The X Files-Season 8 Box Set (1999)

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Released 14-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Featurette-International Clips (6) (German, Italian, Japanese)
Credits-Cast
Audio Commentary-Alone, Existence
Deleted Scenes-7, With Optional Commentary
Featurette-The Truth About Season 8
Featurette-X-Files Profiles: Gibson Praise
Featurette-X-Files Profiles: John Doggett
Featurette-X-Files Profiles: Alex Krycek
TV Spots-42
Featurette-Special Effects With Narration By Paul Rabwin
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 893:22
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gillian Anderson
Cliff Bole
Rob Bowman
Chris Carter
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Robert Patrick
Annabeth Gish
Mitch Pileggi
Case ?
RPI $129.95 Music Syd Barrett
Soul Coughing
Sheryl Crow


Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Greek
Italian
French Titling
Italian Titling
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The X-Files: Season 7 ended with everybody’s favourite sardonic FBI Special Agent, Fox ‘Spooky’ Mulder (David Duchovny), disappearing without a trace, leaving Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) pregnant and on her own with only Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) looking out for her, despite his own compromised situation.

    Those viewers who thought this series had nowhere to go after Season 7 were in for a shock as Season 8 hurls us right into the action with a massive manhunt for Mulder to be assisted by Scully’s soon-to-be partner, the disbeliever Special Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick). This results in a role reversal, with Scully as the believer, and Doggett sent by higher forces to debunk her work with his ultra-rational view of the world, or undermine his own credibility in the process.

    Here is a short summary of the episodes:

Disc 1

    1. Within (1) (42:11) – The ‘Hunt for Mulder’ storyline kicks off with Scully and Asst. Dir. Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) trying to find the truth about Mulder’s disappearance. But with a new Deputy Director of the FBI in place, Kersh (Tom Braidwood), things get a lot harder. And when Kersh puts the no-nonsense Agent Doggett on the case, Scully and Skinner set out on their own.

    2. Without (2) (42:14) – With the alien bounty hunters closing in on Scully’s only lead, a boy with psychic powers named Gibson Praise (Jeff Gulka), Scully must decide whom she can trust as she gets closer and closer to finding Mulder.

    3. Patience (42:46) – What is this thing that is killing residents of a quiet town? A giant bat? Or something else? And can Doggett overcome his scepticism before it kills Scully and himself?

    4. Roadrunners (42:47) – When Scully investigates the disappearance of a hitch-hiker, she finds herself being kept in a quiet little American town well off the map whose inhabitants are more than a little strange.

Disc 2

    5. Invocation (42:44) – When a child shows up after being missing for ten years, the most peculiar thing is that he has not aged a day. But is the boy who has returned the same as the one who was taken, and what does this have to do with a poor white-trash kid living in a trailer with his mother?

    6. Redrum (42:45) – an old friend of John Doggett, District Prosecutor Martin Wells (Joe Morton) wakes up in his cell one day with no memory of how he got there only to find out he has been charged with the murder of his wife. But things start getting a lot weirder once he realises he is travelling back in time with the passing of each day.

    7. Via Negativa (42:48) – The slaughter of a religious cult by an apparently psychic ex-murderer has Doggett teaming up with Skinner to discover the truth, while Scully is off having her pregnancy checked.

    8. Surekill (42:47) – When an estate agent is shot in a locked cell, Scully and Doggett are called in on the case. But in this one, there is definitely more than meets the eye.

Disc 3

    9. Salvage (42:31) – Has a wrecking worker come back from the dead? Or is the metal man exacting vengeance merely a soulless incarnation of the man he resembles?

    10. Badlaa (42:35) – The death of an overly large businessman leads Scully to think that the work of an Indian mystic might be at play. But Doggett is not convinced, and searches for other explanations. Is his rational approach the right one, or are Scully’s convictions to be believed?

    11. The Gift (42:46) – Some loose ends on an apparently forged case report lead Doggett to uncover the truth about one of Mulder’s cases in a forest town. But with a less than forthcoming frankness from the local population, Doggett finds himself way over his head.

    12. Medusa (42:18) – The death of a subway cop in mysterious circumstances lead Scully and Doggett on an underground chase through the Boston subway system to prevent the spread of an unusual flesh-eating contagion.

Disc 4

    13. Per Manum (42:28) – When a man comes to Doggett claiming that his wife was murdered by her doctors after giving birth to an alien child, Scully begins questioning the nature of her own pregnancy. But the further into it she delves, the more she becomes tangled in a web of conspiracies.

    14. This Is Not Happening (1) (42:50) – When those alien abductees taken around the time Mulder disappeared begin to appear again, Scully begins to believe that Mulder may yet return. But Agent Doggett believes that this is not the work of aliens, but of men, and brings in an unusual investigator, Special Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) to help. Although Scully resents this newcomer, a breakthrough made by Reyes brings them to a shock discovery.

    15. DeadAlive (2) (42:20) – When fellow abductee Billy Miles is dragged in by a fishing boat off the coast in a storm, the coroners are shocked to discover that he is still alive. This news rekindles hope that Mulder may be alive, but Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) demands a terrible price from Skinner for the secret to Mulder’s possible resurrection.

    16. Three Words (42:07) – The death of a census worker on the White House lawn sets Mulder and the Lone Gunmen on a quest for the truth while Doggett is kidnapped by an escaped prisoner bent on discovering that same truth.

Disc 5

    17. Empedocles (42:48) – When Agent Reyes is called to the scene of a violent murder by a generally quiet man she is troubled by a vision that she has had before. Unable to ignore the vision, she contacts Mulder to help uncover the truth behind the murder of Agent Doggett’s son.

    18. Vienen (42:46) – A series of deaths aboard an oil rig thrusts Mulder and Doggett together in the middle of the Mexican Gulf.

    19. Alone (42:46) – With Scully on maternity leave and Mulder dismissed from the FBI, Doggett is assigned a new partner named Leyla Harrison (Jolie Jenkins) with very little field experience, but who is a huge fan of the x-files. But when these two go missing, Mulder goes in search of them both.

    20. Essence (1) (41:58) – With Scully approaching term, Mulder goes in search of the truth about the baby. When a series of arson attacks against genetics labs specialising in infant birth defects are linked to Billy Miles, Doggett and Mulder enlist the aid of Agent Reyes to get Scully out of the city to someplace safe. When Krycek turns up to help, Doggett begins suspecting that this new conspiracy runs deep inside the FBI.

Disc 6

    21. Existence (2) (42:13) – The awesome Season 8 finale. Can Reyes keep Scully safe? Will Scully’s baby be born? Will Mulder be killed by these new ‘super soldiers’? Will Krycek betray them all? Will Skinner get his vengeance? So many twists and turns it will leave your head spinning like a scene out of The Exorcist.

    Many thought that The X-Files: Season 8 would be the death knell of the series, particularly with Duchovny taking a back seat role for the season. How could the show go on without one of its pivotal characters?

    Chris Carter’s ingenious solution to this problem was to beef up the peripheral characters, most notably long-time X-Files co-conspirator Walter Skinner, and juxtapose Scully with the new ultra-rational and keenly streetwise character John Doggett. This could have gone either way, but in this critic’s opinion at least, the move paid off in spades. Doggett was not a Mulder clone, and he did not have the scientific rationality of Scully to prove his convictions. He had been schooled by life, and this shows in his actions and reactions, his bull-headedness and his aggressive nature. Although he lacked the one-liner quips that Mulder was so famous for by Season 7, Doggett’s ‘average man’ humanity made him truly appealing – the effect of some excellent script-writing that was made all the more believable by some outstanding acting by Robert Patrick. With the addition of the quirky Agent Reyes, the cast was the strongest it had been.

    Indeed, taken in total, The X-Files: Season 8 is a very impressive instalment of the nine year saga that this show spanned, with some of the best episodes of the series – including the time-bending Redrum, and the intense double-episode finale Essence and Existence. When a show is still delivering the unexpected all these years later, you have to give it some credit.

    Of course, with only one more season to go, and so much X-Files lore to catch up on by this point, this really was a labour of love for the fans. If you are just ducking your head in now to see what this show was all about, you are unlikely to get much out of it. But if you have never seen this show and were wondering why all the fuss, you really should go back to where all this started and take the journey all over again ...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio for this season of the series.

    The transfers of this show seem to have peaked, with Season 8 being about as good as Season 7, and sadly without showing any marked improvement (although, unlike Alias, I do not believe this was mastered for broadcast in Digital High Definition, so we are left with merely a film transfer here).

    Colours are generally well saturated, though I notice that they are not quite as rich as those from last season. Shadow detail is very nice, though, with solid glossy blacks and a well defined image for those night time shots done in extremely low light.

    There is an overall film graininess that is part of the look of the show, giving it a grittier feel. This graininess is noticeable but is not terribly distracting or intense. What was more irritating was the slightly unsteady steady cam work that sometimes gave the image a shaking effect that looked more like flicker. Most of the time this was very mild, but in places it was a little irritating.

    Regarding MPEG artefacts and film-to-video transfer faults, there was still some background moire and some very faint aliasing, but nothing too distracting. There was some slightly more noticeable aliasing on the medical tubing sticking out of Mulder in the episode DeadAlive, very similar to the type of aliasing that cropped up in Season 7 during the episode written and directed by Gillian Anderson, “all things”.

