The X Files-Season 4 Box Set (1996)

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Released 24-Apr-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes-Unruhe; Home; The Field Where I Died; Tunguska; Paper Hearts
Deleted Scenes-Memento Mori; Max
Alternate Audio-Home
Featurette-International Clips:Home;Tunguska;Paper Hearts;Memento Mori
Featurette-International Clips: Tempus Fugit; Gethsemane
Audio Commentary-Memento Mori; Small Potatoes
Featurette-The Truth About Season 4
Interviews-Crew-5
Featurette-FX Behind The Truth Spots (13)
TV Spots-48
Featurette-Special Effects with commentary by Paul Rabwin (8)
Deleted Scenes-with Commentary by Chris Carter (10)
Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 1153:56
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (7)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Mitch Pileggi
William B. Davis
Case Gatefold
RPI $189.95 Music Mark Snow


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch
English
French
Greek
Italian
French Titling
Italian Titling
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Legions of X-Philes have said that Season 4 contained the best quality episodes ever to be written by Chris Carter and his many associate writers. Personally, I would have to agree, especially when you go back through the episodes and come across such personal favourites as "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man", "Synchrony" and "Teliko" to name but a few. The first of these examples would have to be the best insight into the Cigarette-Smoking Man that you will ever see, and it was interesting to again see what makes this guy tick.

    As an aside, some of the discs in this set do not display the episodes in the order in which they were originally created, but at least the two part episodes have been placed back-to-back for easy viewing. In order to clarify the correct sequence, I have listed the episodes below in the order in which they are shown on the DVD menu for each disc. The actual episode number is then shown against each as #4x and then the original sequence number. Any Episodes that contain Special or Extra Features have also been marked with an asterisk (*).

    There is a Special Feature included with this box set called FX Behind The Scenes which explains the significance of the show's starting tag lines. Because of this, I have also added each episode's tagline so that you can quickly recap them all after watching this particular feature.

    For an in-depth look at the Episodes to date, please read any of the previous box set reviews for Season One, Two or Three.

Disc 1

Episode #4x01 - Herrenvolk (42:08) "Everything Dies"
Part 2 of 2 (continued from 3rd Series)

    To Recap from Part 1 . . .a man opens fire in a fast food restaurant and ends up shooting several of the diners. But, when the local police and paramedics arrive there is no one to be treated. In fact, the bullet holes have been completely healed. The agents are called to help search for a man who seems to possess some strange and enlightening powers. They inadvertently end up uncovering a dangerous secret from Mulder's past that could bring the two to the edge of exposing the truth about the existence of aliens.

    This Episode . . . The agents have finally found Jeremiah Smith, whom Mulder convinces to help heal his sick mother. Unfortunately, an alien mercenary has been sent to kill Jeremiah and is able to track the trio down. Jeremiah escapes before being able to offer any assistance or shed any light on Mrs Mulder's illness.

Episode #4x03 - Home* (42:23) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Home is an episode that any non X-Phile would find positively disturbing. In fact, the U.S. Censors also had a problem with the show and asked for some modifications to be made before they would allow it to be aired. The episode on this disc is the uncensored version and shows the birth and live burial of a baby all within the first few minutes of the episode. The prime concern the censors had was the audio of a baby's screams being played as shovel loads of dirt were placed over its body - the aired version featured a "dead" baby burial. As for the story, the agents investigate the finding of the deformed baby in a field next to the home of the local inbred Peacock family.

Episode #4x04 - Teleiko (41:52) "Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate"

    Skinner calls Agent Scully in to assist the Philadelphia office of the CDC (Centres for Disease Control) after they believe that a disease might be responsible for the deaths of 4 African-American males. In each case, the victim's complete lack of pigmentation causes Mulder to believe there is something more sinister at work than a pathogen.

Episode #4x02 - Unruhe (43:22) "The Truth Is Out There"

    The title is German for "unrest", and you certainly won't get any rest when watching this episode. Scully & Mulder investigate the possible link between several Polaroid photographs and a psychotic killer they are chasing. The images in the photographs fascinate Mulder who believes they are an example of "psychic photography" where you create images on film with the mind. Scully however, rattles off numerous examples of how nature or poor film handling are to blame.

