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X-Files Ninth Season
After nine years, one of more popular sci-fi television series, The X-Files, came to a halt. The end was inevitable. The show originally began with some great momentum, but somewhere between the fifth and sixth seasons, the show started to gradually move downhill. While the quality of each episode in the later seasons didn't seem to meet the extraordinary standards set by the earlier seasons, it was still a really good show. It wasn't actually until the eighth season that the show started to reach rock bottom. This is attributed to David Duchovny, the real attraction of The X-Files, becoming a part-timer. In season eight, Duchovny remained on cast, but only to appear for about half of the season's episodes. It was during this time that Robert Patrick was brought onboard as Special Agent John Doggett, a character with a completely different personality than Duchovny's alien chasing Fox Mulder. The Doggett character didn't seem to really fill the missing Duchovny gap, so Annabeth Gish was also brought on as a reoccurring season eight guest star, Special Agent Monica Reyes. For the eighth season, this new character distribution seemed to work fairly well, but it still wasn't a wondrous combination.
In the final season of The X-Files, Duchovny takes a step down and leaves the show "to pursue other interests." Once Duchovny left the cast, the show really began to lack its true essence. In Duchovny's place, Patrick and Gish's characters were both given a lot more camera time. The goal seemed to be to balance out the missing attraction (Duchovny's Mulder) with Patrick's Doggett and Gish's Reyes. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to fill that gap well. I really like Robert Patrick and the addition of his character as John Doggett was a fairly worthy endeavor. However, his counterpart in season nine, Gish's character Reyes, just didn't seem to meld in extremely well. Reyes tends to take the completely opposite approach than Doggett. Reyes has a tremendously open mind that makes Mulder look like a skeptic. It's amazing that the government would allow and individual with a mind that unsound to run around with a gun. While Mulder believed in aliens, he did it in style. Fortunately, Gillian Anderson's contract ran through the last season, so Dana Scully remained on the show. However, taking the Mulder away from Scully was like taking Ying away from Yang. It just didn't work. In the end, season nine suffered greatly without Duchovny on the cast and his replacements didn't quite fill the void.
While I've droned on about how I wasn't completely impressed by the cast of season nine, the season itself had a few enjoyable episodes. One of these episodes revolves around the Lone Gunmen, a trio who have had reoccurring roles throughout the series' lifespan. Byers, Frohike, and Langly have astounded audiences with their brains, wits, and cool gadgets, as they have helped Mulder and Scully through some very sticky situations. Towards the end of the eighth season, the Lone Gunmen were given a chance at their own series, The Lone Gunmen. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late and the momentum of The X-Files was pretty much gone. Thus, The Lone Gunmen was canceled before the first season finished airing. Oh, and it wasn't very good. Anyways, season nine of the X-Files presents an episode that is a culmination to the nine years of the Lone Gunmen in their final trial, "Jump the Shark". This is a pretty good episode and does a fairly good job concluding their endeavors in the series. Another good episode that presented conclusions to long running stories in the series was "Release". This episode featured the conclusion to John Doggett's personal trial, his quest for closure with his son's murder.
The two-part episode, "Provenance" and "Providence", features an episode that does a fairly good job without including Duchovny. This two-part episode proves to be entertaining, because it follows really touches upon the series' main storyline, the government conspiracies. While the entire series is about government conspiracies, there are a lot of episodes that seem to have little bearing upon it. A lot of these episodes are borderline weird. For instance in "Audrey Pauley", Reyes ends up in critical condition after a car accident. Of course there's a woman who isn't mentally stable and gives Reyes a chance to survive in a dollhouse version of the hospital. This episode is a perfect example of the ninth season being arguably the worst season of the series.
Overall, the ninth season was a fairly decent attempt at The X-Files, but not a truly wonderful rendition in comparison to the past seasons. Perhaps a good way to think about this comes from a comment made in the "The Truth About Season 9" featurette. It is said with the departure of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson's contract drying up at the end of season nine that it was time for a new cast. Chris Carter and his fellow producers were intending season nine to be an entirely different show, simply because it couldn't be the same X-Files anymore. This happened to be the root of my issues with season nine and the bottom line is that whether or not you want to consider the ninth season of The X-Files a new show or the just the ninth season, it's still not that good. The X-Files: The Complete Ninth Season isn't going to keep your eyes glued to the television screen, but may prompt you to do something else, like watch one the earlier seasons.
