Almost 14 years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of “The X-Files”™ is a thrilling, six-episode event series from creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reinhabiting their roles as iconic FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Mitch Pileggi also returns as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully’s boss, who walks a fine line between loyalty to these investigators and accountability to his superiors. This marks the momentous return of the Emmy®- and Golden Globe® Award-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history.
"We've been given another case Mulder, it has a monster in it."
If the later part of the 2010s is going to be remembered for anything, it'll be remembered for the revival of favorite television series and films. With 'Star Wars' dominating the cinematic landscape, a new 'Indiana Jones' film on the horizon, TV fans are being treated with the long awaited return of 'Twin Peaks,' a new 'Star Trek' show, some more '24,' and more 'Gilmore Girls' adventures. Perhaps one of the most exciting shows to get the "better late than never" return is Chris Carter's seminal science fiction series 'The X-Files.' As fans' commitment wavered through nine seasons and two feature films, fan interest in the series and the possibilities never diminished and were rewarded with a six-episode "Event Series." True to the classic 'X-Files' formula, for every question that gets answered, a dozen more crop up.
The last time we saw Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) in 2008's 'The X-Files: I Want To Believe,' they were living together in hiding. Scully was a doctor for a children's hospital and Mulder was a recluse with a beard. After helping the FBI wrap up their case involving the seemingly psychic Father Crissman, it would have appeared that Mulder and Scully would be back in the thick of things. It turns out that in the intervening eight years Mulder and Scully have drifted apart. Scully is still a doctor helping graft ears onto children who were born without them, and Mulder disappeared into the weeds, going fully off the grid as he attempts to reconcile his life and the time he spent hunting a grand government conspiracy. A conspiracy he now doubts was even real.
When crackpot internet news and conspiracy personality Tad O'Malley (Joel McHale) starts rattling the Intelligence community's cages with claims of an alien-related conspiracy, A.D. Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) brings Mulder and Scully back into the fold. With the X-Files now re-opened, Mulder and Scully will face a Department of Defense mutation project run amok, a lizard creature undergoing an identity crisis, a terrorist in a coma who can only be reached through telepathy, as well as memories of their son William and a life that they never got to share raising their child. While they seek to find answers, the truth may be more diabolical than they ever assumed with the return of Cigarette Man (William B. Davis).
Fans going into this revival series understandably had high expectations. For years, the best hope for a return of more Mulder and Scully hinged on a possible third film. Never did anyone expect to get six more episodes! But what about those six episodes? Do they answer questions about the big government coverup to suppress the truth about the existence of extra-terrestrials and the supernatural? The non-spoiler answer to that question is yes and no. While the show brilliantly uses the Alex Jones-inspired Tad O'Malley character to ground this Event Series in the world of modern-day internet propagated conspiracies and supplies some answers to old questions, those answers only work to spark more questions and even crazier conspiracy ideas that work to keep the series moving forward rather than coming to an end.
As a six-episode run, this return works more as a reintroduction to our favorite characters while also testing the waters of audience interest. Only two of the episodes, 'My Struggle' and 'My Struggle II' focus on the big new conspiracy story arc. The remaining four episodes would fall under the "Monster of the Week" category with only a tangent relation to the main story. While I personally would have liked at least one more episode covering the new conspiracy arc, just for balance, I did find the series as a whole a rousing success. The new conspiracy is timely, well scripted, and pushes the right buttons by exploiting a number of modern fears about government overreach. The "Monster of the Week" episodes showed that there is a lot of life left in the world of the unknown. Of the "Monster of the Week" episodes, and perhaps this event series as a whole, I thought 'Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster' was the most "classic" and authentic-feeling episode with a perfect balance of humor and scares that features a terrific guest appearance by Rhys Darby.
Being a huge fan of the show during its initial run, I was more than satisfied and equally frustrated by this six-episode run. Watching each episode as they aired on TV felt like I was a teenager again eagerly waiting for Sunday night to come around so I could break away from homework long enough to be treated to a dose of some alien-related conspiracy fun. This Event Series perfectly recaptured the feeling of the glory days of 'The X-Flies.' Each episode made me excited to tune in for the next week's episode. It's also left me frustrated that the final episode ends with a gigantic cliffhanger that leaves the door wide open for more episodes. It would be a tragedy if 'The X-Files' ends where it does. Without confirmation of more episodes, fans like me are left to sit back and hope for resolution. Even if that resolution comes in the form of more teasing conspiracies that lead to more unanswered questions.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The X-Files: The Event Series' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox. This six-episode series is spread out between two BD50 discs, four episodes on Disc One, two episodes on Disc Two. Extra features are spread out between both discs. The discs are housed in an eco-friendly two-disc case. The Disc One opens with trailers for other 20th Century Fox produced television content before arriving at an animated main menu featuring traditional navigation options. Disc Two opens directly to a similar animated main menu with traditional navigation options. This set is designed to fit into the larger 'Complete Series' box set that was previously released. A flier advertising the various comic book collections (which are actually pretty good) from IDW is also included.
'The X-Files: The Event Series' arrives with a beautiful digitally sourced 1.78:1 1080p image presentation. While not shot the same, the image maintains a consistent appearance with the later season episodes of the original series' run. Detail levels are wonderfully crisp. Facial features, especially Mitch Pileggi's beard, hair styling, some lizard scales, alien skin - all look fantastic. The show's impeccable production design hasn't lost a step in the intervening years and everything is on display with this transfer. Colors are bright, bold, with fantastic primary saturation. Flesh tones are even and natural looking… at least when the character in question actually has flesh. Black levels are rich and inky without any crush issues to speak of. Contrast is stable without any white blooms and the image is free of any sort of compression artifacts. Considering the 14 years since the original run ended, it's great to see how well this new series recaptured the look at feel of the old episodes.
Each episode of this Event Series arrives with a stellar English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix. Sound design was always a signature aspect of the show. From the classic opening credits tune to the ear-piercing ringing of the psychic attack featured in episode S10E02 'Founder's Mutation,' the mixes for each episode is practically perfect. Dialogue is front and center and never overpowered by sound effects or the series creepy score by returning series composer Mark Snow. The surround channels find their rhythm during the series' more eventful action/horror driven moments. During the more dialogue-driven scenes, the surround channels are used for atmosphere and giving the scene a sense of space and dimension. The mixes tend to keep to the midranges, the score and some sound effects give the track a bit of LFE and deep tonal resonance that adds the right amount of creepiness to certain episodes. Levels are well balanced and you shouldn't have any need to monitor volume. All around, this series has fantastic audience mixes.
'Founders Mutation' Audio Commentary: Chris Carter and James Wong cover some pretty interesting ground with this episode as it was originally intended to appear at a difference place during the run, but also because it's a monster of the week episode that ties back to some character history from the original series' run.
'Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster' Audio Commentary: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Kumail Nanjiani, and Episode Director Darin Morgan. Unfortunately, this is a split commentary with David and Gillian together and Kumail and Darin together. It's well edited together well and is a ton of fun. Even with all four of them not sharing the same room, it's great to hear each pair interact with each other and their excitement to make the episode and doing the show again.
'My Struggle II' Audio Commentary: Chris Carter and Gabe Rotter share the duties of covering the climatic episode of the series. It's difficult to talk about this one considering the spoiler-laden nature of the episode, but Carter and Rotter fill the episode with tons of information about making the episode, the themes they aimed to tackle and how they came to ending the series where they did.
Deleted Scenes: (HD 5:21) Some good moments here and there, but not a lot of material that feels "missing" in any way.
43:45 - The Making of a Struggle: (HD 53:35) This is a fairly exhaustive look at what it took to bring the series back together, the returning cast and crew and features a ton of great interviews with various major players.
Season X: (HD 1:23:16) This fascinating feature covers a lot of ground of how the show ended after Season Nine, the unfortunate box office outcome of 'I Want To Believe,' and then all of the fan intervention that went into getting the executives at Fox willing to even consider a return of the characters and how the 20th Anniversary Comic-Con panel in 2013 got a lot of the interest growing. This is a lot of fun because while it talks to cast and crew, it also brings in fans who helped influence the comeback.
Gag Reel: (HD 9:38) Your usual on-set crack up and goofs, some are fun, a lot of silliness. The best ones are from the 'Were-Monster' episode.
Monster of the Week: (HD 10:54) This one features Kumail Nanjiani covering his profound love of the X-files from watching the show as a kid to creating a podcast as he spends his time with this feature talking about his favorite monsters of the week! It's a great little feature and it's very clear Kumail is a big fan of the show and knows these episodes like the back of his hand.
The X-Files: Green Production: (HD 2:44) This is a very brief but pretty cool look at how they worked to make the show environmentally friendly.
'Grace' Short Film by Karen Nielsen: (HD 9:36) Karen Nielsen was the script coordinator for the series. It's a pretty decent little short film about a small girl surviving in the dystopia. It's actually pretty creepy stuff and could make for its own X-Files episode!
'The X-Files: The Event Series' may not quite be the full return fans of the show expected or wanted, but it proves to be a hell of a reintroduction to everyone's favorite conspiracy, monster-hunting FBI agents. This was a tantalizing return that answers few questions and raises even more - that hopefully will be answered in future episodes. Fingers crossed! 20th Century Fox brings this Event Series to Blu-ray in fine order with a beautiful A/V presentation that brings back all of the best aspects of the show's original production design. Extra features are exhaustive and will keep fans occupied for hours. 'The X-Files: The Event Series' Blu-ray release is an absolute must own for fans of the show, and if you're on the fence about buying Blu-rays of 'The X-Files' and need a little re-introduction to Mulder and Scully for old times sake, consider this Event Series release highly recommended.