The X Files-Providence (2002)

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Released 29-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Providence
Featurette-Brad Follmer Profile-"Brad Follmer Revealed"
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 83:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (44:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kim Manners

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Gillian Anderson
Robert Patrick
Annabeth Gish
Mitch Pileggi
Cary Elwes
James Pickens
Bruce Harwood
Tom Briadwood
Dean Haglund
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music Mark Snow

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French Titling
German Titling
Italian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Half way through Season 9 X-Files fans were treated to another magnificent 2-part episode which has allowed the writers additional time to grow this particular storyline. The first episode is Provenance and the second episode, and also the disc's title, was Providence. As with the previous two-part story I reviewed, Nothing Important Happened Today, the episodes have been spliced together to form a telemovie, without any breaks or credits in the middle to spoil the feature.

    The word Provenance means "where something originated or was nurtured in its early existence. (i.e. the birthplace of civilization)". Combine that with Providence which literally means "foresight". Or to take the biblical slant it is generally used to denote "God's preserving and governing all things by means of second causes". By working with these meanings we have an interesting story which not only has us asking questions about our own beliefs, be they the biblical or scientific, but also casts a link back to the Biogenesis episode in Season 6.

    Provenance begins with the local border patrol in North Dakota conducting their nightly watch. They notice a motor bike rider heading across the hills. As they begin the chase to intercept, the rider heads off across some rugged terrain, flies off a cliff and crashes. When the border patrol arrive they notice paper with pencil rubbings and strange markings strewn across the side of the hill.

    When Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is asked her impression of the markings she immediately remembers similar etchings when she investigated a crashed spacecraft with Mulder (David Duchovny). The FBI won't provide her with any explanation as to the location of these markings; instead they keep all parts of the investigation hidden from the X-Files. Dana decides to keep her knowledge of the previous spacecraft secret. She passes the news onto Agent Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Agent Reyes (Annabeth Gish) who decide to investigate further.

    The investigation leads the agents to a cult who say they have found, and worship, the spacecraft the pencil markings were taken from. It becomes clear that Scully's son William (James & Travis Riker) plays a pivotal role, and has some mysterious link to the space craft. The cult members will stop at nothing to capture William and bring him back to the ship.

    It is up to the agents to weave their way through the lies and deceit within the FBI, and to help Scully protect her son from harm.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     The video transfer of this movie was of excellent quality, and was directly comparable to the Nothing Important Happened Today episodes released previously.

    It took a long time for the series to move away from Full Frame but the whole of Season 9 is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is clear and extremely sharp, with a lot of detail being visible at all times. There are several close-up camera angles that show off the level of detail well. Just look at the scene between AD Brad Follmer (Cary Elwes) and Doggett at 11:00 - you can see every blemish and marking on their skin. Maybe the makeup people were away that day? The shadow detail was handled well, which is lucky, as there are a lot of dim scenes, or scenes that were shot at night. The border patrol night scene at the start of the episode is one place where you can see the level of detail. At 36:24 there is a lot less detail available, but the main focus of the dialogue or action does contain enough light for me to speculate that this was intentional, rather than a problem with the transfer. There is no low level noise

    The agents in the X-Files always wear dull and unassuming coloured clothing, no doubt an FBI requirement. The skin tones and scenes always looked realistic, and true to life, with nothing leading the eye to think there was too much colour or a washed-out appearance. The wide shots taken at 30:06 showed realistic colours of the hills and valley with the large white dome reflecting the sunlight perfectly.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Aliasing is very rare, but it has not disappeared altogether, it only appears mildly in a few scenes. Film artefacts are extremely rare, and I only found one distracting: there was a hair on the bottom of the screen midway between the centre and far right that sat there for the whole scene.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 9 and 10 at 44:51. This is where one episode ends, and the next begins. It was noticeable, not visually, but audibly, as there was some mild background music playing that dropped out briefly during the layer change. Mainly due to music there is nowhere either side of this mark to make the layer change that would not have been worse. I think it was the best placement under the circumstances and certainly more enjoyable than having to leave the seat for a few seconds.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    I know that I have said in past reviews that the X-Files would not really benefit from a full Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer, but I'll admit that I was wrong. The extra dimension that is now available on these two-episode releases does make for a more enjoyable episode acoustically. While the Pro Logic II did a good job of splitting the rear channels there is definitely more precision available with this particular soundtrack, and with a .1 track dedicated for the sub.

    There are four audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There are also French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1 and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks as well. I listened to the English soundtrack for this review.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, but Robert Patrick does mumble on occasions.

    Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    As always, the music from the X-Files episodes sets the mood for the show and provide a magnificent backdrop to the action. The peaks and troughs of sound, together with the way they have been mixed across the 5.1 channels, suited the scenes well. The volume levels did not drown out the dialogue at any point during the movie.

    The surrounds are well used and there are numerous examples of this. At the subtle end of the scale: at 18:49 Doggett knocks on a door, and as the camera is pointing at the closed door, you hear a subtle echo across the wooden floor passing behind you. Then we move up to 20:17 with more directional use, and even more aggressive is 42:30 with gunfire perfectly placed across the rear sound stage.

    The subwoofer gets a nice workout, but always within the realms of realism, to provide a natural edge to the on screen action. The peaks of perfection from this disc would have to be 3:30 and 43:51.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are a mild selection of extras on this disc. They do add value to the package.


    The menu design is themed around the movie and consists of a still graphic in a screen ratio of 1.78:1. It does not contain any audio.

Featurette - providence (3:19)

    This is an interesting behind-the-scenes look, albeit too brief for my liking. It gives a good taste of the episode and opinions from the various characters but felt this could easily have been made into a 30 minute program on its own. It is presented in a full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and has Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.

Featurette - brad follmer revealed (3:30)

    As the title suggests, this particular featurette delves into the character of Brad Follmer played by Cary Elwes. Several actors present their interpretation of Brad and how their own character interacts with him on screen. It is presented in a full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and has Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.

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 2 version of this disc misses out on:     This title does not appear to be available in the Region 1 marketplace. The Region 2 version is identical to the release we have here.


    This was a fabulous feature to watch, made even more enjoyable by the two part episodes being spliced to run the full length without interruptions.

    The video quality is of a high quality with practically no problems.

    The audio quality was also wonderful, and a real pleasure to the ears.

    The extras are minor. At least one, but probably both, should have been expanded to offer more value to viewers.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Thursday, November 07, 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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