The X Files-Season 6 Box Set (1998)
Main Menu Introduction
Audio Commentary-Triangle; Milagro
Deleted Scenes-Tithonus;Two Fathers;One Son;Arcadia +/- commentary
Deleted Scenes-Milagro;The Unnatural;Biogenesis +/- commentary
Featurette-International Clips (2)
Alternate Ending-Alpha +/- commentary
Featurette-The Truth About Season 6
Featurette-Featurette on Season 6
Featurette-Special Effects with Narration by Paul Rabwin
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Well, this is it – the first post-movie season of The X-Files. For those who thought it was all downhill from here, you should really take a peek because The X-Files: Season 6 has some of the strongest writing and direction that the series ever saw. So long as you don’t take it in any way seriously, it’s actually a really good way to spend a hung-over Sunday morning, and has some inventive techniques which pushed the barriers of TV production values in its day.
The X-Files: Season 5 finished with our hero Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and our heroine Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) being cast off the X-Files and their offices burnt to a crisp by the Smoking Man (a.k.a Cancer Man) in the episode “The End”. This merged into the big screen effort The X-Files: The Movie (a.k.a Fight The Future), which is all in good fun, before returning back to the small screen with the episode “The Beginning”. Personally, I would have liked to see this show become a movie franchise, much like Star Trek did. But series creator Chris Carter obviously wasn’t done with the small screen yet, and avid fans like me will simply have to wait and hope that more silver screen plans are in the making.
Season 6 is definitely the season where everybody on the production side of the show was given free reign with their creative capacities. We have some of the funniest and quirkiest episodes here, very few of the dark and serious ones, and some incredibly inventive uses of the small screen, particularly by said creator Chris Carter. Sure, we get plenty of conspiracy, and scary atmosphere, but we also get a lot more chuckles, with Mulder perfecting his dry one-liners. Here is a short summary of the episodes:
1. "The Beginning" (42:45) -- Mulder and Scully are thrown off the X-Files just when they’re so close to the truth.
2. "Drive" (43:35) -- Don’t slow down, don’t deviate, you gotta keep going west or your head will explode!
3. "Triangle" (43:30) -- Mulder is stuck in an alternate dimension in the Bermuda Triangle in 1936. And why are the Smoking Man and Skinner dressed like Nazis and Scully in a ball gown throwing punches? Cleverly filmed to appear like a series of four 11-minute takes, as if the entire episode is taking place in real time.
4. "Dreamland" (43:33) -- What’s scarier than aliens, ghosts and goblins? How about coping with someone else’s family. When Mulder gets body-switched, he finds himself living a secret government agent’s life.
5. "Dreamland II" (42:32) -- Why is Mulder so blasé about his job? Why did he buy a waterbed and put mirrors on the bedroom roof? Does he really like to read the New York Post backwards? Scully starts thinking that something is up.
6. "How The Ghosts Stole Christmas" (42:40) -- A fantastic Christmas episode with Mulder and Scully going ghost hunting in a haunted house. Mulder: “Are you scared yet?” Scully: “Yes. But it’s an irrational fear.”
7. "Terms Of Endearment" (43:36) -- What’s worse than a male demon who wants to have a normal child?
8. "The Rain King" (43:31) -- Can one man really make it rain? There’s a man in Kansas who says he can, and Mulder and Scully are on the case.
9. "S.R. 819" (43:38) -- Skinner is dead, but how did he die? And what’s with all his veins pulsing like that?
10. "Tithonus" (43:36) -- Why does one man manage to be right on the scene to photograph people as they die? Is he a killer, or has he found a way to stalk death?
11. "Two Fathers" (41:54) -- The conspiracy is all coming to a head. Cassandra Spender is found after her abduction. Agent Spender is drawn into the conspiracy. With Mulder and Scully suspended from duty, the identity of the Smoking Man is revealed. But does it even matter any more?
12. "One Son" (42:38) -- Power plays and head games. Will the Earth be colonised by aliens, or will the rebel aliens expose the truth? Can Mulder and Scully really fight the future?
13. "Agua Mala" (42:48) -- Tentacles are strangling people in the Florida Quays during a hurricane. Definitely not for you hydrophobics.
14. "Monday" (43:32) -- Muldur and Scully are reliving the day from hell which keeps ending the same way; with the both of them dead.
15. "Arcadia" (43:39) -- People are being murdered at a suburban estate where everything is perfect and orderly, so Scully and Mulder play family to find out just what is really going on.
