Television Reviews

DVD Review – The X-Files: Season One – The Truth is Out There

Back in 1993, a series premiered on the FOX network which would bring many of those disenchanted with network television back in front of the screen. This was an unconventional series that focused on two FBI agents who took on unconventional cases and government cover-ups no one else wanted. It wasn’t afraid to poke fun at itself at times and give unlikely explanations for many events involved in the conspiracy theories of the day.

The creator of The X-Files, Chris Carter, was a California surfer turned television writer. He had written mostly for a series of comedies with Disney when a story about how many Americans believed they had been abducted by UFOs grabbed his attention. The show he crafted had two agents who usually didn’t share the same perspective trying to investigate cases that were rather unconventional.

Long before the show took itself too seriously and began to run an ongoing serial-type story about… well, I won’t spoil that. Let’s just say that in later seasons, The X-Files was more like a paranormal soap opera filled with government conspiracies and more convoluted storylines than I could keep track of. I was one of those hooked from the first season, and I still feel that those early shows were some of the best.

The first episode, appropriately titled Pilot, introduces the characters of Fox Mulder (portrayed by David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (portrayed by Gillian Anderson). They are two FBI agents. Mulder is more unconventional and has garnered the nickname “Spooky” due to his proclivity to take on cases that no one else wants and which seem to have a paranormal or otherwise unexplainable solution to them. Scully has been assigned to de-bunk most of his cases and their solution. With her background in forensics and medicine, the powers that be in the FBI figure she is perfect for the job.

That theme is carried through much of the first season. Mulder is open to all possibilities and embraces the explanations which defy science; defy conventional wisdom. Scully always insists there must be a logical explanation for what is happening.

The cases Mulder and Scully deal with have been labeled X-Files, hence the title for the series. These cases have been deemed unsolvable for a variety of reasons, and Mulder theorizes there is something strange going on. Sometimes it’s paranormal; sometimes it involves a government cover-up or conspiracy; sometimes it has to do with aliens. In any case, these early cases in the series are very interesting and compelling. The scripts are well-written with terrific dialogue, especially between the two leads.

The first episode also brings in recurring characters such as The Cigarette Smoking Man, Deep Throat, It also tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of Mulder’s sister Samantha when he was 12 and she was 8, which had plagued him since it happened and is the driving force which is pushing him in this direction.

The lead in to that first episode states The following is inspired by actual documented accounts. I take it they mean the case and not the two FBI agents.

The season featured many stand-alone episodes, rather than the ongoing story which would become the focus of the series in later seasons. This is what drew me to the series in the first place – episodes like Squeeze, The Jersey Devil, Shapes, and Shadows. Paranormal phenomenon are brought up as well as mysterious creatures, UFOs, hauntings, and more.

One of my favorite X-Files episodes of all was this season, When Darkness Falls. I was creepier than any campfire story I ever knew and sure made me look at the dark woods differently – even though I live in the middle of them now. Some ideas that seemed to be cutting edge at the time seem dated now. In The Erlenmeyer Flask, the main topic is gene therapy, something Scully describes as “revolutionary” and “experimental”.

There were many notable guest stars this season, some who would go on to much more later on. Xander Berkeley, Felicity Huffmann, Scott Bairstow, and other faces you might recognize but not be sure of the name appeared during this season.

The two lead characters are cast near perfectly. Chris Carter had to buck the network in casting Gillian Anderson. The network wanted a buxom blonde in the role – more Pam Anderson than Gillian. Thankfully, Carter stuck to his guns. Duchovny was also fairly unknown when he took on this role. Having two unknowns in the role helped immerse fans in the series all the more without the prejudices that come with actors already known for other roles.

This first season is packaged quite nicely. There are some decent extras with deleted scenes for a few episodes. Some of the International Clips with the characters’ dialogue in different languages are pretty funny. The seventh disc contains an overview of the season and an interview with Chris Carter. Watching that, I wish this had been an era when pod casts were done as I imagine his would have been quite interesting.

The X-Files Season One is definitely worth having on DVD. It’s accessible even to those who aren’t particularly science fiction fan as it often has techniques that are reminiscent of the CSI-type shows. I like the structure and the cases in this season possibly best of all.

Disc One:

• Pilot
• Deep Throat
• Squeeze
• Conduit

Extra Features:

• International Clips from Pilot
• Deleted Scenes for Pilot

Disc Two:

• The Jersey Devil
• Shadows
• Ghost in the Machine
• Ice

Extra Features:

• International Clips from The Jersey Devil
• International Clips from Ice

Disc Three:

• Space
• Fallen Angel
• Eve
• Fire

Extra Features:

• International Clips from Space
• International Clips from Fire

Disc Four:

• Beyond the Sea
• Genderbender
• Lazarus
• Young at Heart

Extra Features:

• International Clips from Beyond the Sea

Disc Five:

• E.B.E.
• Miracle Man
• Shapes
• Darkness Falls

Extra Features:

• International Clips from E.B.E.

Disc Six:

• Tooms
• Born Again
• Roland
• The Erlenmeyer Flask

Extra Features:

• International Clips from Tooms
• International Clips from The Erlenmeyer Flask

Disc Seven:

• Documentary: The Truth About Season One
• Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes
• “Behind the Truth”
• Television Spots
• Deleted Scenes
• DVD ROM Features

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