The X-Files - The Complete First Season
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(2000) David Duchovny; Leon Russom
In the first season of The X-Files, creator Chris Carter was uncertain of the series' future, so each of the episodes is a self-contained suspense story; they do not delve deep into the ongoing X-Files mythology or turn to self-parody and humor as do episodes in later seasons. Yet, these episodes display the elements for which the show would become famous: the cinematic production values and top-notch special effects, the stark lighting of the Vancouver sets, the atmospheric halo of Mark Snow's score, and the clever plots dealing with subjects ranging from the occult, religion, and monsters to urban legends, conspiracy theories, and science fiction. Most importantly, season 1 introduces FBI agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox "Spooky" Mulder (David Duchovny), two of the most attractive government officials around. Scully is the serious-minded medical scientist assigned to join Mulder on the X-Files, a division of the FBI dealing with the paranormal. Mulder is the intuitive thinker with a dry wit, a passionate believer in the existence of paranormal phenomena and one of the few characters on television smart enough to figure out who the bad guy is before the audience does. Their muddled relationship, a deep friendship laced with sexual tension, provides the human heart in a world where the bizarre and horrible lurk in everyday society.
The materials on the bonus disc provide some interesting trivia and background, but it is the 24 episodes themselves that make this seven-disc boxed set a true find. Those unfamiliar with The X-Files often view all the fuss with the same skepticism with which Scully first regards her new partner's ideas. But just as she comes to realize the uncanny accuracy of Mulder's outlandish theories, newcomers to The X-Files who sample a few episodes in this boxed set will likely find themselves riveted to their television late into the night. And undoubtedly, the shadows and creaking noises in the house that evening will seem more menacing than usual. --Eugene Wei
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The first season of "The X-Files" borrowed from a variety of great sources--the first season of "Twin Peaks", the movie "The Silence Of The Lambs" even some of the moody TV series being shot in the UK. What made the series unique was how well it mixed and matched these elements but, more importantly, the chemistry between the leads in the series.
The transfer is nearly flawless with a nice, detailed, film-like quality to the transfer with very few detectable visual flaws. These have been painstakingly re-scanned in 2K from the original negatives (why not 4K? Fox was trying to save money I suppose) with the exception of the stock footage and visual effects created in SD on videotape were upscaled from SD as there are no camera negatives to work with and due to cost.
The downside for many fans will be that the first four seasons have had the image changed from full screen to widescreen in HD. How was this done? There's a portion of the frame referred to as the "safety area"--this are at the side edges of the image that weren't intended to be seen. Usually that's because you can see lighting rigs, the edge to the sets, etc. Luckily for "The X-Files" (unlike "Star Trek: The Next Generation" by comparison) that wasn't the case and it allows for expansion of the image . I will say that the head room IS a bit tight compared to before (they have to crop a bit from the top and bottom to expand it to fill the screen) at times but, over all, its a pretty good job of re-framing the original image. It would have been nice if they had taken the time to include those as an option as well for fans but the new scans are such a remarkable upgrade, I can forgive them for not including that as an option.
The moody photography finally gets its due on home video. Detail is remarkable and this is very much comparable to the "Twin Peaks" blu-ray release the difference, though, is that "Twin Peaks" features brighter colors simply by virtue of the fact that was how Lynch wanted it vs. Chris Carter who wanted a more muted tone to the show. The colors look terrific.
The series began to hit its stride with season two but season one had some terrific episodes mixed in with some duds. The growing pains of a freshman series isnt unusual the first season of "The X-Files" holds up well 22 years from its debut in 1993.
The 5.1 remix sounds very nice and, even when listened in stereo, the dialog is largely clean and clear without the muddled quality of many shows from the same time frame.
The audio 2.0 tracks are available in English, German, French and Spanish as are the subtitles.
All of the special features from the DVDs (except the games that were introduced) have been carried over to this set including the documentary produced for the repackaged themed sets focusing on the mythology of the series. We also get the commentary tracks that came with the original sets as well (although it would have been nice to get more) which is a nice touch.
If you haven't seen the pilot in a while, you get a sense from the writing of Chris Carter that he had some idea where he wanted to go with the series. Now he may have made up many of the details as he went along but, like "Twin Peaks", the series had a solid story arc established immediately in the pilot that was sustained during the first season (for one subplot) and through most of the series (for another involving Mulder's sister).
There's no booklet but Fox has provided us with an episode guide printed on the flip side of the cover art (which, while interesting, looks a little too photoshopped for my taste but it's not a make or break deal any more than the menu for the series being pretty straight forward. A couple of reviews have noted the lack of imagination but, honestly, I could care less about what the menu looks like particularly if it consumes bit space at the expense of the visuals.
As of this writing, the individual sets are cheaper than the boxed set and, beyond the fact that there is a slot for the 2016 mini-series, there's really no reason to pick up the boxed set unless you want something big to store them in as there's nothing special IN the set by itself.
Should you pick this up if you are a fan? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Positively.
Anyway, perusing the Internet seemed to reveal that the X-Files could never be HD remastered because of the post-processing and effects. Besides, nobody thought there could be a market for it since the DVD boxes had been available so long. So imagine my surprise when that all turned out to be false.
The results are beyond my highest expectations. The clarity and depth of the picture are on another planet from any format the show has ever instantiated as. In a way, it's kinda like getting a new show. Especially due to the reformatting of the picture for 16x9. At first, I didn't approve, but the results are impossible to argue with. This is the way the show is meant to look. Cris Carter says that they always shot the show with future HD in mind and it's hard to disbelieve him. The whole breakthrough of the X-Files was to get a somewhat cinematic experience from a weekly TV show - something so commonplace now that it's next to impossible to remember how fresh it was 20 years ago - even watching it on a lousy TV with crummy reception.
Of course, these episodes are not the high point of the show, but I have an extremely warm spot in my heart for them, and re-watching them only a year after re-watching them just makes me that much more fond of them. You can feel them feeling out the parameters of the show, but that Duchovny/Anderson heartbeat is there from the get go. Even as they aren't completely comfortable with their own characters, their trust and enjoyment in the Mulder/Scully relationship carries the whole show and them along with it. Every show today that has the male/female leads, and they are legion, just reinforces how great and impactful the original duo were/are. To paraphrase Bender, "Compare your show to ours and then kill yourselves."
And if none of that compels you, the ridiculously giveaway low price should. Even the slim-line low budget drop-the-extras-disc DVD sets rarely ever got this low, and even then only on a Gold Box special. Heck, there's got to be 15 bux worth of plastic alone. You could buy the show, hate it, and still have spent good money on 6 coasters and a blue paperweight. So just get it already!
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