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20th Century Fox presents
The X-Files: Season 2 (1994-1995)

"As of right now, I'm reopening the X-Files. That's what they fear the most."
- Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: November 20, 2000

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Other Stars: Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis, Nicholas Lee, Steven Williams
Director: David Nutter, Rob Bowman, et al

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence and gore, intensity)
Run Time: 1123m:57s
Release Date: November 28, 2000
UPC: 024543005032
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The X-Files started on Fox in 1993 to fill the time slot after the then red-hot The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.. The network was basically known for its successful comedies (The Simpsons, In Living Color) and they weren't too keen on taking on a complex sci-fi drama. Still, there were holes in the schedule that needed filling, and the Friday night slot seemed the best bet. Not that anyone was expecting it to succeed, as all eyes were on its lead-in. One network exec went so far as to comment that he'd "eat [his] desk" if the show didn't become a hit. Well, as I'm sure you all know, the show that ended up lasting eight seasons and spawning a feature film and millions of dollars in merchandising was not The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..

As the first season progressed, word of mouth about the show began to spread, and critics began to take notice. Episode repeats drew a bigger audience than they had their first airing. A loyal audience was building, and by the second season premier on Sep. 16, 1994, The X-Files was well on its way to becoming the cultural sensation it is today.

The solid ratings the show received in its second season were well deserved. After a revolutionary first year, the team behind the show decided to stretch the format a bit. The "mythology" arcs began to emerge and take center stage, but the stand-alone episodes were not ignored. Season 2 features some of the most memorable characters from the series (Donnie Pfaster, Duane Barry, Flukeman, X, and of course, those circus freaks in Humbug) and some of the best writing and characterization ever on television. The show was (and is) such a success because it offers thrills and scares to the casual viewer and endless possibilities for debate to the hardcore fan. There are no answers, but the truth is out there.

Season 2 consists of 25 episodes. Running time, guest stars, and the writers/director are offered for each.

Disc One:

Little Green Men: 45:07
-Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong
-Directed by David Nutter

The season premiere opens with the X-Files closed and Mulder and Scully reassigned. Last season, Mulder had hinted that he had a friend high in the government, and early in the episode that friend is manifested in the form of Senator Matheson. Matheson tells Mulder that he has 24 hours to contact alien visitors in Puerto Rico before the site is cleared by the UFO retrieval team. "What am I looking for?" asks Mulder. "Contact," the senator replies. As Mulder rushes to find proof of alien existence, Scully must avoid agents tailing her and find Mulder before the Retrieval team does.

This episode is notable for several reasons. It features a detailed flashback of Mulder's sister being abducted. It also features the first shot of a real alien in the series. However, as a whole the story feels a bit anticlimactic and the show's limited budget is very evident in some of the special effects sites. Still, overall this is an OK episode, if only for its revelation that Mulder is not crazy and that aliens do exist.

The Host: 45:10
-Written by Chris Carter
-Directed by Daniel Sackheim

This episode begins on a Russian tanker in the middle of the Atlantic. Something living in the ship'' sewage tank drags a man into the water, despite the best efforts of his crewman to rescue him. Later, in New Jersey, a body shows up with a strange bite mark on the arms. Skinner assigns Mulder to the case, but he doesn't think a simple murder is worth his time. He returns to the FBI, disappointed and considering quitting the FBI, when he receives a call. A voice tells him, "You have a friend in the FBI" and that he has to see that the case is a clear X-File. Mulder returns to New Jersey to investigate the sewer where the deceased was found, while Scully performs an autopsy on the body. A Jersey sewage worker is bitten by something and shows similar marks to the first corpse. He later dies after a wriggling worm-like fluke crawls out of his body. Mulder and Scully must make the connections between the victims and stop whatever is attacking people before the body count rises.

The Host is one of my favorite early X-Files. The Flukeman effects are great, and the episode is directed in such a way that the fact that he is a man in a rubber suit never becomes too obvious. The affection between Mulder and Scully is already evident, and the tension and pacing of the episode really keeps your interest. One of the best examples of a stand-alone X-File.

Blood: 45:11
-Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong
-Directed by David Nutter

In a small town in Pennsylvania, formerly peaceful residents start to go crazy, turning violent and dangerous without warning, prompted by digital readouts in machines or appliances telling them to kill. Mulder investigates the crimes with the town sheriff, Spencer, and they discover that the perpetrators have abnormally high adrenaline levels caused by a substance similar to LSD. Are the murderers crazy, or is someone orchestrating this mayhem?

