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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Fox Home Entertainment presents
The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season (1999)

"I came in search of something I did not believe existed. I've stayed on now, in spite of myself. In spite of everything I've ever held to be true."
- Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: July 27, 2003

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Other Stars: William B. Davis, Mitch Pileggi, Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, Nicolas Lea, Mimi Rogers, Lance Henriksen, Laurie Holden, Jerry Hardin
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild horror violence)
Run Time: 17h:00m:00s (approx)
Release Date: May 13, 2003
UPC: 024543069775
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB+B B+

DVD Review

In looking back on the nine seasons of The X-Files it might be said that season 7 really amounted to the beginning of the end. It was the last full season that would feature both Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) appearing together as principle leads in the series about aliens and monsters. What we, the faithful X-philes, learned as we sat through the progessively dismal seasons 8 and 9 was that without Scully AND Mulder, the show was adrift without an anchor. The dizzying, labrynthian storyline that had unfolded over the previous seasons about Mulder, his sister, Cigarette Smoking Man, aliens, invasions, DNA, bees, Navajo codetalkers, conspiracies, black oil and shape-shifting bounty hunters had twisted around on itself so much that even the most die-hard fans found it difficult to explain exactly what was going on. I suspect show creator Chris Carter suffered the same malady.

The gems of The X-Files were always the stand-alone one-shots, and Season 7 did have some terrific ones. Without the laborious weight of the confusing Mulder/alien/conspiracy arc to get in the way, the show could really settle in for either scares or comedy (a lot of which came from the pen of fan favorite Vince Gilligan). In between those overly serious ratings-period mythology cliffhangers, there was room for the laugh-out-loud (X-Cops) or the outright creepy (Signs & Wonders) self-contained episodes that neatly showcased Duchovny's dark and dry Mulder humor or Anderson's desperately logical Scully.

I still contend, if you pour enough beer down my throat and let me ramble, that deep down The X-Files was not really about Mulder at all, but it was really all about Dana Scully, and her place in the whole mythology arc, as she went from scientific interloper to mysterious cancer victim to immaculate conception vessel. As the show matured, and Mulder was constantly changing shadows, it was Scully who was forced to wrap her mind around what she saw, and to believe the unbelievable. Season 7, in all of its uneven glory, hints at my theory, and lays the groundwork for the Scully-dominated season 8 and 9.

As a whole, this isn't the finest moment of the series, but the highpoint episodes in this set really made me nostalgic for the glory days.

Here's how things shake out in Season 7:

Disc One:

The Sixth Extinction
Writer: Chris Carter
Director: Kim Manners
Original Airdate: 11/7/99

"What is this source of power I hold in my hand, this rubbing, a simple impression taken from the surface of the craft?" - Dana Scully

This first episode of season seven is the second of a three-parter that finds Scully once again in West Africa investigating the ancient spacecraft (the one with the entire human genome written in some kind of Navajo code) that appeared at the end of season six, while Mulder, who has seemingly gone insane as a result, remains institutionalized. Skinner, meanwhile, recruits a vengeful man from Mulder's past to help uncover a cure, or at the very least, the truth.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 aliens:



The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati
Writers: David Duchovny & Chris Carter
Director: Michael Watkins
Original Airdate: 11/14/99

"I'm here to tell you that you're not the hub of the universe, the cause of life and death. We, you and I, we're... merely puppets in a master plan. No more, no less." - Deep Throat

In the conclusion to the three-part story that began with the final episode of season six, the recovering Mulder finds an unexpected friend of sorts in Smoking Man, who of course really has ulterior motives. Agent Fowley (Mimi Rogers) shows her true colors, and the brief presence of Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) had me longing for the days before the storyline became so convoluted. This ep features an odd dream sequence (or is it?) with Mulder periodically appearing in some really bad old man makeup, capped by a beautiful vista of a bombed out city as marauding spaceships attack.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 aliens:



Hungry
Writer: Vince Gilligan
Director: Kim Manners
Original Airdate: 11/21/99

Scully: "You're saying Mr Pankow had his brain very neatly removed from his skull right here in this kitchen?"
Mulder: "It had to happen somewhere."

