The X Files-Season 7 Box Set (1999)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Featurette-International Clips (6) (German, Italian,Japanese)
Audio Commentary-First Person Shooter, All Things, Je Souhaite
Deleted Scenes-10, With Optional Commentary By Chris Carter (Director)
Featurette-The Truth About Season 7
Featurette-Biogenesis - A.D.Skinner: Revealed
Featurette-Closure - Samantha Mulder: Revealed
Featurette-Special Effects With Narration By Paul Rabwin
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|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 for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The X-Files: Season 6 ended with our intrepid federal investigators, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a world apart, with Mulder going insane in Washington D.C. and Scully uncovering a spaceship crashed off the coast in Africa.
Season 7 opens with Scully trying to figure out the truth about the spaceship believing that it will lead to a cure for Mulder and ends with a disappearance and a revelation which will change the nature of the series for its remaining three years.
Here is a short summary of the episodes:
1. The Sixth Extinction (41:55) — Scully remains in Africa trying to uncover the truth about the spacecraft she has found in order to save Mulder’s life. But strange apocalyptic signs keep appearing for her – a plague of locusts, the seas turning red with blood, and a strange man who only she can see warning her of impending evil. Back in Washington, Skinner enlists the help of ex-CIA agent Michael Krytchgau at Mulder’s insistence.
2. The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati (41:59) — Mulder is released from hospital by his mother into the clutches of the Smoking Man who intends to remove genetic material from Mulder and implant it into himself.
3. Hungry (42:45) — A monster, passing as human, and working at the Lucky Boy Burger franchise wants to stop eating brains because he feels guilty about killing people.
4. Millennium (42:41) — Chris Carter’s other series, Millennium, was cut short only a couple of seasons in. However, its creator gives the show its finale here at the hands of Mulder and Scully. When four FBI agents commit suicide, another man raises them from the dead to bring on the Armageddon. Mulder and Scully enlist the assistance of Frank Black to help them stop the end of the world.
5. Rush (42:40) — A deputy is violently murdered while arresting a young teenager, and Mulder and Scully are on the case. However, it becomes apparent that some teenagers have found a way to move faster than the human eye.
6. The Goldberg Variation (42:27) — The luckiest man alive is thrown from the roof of a building and lands in a basket of laundry that saves his life. When the Mob comes to kill him, they all wind up dying. But if this man is so lucky, why is he throwing away $100,000 lottery tickets?
7. Orison (42:40) — Psychopathic and fetishist murderer, Donnie Pfaster, escapes from prison after a visit from a preacher named Orison with a powerful capacity for hypnotic suggestion. And high on Donnie’s priority for murder is Agent Scully – the one who got away.
8. The Amazing Maleeni (42:45) — When a magician miraculously manages to turn his head a full three-hundred and sixty degrees and later dies in his car, Mulder and Scully are put on the case. But what looks at first like a magic trick that has gone horribly wrong soon becomes a far more intricate plot involving revenge and a bank robbery.
9. Signs And Wonders (42:46) — A young man is attacked by snakes in his car and all the signs point at a church which advocates a radical interpretation of the Bible, including snake handling as a test of faith.
10. Sein Und Zeit (42:44) — A young girl disappears from her bed under very strange circumstances, bringing back painful memories for Mulder regarding the disappearance of his sister. And remember: nobody shoots at Santa Claus.
11. Closure (42:06) — A man with psychic talents approaches Mulder, offering to help him find his sister. Mulder is initially sceptical but as he approaches the truth bit by bit he comes to realise that the only thing holding him back from finding her is himself.
12. X-COPS (44:33) — Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do? The reality TV series COPS comes across Mulder and Scully on a case, hunting for a shape shifting monster in a high crime district in L.A.
13. First Person Shooter (42:40) — When a boy is killed during a virtual reality shoot-em-up game, Mulder and Scully are called in by The Lone Gunmen.
14. Theef (42:15) — Black magic is in the works when a doctor’s family starts spontaneously contracting very rare and lethal diseases.
15. En Ami (42:40) — The Smoking-Man approaches Scully offering technology which will help her cure all the illnesses and diseases of mankind. But as Scully is given a rare insight into the Smoking-Man’s personality, everything becomes a question of who is playing who?
16. Chimera (42:39) — In a town full of supposedly happy marriages, a beast is attacking women with perfect lives and families, drawing the attention of Mulder. Meanwhile, Scully is left staking out a strip joint.
17. all things (42:53) — A very personal episode written and directed by Gillian Anderson. A mix up of test results leads Scully to her former professor and former lover who is dying of heart disease. This opens up a series of old wounds and in turn makes Scully confront her own beliefs in medical science.
18. Brand X (42:44) — Cigarettes can kill you, but a lot faster than by cancer. When a test subject for a new brand of cigarette is the only remaining survivor amongst a test group and a high-level tobacco executive is killed before he can testify, Mulder and Scully begin to think that a contagion is at work, and Mulder has been exposed.
19. Hollywood A.D. (42:45) — It’s time to make a big screen version of the X-Files when one of Skinner’s movie-making friends drops into town. But what does it all have to do with a plot to discredit the Catholic Church and a bowl with harmonics recording the words used to raise Lazarus from the dead?
20. Fight Club (42:40) — Everybody in the universe apparently has a twin, but when a pair of these non-fraternal twins get together Mormons bash each other to a pulp and bars explode. Sounds worthy of investigation by Agents Mulder and Scully, if they can survive the carnage.
21. Je Souhaite (42:43) — A less-than-intelligent worker finds a magic carpet containing a genie offering three wishes. But without the intelligence to make the right wishes, he starts creating more havoc for himself, which draws the attention of the FBI, and Mulder and Scully.
22. Requiem (42:39) — The X-Files are under economic review and Mulder and Scully are forced to defend their work just as they are getting close and closer to the discovery of alien life. But one night in a hotel will change everything for our heroes and the show as a whole. An integral part of the series that sets up the remaining three years.
At the time, there were many rumours that the X-Files: Season 7 was going to be the last season in production, and that perhaps the show would move on to a movie franchise much as Star Trek: The Next Generation did. Given the success of the show’s first big screen venture, it is somewhat surprising that series creator Chris Carter did not take this route. However, it would seem that he was not done with the small screen yet, and he had perhaps become too-comfortable with filming for the TV medium – indeed, the show progressed for a further two seasons, concluding in 2002 with a momentous 9 seasons to its name. However, Season 7 is definitely a conclusion in some ways, marking the departure of David Duchovny from a lead role in the series to make way for Robert Patrick (of T2 fame), as the unbeliever Special Agent John Doggett, who gave the show a breath of fresh life and took it in entirely new directions. But that is all for next season, and I will leave further discussion of the matter until then.
All up, The X-Files: Season 7 is fun small-screen viewing with some highly entertaining episodes and only a few not-so-good ones. It is obvious that the creators are having more fun with the show at this point, and episodes like The Amazing Maleeni, Fight Club and Je Souhaite are more complete laugh riots than the mini-horror/sci-fi shows which was how The X-Files started out. The tone of the show changes dramatically with the final episode and the opening of Season 8 with a return to the original premise with all new conspiracies, all new scares, and all new truths to be uncovered. While the post-movie seasons of The X-Files definitely have their critics, it should be noted that Fox Studios have yet to produce anything for the small-screen that can grab the audience’s attention and hold it the way this show captured the imagination of a generation in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Indeed, this raises a couple of interesting points. Now that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has finished, and Dark Angel went and got cancelled before it really got going, there is really nothing much on for us late-night sci-fi fantasy buffs. Further, when Alias is the only show currently running with even comparable production values, you really have to start questioning where TV is heading. That is not a slur against Alias (I quite like the show), just an observation that, with only one quality escapist TV show on amongst a glut of home-improvement based reality TV shows or trashy voyeurism such as Temptation Island and For Love Or Money, the current generation is finally showing the utter shallowness of its imagination. For every bad thing you could say about the X-Files, it had imagination right up until the end. In stark contrast, currently most shows lack anything in the form of imagination and rely merely on sadistically torturing the emotions of contestants. For me, this is not entertainment, because I already have a life that reads like a Melrose Place script. It would not be any more entertaining to record it and re-watch it on TV.
I am aware that this is not the first (nor the last) time I have had a go at so-called reality TV. But what worries me is that fewer and fewer shows are being put into production with decent creative expression that fuels the imagination in the way that Star Trek did decades ago and that The X-Files did through the 1990s. Are we going to become an even more self-obsessed culture watching ourselves sing and dance and jump through hoops to the cheers of a brain-dead audience? Will we forget what artistic expression is all about, and why it is so important, in order to indulge the voyeuristic fantasies that reality TV affords us?
It is, of course, a possibility that this trend towards reality TV is a good thing. I mean, with nothing on but boring people with boring lives doing boring stuff we can all do in our own backyards dominating the TV screen we might all start putting our minds to some interesting questions like: Why am I being taxed so much when the healthcare system is in such a shambles and the schools my children go to are sub-standard? Why are the commercial media owned by so few people? Why are the laws that prevent such a monopolies so inadequate? Why are those media owners taxed at such a phenomenally low rate compared to me? And how do I fix all these problems?
I must confess, though, that I sometimes miss the days when there was a TV show that excited me enough to actually tape it during the week and watch it on Sunday morning while recovering from a hard Saturday night. Having the The X-Files on DVD makes me nostalgic for those days, but it also beats the hell out of commercial TV, for two reasons: (i) I get to watch what I want when I want, and; (ii) I don’t have to put up with advertising. For those of you who also get likewise nostalgic, pick up this 6-disc set. It is a reminder of a time that was, and apparently is no more.
Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio for this season of the series.
This is again a marked improvement on previous seasons and a minor improvement on the transfer of Season 6 which in turn took a quantum leap on everything before it (leaving aside the strange effects resulting from the transfer of the episode Triangle).
Colours are rich and vibrant, glowing off the screen. Shadow detail is for the most part particularly good, with nice glossy blacks at night rather than a grainy bluish tinge.
There is an intentional graininess to the picture that is very much part of the overall look of the show. You can detect this graininess on very white shots or in well-lit backgrounds, although this never disintegrates into low-level noise or other MPEG artefacts.
As for MPEG artefacts and film-to-video transfer faults in general, the worst artefacts I noticed were some very minor moire effect on Kritchgau’s cord jacket during The Sixth Extinction and on a grill in the background above the fridge in Mulder’s house during Amor Fati. Considering how many grills and mesh-plate fences and floorings cropped up through the series I was highly surprised that there was not more moiré effect or aliasing. Indeed, aliasing was very, very minimal and the worst I noticed was on a nasal tube at 8:22 during the episode all things. The only other nasty visual occurred at 5:46 during the same episode when time slows down during a hand motion. This results in some rather nasty aliasing and moiré, which, while it only lasts a second and a half, is quite noticeable and distracting.
There is a variety 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 can only assume. But the English HI track appeared fairly accurate.
The dual-layer pause is in between the episodes, with two episodes per layer. It is thus concealed.
There are several soundtracks available: an English 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track; a French 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track, and an Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track. The non-English tracks appear to be of largely comparable quality to the English track, but for the minor drop in ambience that tends to result from the overdub process. The original English soundtrack deserves a little more attention.
I had no difficulty hearing or understanding the dialogue, even during the experimental episode X-COPS which uses a lot of hand-held camera work and running boom mike. There are no detectable audio sync problems.
Surround information abounds here, which is unusual for a 2.0 Dolby surround track and thus also a pleasant surprise. There are some excellent directional cues, though mostly across the front. But the rears also catch the odd spaceship flying overhead as well as lots of ambient sounds, like trees and brush swaying in the wind, rain pelting down, or just people or traffic.
The range is very good, with Mark Snow’s score well rendered, as per usual, and some good rumbling bass and piercing treble sounds for good measure.
