“THE X-FILES: THE COMPLETE SEASON 11”
Blu-ray, DVD; 2018; TV-14; streaming via Amazon Video, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: “The Scully Effect”
IT’S BEEN 25 years since series creator Chris Carter introduced us to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully – and the truth is harder to find than ever, both onscreen and in real life.
Who can blame the fearless duo played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson for getting tired? They’ve tackled it all from alien abductions to unnatural creatures and people, with little support outside of their sympathetic FBI boss Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), and attacks by the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and other bad guys.
It’s no surprise Anderson is ready to call it quits. She wants to turn in her scalpel. Carter says he has no interest in continuing without her, although the Fox sale to Disney might change things according to Den of Geek.
Meanwhile, there’s Season 11 available in a fine 1080p transfer (1.78:1 ratio) and six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack from 20th Century Fox. It’s as worthy a presentation as ever with good color, detail and contrast in all those dimly lit scenes. Yes, there’s a faintly soft focus on our heroes from time to time, all the better to temper age lines. DPs should have backed off; Mulder and Scully have been through a lot – are still going through it – and have earned their worry lines and blemishes. Save the effects for the monsters.
Fortunately, we get a few of those in the 10 episode season, although it seems most of the time is spent with the alien takeover storyline. Alien vs. creatures, human and non, has been a prevailing battle among X-fans for decades. For those who dislike the alien storyline that took over when Anderson became pregnant and to miss most of a season, even the arrival of Skully’s 17-year-old son William (Jackson Van De Kamp) fails to spark interest. There’s a squicky reveal this season that makes us all want the story go away … especially if it’s true.
If the stories seem flawed and maze of alien interaction tiresome, the bonus features make the Season 11 release a winner, especially for fans who have been with the show – and its two films – since its debut in September 1993. “Implanted Memories: 25 Years of ‘The X-Files’” showcases each season’s best with comments from Carter and the cast. It’s a terrific “remember when” the show was groundbreaking, must-see TV.
“The Scully Effect” recalls the impact of Anderson’s Dana Scully. There had never been a smart, capable female character like her on TV before. There were glimpses in “Honey West” (Anne Francis) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) in “The Avengers.” Still, like Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, Scully became a force to be reckoned with. Viewers weren’t used to seeing an accomplished woman in a powerful role, the equal – if not the master – of other male characters. There are many on film and TV today, but at the time Dana Skully was revolutionary – and an inspiration to young women who wanted to follow in her footsteps and did! The extra has interviews from women who became professionals themselves because of her influence.
“Conversation on the Fox Lot” has Duchovny and Anderson interviewing each other and asking good questions. The differences between these two people and their characters are very apparent. And charming.
There’s good commentary on two episodes, “Kitten” and “My Struggle IV,” and a gag reel. “Green Production” is a pleasant surprise showing how “The X-Files” practices good neighbor-sense while filming, donating leftover craft service food to organizations that help others. The show won a “green” award for its social and ecological sensitivity and compliance. Well done!
“Solve for X: Constructing Season 11” is a near-hour long, spoiler-heavy making-of. Carter, writers, crew and cast talk about how the season came together.
Shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” helped inspire “The X-Files.” But there’s no doubt Carter, Mulder and Scully encouraged the development of series like “Stranger Things,” “Black Mirror,” “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story.” Strong characters and good plotting surrounding mostly paranormal/speculative (and sometimes true) events will always capture our hearts and imaginations.
— Kay Reynolds