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20th Century Fox presents
The X-Files Mythology, Vol. 1: Abduction (1993-1995)

"I can't give up, not as long as the truth is out there."
- Fox Mulder (David Duchovny)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: June 21, 2005

Stars: David Duchovny, Gilian Anderson
Other Stars: Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis, Nicholas Lea, Tom Braidwood, Dean Hagland, John Fitzgerald Byers, Jerry Hardin, Seth Green
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (intense moments, violence)
Run Time: 11h:21m:00s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 024543169307
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB+B+ A-

DVD Review

In the fall of 1993, few television experts could have predicted the rise of a little science-fiction show for the struggling Fox network. The X-Files did not draw huge ratings immediately during its inaugural season, but even the first episodes conveyed the strong chemistry between stars David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) and Gilian Anderson (Dana Scully). Their bond would eventually draw countless viewers who would normally avoid a science-fiction series at all costs. By the middle of the third season, the audiences continued to grow, and the show became a pop culture benchmark.

The X-Files Mythology, Vol. 1: Abduction includes 15 classic episodes from the first three seasons that delve specifically into the ongoing conspiracy stories. The one-off tales of liver-eating monsters, mind-controlling worms, and shape-shifters are nowhere to be found in this collection, which of course opens the door to “monster-only” DVD releases in the future. This four-volume collection will eventually comprise 60 episodes chosen by Chris Carter to present a more unified mythology storyline. The early stories include alien plotlines, but Mulder and Scully are only beginning to discover the depth of the government conspiracy. We also observe an initially combative Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), who respects Mulder but rarely believes him, the first appearance of the Lone Gunmen (Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood), and the freelance nemesis Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) as an FBI agent. Viewers who joined in late and want a crash course on the series’ early highlights should enjoy this collection.

This release also gives us an intriguing look at the development of the trademark mythology episodes, which were not nearly as complex in the early stages. The first season entries are basically one-off alien-themed stories with the government conspirators in the background. Events change considerably during The Erlenmeyer Flask, which reveals a more extensive conspiracy that would continue to grow in the second and third seasons. By the time we reach the set’s final chapter Paper Clip, Chris Carter and his fellow writers have laid the groundwork for nearly all the major story arcs of the entire series. Descriptions of this compilation’s 15 episodes are included here:

Season One

Pilot
Special Agent Dana Scully is assigned to work with Fox Mulder on the X-Files, a special project that investigates unexplained phenomena. Her purpose is to debunk his theories concerning aliens with her scientific knowledge, but their first case quickly calls her beliefs into question. They travel to Oregon to explore the mysterious disappearances of local teens that Mulder believes are abductions. This pilot immediately introduces the chemistry between the two actors and other key themes that would resound throughout the series.

Deep Throat
The show’s second episode introduces the recurring character of “Deep Throat” (Jerry Hardin) who would play a pivotal role during the first season. He warns Mulder to stay away from the case involving a test pilot who disappears near Ellens Air Force Base in Utah. Operating well beyond their jurisdiction, the detectives continue to dig until possibly alien technology in spy planes, and Mulder makes a startling discovery. While the effects in this episode fall well short of subsequent seasons, this entry evokes a strong sense of paranoia. Seth Green plays a small role as a hippie teenager watching the “light show.”

Fallen Angel
While investigating a crash site that could involve aliens in Wisconsin, Mulder meets Max Feng (Scott Bellis), a strange man obsessed with paranormal activity. Scully tries to convince him to return to Washington, but Mulder believes Feng may be an abductee. Although it is one of the set’s weakest episodes, this story continues the “Deep Throat” story and concludes with a memorable image.

E.B.E.
A strange interview with a possible victim of Gulf War Syndrome causes Mulder and Scully to visit the Lone Gunmen, three very dorky guys with all types of conspiracy theories. Deep Throat appears and gives Mulder some apparently pivotal information, but things may not be as cut and dry and he might expect. This episode really starts to crank up the paranoia, as it becomes very difficult for us to really understand what is actually the real thing. It also introduces the lovable Lone Gunmen, who assist Mulder numerous times over the upcoming years.

The Erlenmeyer Flask
This episode changes the entire nature of the mythology episodes, as they focus on much more than just preventing the public’s knowledge of the existence of aliens. A doctor involved in a police chase has miraculously survived, which might reveal the existence of an alien-human hybrid. Mulder receives assistance from Deep Throat and makes a stunning discovery within a warehouse. When events go sour, Scully makes a deal with Deep Throat that could jeopardize all of their lives. This season finale remains one of the show’s best tales and leads perfectly into the more complex second season.

Season Two

Little Green Men
With Mulder and Scully separated, things look bleak for the future of the X-Files and the search for the truth. However, a tip from Senator Matheson (Raymond J. Barry) sends our hero to Puerto Rico to investigate possibly alien signals coming from space. This small room is the location for a possible encounter with the type of aliens who abducted Mulder’s sister. The first of eight second-season episodes showcases an attempt by Carter to show us a bit more of the aliens, while still keeping them far enough away to generate our curiosity.

Duane Berry
Mulder joins Agent Krycek (Nicholas Lea) for a hostage negotiation involving Duane Berry (Steve Railsback), who claims to be an alien abductee. When Scully discovers that the guy might not be right in the head, Mulder still attempts to discover the truth behind his story. Following a tense standoff, Berry apprehends a possible substitute for his alien captors. This excellent story takes the typical formula and adds the alien storyline to involve Mulder on a personal level. It also offers a surprise cliffhanger that leads well into the chilling second entry.

