The X Files-Season 5 Box Set (1997)

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Released 11-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-International Clips (4)
Listing-Cast
Audio Commentary-The Post-Modern Prometheus; The Pine Bluff Variant
Seamless Branching-Deleted Scenes (+/- commentary on Special Features disc)
Deleted Scenes-The Post-Modern Prometheus; Christmas Carol
Deleted Scenes-The Red And The Black; All Souls
Featurette-The Truth About Season 5
Featurette-Season 5 Featurette
Featurette-Inside The X-Files
Featurette-FX: Behind The Truth
Featurette-Special Effects with Narration by Paul Rabwin
TV Spots-40
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 870:28
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Mitch Pileggi
Case Gatefold
RPI $159.95 Music Mark Snow


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 (96Kb/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
French
Greek
Italian
French Titling
Italian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     I know some people hate The X-Files, especially the post-movie seasons. But some days all you want is a sci-fi show that can be pretentious, heartfelt and self-mocking, often all at the same time. The X-Files: Season 5 is all that and more. Conspiracies abound, personal tragedies continue, plots thicken, and other plots just fall apart. So long as you don't take it all too seriously, it's a lot of fun. If you want the truth, what are you watching TV for anyway? Try investigative journalism, or something. This is fiction!

     The X-Files: Season 4 finished at a point where our paranoid hero Fox Mulder (David Duchovney) was apparently killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound after discovering that his life's work was all an engineered hoax, and that in chasing the truth, he had in fact only been contributing to the web of deceit surrounding those he had hoped to expose. Our heroine, the gorgeous and talented Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) had been afflicted with cancer after discovering some of the truth surrounding her supposed 'alien abduction', which occurred in some of the most dramatic episodes of Season 2. Obviously Mulder is not dead, or else why would there be a Season 5 with him on the credits? As for Scully's fate ... well, I'll leave you to find out the whole story behind that.

     Season 5 definitely has a darker edge to it than many of the earlier seasons, and yet it also has some of the more humorous episodes. In fact, it is quite schizophrenic, although Season 6 is probably the most diverse in that sense. Here is a short summary of the episodes:

Disc 1

     1. "Redux" (43:01) -- Is Mulder dead? If not, why not? So he can take a tour of the Pentagon, of course!

     2. "Redux II" (44:11) -- Scully's cancer gets worse and Cancer Man makes his play.

     3. "Unusual Suspects" (43:01) -- Learn how Mulder got all paranoid and the Lone Gunmen were born.

     4. "Detour" (42:46) -- Running around in the forest with nasty invisible things that kill people. Like Predator set in Northern America.

Disc 2

     5. "The Post-Modern Prometheus" (44:38) -- Shot in glorious black and white, this film is an X-Files interpretation of that classic horror tale Frankenstein with a few homages to those old 1930s horror films and comic book storytelling.

     6. "Christmas Carol" (43:42) -- Scully goes home for Christmas and starts getting phantom phone calls. What does all this have to do with a little girl?

     7. "Emily" (43:08) -- A little girl's life hangs in the balance. Shape-shifters abound. Mulder gets nasty. Can the girl be saved? If so, will our heroes do what they have to do?

     8. "Kitsunegari" (43:38) -- The return of The Pusher, a man who can make you believe anything he wants you to. Is he up to his old tricks again, or is something more going on here?

Disc 3

     9. "Schizogeny" (43:14) -- Are kids killing their parents or are trees murdering them? And if so, why?

     10. "Chinga" (42:27) -- Written by horror novelist Stephen King, and set, of course, in Maine, this episode is about witches and cursed dolls. Quite amusing, really, particularly King's interpretation of Mulder.

     11. "Kill Switch" (43:22) Written by modern sci-fi author William Gibson, of Neuromancer fame, this episode starts out strongly but loses the plot a little along the way. Some people liked it, but it is not my favourite episode as it doesn't quite gel with the rest of the series.

     12. "Bad Blood" (43:42) -- Definitely one of the funniest episodes of the season. After Mulder drives a stake through the heart of a boy, the two agents return to Washington and tell their different versions of the story. Highly amusing.

