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X-Files: Season Four

Fox // Unrated // November 13, 2001
List Price: $149.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Earl Cressey | posted December 23, 2001 | E-mail the Author
The X-Files: Complete Fourth Season

By now, most everyone is familiar with the X-Files, the popular TV show from Fox that debuted 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 cases involving the paranormal, extraterrestrial, occult, and the just plain bizarre. Throughout most of the show's history, 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's assigned to 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 include cover-ups, conspiracies, aliens, abductions, and colonization: many plot details in Season Four are continued from the first three seasons.

As a fan, it's nice to see Fox continue to preserve the X-Files seasons on the DVD format. Much like the first three seasons, many of the episodes from season four have never been available outside the original airings and re-runs, as only a few were ever released on VHS. It's a real treat to be able to see them again in their original order, as well. The mythology of the show is especially important to the X-Files and it is further explored in this season: much of it becomes vital to fully understanding the plot twists in later seasons and the movie.

The twenty four episodes in Season Four are: Herrenwolk, Home, Teliko, Unruhe, The Field Where I Died, Sanguinarium, Musings Of A Cigarette-Smoking Man, Tunguska, Terma, Paper Hearts, El Mundo Gira, Leonard Betts, Never Again, Memento Mori, Kaddish, Unrequited, Tempus Fugit, Max, Synchrony, Small Potatoes, Zero-Sum, Elegy, Demons, and Gethsemane.

As with all seasons, Season Four is a mix of mythology episodes and what has been termed as "monster of the week" episodes. The mythology episodes for Season Four include: Herrenvolk, Tunguska, Terma, Memento Mori, Tempus Fugit, Max, Zero-Sum, and Gethsemane. Though I enjoy all the mythology episodes, the "monster of the week" episodes are, for me, hit or miss. I really enjoyed Unruhe, The Field Where I Died, Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man, Leonard Betts, and Small Potatoes, while the only ones I didn't care for at all were Teliko and Sanguinarium.

X-Files is presented in 4:3 full frame, as it originally appeared on TV. The transfers for all the episodes are clean, with nary a scratch or dirt to be found. Compression artifacts and edge enhancement are both visible on occasion, though are thankfully rare. The picture on a few episodes seems to be a bit soft, though this might be a result from the way they were shot. Colors are well saturated throughout, with natural flesh tones and blacks that are deep, detailed, and rich.

The episodes are 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.

The seventh disc is home to almost all of the extras in the collection. First up is the The Truth About Season Four, a continuation of the previous featurettes included in the first three seasons. It runs longer than any of the others, clocking in at about 24 minutes in length. It features interviews with Chris Carter, Kim Manners, Paul Rabwin, R.W. Goodwin, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, Daren Morgan, William B. Davis, Mitch Pileggi, and Dean Haglund, though the focus is primarily on Carter. The participants talk about several episodes in particular, these being: Herrenvolk, Home, Small Potatoes, Leonard Betts, Memento Mori, Tempus Fugit, Max, and Gethsemane. As with the other featurettes, this one is informative, though I would've liked to hear more about how this season's mythology related to the past and future seasons.

Next are thirteen short Behind the Truth segments that aired originally on the F/X network; each of which covers a specific topic. These are pretty interesting, as they mention things not covered elsewhere: I found "XXX Mulder" to be particularly amusing. Five interview clips, which can be played seperately or together, and run a tad over 11 minutes in sum are also available. The participants and episodes are: Frank Spotnitz on Herrenvolk, James Wong on Home, Vince Gilligan on Unruhe and Paper Hearts, and Chris Cater on Tunguska. There are also nine deleted scenes, six of which have optional commentary with Carter. Episodes that have deleted scenes are: Home, Unruhe, The Field Where I Died, Tunguska (2), Paper Hearts, Memento Mori (2), and Max. Home also has the deleted audio of the baby crying from the original, uncensored, opening. Also included are six Special Effects Sequences, each for a particular episode and with commentary by Paul Rabwin. They are fairly short, but offer some insight into how they accomplished a few of the special effects. Ten and twenty-second TV spots for each episode are also included.

Continuing the tradition of season three, two episodes again have screen-specific audio commentaries. Writer/producer Frank Spotnitz comments on Memento Mori and writer/producer Vince Gilligan comments on Small Potatoes. Both tracks are worth listening to, especially if you're a fan of that particular episode. Gilligan's commentary is the more humorous of the two, while Spotnitz's track focuses more on the production and the how the episode affected Scully's character. I can only hope Fox includes commentaries for more episodes in the future – two per season is hardly enough.

However, not all the extras are on the seventh disc: five of the episodes have "International Clips," which allows the viewer to see brief sections of the episode in a foreign tongue. These episodes are: Home, Paper Hearts, Memento Mori, Tempus Fugit, and Gethsemane. The deleted scenes are also available on the disc that has the episode, though the optional commentaries with Carter are only available on Disc 7.

DVD-Rom features include the interactive game Urbs Tertia, weblinks to both the TV and movie sites, and e-postcards.

Like the previous seasons, the complete Season Four collection may cost quite a bit, but X-File fans will find it's worth every penny. With picture and sound quality that is better than the original broadcast showings, along with the added value of the extras on the seventh disc, especially the commentaries and deleted scenes, are enough to have any fan salivating. Those that missed out on this season before, and became "converted" later on owe it to themselves to check out Season Four. Newcomers will want to check out the earlier seasons first, and if you like them, definitely give Season Four a try…I highly doubt you'll be disappointed.

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Highly Recommended

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