The first standalone episode of season 7 has Mulder back to his normal wisecracking self, as he and Scully investigate the apparent brain-sucking death of a late-night fast-food customer. Fan fave X-Files scribe Vince Gilligan shows his usual funny side once again by imbuing mutated burger-slinger Rob Roberts (Chad Donella) with an odd sense of just wanting to belong. Great setup, but the climax leaves the usual open-ended questions.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 aliens:



Millennium
Writer: Vince Gilligan & Frank Spotnitz
Director: Thomas J Wright
Original Airdate: 11/28/99

"Frank Black? Hi, my name is, uh, Fox Mulder. This is my partner, Dana Scully. It's a pleasure to meet you. Do you mind if we sit down? - Mulder

Well there were a lot of big, big things going on in this ep, starting with Millennium's ace profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), now in a psych ward (!), reluctantly helping Mulder and Scully solve the apparent suicides of four FBI agents. Like a lot of fans of Chris Carter's short-lived OTHER show, I loved seeing Black show up along side Mulder and Scully, but this installment is likely best known for an inevitable moment between the two leads that many think really signaled the beginning of the end. Still, a great melding of two series into one, even if it was just a one shot.

This episode rates 5 out of 5 aliens:



Disc Two:

Rush
Writer: David Amann
Director: Robert Lieberman
Original Airdate: 12/5/99

Scully: "Sheriff's deputy is slain during a routine patrol. It's a tragic occurrence but I don't see the mystery here, Mulder."
Mulder: "Except that the deputy was beaten to death by an invisible assailant."

A small town harbors a weird secret as our two favorite FBI agents investigate yet another series of mysterious murders. Psychokinesis and dark caves full of gloppy goo are pivotal plot points, as this one unfolds almost as if The Flash were a criminal. Not brilliant, but moderately entertaining.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 aliens:



The Goldberg Variation
Writer: Jeffrey Bell
Director: Thomas J Wright
Original Airdate: 12/12/99

"More to the point, you survived a, uh... 300-foot fall essentially unharmed." - Mulder

Here's another lightly comic standalone, concerning a man who is simply just too lucky. In fact, he has been "cursed" by good luck. The ep's title refers to wacky Rube Goldberg, and his comically elaborate and complex devices designed to do simple things, and there is a great moment here when Mulder and Scully witness such an event for themselves. Funny stuff, but a little uneven overall.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 aliens:



Orison
Writer: Chip Johannessen
Director: Rob Bowman
Original Airdate: 01/09/00

Mulder: "Case closed. Didn't look at the file, did you?"
Scully: "A man escaped from prison."
Mulder: "Not a man. Donnie Pfaster. And he didn't just escape, he walked out. He walked out of a maximum security facility and no one seems to know how he did it."

As if adding weight to my occasional theory, director Rob Bowman unleashes a Scully-centered episode that adds fuel to the fiery argument that it is her, and not Mulder, that the real heart of the series was built on. A dangerous and deadly man from Scully's past (from Season Two) literally walks out of a maximum-security prison and right back into her life. Creepy, dark and wonderful.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 aliens:



The Amazing Maleeni
Writers: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz
Director: Thomas J Wright
Original Airdate: 01/16/00

Mulder: "You think this was a murder?"
Scully: "Don't you? Mulder, his head was cut off."

Card wizard and all-around cool magician Ricky Jay shows up in an ep that mixes the world of prestidigitation into The X-Files. When a man shows up headless, Mulder and Scully have to seek out the truth, this time entering the backstage domain of magicians where nothing is what it seems. The writing is a little spotty, and not Gilligan's best work, but the vibe is very well done.

Thanks to Ricky Jay, this episode rates 4 out of 5 aliens:



Disc Three:

Signs & Wonders
Writer: Jeffrey Bell
Director: Kim Manners
Original Airdate: 01/23/00

Scully: "Snake handling. I didn't learn that in catechism class."
Mulder: "That's funny. I knew a couple of Catholic schoolgirls who were expert at it."

Probably one of the scariest episodes of season 7 (a season far too heavy on muddled mythology and quirky comedy), Signs & Wonders is centered around that wonderful pairing of snakes and religion. Mulder and Scully are called on to look into a brutal snakebite death, and quickly follow a trail that leads to an understandably bizarre fundamentalist Christian group. Damn, this one really creeped me out.

