The X-Files: Season 4

The X-Files: Season 4 (1997)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Extras: Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Interviews, Documentary, Featurette, Clips, TV Spots

Continuing their tradition to release television shows in sequential, seasonal order, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is now bringing us the ’The X-Files Season 4’ DVD set. This 7-disc set chronicles the 24 episodes, which aired during the 1996-1997 season. Depending on your view of ’The X-Files’ this is either the season where the show began its ascent towards its high-water mark, or the year that things began to go downhill. As fans know, ’The X-Files’ episodes fall into two different categories — stand-alone episodes in which FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate isolated cases which deal with unexplained phenomena, or shows which deal with the ’conspiracy’ story arc in which Mulder tries to learn the secrets behind the Cigarette-Smoking Man’s (William B. Davis) plans to bring aliens to Earth.

With Season 4, the conspiracy episodes kicked into high-gear, as Chris Carter was ramping up for the laughably bad ’The X-Files: Fight the Future’ feature film. With the emphasis on the conspiracy, and Scully’s cancer, which was a side-effect from an alien abduction, the stand-alone episodes, which I prefer, suffered. That’s not to say that wasn’t some classics here. The disturbing ’Home’, which plays like a homage to ’The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ was excellent and is still chilling today. And who can forget ’El Mundo Gira’, where Mulder and Scully are on the trail of the Chupacabra! So, Season 4 is uneven, but still provides some great entertainment.

As with the past ’X-Files’ sets, Season 4 crams a great deal of quality into the box. The episodes are presented full-frame and look very good. Whereas the DVDs from Seasons 1 and 2 showed some video defects, the Season 4 episodes look great. The transfers are clear, sharp, and very colorful, rivaling digital broadcast quality. No evidence of problems from artifacting or edge-enhancement can be seen. Also, the Dolby 2.0 Surround soundtracks are also quite impressive. The dialogue is always clear and true, and the surround sound effects are very impressive. The soundfield is very wide and there’s a nice amount of bass as well.

But the quality doesn’t stop there, as we have several extras, too. First off, is a 24-minute documentary giving an overview of Season 4 by providing clips and interviews with the principal crew members. Next, we have interviews with ’X-Files’ stalwarts Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, and James Wong. Paul Rabwin lends audio commentary to eight scenes and explains the special effects involved with them. Also offered are deleted scenes from five episodes, which can be viewed with or without commentary by Chris Carter. Finally, for ’The X-Files’ completists, we have 10-second and 20-second ads for each episode and 13 ’Behind the Truth’ TV spots from the Season 4 premiere on the F/X network. In addition to these extras (all of which are on Disc 7), some of the individual episodes contain audio commentaries from their directors and each disc has international clips, showing Mulder and Scully dubbed into other languages.