Beginning with the fifth season, The X-Files was filmed in widescreen. Like the previous four season DVD releases, the ninth season of The X-Files is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 radio widescreen color. The picture itself looks fairly beautiful, with the majority detail looking fairly sharp. However, lighter colors in the picture tend to have a slight grain, while the darker colors keep their form. Overall, I was satisfied with the picture quality, which provided a much cleaner look than its broadcast/cable television airings.
Similar to previous The X-Files DVD season releases, each episode is presented with three different audio tracks, each in Dolby digital stereo surround. The three tracks are comprised of different audio tracks in the English, French, and Spanish languages. The sound quality is very good, with the dialogue remaining slightly flat and a dynamic feeling with the sound effects. A surround sound audio system with a good subwoofer really improves the viewing experience. Complimenting the three different audio tracks are subtitles in English and Spanish.
The last DVD release of the X-Files provides the same kind of extras that were presented in the earlier DVD season releases, except there's a bit more stuff to check out. Located on the first five discs are assorted features that include deleted scenes, audio commentaries, and international clips. The deleted scenes and audio commentaries are also located on the first bonus disc (disc 6). The international clips feature various two minute clips of the X-Files in the German, Italian, and Japanese languages. It's mildly entertaining, but not really.
In addition to the extras that are scattered throughout the first five discs, there are two discs included that contain bonus features. Located on the first bonus disc (disc 6), there are several features, clips, and other extras. "The Truth About Season 9" features the crew getting chance to discuss their feeling and impressions about season nine and its episodes. "The Making of The Truth" is a featurette that covers the crew discussing the making of the final episode, "The Truth". Similarly, "Reflections on The Truth" features the crew discussing their thoughts and opinions after the last episode had been filmed and covering a few reflections about the series in general. "X-Files: Profiles" focuses upon two characters, Monica Reyes and Brad Follmer, by providing mini-featurettes that come from their respective actors, Annabeth Gish and Cary Elwes, along with a few members of the crew. "Promo Spots" contains various 10 and 20 second clips that were used for advertising each episode on television. "Special Effects" features commentary by Paul Rabwin discussing amazing feats that were met by the special effects department for various episodes.
The last set of extras are located the second bonus disc (disc 7). There aren't as many extras as the first disc, but they still provide more content than many DVD releases of television series ever will. "Secrets of the X-Files" provides a montage of various clips of the series' lifespan. It also includes a monotonic voice that introduces various themes and discusses a few things you probably already know if you've ever seen the X-Files. "More Secrets of the X-Files" is similar to the previous extra, but is narrated by Mitch Pileggi and features a lot more actual entertainment value. Along with various clips from season five and earlier, a few comments from Chris Carter, David Duchovny, and Gillian Anderson are provided. Both of these featurettes originally aired as television specials. The last extra, "Reflection of the X-Files", features another "exciting" montage of clips that include various celebrities giving their thoughts about the series. It includes various celebrities and actors like Kristin Davis, Cher, Kevin Smith, Seth Green, and Martin Landau .
Overall, there were a lot of extras included in this release. I was pretty happy with them, though the bulk of them were featurettes that were pretty much just montages of clips from the series. I personally would have loved to have seen more commentaries or interviews with the main cast, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Patrick, and Annabeth Gish.
"Trust no one" is one of the most famous phrases of The X-Files and can be traced back to the first season. Imprinted on coffee mugs, tee shirts, and other memorabilia, "Trust no one" is everywhere. Just remember to take that phrase to heart, especially with anyone who recommends purchasing season nine. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan The X-Files. It's probably one of my favorite television series, but season nine just doesn't compare to the earlier seasons. Without David Duchovny, the show just didn't feel right. While it's arguably the worst season of the series, it still is a good show. So for the diehard X-Files fans, this is recommended, but everyone else, it's a plain and simple rental.