The X-Files - Series 4 - Complete (DVD)

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The X-Files - Series 4 - Complete (DVD)

This box set features the entire fourth season of THE X-FILES, which sees both Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) struggling with p...

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Review of "The X-Files - Series 4 - Complete (DVD)"

published 19/03/2017 | elfbwillow
Member since : 07/02/2007
Reviews : 377
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Thanks to everyone for the ratings especially the E's - much appreciated I am back! I have missed you all!
Super
Pro Great cast, majority great storylines, more emotional storylines
Cons Slower paced for majority of season, almost backtracks in story and feeling
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"EVERYTHING DIES...YEARS LATER"

The X-Files - Series 4

The X-Files - Series 4

X Files – Season Four

A/N: This is a review of the forth season of the X-Files only and not the DVD.


EVERYTHING DIES

'The truth is out there' is no more...The forth season opens with 'Everything Dies' instead, showing how much darker the series has become since the beginning...Just a little trivia for you!

The Cigarette Smoking Man: “The fiercest enemy is the man who has nothing left to lose.”


As some of you may know if you have been following my reviews on this series, this is not the first time I have watched them, and recently, have come back for an X Files marathon. As I go through the seasons, though, my memory does become foggy and so in some cases, it is like I am watching it for the first time.

The first three seasons seemed to whiz by as I became hooked once more on this series, though I find myself slowing more as I reach season four. Perhaps it is because I am all X-Filed out, though it may be more to do the fact that the series itself seems to have slowed its pace considerably, and in some ways, has gone back to how it was right at the beginning, just not as fresh.

But let me start at the beginning...

The X-Files originally aired its pilot episode back in 1994, and to date, it has released ten seasons plus a number of movies in between. Season four first aired in 1996 and continued through to 1997, airing 24 episodes which all run for approximately 45-50 minutes. Although some ratings did dip part way through the season, it became the highest rated season since it first began, though it received mixed reviews with some episodes reaching an all out high, whereas others were criticised greatly.

I have had a look online and can not find a specific classification for season two, though season one was rated an 18+. For both the first season and this one, I would say that the 18+ rating is too high. I watched this as a teenager and still today would allow my teenage daughter (when she reaches that age) to watch it. It is worth noting, though, that there are some sexual scenes and references, though this in the main is done in a sensible fashion. The theme of violence also runs through the season and some younger viewers may find some scenes a little scary.

The X-Files is a mixture of science fiction, mystery, drama and thrilling aspects. Although there are many co-writers, the main creator/writer of the whole X-Files is Chris Carter who has experience in writing, directing and producing, and is absolutely perfect for this series. There are many directors used through the whole series, some perfectly chosen, whereas others do show their weaker side in certain episodes, though there is no real fails so complete that you will be put off.


SMALL POTATOES

Amanda Nelligan: [to Mulder] “May the force be with you.”

Although this is a review on the fourth season of this series, let me briefly outline the main premise of The X-Files for those who do not know what it is all about (Please see my other reviews for more in depth season reviews of 1-3).

The X-Files primarily follows two FBI agents who deal with unexplained cases, often supernatural, paranormal or alien related. Dana Skully was originally posted with Fox Mulder to debunk his theories and investigations, yet it has since become a permanent role for them both and has overtaken their lives and filled them with darkness and danger.

I do recommend watching the series from the very beginning, even though there are many 'stand-alone' episodes as you will miss vital background information on the main story and main characters combined.

So what can you expect from this season?

Well after last season taking a much darker tone, I expected it to continue on in this season, though I found myself instead, quite disappointed. The majority of the season almost feels as though we have gone right back to the beginning again, with many episodes almost taking the same sort of lines as early episodes did, just with some changes to make them that much different. The overall general feel of them is also very similar, creating quite a deja-vu moment throughout. The episodes also steers away from the darker feel that we came to expect, though the light-heartedness of the first season does not overly come back, though in saying that, there is still a lot of humour from the main duo which is something that is also expected at this stage and I am thankful it did not vanish for this season!

As I have already mentioned, there are many episodes which have a stand-alone feel to them, and although many do feel like the series' early episodes, they do still have a running main storyline throughout, even if it is quite often very well hidden in this series. Quite often the side storylines do work to aid the progression of the main storyline in one form or another, though occasionally the reason behind the episode story is not quite apparent and often does not make true sense to the main story until later on. Some, I am still working out! Although the season has seemingly taken a u-turn in many ways, it is still groundbreaking for its time, and many issues are still relevant in toodays day and age. Although there are still rule breaking moments in this season, these have become fewer than before which does not help the case of this season.

You can still expect the now traditional X-Files concepts in the side storylines, ranging from alien bounty hunters to inbred brothers, from African folk-tales to invisible murderers, as well as past life regression, witchcraft, assassinations, mythology, tattoos with a life of their own, shape shifters, killer bees, ghostly images...and of course, more aliens! Despite the u-turn feeling to this series, there is still many storylines to look forward to, and most of the episodes are filled with great enjoyment, though I do admit, there are a few which I did find my mind wavering on. One in particular is a very informative episode about the well known 'cancer-man' which divulges quite a bit about his history, allowing us to see the whole man and not what we see in the present times, and although it helps the audience empathise with this character more, and aids our understanding of him, I just found the whole episode a complete bore, to put it bluntly. This is probably the first time in the whole series so far that I felt this bad about an episode, though luckily no other episodes in this season were as bad. Weaker, perhaps, but not as boring to watch.

Of course, the biggest thing to look forward to (at least for me) is the progression of the main storylines and characters involved, and from the end of the last season, I could not wait to see where it went from here. Unfortunately, the main storylines to, on the surface, seem to slow down considerably, the progress almost halted for the majority of the season. We do see a lot of government conspiracy, though as usual, Mulder and Skully do not get to find out much of the truth. Some topics from last season are brought back up, and some begin to make more sense, though a lot of the main story continues to be unrevealed. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, this episode does feel as though it was not sure where it was going and slowed down to allow time to think. Perhaps the calm before the storm is the right words for this, as action does get better as the season nears the end.

Whilst there is a shock loss of an important character, another reoccurring character is reintroduced, though to be perfectly honest, he still seems to be out of place and does not work towards any real destination. Thus begins a bit of a let down on the character front, though we do see a little more progression of our main two stars, with Mulder still looking for his sister and Skully dealing with some extreme issues of her own, both coming back to the main storyline involving aliens! It seems that the two characters are growing further apart at one stage, though thankfully their double act does make a comeback and becomes even stronger than before. Their whole relationship really helps this season along, and I am sure many people will begin to question their relationship – some wondering whether they will go to the next level, though as usual, this almost wobbles on the edge, never making that jump. I am not entirely sure what I want from their relationship at this point, though either way, I do continue to love watching their characters grow. Other characters within this series continue to be strong and relevant, both main cast and episode-cast alike.

If you have never seen The X-Files, you may be mistaken in thinking this is simply a typical sci-fi show focusing on the unexplained, and whilst on the surface, you do get this, The X-Files holds so much depth within its story, and this does continue in this season despite the slowness of it all and lack of real progression. This season tests your emotions further, and although you have the highs with laughter and light-heartedness, you also find some serious storylines which tug at the heartstrings – storylines which many of us will be able to relate to. It begins to show, even more than before, that sensitive subjects can be explored in a delicate, almost beautiful, manner among all the aliens and other paranormal sci-fi aspects. Although it may not sound as though the two go together well, the producers and actors have managed to create it so that the link is perfectly drawn upon, creating emotion where emotion is due. There is a limited number of 'scary' moments in this season compared to past ones, though the natural 'real life' scary situations make up for this considerably. From love to hate, death to birth, fear to humour – this season still has it all, even if much is dulled down at this point.


VISITORS FROM OUTTA SPACE

Scully: “It just means proving to the world the existence of alien life is not my last dying wish.”
Mulder: “How about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?”

Despite the dip, the storyline continues to remain strong enough to watch the whole season and go onto the next, and the characters, although do not progress as much as before, continue to be well thought out...so what about the cast?

With so many episodes, comes a very large cast list, and unfortunately, there is no way that I can review every single member, especially as there are so many bit-parts and episode-only characters, though I can say that, in the main, all the cast chosen for these smaller parts all work well with the main cast, with their strengths and weaknesses working well opposite the other cast members and often working brilliantly to outline the main storyline.

And then there is the main cast...