This episode rates 5 out of 5 aliens:



Sein Und Zeit
Writers: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz
Director: Michael Watkins
Original Airdate: 02/06/00

Skinner: "This is a kidnapping, Agent Mulder. A little girl snatched from her bedroom. Basic missionary-style FBI work. It's not an X-File."

This first half of a ratings period two-parter has Mulder worming his way onto the seemingly routine case of a kidnapped girl, and of course the eventual parallels between the long-ago disappearance of his sister Samantha begin to pile up. Chris Carter penned this episode, and while his attempts at clarifying his own confounded mythology are often even more confusing than revelatory, Sein Und Zeit is a tense installment, and leads neatly to the supposed wrap-up in the second half.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 aliens:



Closure
Writers: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz
Director: Kim Manners
Original Airdate: 02/13/00

Mulder: "I don't see where you're going with this, Scully."
Scully: "This is the document that effectively calls off the search for your sister, Mulder. And it's signed with the initials 'CGBS'. CGB Spender. The smoking man. He was involved with this back in '73."

The payoff is just never quite as good as the buildup, and in this second of two parts, Chris Carter turns Mulder's search for the answers to his sister's disappearance into an ultimately hokey resolution that conveniently never really answers ALL the questions I had. Carter might call it closure, but I just call it anti-climactic.

This episode rates 3 out of 5 aliens:



X-Cops
Writer: Vince Gilligan
Director: Michael Watkins
Original Airdate: 02/20/00

Mulder: "What you saw was large, right? Maybe seven, eight feet tall when it stood up on its two legs? And it was covered in fur and had glowing red eyes and claws. Claws sharp enough to gouge the wood off that front door."

Some might view it as a stunt, but having Mulder and Scully be part of a spot-on Cops! parody (complete with full "Bad Boys, bad boys" intro) is just brilliant stuff. While tracking a possible werewolf attack, our two favorite agents walk into not just another investigation, but one that is being followed by television film crew. The whole episode is presented in the shaky hand-held style of Cops, and Scully gets some great comedic rips in on the pesky cameramen. The writing is funny, and the presentation is perfect. Thank you, Vince Gilligan!

This episode rates 5 out of 5 aliens:



Disc Four:

First Person Shooter
Writers: William Gibson & Tom Maddox
Director: Chris Carter
Original Airdate: 02/27/00

Scully: "I thought I was on to something. You know, Mulder, this suit holds more than just exploding paint cells. It measures the player's vital signs from the heart rate to the extant body chemistry and then sends that information back to the computer. Then when a player is shot, a battery pack sends a 12-volt jolt that keeps him from getting up until the game is over."
Mulder: "Virtual death."

This Chris Carter-directed ep oddly enough doesn't center on the series mythology arc, but instead opts for a stab at the tired ol' virtual reality genre. This time, a pixelated video game babe named Maitreya has to do battle with Scully inside the realm of a virtual reality game, with Mulder's life in the balance. The only saving grace here is the appearance of hip conspiracy buffs The Lone Gunmen, who always brighten up any episode they appeared in.

This episode rates only 2.5 out of 5 aliens:



Theef
Writers: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz
Director: Kim Manners
Original Airdate: 03/12/00

"This dirt we found? Gas chromatograph shows pronounced spikes of methane and sulfur compounds — the signature of decay. It's graveyard dirt. Also known as conjure dust. It's one of the most powerful hexing elements, whether for good or evil, not the kind of stuff you want to be on the wrong end of." - Mulder

Writer Vince Gilligan gets fairly serious in this ep concerning a series of deadly hexes cast upon a doctor and his family, as well as some cryptic scrawlings. There's plenty of bad mojo going around as the X-Files team gets to dig deep into the dark side of the magick arts, with Scully at one point losing her sight, thanks to a vengeful hex doll. Spooky.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 aliens:



En Ami
Writer: William B Davis
Director: Rob Bowman
Original Airdate: 03/19/00

Scully: "What the hell are you doing?"
Smoking Man: "God's work, what else?"

