1 item from 2016
The X-Files' latest episodes are out now on DVD and Blu-ray, with a fan-pleasing number of extras. Here's our review...
About 15 years ago, as DVDs were taking off, sales got a big boost when extra features started to appear on them on a regular basis. While some were happy to buy what was then an expensive machine and pricey disc for the sake of improved picture quality and better storage (among other things), for others, it was the lure of making-of features, deleted scenes (occasionally available on VHS cassettes from the period, but not often) and director’s commentaries – never available on VHS, for obvious reasons – that encouraged them to upgrade to the new format. For your humble correspondent, for example, it was the Extended Edition of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, complete with four commentaries and two discs of extras, that was the reason for buying a DVD player.
As Blu-ray started to pull ahead of HD DVD in the next Battle of the New Formats, production companies started to try the same trick. Increasingly, all the good extras are reserved for the Blu-ray, in the hope of encouraging fans to upgrade once again, with DVDs often vanilla discs, or very nearly.
For some of us, though, this isn’t working. Having spent a fortune over the course of the Twenty-First Century so far replacing our old VHS collections with DVDs, many of us feel disinclined to repeated the process, especially considering Blu-ray offers the same advantages in terms of storage, accessible menus, etc. as DVDs, so the only reasons to upgrade are improved sound and picture quality and, if relevant, extras. Considering how many of us are now accessing movies and TV through streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky and moving away from hard copies all together, investing in a Blu-ray is not necessarily an enticing prospect. (This is, of course, not everyone’s view and I’m sure you’ll all tell me how fabulous Blu-ray is in the comments, and of course some games consoles do include Blu-ray players – but I don’t own one and nothing so far has convinced me it’s worth buying a separate player).
It’s always pleasant, then, to see a DVD release of new material that still offers a good selection of extra material, the sort of thing you can’t get from Netflix, on what is now the old-fashioned DVD format. The X-Files Event series is one such DVD box-set. Across three discs, it includes the series (obviously), three episode commentaries, two Making Of features, three other short featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel.
The series itself received what might kindly be referred to as a mixed reception, and you can see our reviews of individual episodes elsewhere on the site. To an extent, it benefits from a short binge-watch of all six episodes, as threads running across the season can be drawn out more easily; on the other hand, a certain amount of repetition designed to keep weekly viewers up to date becomes more noticeable. It also benefits from a re-watch, knowing what this new series is and how it plays out. Without the burden of years of expectation, it becomes easier to enjoy these episodes for what they are, rather than feeling disappointment that they are not what you might have expected them to be. The highlight of the series and the main reason to want your own permanent copy of the episodes, though, is certainly the Darin Morgan-scripted (and directed), Rhys Darby-starring Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster, which is a joy from start to finish.
There are episode commentaries on Episode 2, Founder’s Mutation (Chris Carter and episode writer/director James Wong), Episode 3, Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster (Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Darin Morgan and guest star Kumail Nanjiani) and Episode 6, My Struggle II (Chris Carter and producer Gabe Rotter). Carter and Wong, both in the same room, offer a nice chat on Founder’s Mutation including a discussion of its move in position from fifth episode to second. On Episode 3, Anderson and Duchovny are in a room together, and Morgan and Nanjiani are in a room together, so the commentary is essentially made up of two conversations spliced together, but both are entertaining and hearing Duchovny’s and Morgan’s views on their approach to Mulder’s character (something that also comes up in the Making Of features) can be quite revealing. Carter and Rotter are once again in the same room for their discussion of Episode 6, though this track is a bit less chatty than the others.
There are two Making Of features. The first, a 50-minute feature perhaps confusingly titled 43:45 after the standard length of an episode, focuses on the making of Episode 1, My Struggle, from initial table read to the end of shooting. The second, Season X (one hour and ten minutes), offers an overview of the making of all six episodes (including My Struggle). Both are thorough and offer some interesting insights through the usual combination of behind the scenes footage and talking heads. One particularly interesting feature of Season X is that it goes through the season in its original running order (i.e. My Struggle, Home Again, Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster, Babylon, Founder’s Mutation, My Struggle II), offering a sense of how the overall story arc would have developed across the season had the running order not been changed.
The other DVD features offer the usual smorgasbord of smaller offerings. The first deleted scene, a conspiracy scene from My Struggle, doesn’t really add much, but the other, an extended version of Mulder’s dance routine from Babylon, is quite fun. There’s a short film (Grace) written and directed by the series’ script co-ordinator Karen Nielsen, a gag reel, a ten-minute featurette written by and featuring Kumail Nanjiani choosing the most memorable monsters of the week from each season of the original run of The X-Files, and a two-minute featurette on environmental measures taken by the production.
It’s lovely to see a decent selection of features on a DVD release, and passionate fans of The X-Files will certainly find something to interest them here in the commentaries and Making Of features. With another new season expected in the future, it is also always handy to have X-Files episodes on DVD if you want to make a serious attempt to follow the mythology – though personally, we suspect we’ll just watch Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster a few more times instead.
1 item from 2016
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