Another great episode. Blood melds technology and a spooky premise with some real world issues (testing chemicals on humans) to create one of the most frightening and effective episodes of the series.

Sleepless: 44:37
-Written by Howard Gordon
-Directed by Rob Bowman

In this episode, Mulder is assigned an eager new partner, Alex Krycek, and the two investigate a secret Vietnam-era experiment that attempted to create soldiers that didn't need to sleep. It seems that going without sleep releases demons that the soldiers aren't quite ready to deal with.

I feel like a broken record, but this is another very good 45 minutes! I first started watching the show with this episode, and it hooked me right away. The premise seems realistic and the results are dealt with subtlety and shockingly. The guest spot by Tony Todd is amazing, and Nicholas Lee makes his first innocent appearance as Krycek. Also, the mysterious "X" comes on to the scene, and he presents one of the most intriguing characters of the early seasons.

Disc Two:

Duane Barry: 45:07
-Written by Chris Carter
-Directed by Chris Carter

Here, Mulder must negotiate with a man who has taken several hostages at a bank, and who claims to be a victim of alien abduction. This was the series' first two-parter.

Ascension: 45:08
-Written by Paul Brown
-Directed by Michael Lange

In the continuation of the story of Duane Barry, Mulder searches in earnest for Agent Scully, who Duane has kidnapped.

You might notice that I gave very brief summaries of the two proceeding episodes. Why? Because they are some of the best and most shocking in the series! The mythology really comes to the forefront for the first time here, and the results are captivating. The alien imagery presented is amazing, and Carter leaves enough ambiguity to the Barry character that you are never sure if he is crazy or sane. As they say, the truth is out there, and it's up to you to believe or reject it. These will seem a little reserved compared to later mythology episodes, but they are landmarks nonetheless.

3: 45:12
-Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong
-Directed by David Nutter

In the only episode of the show that doesn't feature Agent Scully, Mulder investigates a series of murders in Hollywood that appear to have been committed by vampires. He finds himself strangely attracted to a mysterious woman, who turns out to be the prime suspect in the killings.

I love vampire stories, and 3 is an excellent vampire story. The sexual tension between Mulder and the female is surprising (and a little shocking after what has happened to Scully). Actually, considering that she was played by Duchovny's then-girlfriend, maybe it isn't all that surprising.

One Breath: 45:09
-Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong
-Directed by R.W. Goodwin

This episode begins with Scully still missing and Mulder swearing to her sister that he will find her. She turns up, in a coma, but no one knows where she came from. What follows is an investigation into Scully's subconscious, mixed with Mulder's quest for her abductors. A fan favorite, this episode is one of the most multilayered in the series.

Disc Three:

Firewalker: 45:08
-Written by Howard Gordon
-Directed by David Nutter

In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate the death of a scientist who was studying a live volcano in Washington. As they delve deeper into the case and into the setting of a volcanic inferno, Mulder begins to suspect that the murder was not the work of a man, but of a new organism altogether, one that thrives on heat.

This is the first episode in the season 2 collection that I'm not really fond of. The setting and technological aspects are excellent, but I found the overall plot a bit dull. The idea of a creature seeking a host was done earlier (and better) earlier in the season. Still, this makes an interesting enough 45 minutes.

Red Museum: 45:12
-Written by Chris Carter
-Directed by Win Phelps

Here, Mulder and Scully investigate the connections between a rural cult that believes in soul transference and the disappearance of several teenagers from the area. When the teens start showing up with the phrase He is one written on their skin in blood, the cult seems the only possible source of the disappearances. Or is it?

This episode is an excellent example of a mix of mythology and stand-alone material. Carter seems to be in top form, with the creepy religious aspects countering quite nicely with the vast emerging government conspiracy. A creepy ride.

Excelsius Dei: 44:29
-Written by Paul Brown
-Directed by Stephen Surjik

When Mulder and Scully uncover strange goings-on in a nursing home after several nurses are attacked, they begin to suspect that an otherworldly force is at work. Formerly invalid patients begin to display amazing artistic talent and others report seeing visions. All signs point to the experimentation of the center's director, as he attempts to eradicate Alzheimer's.

This is my favorite episode of the season. I love the way everything is revealed, I love the old people, I love the setting, and I love the direction. It is spooky and chilling, without being too off-the-wall. And, as with all great episodes, at the end the crime is less than solved.

