X-FILES: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON
Reviewed August 20th, 2001 by Dan Jones
Where do I start? I was a late bloomer to the X-Files cult. Now, it is hard for me to admit it, but I had not seen one complete X-Files episode until seeing the movie by chance, one late summer night. Going into the movie with no prior knowledge on the series left me a little confused at times, but I felt I held some sort of a grip on what was going on. Obviously, the movie was created in such a way that would not completely alienate first time viewers of the epic series. Quite simply, after seeing the movie, I was hooked. Lucky enough for me FX started replaying the entire series starting with the pilot episodes a few weeks later, twice a night.
In my hands today, I have quite a beautiful crafted box set covering the complete third season of the X-Files. The set spans 24 episodes over six discs, along with includes a supplement disc with bonus features. Yes, all in all, we have seven DVDs here. Drool Factor: 10. We're given a tight Collector's Edition box (tight as in tight, not tight as in “word”) that folds out to give us the seven dvds. Each DVD is individually labeled with an artistic symbol or picture of one of the episodes contained on the disc. We are also given a small booklet that goes through each episodes track listing and gives us writer/director info on the way. We are also given the “complete” broadcast date of the series up to and including Season 7. Overall, the box is presented very nicely; not that the quality of the box really matters though when it comes right down to it.
Coming into Season 3 the X-Files had gained worldwide acceptance and became one of, if not the most, popular TV shows in the world. With this kind of pressure to continue the series' growth and, more importantly the show's intelligence, Chris Carter, the show's creator, shaped quite possibly the best season of the series.
So, what are some standouts from this season? Without a doubt the Emmy-winning “Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose” (with an incredible performance by Peter Boyle) is perhaps enough of a reason to own this box set by itself, and is, in this writer's opinion, one of the paramount episodes of the entire series. Some other standout episodes from this box include the amusing “Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'“, “The War of the Coprophages” (fans of the show may remember this one in which a cockroach walks across your TV screen), and the excellent cliffhanger of a season finale “Talitha Cumi”. Other long time themes for the show are started in this season; one of these are seen in “Piper Maru” and “Apocrypha”, where we see the introduction of the black oil, a long running theme since season three.
The DVDs are presented in full frame, in which the episodes were filmed. Even though most of us are fans of widescreen but it would not make sense here. The video quality is outstanding compared to that of the broadcast quality, the picture is razor sharp and there are no noticeable visual blemishes. There might be a little graining here and there but without a doubt, this is the best picture quality possible from these episodes (barring some extremely doubtful super ultimate edition).
Do we get 5.1 Dolby Digital in the episodes? Unfortunately no. As the episodes obviously were not recorded with this in mind, it would require a complete lengthy re-master of each episode, that would probably end up sounded somewhat simulated. What we do get is strong Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound that is quite crisp and more immersive then one might think. Like the video, this is the best audio quality I have ever heard from these episodes, and probably the best we can ever expect (barring again a SE version).
With seven DVDs you have to assume you're going to get a lot of extras (as if 24 episodes is not enough). This box-set is no exception. What we get is audio commentary on many of the 24 episodes, along with deleted scenes from “The Blessing Way”, “Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose”, “The List”, “Revelations”, and “Avatar”. The deleted scenes are presented in a very clever way. What we get is lead up to the deleted scene in black and white, and then when the deleted scene starts we go to color. This allows the viewer to see where the scene fits in, and allows for the original vs. the extended version to be contrasted. A very good technique indeed. We are also treated to optional commentary by Chris Carter to provide some insight onto why these scenes were deleted (most of them cut from time constraints).
On top of deleted scenes and commentary, we also get very insightful information into the season in the supplement, “The Truth About Season Three.” Here the writers and creators of the show talk about specific episodes, and the general direction they were trying to take with the show. This is definitely a must watch. We also get seventeen FX cuts, which would originally appear after some of these episodes on FX. These are small 20-30 second blips about a given episode. These are nice to run through, giving some more information that might not have been talked about in the “The Truth About Season Three” part. Sometimes, though we will get some information twice. We're also given a DVD-ROM game; I can't say how it works, as I haven't played it yet. I'm not much of a gamer I guess.
So, what we have here is an exceptional piece of possibly the greatest TV drama of all time. The 24-episode DVD transfer leaves little to nothing to complain about. You get all the episodes, some deleted scenes, and tons of commentary. Fox has outdone itself once again.
There is one problem though. If you're anything like me, once you get this set you will want the rest of them...perhaps a Surgeon General's warning is in order: X-Files Box Sets are heavily addictive and may be dangerous to the college student's wallet.
If you're a fan of the series, buy this set.
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