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20th Century Fox presents
The X-Files: Revelations (1993-1999)

Clyde Bruckman: How can I see the future if it didn't already exist?
Fox Mulder: But if the future is written, then why bother to do anything?
Clyde Bruckman: Now you're catching on.

- (Peter Boyle, David Duchovny)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: June 30, 2008

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Other Stars: William B. Davis, Charles Cioffi, Cliff DeYoung, Brad Dourif, Don S. Davis, Mitch Pileggi, Steven Williams, Peter Boyle, Sheila Larkin, Morris Panych, Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, Chris Owens, John O'Hurley, Jerry Springer, Patrick Renna, Luke Wilson, John Hawkes, Nestor Serrano, Michael Bailey Smith, Alex Diakun
Director: Robert Mandel, David Nutter, Daniel Sackheim, Rob Bowman, Chris Carter, Clifford Bole, Kim Manners

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 06h:08m:00s
Release Date: July 08, 2008
UPC: 024543531944
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BB A-

DVD Review

Billed as "the essential guide to The X-Files movie," this two-disc set gathers eight standout episodes from the first six seasons of series' run, supposedly handpicked by writer/executive producer Frank Spotnitz and writer/director/creator Chris Carter. The concept here is to drum up excitement and interest for the July 2008 release of the second X-Files feature film, so that those who know nothing about the show can get a flavor of what it's all about (without getting weighed down by all of that confounding and confusing alien mythology). And given that the new feature film is a standalone (i.e. little reliance on the aforementioned convoluted alien storyline), this set dishes up a respectable cross-section of what made the show tick, with a neat balance of paranormal suspense, drama, and humor.

For the uninformed, the show is about UFO-believing, paranormal-friendly FBI Agent Fox "Spooky" Mulder (David Duchovny), who is paired with skeptical medical doctor/FBI Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), as they investigate strange happenings. Over the course of nine seasons (well eight, technically), Mulder and Scully became entwined with a complex alien invasion storyline, one so dense and complicated that I doubt any two X-Files fans would come up with the same explanation. But in-between that labyrinthine mythos were the standalones, the one-shot episodes that often were more bizarre and enjoyable than the show's central theme.

The choices are all strong, respectable entries, though I'd wager any X-Files buff would have or could have come up with an entirely different block of key episodes; and right off the top of my head I'd might have chosen the sideshow weirdness of Humbug and/or the inbred mutants of Home. But I'm not Chris Carter. And with the supporting Carter/Spotnitz blessing, these eight all do carry their own significance in the drawn out pitch and roll of the series, and incidentally each selection was written by either Carter or Spotnitz, with representation from the four other major X-Files scribes: Vince Gilligan, Glen Morgan, James Wong, and John Shiban. That's truly the heavy hitter creative team for The X-Files.

Naturally we're given the 1993 pilot, important for the initial pairing of the leads, and an important episode that provides the often overlooked reasoning for Scully's initial assignment to tagalong with Mulder. There's an alien abduction bend to the plot, and though a little uneven in spots, it still holds up. And it is logical Scully's brush with the supernatural—in the form of her dead father—in season one's Beyond The Sea—that sets the tone for what many believe is the real heart of the series: the transformation of Agent Scully from skeptic to believer, and a central player in a much larger universal mythology. Anderson's character underwent a sweeping evolution as the series progressed, and soon overshadowed the whole Mulder-looking-for-his-alien-abducted-sister angle, of which Beyond The Sea ranks as the foundation.

Two genuine classics—Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose and Post-Modern Prometheus—are first-rate selections, and both are about as unique and memorable as anything Carter and Spotnitz tossed out there over the nine seasons. Season three's Bruckman features Peter Boyle as a man with unwanted clairvoyant abilities who can tell how people are going to die, and this ep is filled with an abundance of dark humor, and another tidbit in the this-is-really-all-about-Scully subtext. The black-and-white Post-Modern Prometheus from season five is another humor heavy installment, as Mulder and Scully discover a Cher-loving mutant, with the opening segment easily ranking as one of the finest and oddest moments of the show's run.

This is really a sampler platter for X-Files newbies, and a good one it is at that. It's a primer to showcase what the show's about, and the different ways it followed a plot. The big tease here is the inclusion of "movie money" good for admission into the new X-Files movie, which also serves to theoretically entice the conspiratorial faithful into coughing up $14 for this budget-priced best of.