    As with pervious seasons, 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. The English subtitles followed the dialogue pretty much verbatim.

    The dual-layer pause is concealed in between the episodes, with two episodes per layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As with previous seasons of the X-Files, audio is available in English, French and Italian 2.0 Dolby Surround. After 24: Season 2 was put out with a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, I must confess I was quite disappointed that this season was not also given the audio remastering treatment – particularly with all the impressive visual f/x that came accompanied with some wicked sound, and the numerous gunshots and explosions that permeate these episodes, perhaps more than any other.

    Dialogue was always clean and easy to follow and I did not detect any audio sync problems which is a definite bonus as even shows on this kind of budget usually have some minor slip up that has to be dubbed over later.

    This is a pretty good Dolby Surround track, with good directional cues from that giant UFO that crops up from time to time and the various nasty creatures that are out to devour our intrepid FBI agents.

    I was a little disappointed with the range this time. Perhaps I am getting spoiled with all these masterful DTS remixes that the distributors have been doing lately, but the themes done by Mark Snow for this season were particularly good, especially the music from the opening two-parter and the middle double episode. Yet, the treatment of them here is far from exceptional, and I really wish that Fox Home entertainment had gone to just a little more effort on this one.

    Sadly, nothing in the way of subwoofer action, just some decent rumbling bass out of the left and right front speakers.

    As per usual, the non-English tracks lose some ambience as a result of the overdub process.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are 16x9 enhanced. They are static shots from episodes. The disc home menus have the theme playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

Cast Credits

    Every episode has a collection of stills (generally three) listing the principal cast details.

Audio Commentary by Frank Spotnitz - Alone (Disc 5)

    An interesting commentary track by director Spotnitz on why he chose to film this episode in this way and how he achieved various shots. Filled with various pieces of behind-the-scenes information.

Audio Commentary by Kim Manners - Existence (Disc 6)

    Manners delivers another good solid audio commentary noting various things from anecdotes to filming techniques to plot devices. Not many long pauses, and well worth a listen.

Documentary - “The Truth About Season 8” (24:13) (Disc 6)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. Another excellent season overview produced for DVD, focusing on the integration of Doggett and Reyes and the absence of Mulder and the sometimes absence of Scully from the season.

Character Profile - “Gibson Praise” (6:18) (Disc 6)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is a behind-the-scenes profile created for the video release of the three-part episode Requiem, Within and Without when it was edited together into a mini-movie. It takes a look at the character of Gibson Praise, played by Jeff Gulka.

Character Profile - “John Doggett” (6:24) (Disc 6)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is a behind-the-scenes profile created for the video release of the double episode This Is Not Happening and DeadAlive when it was edited together. It takes a look at Agent Doggett, played by Robert Patrick, his introduction to the show and his growth as a character through Season 8.

Character Profile - “Alex Krycek” (6:24) (Disc 6)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is a behind-the-scenes profile created for the video release of Existence in 2001. It examines the character of Alex Krycek (played by Nicholas Lea), from FBI agent to double-crossing and conspiring freelancer running his own personal agenda of survival.

Special Effects Sequences With Commentary by Paul Rabwin (Disc 6)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is a series of seven F/X clips from the following episodes:

    Each of these scenes is accompanied by commentary from F/X supervisor Paul Rabwin. These clips range from 3 mins to 90 second each, and Rabwin talks at a rapid pace throughout them, conveying some very interesting information about digital effects and make-up.

Deleted Scenes

    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio. There are 7 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 Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban 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 as it runs smoothly and gives you a better idea of what it was meant to be like.

    The commentary explaining why the scenes were removed is worth listening to.

Promo Spots (Disc 6)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. These are 42 promotional advertisements for the Fox Network, 2 for each of the episodes – one a 10 second teaser shot, the other a 20 second advertisement.

International Clips

    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 available from the episode main menu:

R4 vs R1

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 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. What is it with that?

    Otherwise, I would suggest that our image transfer is probably of a slightly better quality and so I would err on the side of PAL. Given those differences, though, this kinda figures out to an equal. If you must have the game, go for R1. Otherwise, stick with the local product.

Summary

    The X-Files: Season 8 kicks this show back into full swing with some very human episodes focusing very much on character development. With great production values, awesome writing and excellent acting, how can you go wrong?

    Video is about on par with Season 7 and overall I am quite pleased with it.

    This season really deserved a 5.1 Dolby Digital remastering and I feel that Fox Home Entertainment could have put a little more effort in on this one.

    The extras are quite comprehensive, though not quite as good as previous seasons.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
What's with the pixellation ? - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)