Get out your flowcharts to try and keep things straight, as we get to learn a little more about Cigarette Smoking Man and his hijinks, in this ep written by ol' smoky himself. Scully and CSM get some edgy moments together, as info is revealed about an extraterrestrial-based cure for all human diseases. To further confuse things Black-Haired Man from The X-Files feature film shows up, but so do The Lone Gunmen, so all is not lost.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 aliens:



Chimera
Writer: David Amann
Director: Cliff Bole
Original Airdate: 04/02/00

Scully: "I'm going to go home, take a shower for, I don't know eight or nine hours, burn the clothes that I'm wearing and then sleep until late spring."
Mulder: "Oh, you solved the X-File."

Scully gets stuck on an uncomfortable strip-club stakeout while Mulder is sent off to investigate the sighting of a menacing raven. Cawing birds, spirit portals and split personalities are the order of the day in a story that doesn't offer that much in genuine thrills, but the best moments are Scully's occasional complaints from the field.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 aliens:



Disc Five:

all things
Writer: Gillian Anderson
Director: Gillian Anderson
Original Airdate: 04/09/00

Mulder: "Well, what else could she possibly have drowned in?"
Scully: "Margarita mix, upchucked with about 40 ounces of Corcovado Gold tequila, which, as it turns out she and her friends rapidly consumed in the woods while trying to reenact the Blair Witch Project."

Gillian Anderson wrote and directed this understandably Scully-centric chapter that concerns her to question the personal and professional choices she has made after an unexpected encounter with someone from her past. Not as much as X-File as it is an introspective character study, and the leisurely pacing, along with Scully's Buddhist temple revelation, are worth the trip.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 aliens:



Brand X
Writers: Steven Maeda & Greg Walker
Director: Kim Manners
Original Airdate: 04/16/00

Scully: "It's almost as if his flesh has been stripped or eaten away. I mean, an assailant could have thrown acid on him."
Mulder: "Well, if it was acid in the face he would have screamed bloody murder."

CSM's favorite brand, Morely cigarettes, are under fire when a mysterious deaths occurs to a tobacco researcher. Mulder gets a dose of something bad, and Scully racks her brain to make the connection between cigarettes and murder. Tobacco beetles, dismembered noses and some really bad second-hand smoke permeate this installment, but it gets snuffed out with a lazy payoff.

This episode rates 3 out 5 aliens:



Hollywood AD
Writer: David Duchovny
Director: David Duchovny
Original Airdate: 04/30/00

"Agent Scully... if I'm carrying Marilyn Monroe's purse, do you assume that I slept with JFK? Agent Mulder, the FBI has always prided itself on the speedy expedition of its cases but this is the first time — and I hope you're as proud of this as I am — that we've ever attempted to pursue a murder case where the victim was still alive and healthy." - Skinner

In this David Duchovny written and directed comic episode, The X-Files are being made into a big Hollywood movie, starring Gary Shandling as Mulder and Tea Leoni (the real-life wife of Duchovny) as Scully. The scene from the "movie" where Shandling/Mulder faces off against The Cigarette Smoking Pontiff, and his army of sniper zombies, is classic stuff, and earns Hollywood AD high marks.

This episode rates a full 5 out of 5 aliens:



Fight Club
Writer: Chris Carter
Director: Paul Shapiro
Original Airdate: 05/07/00

Mulder: "You have any ideas, Scully, any thoughts?"
Scully: "What I'm thinking, Mulder, is how familiar this seems. Playing Watson to your Sherlock. You dangling clues out in front of me one by one. It's a game, and... and, as usual, you're holding something back from me. You're not telling me something about this case."
Mulder: "Hmm..."

Kathy Griffin guest-stars in a dual role as Lulu/Betty, a pair of doppelgangers who somehow represent a person's secret desires and impulses, while hulking Randall "Tex" Cobb has a small role a beaten man involved with Lulu/Betty. There are some great visual moments in Fight Club, and Chris Carter reveals an almost Vince Gilligan-side to him with his comic writing here.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 aliens:



Disc Six:

Je Souhaite
Writer: Vince Gilligan
Director: Vince Gilligan
Original Airdate: 05/14/00

"But there is a condition called microstomia — 'small mouth' — which is, uh, it's brought on by the disease scleroderma and it's the overproduction of collagen and it can actually reduce a person's mouth to a tiny little opening." - Scully

Ah yes, the writing AND directing of Vince Gilligan. How can this one be bad? Well, quite simply, it can't. In Je Souhaite, a sexy genie with an indifferent attitude causes some real problems for the people she grants wishes for. Of course, Mulder and Scully get involved somehow, in between landlocked yachts and reanimated corpses. Classic.