Aubrey: 45:10
-Written by Sara B. Charno
-Directed by Rob Bowman

Here, Mulder and Scully investigate a mysterious murder that seems to suggest the genetic transfer of one personality to another and the connection that has to a serial killer.

This episode is very interesting for several reasons. First of all, the issue of just how much of your destiny is pre-determined by genetics has been discussed more and more as the Human Genome Project draws to a close. That insanity, and every psychosis, could be passed on genetically is a frightening thought. Also, the killer in the episode is female, a rarity in life and in the movies. Sara Charno was the first woman to write an episode of The X-Files.

Disc Four:

Irresistible: 45:12
-Written by Chris Carter
-Directed by David Nutter

A mortuary worker, Donnie Pfaster, is fired for removing locks of hair from a corpse. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Mulder and Scully investigate several graves that have been desecrated in the area. Mulder pins the crime on a fetishist, one who may no longer be able to control his desires. Donnie is busy as well. He murders a prostitute and collects souvenirs from her body. Donnie is arrested for harassing a young woman and later released, but not before a certain red headed FBI agent catches his eye.

This episode is interesting because, as Mulder says, it is not really an X-File. Donnie is evil, but he is just a human. No supernatural element is involved, but the depths that humanity can sink to turn out to be scary enough. Much of the imagery used here (which I don't want to give away) is very effective in expressing this theme of humanity's potential for evil.

Die Hand Die Verletzt: 45:11
-Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong
-Directed by Kim Manners

Mulder and Scully go to a small town to investigate a little boy's murder and are drawn into a secret occult group and a woman with a strange, unworldly power. Rumors of Satan worship don't faze Scully, until toads begin to rain from the sky.

I don't want to explain too much in the synopsis because this episode actually makes for a very engrossing mystery. The woman with the odd powers, Mrs. Paddock, is flat out one of the scariest villains ever on the show. The script was Morgan and Wong's last (they left to produce their own show) and perhaps their best.

Fresh Bones: 45:11
-Written by Howard Gordon
-Directed by Rob Bowman

Mulder and Scully travel to a Haitian refugee camp to investigate several murders in the area. They find themselves caught in a secret war between the camp's leader and an insane voodoo Shaman. The stress of working at the camp has caused several soldiers to go insane and Mulder suspects a supernatural cause.

This is another episode I am not exactly fond of. Despite the fact that some of the effects are needlessly gross, the story just didn't grab me, especially on this viewing. It just seemed like another episode based around crazy religious people, and it pales next to the superior episode that proceeded it.

Colony: 44:49
-Written by Chris Carter
-Directed by Nick Marck

Finally, another mythology episode! Why does it seem these are always Chris Carter episodes? Mulder and Scully investigate the murders of several medical doctors who share a strange bond: nope, not gonna tell! In fact, all I'll say is that this episode delves into the alien menace on Earth and features the first appearance of the alien bounty hunter. Continued in the next episode.

Disc Five:

End Game: 45:13
-Written by Frank Spotnitz
-Directed by Rob Bowman

In the conclusion to Colony, Mulder must track down the alien bounty hunter and rescue Scully, as well as discover if the woman claiming to be his sister is who she says she is. A journey to the arctic, cloning, and the mysterious "X" all come into play before the credits roll.

These episodes really cement the mythology for the series. Alien Bounty hunters are introduced, as are the clones that continue to pop up, as well as a few hints about the overall purpose of the alien invasion (colonization?) Questions are raised that will drive the next 5 years of the show. It was with these episodes that I realized The X-Files was a show like no other.

Fearful Symmetry: 44:30
-Written by Steve De Jarnatt
-Directed by James Whitmore

Mulder and Scully investigate when an invisible force smashes cars and shatters windows and later an elephant appears 45 miles from the zoo. Mulder suspects that an invisible manifestation of the elephant caused the damage. The theory makes more and more sense when the same happens with a tiger at the zoo. It just so happens that the zoo is near a UFO hotspot. Hmmm -

This episode is another favorite of mine. I like how it deals with a well-known aspect of alien lore (animal abduction) in a new light. I was especially interested in the scenes where Mulder questioned, through sign language, the ape that has been abducted. "Light. Afraid."

Dod Kalm:45:09
-Written by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa
-Directed by Rob Bowman

A boat that was missing for 42 hours is located with all surviving crewmembers, who had been young men just weeks earlier, found shriveled and aged. Mulder discovers that the incident has occurred before, once in 1949 and once in 1963. He believes there is a wrinkle in time in the area, caused by the government's Philadelphia Experiment. When Mulder and Scully become trapped on the ship, they find themselves aging rapidly. If they can't stop it, they have but days to live.