Disc 4

     13. "Patient X" (43:41) -- Aliens are burning abductees. More conspiracies abound, this time with Scully at the centre of them. But Mulder doesn't believe any more. So what is the truth? Is there a truth?

     14. "The Red And The Black" (43:11) -- Scully undergoes hypnosis after a mass burning at an abduction site. Mulder is sent on a mission by those he hates.

     15. "Travelers" (43:44) -- A look back at an original X-File through the eyes of an old, retired FBI agent and Mulder's early search into the elusive truth. Creepy, but a really good one.

     16. "Mind's Eye" (43:31) -- Can a blind woman really see? Is she a murderer? Mulder doesn't believe so, but the truth may not be what he thinks it is.

Disc 5

     17. "All Souls" (43:43) -- Disabled girls are having their eyes burned out by lightning, fused in position as if they were praying. Or are they? And what does all this have to do with a creepy priest and an avid social worker?

     18. "The Pine Bluff Variant" (43:43) -- Flesh-eating bacteria, CIA and terrorists. Grisly, gory, ewwwww-type stuff. And is Mulder actually a traitor?

     19. "Folie a Deux" (43:41) -- Are giant bugs sucking the souls out of people in telemarketing departments? Or has some guy just gone nuts with an AK-47? A violent and disturbing episode.

     20. "The End" (44:24) -- Who is trying to kill a child chess prodigy? And does he really have special powers? Or is this just a ruse to end the X-Files once and for all?

     All-in-all, The X-Files: Season 5 is a fun way to whittle away the late hours when you are plagued with a sleeping disorder. Some episodes are dull and lifeless and will put you out like a light. Others are spectacular, humorous, and even violent. And the whole downbeat way in which the series concludes gives the air of a descent into darkness that should have been (but unfortunately was not) realised by The X-Files Movie. I guess only J. Michael Straczynski and Joss Wheedon really have the guts to kill major characters with virtual impunity. Still, Chris Carter has some interesting ideas and knows, more or less, how to entertain an audience. Kudos to him, and thanks for another fun series of The X-Files.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This is the first of the The X-Files series to be brought out in the proper aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement. And what a difference it makes! No longer does the show feel squashed onto a paltry 1.33:1 stage, with characters crammed together in big rooms just to get them all in shot. Some of the scope and grandiosity of the series is brought out, and the locations become more visible.

     Unfortunately, the transfer is far from perfect.

     The X-Files has always had a strange colour palette, highlighting dusty reds and sky greys in preference to the lush greens in which the show is often set. This choice gives the show a dusky, shadowy feeling that works quite well, transforming forests into drab places, and urban environs into prison blocks. The transfer highlights this effect, with colour always slightly muted in favour of shadow.

     The problem with this is that often the shadow gives way to a graininess which is blatantly obvious in the 16x9 enhanced image. Nearly all the night shots are obscured in shadow to get the 'there's something scary out there' effect. But without the use of gels to light sets as if it were night (deep blues generally being the most effective choice), and with the focus upon greys and browns, shadow detail is often non-existent, leaving the picture cast almost entirely in black, or a very murky and grainy grey. This means that it can, in fact, be hard to work out where characters are, what objects are actually in a room, and even the facial expressions of our leads. Once the show began being filmed back in Los Angeles, there was far more use made of gel lighting. Although this kills the 'natural lighting' effect, it makes the story that much easier to follow, and the picture that much more pleasant to watch.

     That said, there were surprisingly few MPEG artefacts that I noticed. While the graininess sometimes manifested itself in low-level noise on background shots, there was surprisingly little aliasing, and virtually no film artefacts. Given the fact that many scenes were set in forested areas, with lots of leafy green edges just waiting to break into artefacts, this is quite a feat. Some of the more noticeable instances of aliasing were in the opening sequence of "Kill Switch" on the front of the cafe, and the opening sequence of "Kitsunegari". This artefact really only crops up again on the brickwork in the alley shot in "Mind's Eye".

     The dual-layer pauses lie in between the four episodes on each disc, and so are masked out.

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

Audio

     The default soundtrack is an English 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track. There is a second French 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track as well. Although it would have been easy enough to remaster such a track into 5.1 Dolby Digital, in their infinite wisdom, Fox have chosen to release the series in its original 2.0 Dolby Surround broadcast encoding.