When I finally upgrade to Dolby Pro-Logic II, I look forward to watching some of these episodes again, because with the dynamic range and tendency to use bass to bring out the gooseflesh, I’m sure there would be some good subwoofer use. As it is, my left-right towers already have in-built subs which often redistribute the bass noise into the lower frequency giving exceptional bass range. I get some good rumbles this way, but nothing like the aggressive 21-incher can put out when it is in full swing.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are 16x9 enhanced. They are static shots from episodes. The disc home menus have the theme playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.
Every episode has a collection of stills (generally three) listing the principle cast details.
An animated Chris Carter commentary? Who woulda thunk it? Carter happily burbles away during this episode talking about the difficulties of making the effects and shooting (both with a camera and with guns) in various locations. Not bad.
This episode was written and directed by Gillian Anderson, and her audio commentary is quite interesting. She talks a lot about how she came up with the script and how she achieved certain effects and why she did this episode and in this way. Never a quiet moment.
Gilligan is the Executive Producer of The X-Files and this is the first episode he wrote and directed, and he hasn’t done a bad job. His audio commentary is interesting, although not as good as Anderson’s in this season. Still, interesting stuff for budding film-makers.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is a very good season overview taking a look at each episode in turn, with some interesting anecdotes and on-set interviews.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is a behind-the-scenes profile created for the rental release of the triple episode Biogenesis, The Sixth Extinction and Amor Fati when it was edited together into a mini-movie. It takes a look at Assistant Director Walter Skinner, complete with interviews with Mitch Pileggi.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is another behind-the-scenes profile created for the rental release of the double episode Sein Und Zeit and Closure when it was edited together. It takes a look at Mulder’s sister Samantha and her use through the series, and how she was an important part to Mulder’s character.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is a series of thirteen F/X clips from the following episodes:
Each of these scenes is accompanied by commentary from F/X supervisor Paul Rabwin. Most of these clips are about 90 seconds, and Rabwin talks very fast through them conveying some very interesting information about digital effects and make-up.
Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio. There are 10 deleted scenes from various episodes:
These scenes can be played incorporated into the episode, with a slight pause as it is brought into the episode.
Alternatively, these scenes can be played individually or right the way through with an optional commentary by Chris Carter 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.
Because the incorporation method is a bit jarring, I think the collection on the Special Features disc is better; it runs smoothly and gives you a better idea of what it was meant to be like.
Carter’s commentary on why the scenes were removed is fairly interesting.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. These are 44 promotional advertisements for the Fox Network, 2 for each of the episodes – one a 10 second teaser shot, the other a 20 second advertisement.
Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with 2.0 Dolby Stereo. There are a collection of scenes from various episodes, generally in German, Italian or Japanese (although Requiem also has a scene dubbed in Castilian/Spanish), available from the episode main menu:
The R1 release has a few differences other than the obvious PAL/NTSC transfer format. The R4 releases misses out on:
The R1 Release misses out on:
Again we miss out on the DVD-ROM game which might have been a bit of fun. However, we get the Character Profiles this time and R1 does not. I’m thinking this is a bit of a coin toss and give the generally superior quality of R4 picture transfers I would err on the side of R4.
Also, given the fact the R1 copy is more expensive with no great substantive gain I would consider this a factor in deciding to buy the R4 release over the R1 release.
The X-Files: Season 7 has some good episodes but you could tell that the show was winding up in its current format and preparing for a new wave that would take the show in a new and exciting direction. With Mulder going AWOL and the show set up for the introduction of Agent John Doggett and the ‘hunt for Mulder’ storyline, Season 8 picks the show right up.
Video is the best an X-Files season has offered yet, with far less grain and much better shadow detail, plus a 16x9 enhanced image.
The sound is great for 2.0 Dolby Surround mix. I would still have loved to have heard this in 5.1 Dolby Digital but the show would have to go two episodes per disc if you wanted to ensure the highest possible video quality and you would have a fourteen or fifteen disc set that would be much more expensive.
The extras are comprehensive and on the whole very good.
|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|