The X-Files - Complete Series: Seasons 1-11 Blu-ray Review
The Truth is In This Box Set
X-Files - Complete Series Review
25 years and 218 episodes later and is The X-Files finally over?Back in 1993, Chris Carter's The X-Files truly was 'event' TV, predating the likes of 24 and sitting alongside Whedon's Buffy as being absolute must-watch television. The initially subdued investigations of the more conspiracy-theorist believer, Fox Mulder, and his sceptical scientist partner, Dana Scully, afforded viewers some seminal episodes across the years, and remains top class TV.
Whilst even ardent fans may have found the original series' later seasons started to lose their way, and may have been perplexed by the more miss-than-hit efforts of the latest revival event series, there's no denying that there are some classic tales, fabulous themes and superior arcs provided by this epic, long-running show. After a slow-burning first season (back in the days when TV shows were allowed to settle in over an entire first season, like Buffy, before hitting their stride), The X-Files really came into its own across its sophomore year, with the third and fourth years also tremendous viewing, and fifth and sixth retaining some noteworthy quality, although it wasn't long into the show when the mythology arcs started to take over, and even as early as the fourth season it was becoming impenetrably complex.
There's charm to be found in almost every episode of this great show.
Over the course of the seasons, as fans entered into an ongoing love-hate relationship with the mythology arcs, the standalone episodes eventually stood out as the ones that would be classics. And, even with the lesser, later years, each and every season had its gems in both standalone and arc departments, with the first season offering up a Tooms double-bill, and a Thing-like journey with Ice, the second season actually making the mythology a genuinely interesting threat with alien shapeshifting bounty hunters in the two-part Colony and Endgame and of course Scully getting abducted; the third offering up arguably one of the best all-time episodes with Scully's final acceptance that 'there's something out there' in Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose; and the fourth going full horror with episodes like Home, and getting the best out of Duchovny and Anderson for Memento Mori's revelations. Season 5 has a great episode with Mulder getting sectioned in Folie a Deux, whilst Bad Blood does a superb split-perspective on Mulder's supposed vampire killing; and the sixth season delivers one of the last classic episodes with Mulder stuck in 1939 on a liner full of Nazis.
The X-Files would never really be the same after that, continuing for another 3 seasons with Mulder and Scully separately - and together - dropping out and being temporarily replaced, before coming back after over a decade away for the latest two Event Series, which had some brief sparks of glory, but never really recaptured what made the classic X-Files so special. Nonetheless, as a reflection over the entire series only shows, there's charm to be found in almost every episode of this great show.
X-Files - Complete Series Blu-ray PictureThe X-Files - The Complete Series: Seasons 1-11 comes to UK Blu-ray courtesy of Fox, who deliver the massive set with superbly remastered 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition presentations in the rather controversial aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Why controversial? Well because nobody has ever seen the first few seasons of The X-Files look like this before, as it was originally aired in 'fullscreen' 1.33:1, leaving fans up in arms about the change in formatting. Thankfully it has been done carefully and lovingly, with the somewhat reassuring knowledge that it was (at least reportedly) always shot with the wider format in mind, leaving an end result which may lose a little information at the top and bottom of the screen but also has more on the sides, and generally will look much more organic on the modern widescreen HD TVs which many will be playing this on.
Nobody has ever seen The X-Files look like this before.
Over the course of 11 seasons, a lot has changed on The X-Files, with the latter two seasons clearly - ostensibly - the front runners for showcasing the best visuals that the show has to offer. In reality, the remastering effort likely leaves some of the early seasons more impressive, with the softer digital-esque style afforded the most recent seasons not nearly as reference as you would expect it to be. Of course, the original source footage for this show has its limitations, with plenty of cut-away shots, close-ups and in-show footage suffering badly through digital manipulation and upscaling. However, these are certainly the exceptions in what is an undoubtedly great new High Definition presentation. The colour scheme remains natural and perhaps better rendered than ever before and black levels were never going to look great with this production, but few fans are going to have any doubts that X-Files has simply never looked this good.
For clarity, The X-Files has already been released in a Season 1-9 box set on Blu-ray, with the Event Seasons 10 and 11 also previously released and bundled in this complete Season 1-11 set, leaving the presentations the same as on the previous releases.
X-Files - Complete Series Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, remixed for the original seasons and already crafted for the latest Event Series are better distinguished between the two eras of X-Files, with the latter episodes certainly having more punch and natural atmospheric design. That said, Fox have done a solid job at making the first few seasons very engaging on the aural front, particularly in the more bracing monster or mythology episodes, which afford a little more fuel to drive the surrounds and sweep you up into the chaos.
The lossless tracks leave it sounding better than ever before.
Dialogue remains well prioritised, with no tinny top ends, and no muffled vocals - for the most part (much like the video, there are brief exceptions), whilst effects embrace the more supernatural elements of the show with aplomb, and the score gives it that eerie, ominous edge. The lossless tracks undoubtedly leave it sounding better than ever before.
X-Files - Complete Series Blu-ray ExtrasIt's hard to even know where to begin with this 11 season box set when it comes to the extra features, with each and every disc providing a wealth of extra materials. And you've got over 60 discs here.
Broken down into core elements, the features generally involve numerous Introductions and Interview snippets (from Chris Carter in this 'Chris Carter Talks about Season...' instalments, and also his crew), literally dozens of Commentaries by Directors, Writers and, again Carter himself, a whole host of mini-Featurettes which look into the effects of key episodes or focus on the mythology arcs, acres of Deleted Scenes (again with optional Commentary), and hundreds of TV spots. Each season has an Overview Documentary, and the majority of them have those aforementioned Mythology Featurettes too. It's overwhelmingly comprehensive, and a thoroughly impressive package.
X-Files - Complete Series Blu-ray VerdictFor those who haven't picked up the 2015 Collector's Set or the new seasons on Blu-ray, it's going to be a tempting package.
The X-Files hit its high with the first movie, never really able to capture the same cinematic heights after that, nor - at least regularly - deliver the same small-screen magic either, slowly but surely diminishing in quality despite desperate, sometimes even successful, attempts to keep it alive. That said, as a complete package, it makes for a tremendous body of work, with some superb episodes, arcs and characters and the journey with Mulder and Scully is one which few fans ever want to be over.
Fox's Complete Series Box Set builds upon the foundation of the 2015 Collector's Set by now including both of the new 'Event' seasons, 10 and 11, in one big package, arguably leaving this the complete collector's set. Well, except for the movies. Admittedly, for those who haven't picked up the 2015 Collector's Set or the new seasons on Blu-ray, it's going to be a tempting package, providing excellent remastered, restored (and controversially reframed) video, lossless audio and one of the most impressive and comprehensive selections of extra features ever to adorn a home format release. It comes recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £89.99
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