This episode rates a full 5 out of 5 aliens:



Requiem
Writer: Chris Carter
Director: Kim Manners
Original Airdate: 05/21/00

Krycek: "Who sent you?"
Marita Covarrubias: "The Smoking Man. He is dying."

A lot of characters out of the woodwork come back for the season-ending cliffhanger, including Marita Covarrubias (Laurie Holden), the bounty hunter (Brian Thompson) and Krycek (Nicholas Lea), as Mulder and Scully return to the site of their very first X-File (Season 1's pilot). But that's all window-dressing for a trio of big surprises that wrap up Season 7, in what many consider the show's death knell, or perhaps just a proper ending.

This episode rates 4.5 out of 5 aliens:


Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: All 22 episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and if that alone isn't reason enough to rejoice, what is? Colors and fleshtones are warm, without being too oversaturated, retaining that purposefully muted look the series carried so well. Black levels and contrast are solid, which is important for a series that has such a dark look to it much of the time, with more scenes than not taking place either at night, in shadow or some other creepy locale. The depth of the transfer really excels over what a mediocre cable signal could ever deliver. A bit of grain creeps in here and there, but overall nicely done.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: It's surprising how full the 2.0 surround track on this set sounds—though obviously not as robust as a 5.1 mix, it does paint a full soundstage and present the dialogue cleanly and crisply. This is a largely front-centric mix, however, and the rears don't get nearly the action they deserve. Mark Snow's eerie score sounds quite spacious, and there are even a few notable low-end thumps, as in Amor Fati.

French and Spanish 2.0 surround tracks are also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 342 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
44 TV Spots/Teasers
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by Chris Carter, Gillian Anderson, Vince Gilligan
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Tri-Fold Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. DVD-ROM Game
  2. Video game preview
Extras Review: Nicely-stocked is how I'd put it, when it comes to the supplements, which are spread across all six discs. There are the International Clips (i.e. a brief scene) from certain episodes, which are available in dubbed Castillian, German, Japanese or Italian.

The ten Deleted Scenes are available with a branching option that allows you to see the scene where it was originally intended. Disc 6, however, allows you to watch the scenes separately, or via Play All, with an optional Chris Carter commentary track.

There are three full-length episode commentaries, one by Chris Carter (First Person Shooter), one by Gillian Anderson (All Things) and one by Vince Gilligan (Je Souhaite). The Carter track is noticeably a little on the dry side, but Anderson's commentary is a treat as she discusses her difficulties and challenges in directing All Things. Gilligan chats about his first time directing an episode, and reveals that Janeane Garofalo was the original choice for the caustic genie.

Disc 6 also houses an X-Files Playstation game preview, 44 promotional spots for all season 7 episodes (available in :10s or :20s format), and profiles for A.D. Skinner and Samantha Mulder, part of the Samantha Mulder: Revealed featurette (05m:14s) that features most of the production principles hyping how we will finally learn the truth about Mulder's sister. Yeah, right.

The Special Effects commentary with producer Paul Rabwin selects 13 scenes (available with the Play All option). The scenes are shown with effect setups and camera tests, along with the finished product, and Rabwin throws out some great behind-the-scenes technical tidbits.

The capper here is The X-Files: The Truth About Season 7, a documentary that runs about a half-hour, and again showcases most of the principle cast, directors, and writers as they chat about specific episodes and generally do their best to explain the truth behind season 7.

The set also features a 24 page booklet with chapter listing and original air dates. Each episode is cut into either 15 or 18 chapters, and features subtitles in English and Spanish, and cast credits.

The only clunker is the Maitreya 2.0 DVD-ROM game (a variation on characters from First Person Shooter), which is a little choppy and far too wordy.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

There are the occasional perfect moments during season 7, but the often befuddling complexity of the twisting mythology arc tends to overshadow things, often resulting in more questions than answers. The final two seasons had to limp on in the shadow of season 7, what should have rightfully been the fitting end of one of television's better series.

These slickly-produced sets carry a very steep sticker price, but X-Files completists will have little choice but to take the plunge.

 


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