The X-Files Season 8
November 25, 2002
Mulder is AWOL and Scully is partnered with Robert Patrick’s sceptic ex-cop in the penultimate season of The X-Files.
Joss Whedon once said that one of the reasons Buffy The Vampire Slayer remained fresh over the years was that the characters were allowed to grow. Arguably the same can’t be said for The X-Files, a show that when it made its debut in 1993 was considered ground-breaking TV; it was scary, dark and unsettling. Sadly towards the end it became a farce of its former self (literally in the Burt Reynolds episode of season nine). But bad X-Files is still better than most TV shows, and season eight, while a shadow of its former self, does still occassionally have its moments, be they few and far between.
You know a show is in trouble when one of its main stars can only be bothered to show up for half the series and two new ‘replacements’ are brought in to give things a new lease of life. These come in the form of Agent John Doggett, a tough ex-cop who demands hard facts rather than tales of spaceships and monsters, and Agent Monica Reyes, a slightly kooky, open-minded female version of Mulder. The twist is that Scully, who started out as a sceptic herself, has become the believer and Doggett is now her voice of reason.
At the end of season seven, Mulder was abducted by a UFO and Scully’s oven had a bun in it. We pick up several months after Mulder’s disappearance and his superiors at the FBI are busy trying to track him down. Doggett (Patrick) is brought in to investigate but soon ends up working alongside Scully as sightings of Mulder become more frequent amidst the other random mysteries they come upon. Said mysteries include an indian dwarf who uses human bodies as vessels, a parasitic worm that lives in your spine, a man of steel (no, not him), a bat-man (not him either) and no X-Files series would be complete without a good old flesh-eating virus in the subway.
The problem with a conspiracy story that spans nine years of television is that you end up with a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario. We’ve seen so many different versions of the truth that we eventually stop caring because we never get a straight answer (Mulder’s sister anyone?). Devotees of the show may baulk, and you can count me among them, but let the record show that Chris Carter and Co ran out of ideas around season six. Thank goodness then for Robert Patrick, who lends the show some much-needed gravitas, be it scoffing at a man made of metal (oh the irony!), or calling all Scully’s theories ‘B.S.’
Spread over the six discs we get a wide range of bonus material. There are deleted scenes from selected episodes which can be branched into the existing version or viewed seperately with commentary, and ‘international clips’ that are presumably there for amusement value, but hearing Robert Patrick bark away in German is only funny the first couple of times: “Scully, wo bissen du? Ich habe ein grosse kase gemachen!”
The audio commentaries are reserved for the episodes ‘Alone’ and finale ