Want to get a genuine feeling for how big a phenomenon The X-Files was in the nineties? Simply Google back issues of this very magazine. During its initial incredible nine season run, STARBURST seemed to feature the show on every alternate cover.
The brainchild of Chris Carter came out of nowhere and hit big with its careful blending of horror, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and sometimes all-out sci-fi. There is a truth out there (see what I did) that the later seasons suffered from the lack of input from key writers such as Glen Morgan and James Wong, but the entire run remains surprisingly consistent and quite resilient to the passage of time. This box set does lack the two movies and spin-off series The Lone Gunmen and Millenium, but maybe a set comprising all of this would be possibly too expensive for the average fan of this 90’s mainstay.
This box set is nice and concise - all standard nine seasons are present and correct, plus the six episode ‘event’ season 10 and the seemingly final Season 11, which Gillian Anderson stated bluntly would be her last outing in any event. When you begin the epic task of ploughing through all 218 episodes, the first thing to hit you is the realisation of how many of these are stone cold classics. Even when the show had lost the charismatic sex addict David Duchovny, it continued to spit out some truly experimental and outstanding television. The second thing to hit you is the realisation that the original pairing of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny as Mulder and Scully will go down in history as one of the best double acts in the arena of telefantasy.
The remastering and presentation of the entire series is beautiful. The tones are perfect, the colours atmospheric, the lighting bordering on noir. This series was cinema quality before the so-called golden age of television that some say we are currently experiencing. The early seasons were broadcast in 4:3, yet here we get to see them in 16:9 as luckily (unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer) the original footage was shot with this in mind. You will find no actors lurking at the edge of the screen practising lines; this is X-Files in 16:9 HD. If you watched these when they were originally broadcast, seeing episodes such as Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, The Post-Modern Prometheus, and the introduction of Eugene Victor Tooms in Squeeze in this perfect format is like falling in love with the show all over again.
As you work through the myriad of episodes such as Paper Clip, Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, the truly terrifying Home, and witness writer Vince Gilligan honing his craft with muse Bryan Cranston in Drive, you get a genuine sense of the accomplishments of this show. This box set is a testament to the indelible impression made by The X-Files on pop culture.
Any set comprising a show that ran this long also stands or falls by the extras. We're happy to report that they are probably the best we've ever seen. Every season is totally covered by in-depth ‘making of’ documentaries, and the endless episode commentaries make it possible to thoroughly engage with the shows developmental process throughout its entire run. The extras covering the later seasons do give a wonderful insight into the challenges facing a show that had far outlived the average lifespan of any TV show.
The only gripe is that the discs of the final two seasons had not been artistically reworked and slightly stand out from the season 1 to 9 discs. Otherwise The X-Files: The Complete Series is the ultimate time capsule for one of the most outstanding shows in TV history.
THE X-FILES: THE COMPLETE SERIES / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: DAVID DUCHOVNY, GILLIAN ANDERSON, MITCH PILEGGI, WILLIAM B. DAVIS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW