investigate the bizarre murder of Dr. Saul Grissom, who was a pioneer in treating sleep disorders. Dr. Saul Grissom's body was found in a locked room, with no signs of entry. The other unusual aspect of this murder is his body - it shows all the physiological symptoms of being burned, but his skin is undamaged (i.e. not burnt). Another strange death occurs. This time the victim appears to have been shot to death, but there are no bullets holes or punctures in the skin. Eventually, we learn that all the victims were a part of a secret military experiment to create a better soldier. This was done by eliminating their need to sleep. Eventually, we find out that Augustus Cole (another soldier who took part in the experiment) is killing anyone involved in the experiment by playing on each person's fear and inducing a telepathic hallucination that in the end causes their death. Cole's ability to project this hallucination is what makes this an X-File.
Episode #2x05 - Duane Berry (43:21 minutes) Duane Berry is an ex-FBI agent, who claims he is being abducted by aliens and experimented on. Of course, no one believes him and he has spent some time in a mental hospital as a consequence. Duane Berry escapes and takes three people hostage, saying that they (the aliens) are not going to take him again. Mulder is sent to negotiate with him and ends up as a hostage.
Episode #2x06 - Ascension (43:20 minutes) The continuation of episode 2x05. Duane Berry abducts Scully and intends to take her back to where he was first abducted, so the aliens will take her instead of him. Mulder desperately tries to track them down, but arrives too late, thanks to Alex Krycek, and only finds Duane Berry. When Mulder questions Duane about Scully's whereabouts, he says that the aliens have taken her. We also learn that a high-level, government sanctioned team (the Consortium) are assisting and helping the aliens with their experiments. In an effort to bring the men responsible for Scully's abduction to justice, Walter Skinner re-opens the X-Files.
Episode #2x07 - 3 (43:24 minutes) This episode is about Vampires.
Episode #2x08 - One Breath (43:22 minutes) Dana Scully is returned, but she is in a critical condition and is not expected to live. Here we meet Dana's mother and sister. Mulder is convinced that the Cigarette-Smoking Man is behind Scully's abduction and goes after him.
Episode #2x09 - Firewalker (43:22 minutes) Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate what happened to a team of Vulcanologists that were surveying Mount Avalon, after they see some video footage that clearly shows the body of one of the team members laying dead on the ground of the volcano. Next, a shadow appears on the ground near the body and then the camera is broken, indicating that someone or something is still down there. Through the course of this episode, we learn that most of the team members are still alive, but have been infected by a silicon-based life form, which gestates inside a human host before it bursts out of their neck, killing them and releasing parasitic spores. If a human inhales the parasitic spores at the time of release, then that person becomes infected and ultimately will die in the same manner.
Episode #2x10 - Red Museum (43:26 minutes) Children are disappearing only to turn up a day later, wandering around dazed and clothed only in their underwear, with the words "HE IS ONE" or "SHE IS ONE" written on their backs in black pen.
Episode #2x11 - Excelsius Dei (42:43 minutes) A nurse at the Excelsius Dei Convalescent Home claims to have been attacked by an invisible entity. When Mulder and Scully investigate they also find that the resident Doctor, John Grago has been able to reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease by the use of an experimental drug called Depranil. What Mulder and Scully discover is that it is not the Depranil that is helping reverse the affects of Alzheimer's disease at all, but a mysterious brown pill that is being given to the patients by an Asian hospital orderly.
Episode #2x12 - Aubrey (43:23 minutes) Detective B.J. Morrow mysteriously discovers the remains of an FBI agent who disappeared around 1940 while he was investigating a serial murder case in which all the victims were found with the word SISTER inscribed on their chest. Mulder and Scully question Detective Morrow to find out how she came to discover the body. She claims to have seen a dog digging and went to investigate. After further questioning, several large holes start appearing in Detective Morrow's story, which leads Mulder and Scully to believe that Detective Morrow is lying.
Episode #2x13 - Irresistible (43:24 minutes) Mulder believes the recent desecration of a grave in Minneapolis, Minnesota, may be the result of aliens, but he soon realizes that it is the work of an escalating death fetishist, i.e. a necrophiliac. Scully is severely disturbed by the mutilation of the female bodies, with their hair being cut away and their fingernails pulled out and she starts have demonic nightmares about being a victim of the murderer.
