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Final Season of an Oustanding Series,
By A Customer
This review is from: The X Files: Season 9 [DVD] (DVD)
This 7-disc collection, sporting some particularly impressive cover art, marks the end of an era for the first ever show to be released on DVD as a season boxset. Many fans of The X-Files would argue that this ninth and final season was a huge downturn for the series as it slowly faded out, but it is extremely important not to let this highly vocal opinion colour your judgement as the season is not all that bad. It certainly matches if not exceeds the creative level the series began with back in its first year.
The premiere episodes, “Nothing Important Happened Today”, mark the point where David Duchovny left the regular cast, not appearing at all until the finale – barring one uncredited cameo. The series coped very well without him thanks to the fine surrounding cast, but the disappearance of his Mulder character was not quite so straightforward and, in the end, pretty poorly handled – he’s just gone. Yet there is still merit in much of the opening story as with the guest appearance of Lucy Lawless (aka Xena Warrior Princess) as a menacing Super Soldier, as well as the performances of new leads Robert Patrick (Doggett) and Annabeth Gish (Reyes).
This trend is continued in a number of strong episodes in the first half of the season with the eerie “Daemonicus”, gory “Hellbound”, and the definite highlights “Trust No 1” and “4-D” – the latter of which marking the return of Assistant Director Brad Follmer, played by Cary Elwes, who was an intriguing shade-of-grey character but unfortunately under-used. However, later episode “Lord of the Flies” is possibly the worst episode in all nine years, and this is probably why Season 9 is rated so poorly (and more than a little unfairly). Just ignore this episode and put it down to the ineptitude of a certain debutant writer.
The mid-season mythology two-parter “Provenance” and “Providence” expands the ongoing mystery into Scully’s baby, William, and allows Gillian Anderson to pull off some fine acting as the desperately protective mother. Neal McDonough (of “Star Trek: First Contact” and “Minority Report”) makes a good guest appearance as a renegade FBI Agent, and the recurring villain of The Toothpick Man (Alan Dale) makes his debut in a role of little substance beyond his excellent name and enigmatic screen presence.
The second half of the season consists largely of stand-alones, amongst which the best entries have to be “Audrey Pauley”, where Annabeth Gish acts superbly in the region between life and death, and “Improbable” featuring a quirky appearance by Burt Reynolds. Also, the mystery surrounding Scully’s child is almost solved, or at least brought to an end in the strong and emotional “William” which was directed by David Duchovny. This eventually leads to the feature-length series finale which is fittingly titled “The Truth” as the ongoing conspiracy mythology is finally tied together. Unfortunately this doesn’t really give the audience any new information, but there is enough poignancy, spectacular action, and the return of several old faces via an effective plot device to make this a memorable event.
Overall, this is not one of The X-Files’ best seasons, but it is the last one and by no means as bad as the fan community or media make out. However, if you have bought all three feature videos/DVDs from this season you will already own over one third of the episodes anyway, so it may well not be worth the extra expense. But what you don’t own is the unprecedented volume of bonus material spread across two whole discs.
There are the usual documentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes (3 of which come from “The Truth”) and effects walkthroughs that fans have come to expect, but there are also some entirely unexpected features such as a 90-minute documentary devoted to the making of the series finale, two 45-mintute documentaries released several years previously, and an exciting 20-minute “Tribute to The X-Files”. On top of that there are 3 audio commentaries on the episodes “Improbable” (by Chris Carter), “Jump the Shark” (by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, & Frank Spotnitz), and of course “The Truth” (by Kim Manners). These appealing extra special features make this last ever season boxset truly one to be savoured, as if the episodes weren’t enough anyway. Fox Home Entertainment truly deserve some thanks for this superb final release.