Ascension
It becomes difficult to discuss this episode without giving away plot details from the end of the previous episode. Viewers familiar with the show’s later seasons will know the major spoilers, but I’m still going to avoid them. The general plot involves Mulder’s rampant pursuit of Duane Berry towards a mountain in Virginia. Joined by Krycek, he boards a skyway and shows tremendous courage to track down Berry. The end result is unexpected and again showcases the unpredictable nature of the series.

One Breath
Scully rests in a coma and her condition baffles the doctors, who cannot understand the reasons for her status. Mulder and X (Steven Williams) have a standoff with a man in the hospital parking lot that could create problems. The Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) also has the first of many director confrontations with Mulder. This compelling episode reveals the show’s spiritual aspect and also enhances the personal connection between our lead detectives. Its otherworldly imagery never feels hokey and remains poignant due to the stars’ excellent performances.

Red Museum
This episode initially appears to be a one-off story involving a religious cult that believes in the transference of souls to other bodies. Worshipping at the Red Museum, they are very weird people, but it’s difficult to tell if they’re involved in the strange abductions in the town. As Mulder and Scully investigate the events, they begin to discover a connection between the larger alien conspiracy. This story is solid but not one of the collection’s best, but it does offer another example of the enemy’s willingness to sacrifice average people for their goals.

Colony
Mulder and Scully receive anonymous e-mails which reveal the strange deaths of two identical doctors, and evidence points towards more of them. While the duo searches for a living one, a big shape-shifting dude (Brian Johnson) keeps injecting them with a strange green liquid. They seem just a step behind him each time, and Skinner wants to take them off the case. Things grow even crazier when a long-lost person close to Mulder returns. This two-part story is one of the great early mythology tales of the series.

Endgame
This conclusion to Colony brings Mulder into direct contact with the crazy shape-shifter who may be an alien assassin. He also discovers that things are not what they seem regarding the recently discovered person. That description sounds very vague, but I would hate to ruin anyone’s experience by revealing too much information. The show culminates in a wrecked submarine in the ice, which offers a stunning setting for a rough confrontation.

Anasazi
Mulder receives a dat tape with encrypted data that made hold the truth behind the primary conspiracy. However, he must venture out to Navajo country to decode the information. Meanwhile, the Cigarette Smoking Man visits Mulder’s father (Peter Donat) and reveals that the tape may not help his father-son relationship. Our hero is also acting extremely odd, which draws questions about his state of mind. Everything culminates in a shocking finale that leads perfectly into the third season.

Season Three

The Blessing Way
Mulder is missing and Scully is suspended from duty, which again represents a low point for the X-Files. Things grow even worse when Scully makes a startling discovery when she walks through the FBI metal detector. Navajo Albert Holsteen performs an intriguing ceremony on Mulder that transports his mind to a strange place. This season premiere retains the intensity of the previous episode and cranks things to an even higher level with another tense showdown at the end.

Paper Clip
Mulder, Scully, and Skinner join forces in an attempt to discover the halt a possible contract out on the detectives’ lives. Meanwhile a tip from the Lone Gunmen leads them to Victor Klemper (Walter Gotell), a former Nazi scientist involved at one time with the conspiracy. His tip leads them to an unbelievable facility that reveals key details about Mulder’s father and Scully’s recent experiences. This remarkable episode concludes the three-part story arc and introduces numerous storylines for the third season and beyond.



Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: This collection presents the original full-frame transfer of 15 X-Files episodes in solid fashion. The episodes are a bit dark and include some grain, but they do avoid the murky images of some television releases from the era. It would have been impressive to view a top-notch remastered transfer, but I have no major complaints about this release.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Much of the series' sucess comes from the audio, which promises much more than we actually view on the screen. In similar fashion to the image transfer, this 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track provides a consistent experience. Significant power emanates from the front speakers, and the dialogue is clear and easily understandable. A remastered 5.1-channel transfer is a nice dream, but would be difficult considering the limitations of the source material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 180 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Documentaries
5 Feature/Episode commentaries by
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This four-disc release offers a nice collection of all-new extra features that sheds some light on the series' early episodes. Five entries include feature-length commentaries with the director or writer of the story. The best tracks come from series creator Chris Carter, who does speak in a quiet monotone voice but provides plenty of worthy information. Easily the least exciting are the statements from R.W. Goodwin on "The Erlenmeyer Flask," where he states obvious plot summary and offers few notable details. He returns for a slightly better commentary on the fascinating "Anasazi," but it still lacks the energy and material offered within the better tracks.

The other major extra feature is a half-hour documentary entitled Threads of Mythology, which offers the first segment of a four-part series. Each entry in the complete set will contain this type of feature, which provides an overview of the episodes contained in the collection. Chris Carter and the other key players discuss the series' origins here and give brief recollections on the beginnings of the mythology. Certain information will be obvious to series devotees, but it offers worthwhile material for the typical viewer. Pivotal dates appear in timeline fashion and help to establish the show's initial direction.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

The X-Files Mythology series will eventually comprise four volumes and a total of 60 episodes spanning the entire series. The complete set should please casual fans like me who are unwilling to spend hundreds of dollars to own the entire series. However, this re-release also will frustrate devoted fans and cause them to question the original seasons' exorbitant prices. Fifteen episodes for $40 or less offers a much-better deal than 22 episodes for $100. Regardless, this collection will expand the show's home viewership towards a larger group of satisfied fans.

 


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