Episode #2x14 - Die Hand Die Verletzt (43:24 minutes) Die Hand Die Verletzt deals with black magic and the worship of the devil. The episode opens with two teenage boys taking two teenage girls out to a witches' alter in the nearby forest. There, they intended to recite some words to scare the girls into their arms in a plan to get some action, but the plan backfires as the words summon an evil force which kills one of the teenagers.
Episode #2x15 - Fresh Bones (43:23 minutes) Fresh Bones deals with voodoo. Mulder and Scully investigate the deaths of two marines stationed at Folkstone refugee processing center.
Episode #2x16 - Colony (43:03 minutes) This episode opens with Mulder being wheeled in on a stretcher, suffering from hypothermia and with a red swelling around his eyes. The attending doctors quickly put him in a warm bath to raise his temperature, but Scully bursts in and demands that they take him out immediately as the cold is the only thing keeping him alive. The doctors don't believe her, but after a few minutes in the warm water, Mulder goes into arrest and looks like he is going to die. This is the first episode where the Alien Bounty Hunter (AKA: Flicky-Flicky man) appears and Mulder's sister (or at least an alien replica thereof) returns. We learn that a team of alien scientists, who bleed green blood which is toxic to humans, are trying to create an alien/human hybrid species. This project is unsanctioned and the alien bounty hunter has been sent in to kill all those involved.
Episode #2x17 - End Game (44:05 minutes) The conclusion to the Colony episode.
Episode #2x18 - Fearful Symmetry (42:44 minutes) Fearful Symmetry deals with the alien abduction of animals from the Fairfield zoo. It opens with an unseen force breaking windows and smashing cars. On the other side of town, an elephant materializes out of thin air and is later found lying exhausted in the middle of the road, where it dies. Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate this paranormal event.
Episode #2x19 - DOD Kalm (43:22 minutes) Mulder and Scully go to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Ardent. The crew of the U.S.S. Ardent were found floating in a life boat, of which only one man survived - lieutenant Richard Harper. Despite only being 28 years old he looks like he is 90. The U.S.S. Ardent reappears and Mulder and Scully go out to the ship to investigate, but when their boat is hijacked by pirates they are left stranded on the U.S.S. Ardent and start rapidly ageing, just as its crew had.
Episode #2x20 - Humbug (43:22 minutes) Mulder and Scully go to Gibsonton, Florida to investigate a series of murders that have occurred over a twenty-eight year period. Here Mulder and Scully come across a lot of strange people who have various physical deformities. Most of the town's residents work or have worked in circus sideshows as freaks, which all makes for a very strange and entertaining episode. This is the episode where Scully eats a cricket.
Episode #2x21 - The Calisari (42:46 minutes) Mulder and Scully investigate what the authorities saw as the tragic but accidental death of a two-year-old child, who was run over at an amusement park by a miniature train. Mulder has another theory, however. He believes that the two-year-old had been lured onto the tracks by some kind of spirit or entity.
Episode #2x22 - F. Emasculata (43:23 minutes) A field researcher comes across a lovely new disease that causes big purulent legions to appear on the skin of the infected animal or human. These eventually erupt, spraying the disease onto anyone who is unfortunate enough to be near the infected person or animal at the time, thus infecting them. Next we find Mulder and Scully being asked to help the U.S. Marshals capture two escaped prisoners. When they arrive at the prison for a briefing, things are far from normal, as a quarantine facility has also been set up. Scully stays at the prison to gather more data on the contagion, while Mulder goes with the U.S. Marshals to track down the escapees, who might be infected with this deadly disease.
Episode #2x23 - Soft Light (42:42 minutes) Mulder and Scully help out Detective Kelly Ryan, on her first case, which involves several missing persons. The only clue is a scorch mark on the floor at each scene. Mulder initially believes that this is the result of the missing people spontaneously combusting, but it is later revealed that Chester Ray Banton, a scientist who was studying dark matter, had been involved in an accident while conducting an experiment and his shadow had become something like a black hole, which unzips molecules and reduces anyone who comes in contact with it to nothing.
Episode #2x24 - Our Town (42:28 minutes) Our Town deals with cannibalism. Several of the residents of Dudley, Arkansas are in the habit of boiling up and eating outsiders that drift into their area, in the belief that it keeps them from ageing. In an effort to stop the truth coming out, Mulder and Scully are targeted to become the next meal.
Episode #2x25 - Anasazi (43:26 minutes) An anarchist that goes by the nickname of 'The Thinker' manages to hack into and copy the top secret defence department's files on extraterrestrial life. Fearing he will be captured, he hands over the data to Mulder, so the truth can finally be known and told to everyone. We learn that Mulder's father has had some part in the alien cover-up conspiracy, but before he can explain what his role was to Fox Mulder, he is killed by Alex Krycek. Dana tracks down a WWII cryptographer named Albert Hosteen, who can decipher the encrypted data and takes Mulder there. Albert's son takes Mulder to an old buried railway boxcar that that had been unearthed in a recent earthquake out in the Mexican Desert. Here Mulder finds what appear to be alien corpses. While he is down in the boxcar, the Cigarette-Smoking Man turns up. He searches the box car for Mulder (we presume he is hiding in there somewhere) but does not find him. The Cigarette-Smoking Man then orders the car to be destroyed and a fire-bomb is dropped onto the boxcar. We are left wondering whether Mulder has perished, or if he has managed to survive somehow...
Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.
As with the first season episodes, the picture has its problems, but I doubt you will have ever seen these X-Files episodes looking so good. The picture detail is much better than the first season and the vertical banding has almost been totally eliminated, but because of the increased clarity, the interlacing artefacts have become much more noticeable and distracting. Having said all that, the picture shortcomings are much less noticeable on a more reasonably sized screen, i.e. on a small-screen TV. If you are lucky enough to have a progressive scan set-up then you are in luck, because the interlacing artefacts are totally eliminated, which improves the picture quality greatly.
All the episodes are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. They are not 16x9 enhanced.
The foreground sharpness and detail is very good for all episodes. On the other hand, the background detail is definitely on the soft side, but isn't overly wanting on most episodes. There is the odd scene or three that is generally soft, but these are rare. Examples of this can be found in Soft Light (23:25) and Anastazi (13:55). Shadow detail is very limited, with most episodes having little-to-no shadow detail, which was probably a deliberate cinematic choice, rather than a transfer induced fault. Also, a large number of the episodes are very dark, so to get the most out of what little picture detail is there, I would recommend you watch them in a room where you can control any ambient light.
Thankfully, the vertical banding which was so severe in many of the Season 1 episodes is all but gone, with only a few minor instances noticed. The exception to this is the signature X-File title sequence at the start of each episode, which gives us a really good reminder of just how bad it was in some of the Season 1 episodes. The most noticeable instances of vertical banding can be found in Little Green Men at 11:10 and 35:33, Blood, 3, Firewalker, Irresistible, The Calusari at 3:50 and Our Town at 0:33 - 2:45. While we are talking about the X-Files title sequence, I'd like to point out that the master must have been damaged at some stage because there is some damage apparent on the bottom of it at the start of every episode.
Some minor edge enhancement has been used on almost all of the episodes, but generally it does not disrupt the picture overly. A couple of the more noticeable examples of edge enhancement can be found in Little Green Men at 6:17, Sleepless, and Anastazi at 24:40. Two instances of low-level noise were noticed, but they are very minor and are barely noticeable.
The colour is very well-saturated and natural-looking throughout, with only a couple of scenes looking very washed-out. Anastazi has the dubious honour of having the worst two instances of poor colour for the entire season, at 13:55 and 34:40. The third worst instance is in Soft Light at 23:25. Three minor instances of colour bleeding were noticed; Excelsius Dei -5:25, Die Hand Die Verletzt - 25:21 and F. Emasculata - 17:27.
Grain and pixelization is another area of this transfer that could have done with some more improvement, but it is generally confined to the background and isn't too distracting in most cases. Some of the stronger and more distracting instances of grain can be found in Firewalker (37:38), Colony (42:14), DOD Kalm (17:50), Calusari (7:50), Soft Light (23:25) and Our Town (34:38).
There is literally a smorgasbord of MPEG artefacts present which range from severe to trivial, but most of which falls into the trivial or minor categories. The worst MPEG artefact is in the Firewalker episode, at 1:57, where the entire picture turns into large blocks for one frame. Some other minor macro-blocking was also noticed in Firewalker (42:11) and Red Museum (40:22). A similar MPEG artefact problem occurs in One Breath, where the fine picture detail is filled in over two frames at one point. One of the more frequent MPEG artefacts was where a small portion of an object seems to strobe, which gets really annoying really quickly. A couple of the more noticeable examples of this can be found in Red Museum (21:28) and Colony (18:43). And, if all that wasn't enough, there are also several instances where the detail on an object totally disappears and then reappears when the picture is panning, a very ugly artefact, such as in Firewalker (20:38), Calusari (28:52) and Anastazi (13:25). Lastly, there are some minor instances of posterization. The most noticeable examples of this can be found in The Host (28:09), Ascension (26:59), 3, One Breath (24:37), Aubrey (2:50), Fresh Bones (35:35), and End Game (31:51 and 38:08).
