X-Files Essentials on DVD

Wednesday, 09 July 2008 01:00

Sci-fi phenomenon the X-Files is back to captivate and enthral fans old and new – with a new movie heading to multiplexes, here is the release of X-Files Essentials on DVD. This two disc set offers an insider’s pass to the award-winning show just in time for its second trip to the big screen. Hand-picked by X-Files creator Chris Carter, the eight episodes are accompanied by special introductions from Carter and producer Frank Spotnitz, revealing why they were chosen and how they relate to the eagerly-anticipated feature film.


Offering an introductory insight into the paranormal exploits of FBI agents Mulder and Scully, in many respects it also acts as a nostalgic reminder of times past for once dedicated fans. Covering a variety of unexplained cases that centre on alien abductions, psychic phenomenon and inhuman life forms, the episodes set the stage for 1st August, when the new film is out in the UK.


X-Files EssentialsReleased by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and billed as the “greatest cult television show of all time”, does the show live up to such hype after such a passage of time, as represented by this handful of episodes?


The X-Files dominated the small screen throughout the 1990s, quickly becoming a worldwide hit. Indeed, anyone under the age of 12 would not have been born when Cult TV played host to two of the stars – Mitch ‘Skinner’ Pileggi and Nicholas ‘Krycek’ Lea at our Festival back in 1995!


That was perhaps the peak of X-Files Mania. Our biggest-ever audience invaded the Haven Caister Holiday Village on the East Coast of England, in such numbers that we were all caught on the back foot. As this was only our second event, we struggled to keep the frenzied masses entertained. Most of those there were so myopic as to not be interested in the dozen or so other major guests on our billboard that year – it even led to having a dedicated discussion group entitled “Coming to terms with NOT liking the X-Files” as a diversion for the disgruntled numbers not interested in our X-stars.


By the time the show concluded its ninth season, the majority of ‘fans’ had stopped watching, and the adoration quickly subsided. So, in this day and age, when conspiracies of a far-more Earth-based aspect are taking over the interests of so many, is there a place for conspiracies with a capital ‘X’ any more? Indeed, can the franchise effectively capture an entirely new audience that has grown up since the last episode was aired in May 2002?


The show focuses on FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny – now known for Californication) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson – who starred in Bleak House) as they investigate the cases of seemingly alien races, government conspiracies and unexplained phenomena. With Mulder in the role of ‘believer’ and Scully as ‘sceptic’, the duo develop an ambiguous friendship, and an onscreen chemistry that kept viewers guessing in a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ aspect for the majority of the show’s run.


One of the biggest scene stealers during the series is William B Davis as ‘Cigarette Smoking Man’ (in the non-PC days, he was known as ‘Cancer Man’, ya know!), who always has a lot of clues to give over.


The episodes chosen are as follows:


1. Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)

Mulder and Scully’s first case takes them to Oregon, to investigate the unsolved deaths of several high school classmates, which Mulder believes are linked to an alien abduction.

Guest starring: Charles Cioffi (Section Chief Blevins), Cliff Deyoung (Dr Jay Nemman), Sarah Koskoff (Theresa Nemman).

Screenplay: Chris Carter

Director: Robert Mandel

2. Beyond the Sea (Season 1, Episode 13)

Scully spars with the paranormal when her recently deceased father appears to her in a vision. Mulder becomes a sceptic, when a death row inmate he helped send to jails claims to be a psychic offering to lead the agents to a serial killer.

Guest starring: Brad Dourif (Luther Lee Boggs), Don S Davis (Captain William Scully), Sheila Larken (Margaret Scully).

Screenplay: Glen Morgan & James Wong

Director: David Nutter

3. The Host (Season 2, Episode 2)

Skinner sends Mulder to investigate a body washed up in a New Jersey sewer from the ocean. Mulder believes that this run-of-the-mill assignment is punishment, but on Skinner's own admission what he discovers is a true X-File.