Disc 2

Episode #4x05 - The Field Where I Died* (45:06) "The Truth Is Out There"

    A truly magic episode which explores reincarnation. Not since the movie Patton has the subject been explored so well. What starts out as a federal investigation into a religious cult ends up sending Mulder into an exploration of his past lives and pulls him towards a field which he feels he has seen many years ago.

Episode #4x06 - Sanguinarium (42:23) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Helpful hint: avoid this episode if you are going to have an operation in the next few weeks. The doctors under investigation in this episode perform some frightening acts on their victims...err...I mean patients. The agents investigate a hospital which has had more than the average number of mysterious deaths. Agent Mulder believes that the deaths are in fact due to human sacrifice and not that of any particular doctors having a breakdown due to stress or mental ailments.

Episode #4x07 - Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man (42:54) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Not much is known about the main character focused on in this episode. Sure we know he is part of a secret organisation, gave operational orders to J. Edgar Hoover and is not known to any of the nation's Presidents, but we need to know more. Frohike explains to Agents Mulder and Scully all of the events in The Cigarette-Smoking Man's (who Mulder affectionately refers to as the Cancer man) past that when pieced together could ultimately explain the man's actions, beliefs and past pain. The episode jumps back to explain the events that lead to the Cigarette-Smoking Man smoking his first cigarette. It was due to his direct involvement in the JFK assassination, which I believe would make anyone take up the habit. As we return back to the present, the Cigarette Man is listening in via an electronic listening device mounted on a rifle, which is exactly how he started his illustrious career.

    Chris Owens plays a magnificent part as the young Cigarette-Smoking Man. I do wonder about one thing, though. William B. Davis, who plays the Cigarette-Smoking Man is actually a reformed smoker and uses herbal cigarettes on set, but what did Chris Owens think about sucking on packet after packet in the role?

Episode #4x09 - Tunguska* (42:56) "The Truth Is Out There"
Part 1 of 2

    This episode sees a return to a plot which is my personal favourite, involving the Black Oil and Alex Krycek. Mulder traces a four-billion-year-old rock back to Tunguska in Siberia and heads out to investigate its possible origin, using Krycek to make it happen. Scully takes on the Senate and risks being in contempt for refusing to reveal Mulder's whereabouts before the subcommittee.

Disc 3

Episode #4x10 - Terma (42:25) "E PUR SI MUOVE"
Part 2 of 2

    Mulder is now captive in Tunguska and has found out the hard way that Krycek was part of the deception that had him captured. A fellow prisoner uses a line from the Borg in Star Trek and explains that "Resistance is futile" and everyone is injected with the black stuff. Mulder needs to find a way out before he, too, is infected.

Episode #4x08 - Paper Hearts* (42:53) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Mulder keeps experiencing dreams so real he could almost swear he is awake. The nightly images lead him directly to the skeleton remains of a little girl. These images also start him thinking more about what really happened to his little sister. The evidence at the scene lead him to believe that this is in fact the exact M. O. of the serial killer John Roche whom Mulder profiled many years earlier. The team soon realise that this may not be an isolated case but actually part of a series of murders.

Episode #4x11 - El Mundo Gira (42:52) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Mulder and Scully investigate the death of a woman and her goat due to what Mulder explains as "Fortean events". A local explains that Maria's death was caused by El Chupacabra, a.k.a. The Goatsucker. Scully, however, explores the fungal growth on the victim and believes yet again that she knows more than Mulder. ;-)

Episode #4x14 - Leonard Betts (42:33) "The Truth Is Out There"

    When the headless body of Leonard Betts goes missing from a hospital morgue, Scully thinks that it has been stolen and sold for spare parts. After further investigation, Mulder believes that Betts possesses regenerative powers so great that he could possibly grow replacement parts for his body. He then sets out to prove his theory.

Disc 4

Episode #4x13 - Never Again (42:54) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Mulder heads off on holiday. It's not that he wants to, but if he doesn't he will be docked a few weeks pay which is a nice incentive. Scully investigates one of Mulder's unfinished cases and in doing so meets a handsome guy called Ed. The two hit it off pretty well and end up going out on a date. After a while, Scully learns that Ed has a violent and unbalanced streak and his mood seems to be controlled by his Betty Page style tattoo.

Episode #4x15 - Memento Mori* (42:54) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Scully is diagnosed with cancer located in her skull. After her medical tests have been completed, she sets out to meet a group of women who have all removed the implants in their necks that were similar to her own. In doing so, they too had succumbed to a form of cancer.

Episode #4x12 - Kaddish (42:54) "The Truth Is Out There"

    The two agents investigate the death of a Jewish man called Isaac Luria who was killed in what appears to be a racially motivated attack. As the suspects are killed off, Mulder believes that a monster known as a Golem in Jewish folk law is responsible for the revenge attacks.

Episode #4x16 - Unrequited (40:56) "The Truth Is Out There"

    The military's top soldiers are being killed one by one and the agents need to track down the killer. They end up focusing on a soldier captured as a Vietnam POW who appears to possess the power to disappear at will. All of the victims are linked to the suspect because they signed his death certificate all those years earlier and left him for dead and it now appears that he is after revenge.

Disc 5

Episode #4x17 - Tempus Fugit* (42:56) "The Truth Is Out There"
Part 1 of 2

    Mulder and Scully are approached in a local bar by the sister of Max Fenig (Scott Bellis), a known "repeater" or multiple alien-abduction victim. His sister informs them that Max was on his way to present the agents with some important information but his plane crashed 2 hours ago. He also said that if anything should happen to him that she should contact the agent directly and they will know what to do. Mulder and Scully head off to investigate the crash of airliner Flight 549 and the unusual circumstances that surround it. Mulder believes that the evidence shows the flight was actually forced down by a third party and the crash was not due to any mechanical or pilot errors. When Mulder mentions aliens, he appears to lose all credibility with the accident investigation team.

Episode #4x18 - Max* (42:19) "The Truth Is Out There"
Part 2 of 2

    . . . the investigation continues from Part 1. Agent Mulder is placed under military arrest after he finds proof of a UFO crash site. Was this the information that Max was trying to get to Mulder and Scully or is there something more?

Episode #4x19 - Synchrony (41:54) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Mulder and Scully investigate what appears to be a simple case of murder when one university researcher pushes a colleague in front of a bus. As always, Mulder sniffs out further evidence that cannot simply be explained by an act of greed or revenge. When the researcher's possible alibi is found frozen to death, the agents have to broaden the scope of their investigation.

Episode #4x20 - Small Potatoes* (42:57) "The Truth Is Out There"

    This episode carries a warning to expectant mothers and fathers. When another baby is born with a vestigial tail, the agents investigate the possible cause of such an abnormality. Using her medical background, Scully explains the anomaly by telling Mulder that all foetuses have them and it is nothing more than the coccyx expanding to contain spinal fluid which will shrink and disappear as the child develops. You, Mulder and I all know that there has got to be something more to this particular case that cannot be explained away by modern science.

Disc 6

Episode #4x21 - Zero Sum (42:54) "The Truth Is Out There"

    In this particular episode, we see a return to the beloved experimental bees that were featured prominently in Herrenvolk. This time they have escaped from a parcel and killed a US Postal employee. The group needs to cover up the death and either destroy or recapture all the bees. The group uses one of Mulder's close acquaintances to accomplish the task. The question is - who is it that will betray Mulder and possible Scully?

Episode #4x22 - Elegy (42:52) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Mulder and Scully suspect a mentally ill man who is also suffering from a compulsive disorder is responsible for the deaths of several girls. Mulder believes that each girl is using their spirit force to make contact with the living. Each victim is trying to pass on the truth about their killer, and if the agents can discover what messages they are being sent, they will be able to prevent further deaths.

