made me somewhat 'forgive' this season for going out on a cliffhanger as well (since I'm sure they'll eventually be back) but it was still a bad move and hopefully that doesn't get repeated.

  3. One of the things I always liked about THE X-FILES was that it didn't answer all the questions, or even most of them. Yes, it was frustrating and confusing a few times, but overall I enjoyed the mystery more than the answers. It's kind of like a wrapped present: it's often more fun anticipating opening it–and wondering what could be inside–(anything!) than it is opening it and finding out. For me that was a big strength of THE X-FILES: not knowing.

  4. I agree, it never bothered me that some of the X-Files loose ends went unresolved and unexplained…entirely a different reaction to my feelings about Lost…I was disappointed with the resolution of that show and regretted ever having stuck with it for the long hall, feeling the whole absurdity of that show was contrived as they just threw things together…I have mixed feelings about "X-Files, the Event Series", but I'll still resume watching when it comes back next season…I don't feel the need to ever have the series on dvd / blu however…

    My favourite memory of the original '90s series is Scully and Mulder standing over a body cut in half and burned beyond recognition…

    Scully : "Well, should we arrest David Copperfield?"

    Mulder : "Yes, but not for this"

  5. i have mixed feelings about "X-Files, the Event Series", but I'll still resume watching when it comes back next season…

    The problem is that it's not coming back next season, so it was especially awful to end on a cliffhanger when there's no return.  The principles have all expressed interest in doing some more episodes further down the road, but there are no set plans to do so, and I believe it's been stated that if the show comes back again, it won't be next year.

  6. …and I believe it's been stated that if the show comes back again, it won't be next year.

    I think when they announced their fall schedule, someone at Fox said they were hoping to get it on in the 2017-18 season. Obviously that isn't definite but that seems like a reasonable expectation with Anderson's schedule. As for Duchovny, it was a miracle that Aquarius got a second season so I imagine that show won't get renewed and he'll have more time available.

    I waited more than 7 years after the last movie (and over 13 since the last episode) to see M&S again so I can deal with a two year wait.

  7. I think when they announced their fall schedule, someone at Fox said they were hoping to get it on in the 2017-18 season. Obviously that isn't definite but that seems like a reasonable expectation with Anderson's schedule. As for Duchovny, it was a miracle that Aquarius got a second season so I imagine that show won't get renewed and he'll have more time available.

    I waited more than 7 years after the last movie (and over 13 since the last episode) to see M&S again so I can deal with a two year wait.

    I can deal with the wait too – I just wish they hadn't ended on a cliffhanger, much less a cliffhanger to a new mythology that I found incredibly unsatisfying and that contradicts everything that we've actually seen with our own eyes over nine previous seasons and two movies.  When you know you're coming back in three months, sure… when you've got no idea if you're ever coming back?  That's just bad storytelling.

  8. Y'all are being WAY too kind. We got jacked, plain and simple. The original mythology was intricate and fascinating, albeit convoluted and ultimately less than cohesive… but I still loved it. This "new" mythology completely jettisoned that intricate and fascinating tapestry for what amounted to a half-baked and over-simplified sucker punch. I was furious when that sixth episode aired, and I'm no less furious now. This whole "event series" was a crass cash-grab on Chris Carter's part and is a blemish on the series as a whole. The only worthwhile episode was "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster," which Carter didn't write. If it does come back (and there's no guarantee it will), I hope Vince Gilligan is running the show. He's the only one who can save it.

  9. Morgan, Wong, Gilligan, and Spotnitz should be the only ones allowed to touch The X-Files! Gilligan and Morgan would be preferred over any of them IMHO. 

    Carter just needs to hang it up. 

    The Were-Beast episode was the absolute best out of the mini-series.  The rest were varying degrees of eh and the ones where Anderson and Duchovny seemed the most out of it and bored.

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