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20th Century Fox presents
X-Files Season One: Disc One (1993)

"It's the essence of science, ask an impertinent question and you're on the way to a pertinent answer."
- Fox "Spooky" Mulder (David Duchovny)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: April 16, 2000

Stars: David Duchovny
Other Stars: Gillian Anderson
Director: Various (see below)

Manufacturer: Digital Video Compression Center
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for Shows vary on TV ratings, but generally due to either the mature nature of the content, the violence or gore, I would consider most PG-13
Run Time: 03h:00m:03s
Release Date: May 04, 1999
UPC: 024543000426
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A ABB C

DVD Review

The X-Files is what DVD was originally made for: repeated viewing by the fanatic viewer without fear of deterioration. For lovers like me of the series, this is the Holy Grail...the entire Season One in one place, and no VCR necessary.

Unlike some other sites we didn't receive a complete check disc set of this gem, so our review will be limited discs 1 and 7. We can only review what we see, right?

Pilot:
Running time: 48:07 directed by Robert Mandel

The Skeptic meets the True Believer. These great archetypes of the visionary (Mulder) and his soon-to-be faithful but practical foil/sidekick (Scully), have been used too many times to begin mentioning, but Chris Carter breathed life into these two characters, which is what helps make them so endearing to their vast and faithful audience. Mulder the sunflower seed eating man-child, caught up in his fantasy world of science fiction and paranormal events—the little boy haunted by the abduction of his sister, Samantha, by what he believes to have been extraterrestrials. Scully, the prim and proper daughter of a career Navy man, doctor, and non-believing, rigid practitioner of the scientific method. But opposites attract, so thank god Carter dropped the Ethan Minette boyfriend character before he ruined the wonderful underlying sexual tension between Scully and Mulder that permeates the series from the pilot episode forward.

I still get chills witnessing the magical moment when the then long-haired, little made up Scully meets Mulder, as we are too introduced to his beloved basement office hidden amongst the stockroom shelving, and his "I want to believe" poster and his predilection for the absurd. The relationship, and the show's quirky humor is quickly introduced with the following exchange:

"When conventions and science offer us no answers might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?" asks Mulder.

"...What I find fantastic is the notion that there are any answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there, you just have to know where to look." replies Scully.

"That's why they put the 'I' (read: eye) in FBI," says the sardonic Fox.

Scully, brought into the mix to debunk the X-files and Mulder's work with them by the Smoking Man and the his FBI lackeys, much as happened with her parents when she defied their wishes leaving a promising medical career behind to join the FBI, she has a mind of her own as to her relationship with Mulder and the X-files. Still, Mulder is suspicious of her and her attentions, and as he becomes psychologically and physically attracted to her this dichotomy adds it own special tension to the show.

The first case involves the fourth child in her graduating class to die in the woods near there hometown of Bellefleur, Oregon. The children bare similar markings and an accompanying unknown organic substance. Mulder and Scully take their first of many trips together, no doubt racking up enough frequent flyer miles to vacation somewhere tropical and far away.

Mulder intuits this to be a case of alien abduction, with Scully squarely against such unscientific thoughts. There is a moment though, as there are fairly few across the years, that Scully is captured, perhaps enraptured by the perfectly sensible yet incredible argument that Mulder makes to solve the crime. Together in the pouring rain in the middle of a forest they laugh and hug. But her right side takes control by the end of the show, as she reports that she"can neither prove nor deny what I witnessed." This becomes Scully's motto.

The brilliance of how this show was laid out is shown here, as the Smoking Man says nary a word but is effectively shown in the post-titles second scene at Scully's introduction, later in the hallway (where Scully passes him and pauses curiously), and the wonderful final scene where he puts the collected nose implant into the case box and then the craning pan as he walks away in the seemingly hangar-like storage facility. A great moment. One of the things I have loved best about this show, and why I will be severely disappointed if they break the code, is that it DOESN'T explain everything. It's a code not only refreshing, but lends itself to the imagination as little else does in this day and age of USA Today.

Episode 1: Deep Throat (OAD 9.17.93)
Running Time: 45m:43s directed by Daniel Sackheim

When Bob Budahaas, a test pilot for Air Force at Ellen Air Force Base, disappears then reappears he is found by the MPs covered from head to toe with blotchy sores, huddled in a corner in the bedroom of his house. Because of his strange behavior his wife fears that he is no longer her husband, that he's been replaced somehow. Mulder, who has been approached by a man only known as Deep Throat, draws the conclusion that he's had his memory wiped, and only selective memory remains.

Mulder leaves Scully and is taken to a place where they watch the nightly goings on, one of which is Seth Green of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. Surprise, surprise, when Scully (who is sporting a hair cut for the episode) catches up to him she refuses to be drawn in by Mulder's logic, flat out denying the existence of extraterrestrials even as they stand and watch objects fly around the night sky at impossible angles and formations. That Scully is a tough nut to crack.

Again, the show ends brilliantly when Deep Throat approaches Mulder as he runs laps on a racing oval. "What you are looking for have been here for many years," says Deep Throat ominously. Good enough for me.

