After nine years of monsters, aliens and shadow government conspiracies, The X-Files closed its doors during the spring of 2002. Taken off air as a result of declining ratings and a general drop in quality, its loss left a large hole in the hearts of many who’d followed along since the early 90s.
Thankfully for us Xphiles, what was once thought to be dead didn’t stay buried long. In 2008, creator Chris Carter brought his now iconic series back into the limelight with the stand-alone movie, I Want to Believe. However, while it brought fans the married Mulder and Scully tandem that they’d been pining for for years, an uninteresting plot, some embarrassing writing and poor casting decisions led to a box office flop.
I Want to Believe‘s high profile failure was thought to be the final nail in the show’s coffin. Fans were unhappy, Fox was far from impressed and it seemed as if that shit show would be the last we’d ever see of Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. At least, as portrayed by actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.
Oh, how wrong we were.
Following multiple petitions, social media campaigns and feelers from Duchovny himself, it was announced that The X-Files would return to primetime for a limited, ‘short stack’ engagement, starting in January of 2016. Penciled in for a mere six episodes, it would mark the return of the series’ major players, and would be considered its tenth season.
Now, just a handful of months after it ended — on a cliffhanger, no less — said tenth season has made its way to Blu-ray, albeit with a new title. Now, instead of calling it Season 10, Fox wants us to call this short stack The X-Files: The Event Series.
Let’s just hope that it won’t end up being the only one.
Things pick up some time after the end of the second movie, and it isn’t long before it’s revealed that Mulder and Scully have split. They still care about and love one another, but their romantic days are behind them.
Scully, who’s returned to work at a local hospital, does what’s referred to as God’s work, by helping surgeons give ears to children who were born without them. Mulder? Well, he’s the same guy we knew and loved, and hasn’t let go of his pursuit of the truth. In fact, his house — which happens to be the same one the couple shared when they were together — is littered with pictures, papers and files pertaining to abductions, UFO sightings and other such events.
The two return to the FBI after being contacted by an annoying Internet conspiracy theorist named Tad O’Malley, who’s portrayed by Joel McHale. A truth crusader, himself, O’Malley has reached out to the agents because he has something to show them, and an alleged abduction survivor to introduce them to. Thus begins a quest that redefines what The X-Files‘ mythology was all about, and one that will push the duo to the brink, both physically and emotionally.
Marking the return of more than just the two familiar faces, that canon storyline comprises the first and last episodes of The Event Series, those being “My Struggle” (which acts as Mulder’s side of the story) and “My Struggle II,” which mostly focuses on Scully. In-between are four different episodes, all of which were penned and directed by a different member of the series’ illustrious writing staff.
First up is James Wong’s Founder’s “Mutation,” a solid episode that marks the first time sound was made the focus of an X-Files episode. It’s followed by Darin Morgan’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” which is the standout of the entire package. Featuring smart humour, intelligent nods to the past and a great performance from Rhys Darby, it’s the one episode you really need to watch.
The other two — Glen Morgan’s “Home Again” (a decent monster-of-the-week episode about a social avenger who lives amongst garbage) and Chris Carter’s “Babylon” — help fill out a short season that is decent but unspectacular. “Babylon,” itself, will forever live in infamy, because of a very divisive and kind of cringeworthy segment in which Mulder takes magic mushrooms and ends up line dancing at a country bar while hot women shake their asses around him. Hell, he even has lettered knuckle jewelry that says, “Mush-Room” and finds himself drinking alongside Assistant Director Walter Skinner and The Lone Gunmen.
The first time I watched “Babylon,” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Mulder taking magic mushrooms? Line dancing at a country bar? Acting like a complete idiot? It left me flabbergasted. And, to this day, it’s hard not to cringe when thinking about it. However, when I rewatched “Babylon” this morning, I found it to be better than I’d remembered. There’s a solid episode to be found there, and it was certainly nice to see Lauren Ambrose (who was part of my favourite TV show, Six Feet Under) again.
Housed in a basic jewel case, The X-Files: The Event Series comes to Blu-ray bearing two discs. Disc one is all business, containing the first four episodes as well as in-depth commentary tracks for two of them. Then, the second disc follows up with the final two episodes, plus a glut of extras that will satisfy any fan.
Since it’s a newer show — at least as far as this season is concerned — everyone will go in expecting this Blu-ray to look great, which it does. In fact, The X-Files has never looked better, thanks to rich, detailed and mostly stable 1080p transfers. Although it looked good when it aired, a lack of broadcast compression and an upgrade to full 1080p really makes these six episodes shine.
That’s not to say that The X-Files: The Event Series has come to Blu-ray without any issues. White noise was noticeable in at least one outdoor shot, while one of the final episode’s hospital scenes was surprisingly problematic. I’m not exactly sure of how to describe it, but what I saw looked like wavy hatch lines, which reduced the image’s quality by affecting its focus and resolution. It only lasted for a couple of minutes, but was definitely distracting.
Thankfully, the audio doesn’t have any such issues. It’s polished, well-mixed, boisterous and very easy to understand. Audio has always been a strong suit of The X-Files, though, so it’s no surprise that this trend carries over, with a great original score and fitting licensed music to boot.
Although the video and sound quality definitely deserve commendation, outside of the two mentioned hiccups, it’s the special features that really make this set worth owning.
For starters, three of the episodes (Founder’s “Mutation,” “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” and “My Struggle II”) have full audio commentaries, all of which offer some great insights into how they were shot and the reasoning behind their creation. Chris Carter has his own for “My Struggle II,” and guests on James Wong’s track for Founder’s “Mutation,” where he asks a lot of questions about the shooting process because he was away filming his own episode. Both are interesting listens, but the best commentary (by far) is the one for “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” which has Gillian and David discussing the episode during their first time viewing it. They’re not alone, though, as the track jumps between their discussion and a chat between director Darin Morgan and guest star Kumail Nanjiani.
The other special features include the expected (a gag reel and a couple of forgettable deleted scenes), and the great (two lengthy features that discuss the making of each episode and bringing Season 10 into existence.) Those two, alone, add up to two-and-a-half hours of fantastically rich and in-depth content that all X-Files fans will thoroughly appreciate. Going further, there’s also a top ten monster-of-the-week episodes list narrated by Kumail Nanjiani, an impressive short film from one of the crew members and a brief feature about how green the show’s production was.
I guess it goes without saying, but The X-Files: The Event Series is well worth the purchase. Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the series’ recent return, the special features are almost worth the price of admission in and of themselves.
If you're a fan of the show, then The X-Files: The Event Series is a must own on Blu-ray. Not only does it boast great transfers and thoroughly impressive audio, but it's chock full of excellent special features that all Xphiles will love.