The eighth season of the X-files brought major changes to one of Fox’s strongest running series. And whenever major changes occur there is always a concern about what is going to happen to the integrity of the show. By the end of the 7th season the worries about what David Duchovny was going to do left fans of the show in limbo. Luckily, the creative team behind the X-files (one of the best in television history) was up to the task.
The season opened with the introduction to Agent Fox Mulder’s replace…ent – John Doggett (Robert Patrick – best known as the lethal liquid metal T-1000 from T2). There was an initial great exchange between Scully and Doggett in which she throws a cup of water in Doggett’s face. The writers anticipated that this is exactly what the fans would have wanted to happen (how dare they replace Mulder?). Doggett was a great contrast to Mulder – a complete straight shooter and team player. A very similar premise reminiscent of the first season was replayed with a reversal of roles – Dogget was the skeptic and Scully was the believer. In addition a second addition to the cast occurred early with the appearance of Agent Monica Reyes – a true believer in the purpose of the X-Files with a weird new age feel about her that added some levity to Doggett’s “straight by the book” attitude. Scully was transformed throughout the season as her pregnancy progressed with worries about not only the health of her unborn child but also questions about its genetic make-up. How alien would it be? And what are the implications of its birth?
There was great chemistry between the three – Scully, Doggett, and Reyes and as the season progressed, we saw a deepening of the relationship between Doggett and Scully. This was never meant to be a romantic relationship and this was very well handled. As the season advanced the respect between Doggett and Scully grew such that there are few quiet moments between them that nearly reach the emotional intensity that was present between Mulder and Scully in past seasons. It is also interesting to watch Doggett open his eyes and his mind to the possibilities of the unknown and the unexplained, partly through this relationship with Scully. Reyes bonded with Scully during some of the later episodes – particularly when Scully is in labor, surrounded by infected townsfolk, with only Reyes to both defend her and deliver her baby.
Mulder was handled masterfully during the latter half of the season where we see glimpses of his alien abduction, experimentation and eventual escape and involvement in the climax. The tension between Mulder and Dogget when they finally meet is great. Doggett had been investigating Mulder’s disappearance and one would almost expect him to be relieved when he finds him, but rather there is much suspicion and mistrust between both of them. The tension is palpable – great stuff.
Throw in series favorites – Alex Krychek, the alien bounty hunter, the Lone Gunmen (before their own excellent, albeit short lived series), Kirsh, Skinner and some reference to the cigarette smoking man, excellent writing and a throwback to what made the series great in the first place – i.e. alien abductions and conspiracies – you’ve got one of the best seasons of the X-Files in years. To top it off, the season ends with a very tender and moving moment between Mulder and Scully. Well done.
There are a few different soundtracks – English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Surround as well as a Spanish 2.0 track. The 5.1 track is very well done. The surround speakers are well used to add ambience and to add to the creepiness of scenes. The musical soundtrack of the X-Files has always been top notch. Right from the early days, Mark Snow has done a phenomenal job mixing current rock tunes with haunting and memorable instrumental pieces. In this season he creates a very moving theme for Scully which really helps to capture a feeling of desperation and hope at the same time.
The 8th season of the X-Files is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This was one of the first shows to actually be televised in widescreen. Very good transfer – there is some mild pixilation during very bright scenes (like when they are in the desert) but otherwise very solid. The colors were bright and the black level was well set.
The last disc only has one episode on it. The rest of the space is dedicated to special features. The first is a 25 minute documentary that features interviews with Chris Carter, his creative team and other behind the scenes people. The interviews really do give the viewer an inside perspective on the thought processes involved in creating these episodes. Particularly interesting is listening to the evolution of Doggett’s character from the perspective of Carter and the others. It’s always great to hear things like “We wanted Scully to throw water in Doggett’s face because that’s what the fans would want.” It was also very interesting to hear about how difficult it was to write certain episodes for the 7th season because they were unsure if it was going to be the last one and then have to link it with events that would occur in the 8th season. This documentary really does add to the viewer’s understanding of the events of the 8th season, not only as it pertains to events within the season but also how the events fit into the ongoing story of the entire series.
The second option in the extra features are profiles of Gibson Praise, John Doggett, and Alex Krychek. These were included originally in the international video releases as they packaged 3 episodes together as “mini-movies.” Each profile discusses the characters’ role in the series and also includes interviews with the actors who play these roles. These interviews also help the viewer to gain more insight into the motivations of these characters (this was particularly helpful for Krychek – I had forgotten that he has been around since the first season!).
Next are the collected 10 and 20 second promos that were aired during the week prior to each episode. Great editing on those.
Special effects are discussed on the next feature as the team goes through the various techniques used to create everything from computer generated spaceships’ cloaking fields to old fashioned latex skin that falls off in the shower. Very informative commentary.
Deleted scenes from a number of episodes follow, with commentary by Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban. It’s unfortunate that due to time constraints for television that a lot of these scenes were cut. Most do add some depth to the story or help to make certain things more understandable. For example one of the deleted scenes is a discussion between Mulder and Krychek in which they discuss the background of the Super Soldiers, one which is thought to be Scully’s baby William. This definitely adds to the tension of the scene. The cool thing is – much like Fox’s X-Men disc – you can access the deleted scene while watching the episode when an ‘X’ appears in the top right hand corner of the screen. Too bad they just didn’t incorporate it back into the episode in a continuous manner.
I was a devoted follower of the X-Files when it was broadcast on television and thoroughly enjoyed it however, I as many other people thought that the show peaked in it’s 4th or 5th season and that it should have ended with the movie (which was the original plan). I was quite disappointed in the finale of the 9th season as it really didn’t end anything. That being said, the 8th season really did bring the series back to life by seriously shaking up the status quo by essentially replacing Mulder with Doggett and at the same time reducing Scully’s screen time. Surprisingly it worked like a charm.
The 8th season box set is very well done with a great video transfer, soundtrack and loads of extras that will keep X-Files aficionados busy until the release of the final season. Highly recommended.
Special Features List
- 25-minute documentary
- Special effects featurette
- Deleted scenes