1/04/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season. region 2 DVD: pub: 20th Century Fox 22308MDVD. 6 DVDs 892 minutes 21 episodes with extras. Price: about GBP 8.00 (UK) if you know where to look) stars: Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, David Duchovny, Mitch Peleggi and Annabeth Gish
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Watching the eighth season of ‘The X-Files again, as with all shows we watch again from time to time, I was picking out something wrong with the mood this time. If anything, it felt too quiet, not helped when everyone speaks in soft tones, even when Mulder (actor David Duchovny) came back into the fold and the lack of interest he had fighting to stay in the FBI when in previous seasons this was seen as paramount. At the same time, the producers still had to introduce a new character, John Doggett (actor Robert Patrick) to search for Mulder and ultimately end up taking over the X-Files with Dana Scully (actress Gillian Anderson) as his sometimes, if pregnant, partner. It was also a matter of role reversal with Scully now the believer and Doggett the sceptic in order to shake the balance and still have some form of yin and yang balance still. Monica Reynes (actress Annabeth Gish) being brought in occasionally as the believer half as Anderson’s participation was to be reduced in the ninth season. In many respects, I often wonder why show-runner Chris Carter didn’t carry out something from one of the earlier stories and have Mulder killed and his mission turned into a crusade by the FBI but then, much of the original conspiracy is gone by now and only little bits were seeping up as the series progressed. If anything, lacking a strong conspiracy threat thread through the season as with the earlier years might also have contributed to the sluggishness we have here. Another reason why it might have made sense for a cleaner break than they had. Even Alex Krycek (actor Nicholas Lea) only turns up towards the final episodes and depending on how you look at it, I think Assistant Director Walter Skinner (actor Mitch Pileggi) went a little too far with Krycek’s demise. Just because he had good reason to do so is not the way an FBI supervisor should said himself as an example.
This isn’t to say the stories aren’t interesting, just that I wish they were developed more. One of the extras shows that Robert Patrick is pretty gung-ho with dry humour which should have been exploited for the stories. Humour isn’t unusual in ‘The X-Files’ and often balances out the horror or terror aspect and to have little or none at all was probably a mistake. Then again, Robert Patrick himself points out that the fans at the time would probably not like him replacing Mulder so it was played out so that no one liked him particularly for being there in the series itself. I’m still not sure if that was a good idea because it put Doggett on a wrong foot throughout which means a lot of loose ground to build up from than a firmer foundation. ‘Course, had it been done differently then season nine might not have been the final series neither.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t some good stories in there. I’m surprised that Scully didn’t recall the retired freakshow inhabitants when it came to the story ‘Badlaa’ with a small invalid Indian gets inside and controls human bodies. ‘Roadrunners’ with a worm getting into the body is somewhat similar to the story ‘Ice’ except this one is sentient. ‘Medusa’ with its linked scanner technology and a reference to one character as ‘Bianco’ is a direct homage to the 1970s TV series ‘Search’. I did enjoy ‘Salvage’ where a man is resurrected turning into metal and the demonstration of how to survive a car ramming into you is show in the extras special effects but don’t try it for real. Well, not unless you’ve turning into metal. The final story hits on a certain famous Christian story which I think might have been pushing it a little too far as well. Nothing against Christianity but why should Scully be that special when there’s probably been better choices amongst the abductees over the years.
Of all ‘The X-Files’ DVD boxsets, this is the only one not to include a separate extras DVD which is a bit puzzling. If you’re been picking up ‘The X-Files’ seasons since I’ve been reviewing them or even new to the series (there must be some amongst the new generation reading here) then after a decent seven season run this one is likely to feel like a poorer relative in comparison but compared to a lot of material that was released in 2002, it still has a higher standard than many of the shows at the time.
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