X-Files: Season 4 (1996)
1st January 2000
Hidden away in a dark corner of an FBI office, Fox "Spooky" Mulder works for a division of the FBI dealing with the paranormal and unexplained. Whilst Mulder is always quick to suggest that the events surrounding the various cases are down to the paranormal, Scully is the level headed one who is ready to explain everything in a rational manner. However, she's seen so much that it is becoming harder and harder for her to explain every event with a logical answer.
The accusations of a government conspiracy and cover up over the existence of extra terrestrials continues to expand during season four with the bounty hunter, black oil and alien autopsies continuing to cause Mulder to get excited and Scully to frown. During one particular case involving a headless corpse supposedly getting up and leaving the morgue, Scully starts to have nose bleeds and her health starts to deteriorate. Her condition even makes her a target for their quarry.
Not only does Mulder have to continue his quest for the truth but he's also looking for a cure for Scully's ailment that only the cigarette smoking man can provide. As the pair continue to bond and become ever closer, will Scully's condition finally give fans of the X-files the scene they most desperately want to see?
There are four episodes per disc, with disc seven containing the extras, giving a running time of approximately 2 hours 56 minutes per disc. The episodes in the box-set are as follows
- The Field Where I Died
- Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man
- Paper Hearts
- El Mundo Gira
- Leonard Betts
- Never Again
- Memento Mori
- Tempus Fugit
- Small Potatoes
- Zero Sum
The picture is reasonable enough but with the large number of dark interior and exterior scenes (don't these people ever work during the day?) the reproduction is certainly a challenge to the format. Fortunately there are no signs of artifacting, outlining or edge enhancements and the bit-rate remains reasonably high throughout the entire season. However, there were a few occasions when the picture became rather grainy and to be honest, a bit of a distraction.
The soundtrack is good enough but, unsurprisingly, not on par with a big Hollywood blockbuster. It's a shame really as the standard stereo soundtrack could have really benefited from something more exciting, especially when it came to the more dramatic scenes. Never the less, the dialogue is clear enough and every member of the cast is easily heard. It's just a great pity that Fox couldn't remaster the soundtrack into something more acceptable, after all you are paying nearly 70 pounds for the privilege of owning the set.
The seven discs continue to be presented in a pleasant fold out box-set, although there is still the issue of the long term ware and tare of the packaging. As the number of box-sets increase your collection will soon start to look at the more impressive. The booklet is reasonably useful, with chapter listings for each episode, but it is still padded with the episode listings and air dates of all the other episodes to date.
As the series progresses the extras are improving with each new box-set. Season fours are certainly impressive as we go behind the scenes and look at how some of the special effects were created for the series. Although some of the computer generated effects still look a bit on the obvious side some of the larger sets are remarkable. This is highlighted in the behind the scenes look at the filming of the 'Max' episode where a UFO and passenger plane are supposedly shot down by an fighter jet. The set of the crash site was made up of bits from a crashed aircraft and the area was strewn with debris. It was so realistic that members of the public were phoning local radio and television stations reporting that there had been a plane crash.
The interview clips with the various directors and writers is also interesting, especially with all of the fuss created with the episode 'Home' and its suggestion of interbreeding and incest. The episode caused so much controversy that it was banned from the rather prudish US television screens. A shame really, as it is definitely one of the best shows of the season.
Overall the quality of the episodes in season four are good with a few classics. Naturally, there are a few stinkers but fortunately they are far and few between. The balance between the conspiracy theories and the more bizarre stories is just about right, but unfortunately in the future seasons the alien conspiracies disappear up its own behind and start to become rather tiresome. Best make the most of it.
I'm sure all X-files fans with a DVD player will be wanting to collect these box-sets, whilst those fans who already own the video versions may be a little more reluctant to make another purchase. Mind you, with interviews, behind the scenes features, deleted scenes (with one being particularly interesting) and audio commentaries on a couple of the episodes it really makes it a worth while purchase, even more so when you consider that each episode is subtitled for the hard of hearing.
- "The Truth about Season Four"
- Promotional Spots
- Interview Clips with Writers and Directors
- Behind the Truth Spots
- Special Effects Clips
- Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Chris Carter
- Episode commentaries on Memento Mori and Small Potatoes