Another season highlight. This episode has a great premise and some excellent age makeup used on the actors. I loved the questions it presented, especially the way the script dealt with time passing you by without you realizing it. Scully's final confessions are almost heartbreaking. My second favorite of the season.

-Written by Darin Morgan
-Directed by Kim Manners

When Jared Glazebrook, a circus performer who suffers from a rare skin condition that gives him scales, is murdered in his pool, Mulder and Scully are called in on the case. Mulder finds that the murder is similar to 48 assaults over the last 30 years. They visit Glazebrook's neighborhood, and find it populated with a troop of circus freaks, each stranger than the last. One of the performers tells Mulder and Scully of the legend of the Fiji Mermaid, which was thought to be a hoax involving a monkey sewed to a dead fish. Mulder is intrigued, however, because all evidence at the crime scene appears to be simian in nature. More murders and more oddball characters come into play as the FBI agents attempt to close the case.

Humbug is a fan favorite. It represents the first time the show risked a humorous episode. There was no way to know if the fans would buy tongue-in-cheek satire and sarcasm from a show that was usually so intense. Luckily, they did, and why not? This episode is a lot of laughs, and it still delivers a few screams and scares.

Disc Six:

The Calusari:44:31
-Written by Sarah B. Charno
-Directed by Michael Vejar

A phantom presence draws a young child to his death at an amusement park, using a balloon as bait (hey, where's Dewey?) Months later, Mulder analyzes a photo of the event and discovers, under magnification, that a ghostly figure appears to be pulling the balloon's string along. Mulder and Scully meet with the dead boy's parents, who insist the death was accidental, but Scully finds evidence that the boy's older brother has a history of mental illness that began when the child's grandmother moved in with the family. Hey, do you think wacky religious cults are going to come into play here?

Overall this episode is interesting enough for a watch, but after seeing all these things in order, I was surprised how often the show reverted to devices like religious rituals to explain the X-File. Sure, that doesn't really explain anything, but I would have liked to see something new. Creepy grandma, though.

F. Emasculata:44:31
-Written by Howard Gordon and Chris Carter
-Directed by Rob Bowman

In the Costa Rican wilderness, a man finds an animal with strange, oozing sores. One breaks open, splattering him with pus (ew!) Soon, the man too is covered in the icky sores. Did I say, ew? A convict in prison receives a familiar looking pig's leg in the mail, and soon, he too is in need of a good dermatologist. Mulder and Scully are brought in after the disease spreads throughout the prison. As more and more become infected, our faithful duo discovers links to the Center for Disease Control and experimentation on newly discovered bacteria. Oops.

This episode gets my vote as the grossest of the season. Those sore things are really, really nasty looking. I'm glad I wasn't trying to eat while I watched. I suggest you don't either. Beyond that, there is some interesting stuff going on here, and government conspiracy abounds, with the Cigarette Man making an appearance. Ew.

Soft Light:44:27
-Written by Vince Gilligan
-Directed by James Contner

A businessman goes to answer a knock at his door when he steps on the shadow cast by the man standing outside his door and is, for lack of a better word, fried. The man casting the shadow, Chester Banton, runs away when he hears the man's screams. Scully, helping investigate the case (assumed to be an abduction) noticed strange char marks by the door, which occurred with two other "missing" subjects. Studying video surveillance tapes from the three crimes, Mulder and Scully discover a connection to Polarity Magnetics, a company researching Dark Matter.

This is a really strong episode. The set-up (a man who's shadow is a black hold of pure dark matter) is great, and the ending is effective and chilling. Tony Shalhoub (from Wings) plays Banton. Also, "X" plays a larger part here than before, and we discover that he may not be the nice, helpful guy we thought.

Our Town:44:13
-Written by Frank Spotnitz
-Directed by Rob Bowman

A Federal inspector is murdered in Arkansas. Just as he was about to order the closing of the local chicken processing plant, Chaco Chicken, due to major health violations. Mulder is attracted to the crime because of legends about foxfire and a large burn mark found near the plant. Workers at the plant start to hallucinate, and one ends up dead after she tried to kill her boss. Scully perform an autopsy and discovers that not only was the woman much, much older than she appeared, she suffered from a very rare disease that, "coincidentally," the dead inspector also had. I'd tell you how the disease is passed, but that'd be cheating.

