I still have my complaints about this odd series of DVD sets from Fox. The basic idea isn't a bad one under the right circumstances: take all of the mythology episodes from THE X-FILES and group them in four inexpensive sets that leave out the stand alone episodes in order to tell "the X-Files story." I'm still not quite sure who the target audience for these sets is. Neophytes will be missing the standalone episodes that are just as typical of the series as the mythology episodes (and that represent many of the finest episodes), and serious fans already have all these episodes. To sum up, here are my complaints:
1. Instead of providing some inexpensive Mythology sets, FOX Entertainment should instead have focused on cutting the exorbitant prices of the complete season sets. They should provide us with sets that list around $59.95, so that places like Amazon can sell them at initial offerings of $38.
2. The sets come with minimal extras, largely recycling the special features from the original boxed DVD sets.
3. While the Mythology sets serve a function by calling attention to the seasons-long story arc, they hurt by eliminating the standalone episodes, which are just as crucial to developing the Mulder-Scully chemistry as the Mythology episodes.
4. In the end, the sets feel like an attempt to milk X-FILE fans who are anxious for new material while waiting and hoping for a new feature length film.
Nonetheless, I can support the idea of these sets for two reasons. First, they do help focus attention on the alien colonization story arc that runs through the various seasons of THE X-FILES. Second, they are very cheap.
Unfortunately, after this third set, things go downhill pretty quickly. I absolutely love THE X-FILES, and even loved Season Eight after Duchovny largely left the show, and much of Season Nine after he was gone entirely (though his memory lingered on). But the fourth set will be dedicated to the Super Soldiers story arc, and that was the one truly awful thing that ever occurred in THE X-FILES. The story arc that ended with the destruction of the cooperative efforts with the aliens striving to colonize earth left the show without much structure in Season Seven, so I can understand the desire to reintroduce structure with a new story arc. Unfortunately, the Super Soldiers simply didn't work, partly because they were a little too powerful (though they did find a kind of kryptonite that worked against them), and partly because the show was running out of gas when they were introduced, and no one seemed to want to try and make them interesting. Once the main arc that dominated the show from the first season until the very beginning of Season Seven came to an end, the show largely drifted from one standalone episode to another. Some familiar characters reappeared from time to time, like the Cigarette Smoking Man, and we got some alien episodes, but for all intents and purposes the main arc came to an end in "Amor Fati" in Season Seven. Everything after that has a tacked on feeling to it.
The importance of THE X-FILES in popularizing very long story arcs simply cannot be overstated. I've argued in several places that one reason that the ceiling for what television is capable of doing has been raised so high has resulted from the successive contributions of TWIN PEAKS, THE X-FILES, and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, the first by showing that television was capable of telling riveting narratives, the second by exciting us with multi-season story arcs, and the third by keeping the multi-season story arcs, but shifting the main concern from plot to character development. The first three (but not the fourth) of the Mythology sets help make the case for this important contribution THE X-FILES has made to the history of television.