David Duchovny …. Fox Mulder
Gillian Anderson …. Dana Scully
Robert Patrick …. John Doggett
Mitch Pileggi …. Walter Skinner
William B. Davis …. Cigarette Smoking Man/CGB Spender
James Pickens Jr. …. FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh
Nicholas Lea …. Alex Krycek
Jeff Gulka …. Gibson Andrew Praise
Chris Owens …. FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Spender
Mimi Rogers …. Agent Diana Fowley
Veronica Cartwright …. Cassandra Spender
Don S. Williams …. Elder #1
John Finn …. Michael Kritschgau
With the next X-Files Mythology DVD set, the conspiracy to enslave the people of Earth is in full swing. This new set entitled Colonization takes our heroes Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) to the ends of the Earth and beyond to try and uncover this plot. Those wondering when The X-Files was going to finally payoff on its subjects of the alien conspiracy and the abduction of Mulder’s sister get their due. The 16 episodes here occur during two major changes that take place during the show’s evolution, with many being some of the series’ best outings.
The arc of the first three installments on this set are the episodes leading up to the X-Files Movie entitled Fight the Future. The first two, Patient X and The Red and the Black, feature Cassandra Spender (Veronica Cartwright) a multiple time alien abuductee. In these episodes, Cassandra becomes the focus of the Syndicate, the group responsible for trying to make the path for the coming alien invasion. Fortunately, Scully and Mulder do everything in their power to protect her.
The most interesting feature of this “two-parter” is the how the dynamic of the show changed for a few episodes. In these installments, Scully and Cassandra become close as they were both the victims of abductions and share the feelings that something big is about to happen to them. Simultaneously, Fox Mulder is losing his faith in the belief about extraterrestrials due to some traumatizing experiences in previous episodes. He believes in a government conspiracy, but feels that his theory about extraterrestrials was merely a smoke screen concocted by the Syndicate to hide a greater conspiracy of global domination. So in essence Mulder becomes the skeptic and Scully becomes the believer.
Two other major introductions happen in these installments. FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens) is the first. He becomes the thorn in the side of Mulder and Scully as he believes his mother, Cassandra, is mentally ill and that his fellow FBI agents are exploiting her. Spender also has a connection to the series’ greatest villain, the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) which is revealed later on. Also introduced is the Rebel Faction of aliens. These are aliens fighting against the race of the Black Oil that is working with the Syndicate to enslave Earth and indeed the rest of the Universe. These rebels have mutilated themselves to cover any orifice which the Black Oil could enter their bodies, and burn alive all those against them.
The problem with these episodes is that there is so much going on; it’s hard to keep up. Cassandra believes those aliens that have abducted her in the past are actually benevolent, and when the rebels show up to set a bunch of innocents on fire, its hard to argue with. Only we find out later that perhaps the aliens aren’t as benign as first thought and maybe the rebels are correct in what they are doing.
The mythology gets even deeper with the next two episodes, The End and The Beginning. These center on a young boy named Gibson Praise, a psychic played by child actor Jeff Gulka. Gibson is a great character who seems old beyond his years in a way that child actors seemed when working with Steven Spielberg on his earlier pictures. The End is the last episode from the series before the feature film came out. It was also the last episode to be filmed in Vancouver as the series moved to L.A. With The Beginning, the series picks up where it left off, but with much brighter surroundings. The problem with this move is that many of the locations seem to lose some of the much needed atmosphere of the show. This is offset with higher production values.
Near the end of Season 7 of The X-files the show may have really been running out of momentum. The series had answered many of the questions that it had posed to its audience over the years as to the situation with the Syndicate and Mulder’s family. With the news that star David Duchovny was leaving the show, The X-Files was forced to completely change focus.