     As a result, most of the sound is front driven, largely through the centre speaker where dialogue is concerned, and with the usual left-right / right-left stereo effects with moving objects across the screen. Surround channels were used mostly to bring out the wondrous music score by Mark Snow, and the odd UFO.

     Dialogue was clear and easy to understand most of the time. There was a little bit of a hum on the over-voicing on "Redux I & II" which is indicative of being too close to the microphone during the studio ADR session. This is a common fault, and one that should be digitally compensated for during the mastering process, and yet always manages to escape unnoticed -- the same fault occurred during Sean Penn's nihilistic over-voice at the end of The Thin Red Line, which unfortunately marred its effect.

     The subwoofer was inactive.

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

Extras

Menus

     The menu for Discs 1-6 were all stills from the show, with The X-Files theme music looped in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo across the soundtrack. All menus were 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - "The Post-Modern Prometheus"

     This commentary is by series creator Chris Carter and is quite amusing although nothing particularly special. He talks about what they wanted to do with the episode, where the ideas came from, and so on.

Audio Commentary - "The Pine Bluff Variant"

     This commentary is by John Shiban, who was the co-producer during Season 5, and who also wrote the episode he provides the commentary track for. I actually like hearing from the writers when talking about their episodes - they seem to have so much more interesting and relevant information to impart than the actors. Just compare the commentaries by J. Michael Straczynski on the Babylon 5 DVDs to Frankie Muniz's commentary on Big Fat Liar to get an idea of what I'm talking about. Shiban knows what he's talking about from both the production and writing aspect and is quite interesting to listen to.

Deleted Scenes

    These are excerpts from the following episodes: "The Post-Modern Prometheus" (2 scenes); "Christmas Carol" (1 scene); "The Red And The Black" (1 scene); and "All Souls" (2 scenes). These scenes can be cut back into the episode if accessed through the special features on the disc containing that episode. When this is done, there is a slight pause as the laser tracks. These scenes are also available on the Special Features disc with commentary by Chris Carter.

International Cuts

     These are just scenes from particular episodes with an overdub in some other language, like French or German or Spanish. They seem to be provided at random. They held no interest for me and are, in my opinion, totally superfluous.

Cast Credits

     Each episode has a still with the cast credits on it accessible via that episode's individual menu. Useful cataloguing information.

Featurette - The Truth About Season Five (18:35)

     This is a season overview for the DVD. It is mildly informative, but involves just way too many cuts from the season you've just watched -- it's like a couple of short interviews strung together by a bunch of scenes from the show. It is presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. I prefer the season overview featurettes on the Buffy DVDs which are slightly more informative.

Featurette - Season 5 Featurette (1:56)

     Totally promotional Fox advert for Season 5. Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.

Featurette - Inside The X-Files (43:40)

     This was a TV promo that ran just before the movie went to air. It takes a look over the five Seasons of the show to this point, including the evolution of the characters, the creation of make-up and prostheses for the aliens, shooting on location in Canada, and so forth. Still more promotional than informative.

Behind The Truth

     These are a series of 11 short featurettes talking about how certain special FX were done, including interviews with cast members, the creative artists, and the producers. Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.

Television Commercials

     These are all the original broadcast TV commercials for the Fox Network. They are all around the 35 second range, and are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This seems to be identical to the R1 release. Because of the lower cost of the domestic release and the superior quality of PAL video, the R4 release is probably the better buy.

Summary

     The X-Files: Season 5 is the last of the more serious pre-movie seasons. Still, the descent into self-mockery is becoming more prevalent, with several humorous (almost silly) episodes distracting from the overall conspiracy.

     Picture quality is good, although a little grainy. It was nice to see the show in 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, though.

     The 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track was fine, although nothing special.

     There were a lot of extras, although, honestly, I felt many of them were unnecessary and added little to my understanding of the season or the series as a whole. Why on earth we needed all the television commercials is beyond me, but I guess some people like to have clips from their favourite shows every time they open a folder on their PC, so that's an easy way to get them. Personally, I would watch the documentary, insert the deleted scenes, listen to the commentaries and forget the rest.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Thursday, December 19, 2002
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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