Aliasing and moiré artefacts are reasonably rare and in most cases are minor. Examples are in; Sleepless (29:40 - 29:45), Aubrey (27:48), Irresistible (20:05 and 24:27), Fresh Bones (7:42), and Fearful Symmetry (16:55).
Now we come to where this transfer loses most of its sparkle; interlacing artefacts. They are much more noticeable this time around, probably due to the greater detail and sharpness of the picture when compared with the Season 1 episodes. On many occasions, these interlacing artefacts became extremely distracting and very off-putting. Here is a list of just some of the more noticeable instances; Little Green Men - 4:40, Blood - 36:30, Sleepless - 7:37, 3 - 10:19 and 32:16, Red Museum - 15:04 and 17:40, Excelsius Dei - 21:12, Aubray - 5:32, Die Hand Die Vertetzt - 7:51 and 24:52, Fresh Bones - 7:42 and 27:45, Colony - 7:55, Fearful Symmetry - 42:00, DOD Kalm - 36:47, Humbug - 24:31 (really bad) and finally The Calusari - 23:22 - 23:40 (also really bad). The great news is that if you have a progressive scan setup these artefacts are totally eliminated.
Phew...I think we all need a break before I continue on…
Each episode has only a light sprinkling of small film artefacts, so there isn't anything to complain about in that regard.
The X-Files Season Two is presented on seven Dual Layer discs, with the layer break presumably separating episodes as no layer change is ever apparent during an episode.
Video Ratings Summary
There are three audio tracks on each disc; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (192Kb/s ) and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to the default English soundtrack with my audio decoder set to THX surround mode and there is some good surround channel use, so I would recommend that you listen to all episodes with surround sound decoding engaged.
Dialogue is clear and extremely easy to understand throughout all episodes.
The music score is by Mark Snow.
The sound is predominantly front-oriented, but the surround channels do get a very good work-out during the more dramatic or action-oriented sequences, where they totally envelop you.
The subwoofer generally gets a light work-out, with some good use during the more dramatic sequences. The best episode for subwoofer use is Red Museum.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
Overall, there is a pretty good selection of extras present.
Menu All the discs' menus are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with the episode discs having a lead-in video clip with 192kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, plus further animation before each episode starts. The Main Menu selections are the names of the episodes on the disc plus Special Features if there are any on that particular disc.
Each of the episode menus have at least three selections; Play Episode, Chapter Selection, and Language Selection. If there are any extras for that episode it will also have a Special Features option.
Featurette - Documentary: The Truth About Season Two (14:00 minutes) The overall picture quality is good. Audio is a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. This documentary is made up of interviews with most of the cast and crew. Content-wise, this documentary is reasonably interesting.
Featurette - Chris Carter Talks About Season Two (26:19 minutes) The overall picture quality is good. Audio is a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This section is broken up into twelve parts, being; Little Green Men (1:47), The Host (2:58), Sleepless (2:18), Duane Berry (2:16), Ascension (1:53), One Breath (3:00), Irresistible (2:11), Die Hand Die Verletzt (1:43), Colony (2:00), End Game (2:21), Humbug (2:06) and Anastazi (1:46). Content-wise this featurette is pretty interesting.
Featurette - "Behind the Truth" (9:09 minutes) The overall picture quality is reasonable. Audio is again a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This section is made up of nine sections, each section being 1:01 minutes in length. There are interviews with, Brian Thompson (The Alien Bounty Hunter), Tom Braidwood (Frohike/1st A.D.), Steve Railsback (Duane Berry), Darin Morgan (Fluke-man), William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man), James Wong & Glen Morgan (Producer/Writers), Steven Williams (X), Anji Bemben (Hair Stylist) and Frank Spotnitz (Producer/Writer). Content-wise, this featurette is also interesting.
Behind-The-Scenes Clip from Disc 5: End Game (0:39 minutes) Shows how the submarine conning tower was created, with commentary by Chris Carter. The picture quality of this clip is average. This behind-the-scenes clip can only be played during the episode, which I found annoying. Thankfully this behind-the-scenes clip also appears on Disc 7 in the Special Features section.
Behind-The-Scenes Clip from Disc 5: Humbug (1:05 minutes) Shows Gillian Anderson actually eating a cricket. The picture quality of this clip is good. As with all the other behind-the-scenes clips, you can only play it during the episode. Again thankfully, this behind-the-scenes clip also appears on Disc 7 in the Special Features section.
Behind-The-Scenes Clip from Disc 7: Anastazi (0:33 minutes) Shows the transformation of a Vancouver rock quarry into the New Mexican desert, with commentary by Chris Carter. The picture quality of this clip is OK. As with all the other behind-the-scenes clips you can only play it during the episode, and it also appears on Disc 7 in the Special Features section.
Deleted Scene from Disc 1: Sleepless (1:19 minutes) Shows the original meeting of Mulder and X who was originally played by Natalija Nogulich, with commentary by producer Paul Rabwin. The picture quality of this clip is good. As with all the other deleted scenes the only way to play the clip is during the episode. This deleted scene also appears on Disc 7 under the Special Features, Deleted Scenes section.
Deleted Scene from Disc 2: 3 (0:31 minutes) Shows Kristen Kilar talking to a fireman (played by Brad Loree). The picture quality of this clip is good. As with all the other deleted scenes the only way to play the clip is during the episode. This deleted scene also appears on Disc 7 under the Special Features, Deleted Scenes section.
Deleted Scene from Disc 5: Humbug (1:09 minutes) Shows Scully and Mulder being served by a hermaphrodite waitress (played by Denis Simpson). The picture quality of this clip is good. As with all the other deleted scenes the only way to play the clip is during the episode. This deleted scene also appears on Disc 7 under the Special Features, Deleted Scenes section.
Deleted Scene from Disc 7: Anastazi (0:41 minutes) Shows the capture of The Thinker. The picture quality of this clip is good. As with all the other deleted scenes the only way to play the clip is during the episode. This deleted scene also appears on Disc 7 under the Special Features, Deleted Scenes section.
International Clips (15) Scenes from Duane Berry, Irresistible, Humbug and Anasazi, presented with alternate languages. The picture quality is equal to the footage of the episode they were taken from. These are accessed from the Special Features menu on the disc that the episode appears on. Note: The International clips from Duane Berry, Irresistible and Humbug are not duplicated on Disc 7.
Disc 2: Duane Berry (4) - Japanese (1:27), German (1:22), Spanish (0:39) and Italian (1:09).
Disc 3: Irresistible (4) - Japanese (1:13), German (0:52), Spanish (0:55) and Italian (1:04).
Disc 5: Humbug (4) - Japanese (1:14), German (1:21), Spanish (0:54) and Italian (0:55).
Disc 7: Anasazi (3)- Japanese (1:03), German (1:09) and Spanish (1:09).
Personally I would have preferred to see the Australian ad for next week's episode, instead of these clips.
Television Spots (49 – 12:30 minutes) The picture quality is equal to the footage of the episode they are taken from. Audio is a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. There are basically two TV spots for each episode, a 10 second and a 20 second TV spot. The only exception to this is the Anastazi episode, which only has one 20 second TV spot. Note: These are the American TV Spots.
Booklet The booklet's 24 pages are beautifully presented. It contains a chapter list, the name of the writer and director for each episode in this box set, and also a list of all the episodes in the X-Files series up to the end of Season 7.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
- 4 International clips from One Breath
- DVD-ROM Game
It appears that the second season of the X-Files was recorded on film, as the NTSC episodes are around 48 minutes in length, whereas ours are around 43 minutes. From this it can be deduced that the interlacing artefacts have not been induced by an NTSC to PAL conversion. This conclusion is further supported by the fact that the interlacing artefacts disappear when played on a Progressive Scan setup. So, it becomes an easy choice-R4.
- Additional Italian 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack
- Additional Dutch, French, Greek and Italian subtitles
There are some great X-Files episodes in Season 2.
As with the first season episodes, the picture has its problems, but I doubt you will have ever seen these X-Files episodes looking so good. The picture detail and clarity is much better than the Season 1 episodes, but we pay a heavy price for this, as the interlacing artefacts are very noticeable and distracting at times when the picture is projected onto a big screen. Overall, I must say the picture quality is just acceptable for an Interlaced Projector setup, good for normal TV viewing and best on a progressive scan set-up.
The Audio quality is good and I recommend you listen to the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack in surround mode, as there is some good surround channel use.
There is a pretty good selection of extras present.
© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Sunday, April 08, 2001
|DVD||Sony DVP-725, using Component output|
|Display||Sony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm).
Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
Calibrated with Video Essentials.
|Speakers||Fronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)|
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