Guest starring: Mitch Pileggi (Assistant Director Walter Skinner), Darin Morgan (Flukeman), Marc Baur (Special Agent Brisentine).

Screenplay: Chris Carter

Director: Daniel Sackheim

4. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (Season 3, Episode 4)

While being entertained in a psychic sideshow during a murder case, Mulder and Scully enlist the help of a man who may have a true psychic ability – to be able to see how people will die – a gift which will help the agents catch a man killing fortune tellers.

Guest starring: Peter Boyle (Clyde Bruckman), Ken Roberts (Clerk), Stu Charno (Puppet), Karin Konoval (Zelma).

Screenplay: Darin Morgan

Director: David Nutter

5. Memento Mori (Season 4, Episode 15)

Scully's failing health is dicovered to be inoperable brain cancer – apparently common amongst alien abductees. She meets with others with the same condition and forms a special bond with a dying woman. Meanwhile, Mulder tries to save her from a doctor who may be connected with the abductions.

Guest starring: Mitch Pileggi (Skinner), David Lovgren (Kurt Crawford), Gillian Barber (Penny Northern), Shiela Larken (Mrs Scully), Tom Braidwood (Frohike), Dean Haglund (Langly), Bruce Harwood (Byers), William B Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man).

Screenplay: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, John Shiban & Vince Gilligan

Director: Rob Bowman

6. Post-Modern Prometheus (Season 5 Episode 6)

Filmed in monochrome and with the resonance of a comic book, this is a modern retelling of Frankenstein. Mulder and Scully are caught up in a town where the residents live on Jerry Springer episodes, and fear a two-faced monster who has been impregnating their women.

Guest starring: Mitch Pileggi (Skinner), Pattie Tierce (Shaineh), Stewart Gale (Izzy), Chris Giacoletti (Booger), Chris Owens (Mutato), with Jerry Springer as Himself.

Screenplay: Chris Carter

Director: Chris Carter

7. Bad Blood (Season 5, Episode 12)

Mulder chases down and kills a young man that he believes is a vampire. Scully realises that his fangs are fake. The agents return to DC, aware of the mistake they have made. Faced with a lawsuit from the family of the man, they recount each of their sides of the story that led up to the event.

Guest starring: Mitch Pileggi (Skinner), Patrick Renna (Ronnie Strickland), Luke Wilson (Sheriff Hartwell), Forbes Angus (Funeral Director).

Screenplay: Vince Gilligan

Director: Cliff Bole

8. Milagro (Season 6, Episode 18)

A writer living next to Mulder is obsessed with Scully and confesses to her that he is using her for a character in his novel. Scully finds herself drawn to him, even though he is the prime suspect in the murder case that she and Mulder are working on.

Guest starring: John Hawkes (Phillip Padgett), Nestor Serrano (Ken Naciamento), Michael Bailey Smith (Guard), Angelo Vacco (Kevin), Jillian Bach (Maggie).

Screenplay: Chris Carter, John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz

Director: Kim Manners


Now, whether this is actually what could be described as “essential” episodes in terms of preparing fans for the movie this summer is difficult to assess until we’ve actually seen the movie. Certainly, these aren’t the episodes that shed much light on the on-going conspiracy, which you would think would be the subject of the movie. However, as a set that reveals the scope of episodes and styles utilised in the show’s run, then it certainly ticks all the boxes.

Added to all this in the DVD set is a trailer for the new movie which was prepared for ‘Wondercon 2008’ last February as a sneak preview, as well as a guest panel, including Carter, Anderson and Duchovny, at that same event, running a very respectable three quarters of an hour!

X-Files Essentials is a two disc set with a running time of approx 346 minutes, and has a recommended retail price of £19.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

Thanks to Cult TV and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, you could have had the opportunity to put one of three copies available to win on to your mantelpiece, in a prize competition. All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Who plays Skinner in The X-Files? The answer was Mitch Pilegg, and the winners were Vicky Haddock of Bolton, Kathryn Casbolt of Biggin Hill, and Kevin Jones of Ipswich.  Well done all!

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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