Episode 2: Squeeze (OAD 9.24.93)
Running time: 42m:43s directed by Harry Longstreet

One of my favorite episodes of all. Men are being killed with no sign of forced entry and their livers removed without the use of instruments. Scully's friends from the FBI Academy, a snot-nosed egocentric who thinks Mulder's work with the X-files is a joke, ask Scully to help with the case. Scully writes a very accurate case study in which she believes the serial killer will return to the office building site of his last conquest. They find one of the building maintenance workers, Eugene Tooms, crawling out of a vent and arrest him. When Mulder inserts questions like "Are you 100 years old,"and "Did you kill someone in 1936," Scully's friends want him off the case.

But Mulder has other thoughts, and discovers evidence that leads the two back to Tooms, whom Fox believes harvests livers to be eaten for their regenerative qualities, as he needs them to hibernate and regenerate every 36 years. When Tooms, who takes souvenirs from his pray, grabs Scully's necklace, we know it's only a matter of time until she's under the eerie yellow gaze of this contorting beast.

Tooms is one of the few characters outside of the main alien plotline to be brought back in a later season reprise. Just that great stare at the feeding slot of his jail cell is enough to make you lose sleep. Carter gives some amusing information about this episode on disc seven.

Episode 3: Conduit (OAD 10.1.93)
Running time: 44m:10s directed by Daniel Sackheim

A teenage girl, Ruby Morris, is abducted while camping by Lake Okobogee with her mother and brother. The higher ups won't sign off on Mulder's request for a travel voucher to investigate the event, citing to Scully that Fox is really equating the disappearance of Ruby with that of his with year old sister Samantha when he was twelve. But when he shows Scully that her mother Darlene (played by Chicagoan Carrie Snodgrass) had been one of many girl scouts who were reportedly abducted in a 1967 incident, she helps get the voucher signed.

Chris Carter essentially sees the show as being viewed through Scully's eyes, and believes that this particular show helped solidify just how they were going to go about this device. It is in this show that Scully begins to at minimum believe that Fox's theories have some scientific credence, which makes it all that much more of a struggle for her.

This happens to be another of my all-time favorites, as the enigma slowly plays itself out in the forms of 1s and 0s on sheets of paper. Ruby's little brother, it seems, is receiving digital transmissions of data, which turn out to be defense satellite transmissions, causing him to be arrested and accused of stealing national secrets. When the FBI realizes each page is a different phenomenon captured in binary sequences, things get really interesting.

There are many red herrings and twists to this plot, which makes this one to savor over and over.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frameno - no
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicnono


Image Transfer Review: Well, considering I have been taping the series for years I would say that these episodes are impeccable, but while they are very nice they are far from perfect. Ironically on my smaller laptop screen the image seems very grainy, far more so than on my 45" 4:3 screen. At times, particularly outdoor scenes, the image is very sharp and detailed. Other times, often on close-ups, the image is often soft, but this may have been purposeful. There is some evidence of minor and relatively unobtrusive dot crawl and edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Mostly center speaker heavy, but the front side help deliver a decent front soundstage, and I was quite surprised by the amount of bass rumbling through my subwoofer. There a couple jet fly-bys that move across the sound stage and produce some nice bass at 13:15 and 13:56. Not quite Das Boot, but for a television show it ain't too shabby. The dialogue is well rendered and easily understandable. The nicest aspect is the delivery of Mark Snow's simple yet incisive musical score. If your not sure what I mean, check out the opening minutes of episode 3, Squeeze.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 48 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Alpha
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: na

Extra Extras:
  1. Clips from pilot episode in Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese.
Extras Review: There are a lots of supplements included on disc 7, but there are still a few on this disc as well. One of them is the mildly amusing set of excerpts from the show with the dialogue dubbed in French, German and Japanese. These for each episode is a bit like hearing a joke over and over—it grows old fast. The most interesting extra is the inclusion of two deleted scenes from the pilot episode that showed Dana interacting with her boyfriend Ethan Minette (Tim Ransom). Ah, a role cut before it could have made him a mint. Perhaps he'll get as lucky as Kevin Costner did, whose scene as the dead body in The Big Chill was cut as well. Rather than accessing the deleted scenes through the extras menu, the user is forced to watch the pilot episode, looking for an 'X' to appear on the lower right corner of the screen—similar to how the multiple angle is presented on other discs. For those who would like to skip to them, they appear at chapter 2, 08m:17s and chapter 11, 45:40. They are also available on disc 7 without as much labor. Truth be told, I got the heebee-geebees seeing Scully kiss and look so lovingly at this other guy! Ethan is dead! Long Live Spooky Mulder!

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

I wish I were surveying the landscape of the entire set for you all, but one has to live with what one gets. My pathetic whining aside, I will more than happily put out whatever the cost may be to purchase this set in its entirety. Oh, wipe away those crocodile tears, you bastards. I won't bore you with the fits and starts it took to get a complete set the first time around, based on the fact I would never buy the videos in the haphazard way they have been released (at minimum the alien plotline MUST be watched in order). This is highly enlightened of Fox to street season one in its entirety in one set. Bravo!

Oh. I have a few video tapes available for purchase.

 


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