Episode #4x23 - Demons (42:56) "The Truth Is Out There"

    Mulder ends up being the prime suspect in a double homicide after he wakes up from a dream covered in sweat and blood. He contacts Scully to help him find out what happened and ends up being arrested after the police find two bodies. It is now up to Scully and forensics to clear Mulder. All the while, Mulder keeps having flashbacks and visions which involve the Cigarette-Smoking Man's involvement with the Mulder family.

Episode #4x24 - Gethsemane* (42:58) "Believe The Lie"

    Scully appears before a group of FBI officials to report on the illegitimacies of Mulder's work. In a flashback, Mulder may finally find out the truth when an anthropologist finds what appears to be the remains of a 200 year old alien life form frozen in solid ice on a Canadian mountain summit. Mulder needs to get this evidence to someone that can help prove his theories.

    In true X-Files fashion we end this particular episode with a cliff hanger, and no answers until next season . . .

    TO BE CONTINUED . . .

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall the video quality across all seven disc is quite good and is almost identical quality-wise to that of the Season Three Box Set.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness and detail presented is very good across the episodes. The level of grain is relatively uniform across all episodes and is comparable with what was aired on television with no additional processing being applied to clean up the images. The episodes all contain both good and bad points, and usually the best and worst of a particular artefact can be found all within the same episode. This would lead me to speculate that some artefacts are being introduced by too much compression being applied in some instances.

    Sanguinarium has a good example of a clear image when dust particles float around the room at 5:58 - you can see them up close and in perfect detail. Shadow detail was the most variable quality-wise, much the same as it was for Season Three. The episode Zero Sum contains very dark scenes which are too dark unless you are viewing them in a room where you can control all aspects of the background light. Conversely, in cases such as The Field Where I Died at 22:55 or the best example, Teliko, from 25:35, you will find perfect deep blacks with no grain at all during the scenes, making them a pleasure to watch.

    The level of detail provided in the background of most shots is usually less than that in the foreground, but this is in line with the original presentation and not due to any problems caused by the transfer process. The low level noise almost goes hand in hand with the shadow detail at times, but additional areas of low level noise are at;

    The colours were no better nor worse than what you get if you currently watch the episodes on free-to-air TV. In contrast to Season Three, there are no particularly bright or vibrant sections that made any special impressions on me.

    MPEG artefacts are kept to a minimum and with the exception of Zero Sum at 8:31 they are not at all distracting. In this particular case, a car entering from the left of camera starts shimmering or jerking as moves into the field of view. I could not determine if it was due to lighting or another ailment due to the dimly-lit shot. Aliasing is also very rare and very mild when it does occur. Film artefacts, too, are a rarity with no particular attention-grabbers across the discs with the exception of Terma which contains what appears to be a commercial break marker with a long section of black at 12:50. There was no layer change at this point, so that does not explain it, either.

    The English subtitles are close to the spoken word but on occasion did not display the exact spoken dialogue. In Tempus Fugit, the subtitles continually used the spelling Max Fennig when in fact the correct spelling is Fenig.

    The first six discs, which contain all the episodes, have no visible layer change although they are all dual layered discs. It would seem that the layers separate episodes.

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

Audio

    Overall, there is a nice balance provided by the audio and it always manages to add to the appeal or "feel" of the storyline.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand in all episodes. Audio sync was a problem from 23:43 for a few seconds in Herrenvolk, but this was an isolated case.

    The X-Files music by Mark Snow is always a pleasure to listen to. It never fails to provide the necessary eeriness for each episode that I so much enjoy. The volume levels did not drown out the dialogue at any point during any episode.

    The surround channels get a surprising work-out, even if it is only in a Surround Encoded capacity. Personally, I don't think the episode would benefit from a 5.0 track. However, the front soundstage receives the largest attention from directional effects and rightly so. Some good examples can be found in every episode and the best were in the episodes containing bees. You just could not help but look around the room, just to make sure...

    The subwoofer was not specifically used.

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

Extras

    There is a massive amount of material provided in the extras. The ability in this set to actually incorporate the deleted scenes into the actual episode and watch it as a whole was far more pleasurable than simply paging through a group of deleted scenes at the end of a feature. I should mention that you can also watch them separately to the episode if you wish.