It is getting harder and harder to write these little reviews, because almost all this season's episodes are good. I liked this one a bit. Rates high on the gross-out scale, and that is always good for this show!

Disc Seven:

-Written by David Duchovny and Chris Carter
-Directed by R.W. Gordon

In the first X-Files season-ending cliffhanger, Mulder investigates a strange railway car found in New Mexico that contains some rather odd corpses. At the same time, a hacker breaks into encrypted government files and locates the MJ report, supposedly containing all the government secrets about aliens. It is written in the language of the Anasazi, an Indian tribe whose language is so complicated that the U.S. used it as a code during WWII.

This episode made a very effective season ender, with Mulder in peril and Scully making discoveries about the government that she may not want to believe but cannot deny. Needless to say, it was a long summer to find out how it ended (and it will be quite a wait for those of you who need the season 3 set).

Phew! That's a lot of material! As you can see, I found most of these episodes to be excellent, with my personal favorites being The Host, Irresistible, One Breath, Fearful Symmetry, and Dod Kalm. The price is a bit high, so I wouldn't recommend this if you aren't familiar with the show, but if you like it - well, what are you waiting for?

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image transfers here are generally good (and much better than you'd see on TV). Colors are crisp and clear. There is no edge enhancement and no noticeable artifacting. Black level is OK, but nothing outstanding. Many darker scenes exhibit a surprising amount of grain. In fact, the whole presentation has a grainy look to it. This may have been due to budget constraints or compression of so much on each disc. Anyway, overall this is a good, but not outstanding, picture.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio transfers fare better than the picture. Everything is anchored in the front soundstage, so don't expect too much surround action (keep in mind, this is TV we're talking about). However, the score makes good use of the full range of the front speakers and really adds to the spookiness of the show. Here and there, there is some nice subwoofer action, which was nice since I wasn't expecting any at all. Most importantly, dialogue is always clear with no audible hiss.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 369 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
50 TV Spots/Teasers
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Conversations With Chris Carter: The creator of The X-Files discusses 12 of his favorite episodes from season 2
  2. Behind the scenes on End Game, Humbug, and Anasazi
  3. 9 F/X Behind the Truth segments
Extras Review: The supplements provided in this second season set basically mirror those in the X-Files: Season One set. Some of the individual episode discs contain extras like deleted scenes of special-effects featurettes, but everything is also provided on the seventh extra disc for the sake of convenience.

The Truth About Season 2 runs about 15 minutes and is a continuation of the documentary in the first set, which I assume will eventually cover all 8 (or 9 - or 10?) seasons of the show and run about 2 hours. This segment discusses the major characters introduced in season 2, the evolving mythology, the planned direction for the series, and the work that went into the effects and writing. Interviews are provided with directors and producers as well as some of the stars (but not Duchovny or Anderson, sadly).

Another segment carried over from the first set are the interview segments with Chris Carter. 12 are provided, discussing Carter's 12 "favorite" episodes from season 2. Included are two-three minute presentations on Little Green Men, The Host, Sleepless, Duane Barry, Ascension, One Breath, Irresistible, Die Hand Die Verletzt, Colony, End Game, Humbug, and Anasazi. The viewer is given the option of watching them one by one or all at once.

4 deleted scenes are provided (and also can be found on the individual episode discs). They are for Sleepless, 3, Humbug (funny!), and Anasazi.

Behind-the-scenes special effects segments are provided for End Game, Humbug, and Anasazi. These discuss an interesting factoid about the filming of a particular episode. Each runs several minutes and is fairly interesting or amusing, although I have heard the Humbug story about Gillian Anderson eating the bug so many times it has ceased to be either interesting or amusing, but what can ya' do.

Also provided are 9 segments that originally ran during the commercial breaks when The X-Files was in syndication on the F/X channel. Billed as Behind the Truth segments, these bits deal mostly with interesting trivia or "how did they do it?" effects talk, and they run about 40 seconds each. Sadly, there is no "play all" option here.

The final extras are 50 TV promo spots (two for each episode, one 10 seconds and one 20). I really can't imagine watching these, but they are nice to have for completeness sake.

Overall, this is a fine set of extras. I really couldn't ask for much more, because with so much area to cover, a lot of stuff would delve into "too much information" rather quickly. This is a nice balance.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

The X-Files is the defining television show of the 1990s, and my favorite next to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The second season presented the show in top form, with finely crafted stand-alone episodes and a developing mythology arc that has lasted for six seasons. This DVD set preserves those episodes in excellent quality with some fine extras to boot. A MUST for series fans.


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