16. "Alpha" (43:33) -- There’s a wolf loose from quarantine and it’s chewing people up. But there’s more going on here than you can solve with a few dog catchers.
17. "Trevor" (43:35) -- A convicted killer left for dead in a cyclone finds that he can walk through walls. How do you stop a man you can’t touch?
18. "Milagro" (43:33) -- The passion of a writer and a series of murders so perfect they could only come from the imagination. But what’s the motive? Is this really love?
19. "The Unnatural" (43:35) -- Of course all the great baseball players were aliens! It just makes such perfect sense! Ummmm, doesn’t it? The X-Files take on For The Love Of The Game and a dozen other baseball movies.
20. "Three Of A Kind" (43:10) -- The Lone Gunmen are back at it again, infiltrating a weapons convention to get the latest information on secret government assassination plots. But is Byers still pining for his one true love?
21. "Field Trip" (43:32) -- Has Mulder found the evidence he was always looking for? Or is he dead, the victim of a ritualistic murder? And what’s with the corpses of the two hikers and all the green goo?
22. "Biogenisis" (43:38) -- Did life on Earth originate here as an act of God, or was it extraterrestrial? When pieces of metal with strange inscriptions start showing up and a professor from the Ivory Coast is murdered, Mulder finds himself plagued with headaches and reading minds, and Scully is forced to confront her conceptions of life as she knows it.
All up, The X-Files: Season 6 is a fantastic season for any respecting X-Phile. There are no really bad or banal episodes, which is a plus, even fewer pretentious episodes, which is a definite plus, and the humour tends to be darker and more violent, which is a positive for a series like this steeped in American crime culture. It’s not as heartfelt as more melodramatic shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but it’s still good TV and beats the hell out of half the crap that gets scheduled these days. Reality (insert dripping sarcasm) TV is driving me to do homework, and thousands more kids just like me. It’s getting to epidemic proportions. So until Big Brother sleep-deprives its occupants for ten days and then gives them knives and heavy blunt instruments to play with, I’m thinking it’s just a wasted effort. If I want to watch a bunch of idiots sit around b****ing about nothing, I’ll go to a tutorial. TV is about escapism, so give me some good old-fashioned science fiction for entertainment; it’s about as far from reality as you can get, but that’s the whole point.
Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio for the series. The only anomaly here is the episode ”Triangle” which I believe was originally filmed in 1.85:1. Between 31:53–40:37, thin black bars appear at the top and bottom of the screen to facilitate a 2:1 split screen effect.
The quality of the picture is overall quite impressive, particularly given that this is a TV show, not a high-budget Hollywood blockbuster. The move to L.A. concurrent with the beginning of Season 6 increased the production values drastically, with far more use of creative lighting.
Shadow detail was excellent, which is important given the various sequences which take place at night. There was only the faintest of low-level noise that I detected, but it was very fine and limited to the background of the shots.
Colours were vibrant and clear, a definite advantage for having been filmed on high definition film for digital television. This makes earlier seasons look washed out.
There were, unfortunately, quite a few MPEG encoding problems.
The entire episode ”Triangle”, one of the best of the season, is marred with a strange ghosting, as if the NTSC transfer over to PAL was poorly done. This results in a persistent blurriness, dot-crawl all through the episode, plus some very bad MPEG blocking in the pre-credits teaser, and some posterization on facial close ups. I am not sure why this was the only episode affected this way, and there seems to be no explanation in the audio commentary or the later special features.
The pre-credits teaser for ”Three Of A Kind” is also really bad, shot full of aliasing. This seems to be as a result of the transfer having difficulty with the filter used to shoot Byers’ fantasy sequence. This gets so bad it is hard to watch. The rest of the episode is pristine.
The only other MPEG artefact of note was during ”Biogensis”, where some very distracting MPEG blocking and aliasing turns the left-hand background of a panning shot at 25:40 into a distorted nightmare.
There was also the occasional fleck of white dust on the various prints, but these were random and light and not distracting; I only noticed them because I was hunting for them.
There is an extensive list of subtitle options here: English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Italian, Dutch, and Greek. They appear as white with a black border and are easy to read. Whether the foreign language titles reflect the actual dialogue, I have no idea, but the English for the Hearing Impaired track appeared fairly accurate.
The dual-layer pause is in between the episodes, with two episodes per layer.
There are several soundtracks available: the English 2.0 Dolby Surround track; a French 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track; and an Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track. I gave a cursory listen to the non-English tracks and they appear fine. Because English is the original soundtrack it deserves some more attention.
Again, with the shift to LA, the quality of the sound mastering was given a significant improvement.