The season finale of the Season 7, Requiem has Mulder abducted by aliens. Smartly, the creators of the series use this as a catalyst for the series’ new direction. With the Season 8 premiere, Within, the FBI starts a massive manhunt for Mulder. Leading the search for Fox is Special Agent John Doggett, played by Robert Patrick. The episode is expertly directed and is a great segway into establishing Doggett for the show’s audience. By the end of the next episode Without, Patrick is a full part of the cast and Scully’s new partner on the FBI’s X-Files.
Once again, fans just looking for the meat of The X-Files storyline would do well to purchase these DVD sets. The biggest problem with the series’ run on television is that one has to be so patient while the series unfolds over several seasons. These sets promise to tell you that same story in 60 episodes. The installments range from stellar to frustrating as storylines get tied up and others seem to leave loose ends, but that’s the fun of the series anyway. Its hard to stop watching episodes once the ball gets rolling, and when you’re out of DVD’s you can’t wait to get the next one.
Once again the transfer here is great. The viewing pleasure is even enhanced from the previous set by presenting each episode in Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This gives the series a more theatrical look than it had previously.
The sound quality doesn’t let down either. The track is once again presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Sound. The series may actually look and sound better on DVD then it ever did on television.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentaries on episodes Patient X , The Red and the Black, Two Fathers, One Son, Closure, Within, Threads of Mythology – Colonization Featurette.
Patient X – Audio Commentary by Director Kim Manners: With the Colonization DVD set, you get twice as many commentaries as you do on the previous set, Black Oil. Unfortunately, most of these commentaries are by Director Kim Manners, who is kind of dry and doesn’t always seem to have a lot to say. This is not to call into question as a director, as he is one of the series’ best, but at the same time that doesn’t necessarily mean you can do a great commentary. He does have some interesting points in this episode as he discusses how Veronica Cartwright has know him since they were children and also how well Vancouver locations stand in for the what is supposed to be settings around the world.
The Red and the Black – Audio Commentary by Series Creator and Director Chris Carter: Chris Carter takes over on the second commentary on a much better track. He speaks about how they consciously changed the dynamic of the show with Mulder and Scully. He goes into detail about how a sequence with a close-up of a typewriter shouldn’t have been as difficult to shoot as it was. Also a big portion of the commentary centers on the move to L.A. and how they had to find atmosphere from different sources as opposed to Vancouver’s surroundings.
Two Fathers – Audio Commentary by Director Kim Manners: This commentary is a bit better from Kim Manners. He talks about how the episode originally featured many inserted flashbacks that had to be taken out when the actor’s didn’t look realistic in makeup. Manners also takes the time to talk about the great work of William B. Davis, whom he states really knows his own screen presence and how to work the camera.
One Son – Audio Commentary by Writer and Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz :This may be the best of the commentaries. Spotnitz is brutally honest about the episode as he states how the episode is extremely important to the show’s continuity, but at the same time isn’t as artistically satisfying. He states that the episode serves to answer many questions, but at the same its way more fun to ask questions than it is to answer them. He speaks very well of David Duchovny’s wit and how he improvises lines quite often.
Closure – Audio Commentary by Director Kim Manners: This is Manners’ worst commentary. To tell you the truth, the biggest problem is that often he doesn’t say anything. Minutes go by with no commentary at all. He states in an early scene where the ghost’s of children rise from graves, he had to trick the kids by calling the holes forts. He said he had to do so in order to not traumatize the children too much. A nice section of the commentary has the director talking about how David Duchovny has a real strength in his acting when it comes to subtlety.
Within – Audio Commentary by Director Kim Manners and Star Robert Patrick: This is a much better track as Robert Patrick forces Manners to speak to him in a more conversational tone. Patrick really admires the director’s work and how well the episode is put together. You can really tell Patrick had a positive experience on The X-Files and it shows here.
Threads of Mythology – Colonization Featurette : These documentaries are wonderful at just explaining what the heck is going on in these episodes and the one on Colonization is no different. In fact, there are so many different aliens and conspiracies, that this documentary is very crucial to understanding how the series is put together. Everything is put together in a linear fashion with plot points discussed and important moment broken down.