The episodes on Revelations are:

Pilot
Season 1
Original Airdate: 09/10/93

Beyond The Sea
Season 1
Original Airdate: 01/07/94

The Host
Season 2
Original Airdate: 09/23/94

Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose
Season 3
Original Airdate: 10/13/95

Memento Mori
Season 4
Original Airdate: 02/09/97

Post-Modern Prometheus
Season 5
Original Airdate: 11/30/97

Bad Blood
Season 5
Original Airdate: 02/22/98

Milagro
Season 6
Original Airdate: 04/18/99

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frameno - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes
Anamorphicnoyes


Image Transfer Review: The eight episodes are presented in a lopsided mixture of 1.33:1 fullframe and 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The first five (representing seasons 1-4) are fullframe, and the quality does improve measurably as the years go by. The softness prevalent in the series pilot gives way to improved level of detail and more consistently natural fleshtones by the disc ender of season four's Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose.

It's not until season five's black-and-white Post-Modern Prometheus on Disc 2 that we're given 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, for this and the remaining two color episodes (Bad Blood, Milagro) of this collection. Aside from the intentional array of blacks, grays, and shadows of Prometheus, the other two show a huge boost in the depth of colors and more refined shadow detail, though some darker moments do still occasionally get a bit muddy in spots.

Nice.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The main audio track is provided in 2.0 surround, and while hardly a showcase, the mix is generally serviceable. Mostly a front-centric presentation, dialogue and most of the action are spread evenly in the foreground, with minimal surround cues (especially in the early eps). The eerie and familiar Mark Snow theme sounds quite nice, and while there aren't as many pronounced surround elements as found on some of the individual series sets that were issued in 5.1, the presentation here may seem subdued by comparison.

A 2.0 French dub is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 96 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The X-Files: I Want To Believe
1 TV Spots/Teasers
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
9 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: I'm a sucker for some bang-for-your-buck freebies, and the inclusion of "movie money" up to $8.50 for the upcoming X-Files feature film adds some weight to this best-of set. Revelations already carries a modest street price, and the free ticket is one of those things can easily tip the scales on deciding whether to make a purchase. Completists won't bat an eye, and for the rest, getting eight enjoyable eps and a ticket to the feature for less than $15 seems to be a solid bargain.

Disc 1 carries a Series Introduction (:37s) from writer/executive producer Frank Spotnitz, presented in anamorphic widescreen. Spotnitz isn't given much time, but he tries to serve up the reasoning behind the episode selection for this release, an attempt to relay the "depth and breadth" of what the series was all about. Spotnitz and creator/writer/director Chris Carter also provide optional intros for each episode, doling out the particulars on the how's and whys of its presence on this set. The optional intros are viewable in one big hunk (06m:06s), or at the open of each episode.

Disc 1 also features a horribly assembled series trailer (02m:56s), presented nonanamorphic widescreen, that for reasons I can't quite put my finger on makes the show look a bit cheesy. On the plus side is the WonderCon trailer (01m:02s) for the upcoming feature film, due in July 2008. Originally shown at the big, big fan fest in San Diego, this nonanamorphic teaser is chock full of fast cuts and no real hint at the plot.

Over on disc 2 is another set of episode intros from Spotnitz and Carter, and again these optional bits are viewable in one big hunk (08m:05s), or at the open of each episode. The only other supplemental piece here is anamorphic widescreen The WonderCon Panel (26m:47s), in which Spotnitz, Carter, Anderson, and Duchovny get the rockstar treatment, fielding questions (presented here as title cards) from an almost too overly appreciative crowd.

Aside from the movie money, there's a two-sided insert with one sentence episode descriptions/air dates, along with another insert promoting a discount on individual season sets of the series. Each ep is cut into 12 chapters, and includes optional subs in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

The big bump for this best of set is the inclusion of a ticket to see the upcoming X-Filesfeature film, and that may make this seem like just another shallow marketing ploy. Not that the episodes aren't all strong in their own right (and some do border on "classic" territory), but if you already own the season sets there isn't much else here aside from some relatively brief intros from Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter.

Fans, however, who haven't taken the plunge on the season sets will get a real bargain here, and newcomers trying to get a flavor of what the show was all about should walk away more than a little intrigued.

But it's all about the strength of the selected episodes, and though diehards could argue over the choices, there's some truly outstanding material here.

Recommended.

 


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