Dialogue was clear and easy to understand most times, unless it was being blotted out by other sound effects and the like. I noticed no audio sync problems.
There is plenty of surround information, lots of left-right directional cues and a lot more information coming from the rears than in previous seasons.
The range is also fantastic for a 2.0 Dolby Surround matrix mix. Mark Snow’s score was beautifully rendered, and atmospheric scenes (i.e. storms, shaking rooms, etc) exhibited a real presence.
There was, unfortunately, no subwoofer use, which is a shame, because some of these episodes could have made really good use of it – I’m thinking especially of “The Rain King” and “Monday”.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are 16x9 enhanced. They are static shots from episodes. The disc home menus have the score playing in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is a very good season overview which takes a good look at the change in the show concurrent with the move from up north to Los Angeles, in particular the huge talent pool that was suddenly available.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is just Fox Network promotional material.
This is a fantastic episode with some brilliant use of split-screen. The audio commentary is less fantastic. For someone with an obviously vivid imagination, Carter has a tendency to be a bit laconic and well ... boring. Lots of long pauses here.
This episode was directed by Kim Manners and so he does the audio commentary. Honestly, this guy is almost as laconic as Carter, and although he has some interesting tales about technical film making, there are still long gaps of silence.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is a series of 12 F/X clips from the following episodes:
- “Triangle” (1)
- “Dreamland I & II” (2)
- “Terms of Endearment” (1)
- “The Rain King” (4)
- “How The Ghosts Stole Christmas” (1)
- “Two Fathers” (1)
- “Trevor” (1) and
- “The Unnatural” (1)
These scenes are accompanied by commentary from F/X supervisor Paul Rabwin. Most of these clips are about 90 second each, and Rabwin talks very fast through them.
Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. There are 10 deleted scenes from various episodes:
- “Tithonus” (3)
- “Two Fathers” (2)
- “One Son” (2)
- “Arcadia” (1)
- “Milagro” (1)
- “Biogenesis” (1)
In addition to these, there is also an alternate ending for “Alpha”, and 4 alternate takes from “The Unnatural” comparing the use of Darren McGavin and M. Emmet Walsh.
These scenes can be played within the episode on the discs on which the episode is recorded, with a slight pause as it is meshed into the episode (so-called ‘seamless branching’ which is all but seamless). They are also available with an optional commentary by Frank Spotnitz on the Special Features disc (Disc 6) with a short leader and post-sequence in black and white to show how the scene fits into the episode. Spotnitz is a slightly more interesting commentator than Carter and Manners, but without the energy and drive of Rabwin.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. These are 44 promotional advertisements, 2 for each of the episodes – one a 10 second teaser shot, the other a 20 second advertisement.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 release has a few differences other than the PAL/NTSC differential. The R4 releases misses out on:
- Character Profile: “The Smoking Man”
- DVD-ROM Game “Dreamland”
- 24 International language Clips
- Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround Audio Track
- Spanish subtitles.
The R1 Release misses out on:
- Italian 2.0 Dolby Surround Audio Track
- Dutch, Greek, Italian subtitles.
Considering the international language tracks are a waste of time anyway, I feel no great loss there. However, the Character Profile and the DVD-ROM game might have been a bit of fun. How much they add to the whole experience is probably marginal. I suspect, however, that the picture quality for ”Triangle” is better on the R1 copy, as it has not undergone an NTSC to PAL transfer, although I have no means to verify this. (Ed. The image quality of this particular episode is also problematic on the R1 version - there is more information and an official explanation from the producers on The Digital Bits, just beneath the cover shot of Solaris.)
Although the R1 copy is more expensive, I think that it might just sneak over the line as the winner, unfortunately. But it’s such a bare margin that it is really of little significance.
The X-Files: Season 6 has some of the really great episodes from the series, particularly from a creative sense. Plus, it marks the end of one conspiracy and the beginning of another. Any respecting X-Phile should grab hold of this; I don’t care what was said about the post-movie seasons. Anybody else who loves science fiction should also take a peek. Self-deprecating and funny.
Video is the best an X-Files season has offered yet, with far less grain and much better shadow detail, plus the all-important 16x9 enhancement. Unfortunately, there are some shockingly bad MPEG artefacts.
The sound is very good for a mere 2.0 Dolby Surround matrix, and although a 5.1 Dolby Digital remastering might have been nice, I’m sure it would have come at the expense of picture quality.
The extras are actually really good, although the episode commentaries lack the insight provided by other series creators like Joss Whedon or J. Michael Straczinsky.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Energy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer|