The X-Files is one of the most influential shows in television history. It invented the idea of a cold 10-minute open to kick off the story (which shows like Breaking Bad used) and seemed to reinvent itself every few episodes. It was and remains one of the most creative dramas ever as far as delivering comedic episodes as well as creative new ways of shooting its two stars. In its 11th season, which premiered last year, the show continued that trend with funny episodes, and episodes that pushed the format. It was certainly a better season than season 10, but it also may be the last. That’s why I just had to have the Blu-ray collection, which drops this week.
Why does this matter?
The Blu-ray comes out September 18th which houses all 10 episodes as well as some excellent features. Quite possibly the best extra feature is a 50 minute documentary highlighting the shows 25 years in existence.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I’m a longtime fan so it’s a nostalgic experience watching new episodes of this show. It’s probably a big reason why they brought it back knowing kids who grew up with it are now in their 30s. It was so successful it spawned multiple movies too and there’s no denying the chemistry between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson). That said, it’s safe to say season 11 isn’t necessarily the best, though it is an improvement over the six episode season 10.
Customary of the show, the mythology episodes tend to drag and are somewhat boring. The Cigarette Smoking Man continues to rile up things, but it’s oddly constructed with an opening and closing that feel disconnected due to the monster of the week episodes that fill out most of the middle of the series. The show does develop the story about Mulder and Scully’s child, which gives some answers and further closure to a long-standing story.
There are a lot of stand-out episodes since they stand alone and allow the writers to play with the format while integrating the chemistry of the two lead characters. One of those stand-out episodes, “Familiar,” which sees Mulder and Scully chasing after a creepy masked man, gets quite creepy and plays into a horror element that could sustain a whole movie. “Kitten” gives Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) some interesting backstory and furthers his relationship with Mulder and Scully. And “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” features no dialogue as Mulder and Scully attempt to stay alive while robots try to kill them after Mulder doesn’t tip at a fully autonomous restaurant.
What about the extra features?
Featurettes include “Solve for X: Constructing Season 11” which runs 40 minutes, “Implanted Memories: 25 Years of The X-Files,” which runs 50 minutes, “The Scully Effect,” which runs 15 minutes, and “Green Production,” which runs five minutes. There’s also an Audio Conversation on the Fox Lot with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson which runs about 15 minutes and a Gag Reel.
According to the box, this collection has 90 plus minutes of new features and I don’t doubt it. I was very impressed with these extras, especially the look back at 25 years of The X-Files which contains clips both old and new. I suspect this documentary was originally made for previous season releases to show off the history, but they recut it with new interviews and footage. It’s a great documentary that reveals why the show is so special and how much it has grown over the years. “Constructing Season 11” is also quite good, featuring interviews with the cast, but also writers and directors. They highlight a few of the episodes and the challenges they faced as well as how the production shifted and changed from writing to shooting, to editing. It ends sadly though with series showrunner Chris Carter confirming Gillian Anderson will not be coming back for another season.
“The Scully Effect” is a nice documentary that highlights how important it was to have a strong female character in the sciences when the show aired in the 90s. It goes into how the character inspired women who are now in science fields today. It also dips into how the latest season tried to incorporate more female directors. Additionally, “Green Production” highlights how the show is sustainable and actually won an award for their efforts for season 10. Rounding out the extras is an interview with Anderson and Duchovny which is somewhat silly and slightly awkward with both cast members interviewing each other. You get the impression they were obligated to shoot this, but they do get into some interesting bits on the latest season and their characters over the years. It’s telling they discuss their age and how difficult shooting this show can be, which further confirms Gillian Anderson may be done for good. They even dip into Duchovny’s dog Brick Duchovny’s Twitter and how famous he’s become. Finally, there is the gag reel which is fantastic. It made me laugh quite a few times.
It can’t be perfect can it?
If you’re a fan of audio commentary, unfortunately, there are only two episodes with commentary. They cover the episode “Kitten” and the finale “My Struggle IV”. Speaking of “My Struggle IV” that ending and the opening “My Struggle III” are just not up to snuff in comparison to the monster of the week episodes. I’ve never been a big X-Files mythology fan, but here it just seems overdone and boring. We’ve got the same villain (who has died three times now) back messing with Mulder and Scully. Chris Carter has the gall to throw a whopper of a twist on who the real father of Scully’s baby is only to reverse it at the end. The show is already overly complicated in its mythology and it seems to get even more curveballs here. These episodes have their moments, but they feel as if they were written by someone not quite on top of their game.
Is it good?
This is a good season that serves as an okay ending season to the show, but at least it’s far stronger than the 10th season that originated after eight years of no X-Files at all. This is a beloved series that is at once original and entertaining and this season captures that perfectly throughout. The extras support just how important the show is as well as give viewers interesting insight as well. Well worth a purchase.