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X-Files: Season Six

Fox // Unrated // November 5, 2002
List Price: $149.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Earl Cressey | posted October 24, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Lasting almost a decade on television, the X-Files ran for nine seasons, the last of which wrapped earlier this year. Debuting back in 1993, the series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as two FBI agents (Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively) assigned to the X-Files, which are shelved cases involving the paranormal, extraterrestrial, occult, and the just plain bizarre. Throughout much of the series, the main goal of Mulder was that in finding his sister, Samatha, who was abducted in front of him when they were both children. This task is made easier when he discovers and begins to investigate the X-Files, as similar cases could lead to information that might aid in discovering the truth concerning her disappearance. Scully is paired with him to provide scientific explanations for their discoveries and to keep him grounded. Throughout the X-Files, the main themes included cover-ups, conspiracies, aliens, abductions, and colonization: many plot details from the previous seasons are finally brought to some measure of resolution in Season Six, though a few continue unresolved until future seasons.

As a fan, it's nice to see Fox continue to preserve the X-Files seasons on the DVD format, though Season Six is where things started to go a bit astray and was the last season I watched the majority of when it premiered on TV. Thankfully, Season Six did manage to do what X-Files: Fight the Future did not: wrap up several dangling plot threads and provide a sense of closure to the main conspiracy (though it served up another related one to take it's place). However, I've never felt that the transition between Seasons Five and Six was smooth; part of the problem is that the film, Fight the Future comes between them, but in viewing them in order (The End, Fight the Future, The Beginning) things still don't completely click in my mind. I'm still not a fan of the Season Six finale (Biogenesis) or the general direction that Season Seven went in because of it.

While I feel that the early seasons, in particular Seasons Three and Four, were much better than what came after, Season Six does boast a few great episodes. Highlights of Season Six, which originally aired from 1998-1999, include: Triangle, Dreamland, Dreamland II, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas, Two Fathers, One Son, Monday, and Field Trip.

Season Six is comprised of twenty-two episodes that are spread across six DVDs. The first five DVDs contain four episodes apiece, with the last disc containing two episodes and the majority of the extras. Episodes for Season Six include: The Beginning, Drive, Triangle, Dreamland I, Dreamland II, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas, Terms of Endearment, The Rain King, S.R. 819, Tithonus, Two Fathers, One Son, Agua Mala, Monday, Arcadia, Alpha, Trevor, Milagro, The Unnatural, Three of a Kind, Field Trip, and Biogenesis.

X-Files: Season Six is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfers for all the episodes are clean, with no scratches, dirt, or marks to be found. However, there is some noticeable grain, though it is, for the most part, slight. Compression artifacts and edge enhancement are rare, but visible on occasion. Colors are well saturated throughout, with very few instances of smearing or bleeding. Flesh tones, as with a few of the earlier seasons, are inconsistent, sometimes appearing too red and other times just right. Blacks are, for the most part, deep, detailed, and rich, though shadow delineation is a bit wanting in a few episodes.

X-Files: Season Six is presented in Dolby Stereo Surround 2.0 in either English or French. The dialogue throughout the shows is crisp and clean with no distortion. Surrounds are active throughout, especially considering it's a television show, and the score, by Mark Snow, is fantastic. Subtitles in English and Spanish are also available.

While most of the extras, like previous X-Files sets, reside on the collection's final disc, there are extras available on each disc for particular episodes. Deleted scenes are present in both locations (though the optional commentary with Frank Spotnitz is only available on Disc 6), whereas commentaries (of which there are two in the set), cast credits, and international clips are episode-specific and reside only on that particular disc.

Starting on Disc 6, there are:

The Truth About Season Six, a continuation of the previous featurettes included in the first five seasons. Running about twenty minutes in length, it features interviews with Chris Carter, Kim Manners, Paul Rabwin, Frank Spotnitz, John Shiban, Corey Kaplan, John Vulich, Rob Bowman, Dean Haglund, and Mimi Rogers. After some brief setup, in which Carter mentions the move of the series from Vancouver to Los Angeles, the focus turns to talking about several episodes in particular, which include: The Beginning, Triangle, Dreamland I & II, Two Fathers, One Son, and Biogenesis. While not terribly informative, there were a few interesting tidbits to be gleaned.

Season Six Featurette is much like the one included with Season Five, as it is entirely promotional in nature and runs about four minutes in length. Basically, it is an extended commercial that features lots of clips from the season.

X-Files Profiles: The Cigarette-Smoking Man is a new sort of featurette for the series; basically, in the overseas home video markets, Fox edits together particular mythology episodes into a 'mini-movie' of sorts. Contained here are the teaser and the featurette of the 'mini-movie' made from Two Fathers and One Son. The featurette, which runs about five minutes in length, contains interviews with various principals from the cast and crew, including Gillian Anderson, but unfortunately David Duchovny doesn't make an appearance.

Next up are fifteen deleted scenes, which include alternate takes and an alternate ending, all with optional commentary with Frank Spotnitz. Deleted scenes are available for: Tithonus (3), Two Fathers (2), One Son (2), Arcadia, Alpha, Milagro, Unnatural (4), and Biogenesis. While none of them were integral to the episode, most were interesting to view, especially a few of the alternate takes which included different actors in supporting roles. The deleted scenes themselves are both in widescreen and color, with the preceding footage from the episode in black and white so viewers will know where they start.

Then we have thirteen Special Effects Sequences with commentary by Paul Rabwin. These offer some insight into how they accomplished a few of the special effects in the episodes Triangle, Dreamland I & II, Terms of Endearment, Rain King, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas, Two Fathers, Trevor, and Unnatural.

Ten and twenty-second TV spots for each of the twenty-two episodes are also included.

As mentioned previously, two episodes in the collection have screen-specific audio commentaries. Chris Carter comments on Triangle and Kim Manners comments on Milagro. While both tracks are worth listening to, especially if you're a fan of that particular episode, I enjoyed Carter's track the most. Carter provides a great deal of insight into the episode, making it the more interesting track. However, I still feel that the commentary tracks should focus more on the mythology episodes, which hasn't been the case in this or previous seasons. I would also like to see the commentary tracks again host more than one participant (like in Season 3).

The DVD-ROM portion of Disc 6 also includes an interactive game much like those found in the previous season sets; this one is titled Dreamland.

With the quality of the series starting to go downhill, my interest in the X-Files waned with Season Six. While it has some standout episodes and the resolution to a few of the long-running plot threads, purchasing Season Six at the high MSRP of $150 is a tough pill to swallow, especially when considering that Fox is releasing other comparable TV properties at a much lower price (ie. 24: Season One). Fans of the series, and Season Six in particular, should consider adding it to their collection, as it does boast a decent widescreen presentation for the episodes, improved audio quality, and some interesting extras.

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