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return for the fourth season and take their roles as Mulder and Skully respectively. Although the show has seemingly reversed, the actors have not and have grown very confident within their character skins. Both have had difficult storylines thrown at them more so this season, and both never fail to succeed. They are both able to promote the different storylines with elegance and power and both command the scenes they are in brilliantly. I would even go so far as to say they are flawless in their roles, leading the show with such success that it does not matter so much when a weaker episode or weaker actor comes along. They continue to work together perfectly, and their strengths simply radiate off of one another, their closeness and relaxation with one another prominent in this season more so than ever. The chemistry is simply flawless between these two actors in their respective roles. They make you feel that anything is possible with them. I do wonder if the show would have been such a success if Mulder and Skully had of been given to other actors...doubtful.

Mitch Pileggi returns as Skinner once again, and although is still classed as a reoccurring character opposed to a main cast member, we are able to see quite a bit of him, though possibly not as much as we hope. We do see a slight progression in his character, though I do feel that Pileggi almost takes a back seat in this season in comparison with previous ones. Personally, I would love to see more of his character, and in turn, him, as he has made this character so well rounded and perfect that he can almost steal the show. We also see William B. Davis return as Cigarette Smoking Man (Or Cancer Man), and for the first time, as mentioned earlier in this review, we get to see so much more of his character, and hand in hand with Chris Owens who takes on the younger version of this role, the two are able to create such a powerful backstory for him and almost command our sympathy and empathy. Owens only appears in the one episode, though I think he was a perfect choice for the younger version of the character, and through his great portrayal, we really see another side of a character we love to hate, just shame about the below average episode. Within the same episode, we also see a younger version on Mulder's father, played by Dean Aylesworth who also played his part almost flawlessly, allowing feelings to rise to greatness through his portrayal of the character. Both younger actors also work amazingly together and are able to grasp hold of the older characters perfectly, though at the same time, make them their own. Another actor worth a mention is Nicholas Lea, who plays Krycek. I have mixed feelings with this actor, and in some ways, feel rather sorry for him. He was brought back for the role in season three, though both then and now, it almost feels forced. I see no character building or real role for him, so the actor has very little to work with. I do applaud him for attempting to make the most of what he is given, and in many ways, he gives a top rate performance, though I would like to see more of him to really be able to review his ability.

Some very small parts I would also like to mention include Brian Thompson who provides us with an almost scary rendition of an alien bounty hunter, with his stern facial expressions and static movement, he really does make an impact in his small appearances. Sheila Larkin also brings her own take with Skully's mother and deals with some difficult scenes in this season, yet once again, she provides a great, all rounded character that you can really empathise with.

A fantastic cast playing some amazing roles with such professionalism and grace that Iam almost left astounded by their performances.


ONLY A HUMAN BEING

Martin Alpert: “I brought visitors today. They're investigating a crime.”
[the patients appear alarmed]
Martin Alpert: “It's okay. They just want to ask you a few questions. “
Fox Mulder: “Hi. I wanted to ask if anyone used the pay phone out in the hallway there, on Friday night? Because somebody called the police and reported a murder.“
Martin Alpert: [whispers to Mulder] “Sloppy Joe night”.
Fox Mulder: “That was Sloppy Joe night.”
Chuck Forsch: “Ooh. That was me! I did it. I admit it, I did it! I'm just a human being, after all!”
Martin Alpert: [Sternly] “Chuck, tell the truth.”
Chuck Forsch: “Nah, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it, I lied. I lied, but... I'm just a human being!”

So my final response is...?

Although many people seem to love this season more than perhaps the previous seasons, I do not share their excitement for it. I think the amount it has slowed down and almost become too relaxed has made it far less compelling. I hoped to see more progression, yet it seemed to go backwards in many ways, and there were a lot more weaker episodes than ever before. In saying all this, though, by the end of the season, it does pick itself back up and if you want to continue watching the whole series, this season is a must watch one as it does allow the audience a certain amount of important information and occurrences that you really do not want to miss out on. Yes, on occasion, I did feel disheartened, and dare I say it again...a little bored, but I was still compelled to keep watching, and in the end, I am glad that I did.

Thank you for reading!

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Comments on this review

  • DodoRabbit published 05/04/2017
    Wonderful review, never quite got into this :)
  • jb0077 published 24/03/2017
    mindblowing stories that made for good television, vh.
  • HarrogateHippy published 23/03/2017
    An exceptional and thorough review
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Product Information : The X-Files - Series 4 - Complete (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

This box set features the entire fourth season of THE X-FILES, which sees both Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) struggling with personal demons, as well as government conspiracies, chilling murders, and seemingly unexplainable phenomena. Episodes include Home, Paper Hearts, Tunguska, Terma, Tempus Fugit, Small Potatoes, 'Demons, and many more.

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