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the show and is presented in a screen ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 non surround-encoded audio. The copyright warnings shown in multiple languages both before the menu appears and again after each episode are way over the top and became very distracting before I had even finished watching the first disc. I respect the studio's right to place a warning at some stage on the disc but this set of discs goes above and beyond what should be tolerated.

    Each disc shows the four episodes that it contains on the main menu. Once you have selected a particular episode you are presented with additional choices. These always include Play Episode, Chapter Selection and Language Selection but they will optionally include a Cast Credits menu or a Special Features choice which branches down to another menu level. From the Special Features menu you can choose to turn on or off a deleted scene, or see any other content that may be included.

Documentary: The Truth About Season Four

    This feature lasts for 23:55 minutes and offers an in-depth look at how this season was put together. This is a a candid and laid-back chat with Chris Carter. Covered are topics such as how scripts came about or evolved. Candid chats with the script writers, actors and the show's various directors are also included.

    One topic of personal interest to me was to see how the bees were handled in the various episodes. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as trained bees, so the directors had to use a mixture of live and CG ones to accomplish the required shots.

Chris Carter Talks About Season Three

    These features last for around 2 minutes each and provide a nice insight into how Chris Carter came up with a particular idea for each episode. While the 2 minutes is a little short, he does cover some interesting topics during this time and every episode is covered.

Interview Clips

    Like the title says, these clips usually lasting for around two minutes each, delve ever deeper into the show, characters and storyline for some select episodes and are well worth a look.

FX Behind The Truth Spots

    Small snippets that have been shown on the Fox FX channel in the US. In particular, the Wardrobe and Tags spots were of interest as they are typically topics that are brushed over.

Television Spots

    The promotional spots cover all 24 episodes and are broken down into 10 and 20 second spots. These are the actual clips that were first aired on the Fox channel as teaser trailers.

Special Effects with Commentary by Paul Rabwin

    The Special Effects section was a personal favourite of mine from the last box set (Season Three). This is just as interesting and adds real value to the whole Special Features section.

    The show's visual effects producer discusses some of the technical problems and wonderful effects that he was called upon to do over the course of the season. They are all worth viewing and provide a nice insight into what length the effects go to for most episodes. The episodes Paul covers are;

Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Chris Carter

    Who else but Chris could provide such valuable behind-the-scenes meaning to the scenes in each of the following episodes. It's a pity he was not able to do the final 3 deleted scenes as well.

Deleted Scenes without Commentary

International Clips

    Each of the International clips are contained on the individual discs and not repeated on the Special Features disc.

Booklet

    The included booklet was well laid out and a nice inclusion to the set. It also helps you easily identify and navigate through the various discs and features, so keep it handy as your Season 4 X-File Guide.

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;     The 3 uncommented deleted scenes are actually on another menu selection to the 6 commented scenes. I have a feeling that the US sites which reviewed this box set have missed this fact rather that this feature being missing altogether from the Region 1 set. Both versions are equally good, and there is no compelling reason to prefer one over the other.

Summary

    As I have already mentioned, Seasons 3 and 4 of The X-Files contained some of the best episodes that have been aired in Australia.

    The video quality did have its blemishes but there were also some fine examples to see as well. It is no better nor worse that you will see on free-to-air broadcast. Either way, this is a marked improvement transfer-wise over the previous Season's set and a step in the right direction.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track suits the X-Files style and no real gain would be made by moving toward a 5.0 track. Again, there were some blemishes in the audio but nothing that turned me off or detracted from the viewing pleasure.

    The extras are certainly full of quality as well as quantity. The ability to include the deleted scenes into the episode was a nice touch and one that I used every time. It is actually interesting to see why they were cut, and in most cases I would have to agree with Chris as to their deletion.

    A word in closing on the packaging. Although the outer slip casing of the box set is made of cardboard, it should last if you treat it well. The styling also matches the theme that has carried through from Seasons 1, 2 and 3.

    This set is required for anyone who calls themselves an X-Phile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Sunday, September 01, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-533K, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe 72cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersWhatmough Audiolabs Magnum M30 (Mains); M05 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer

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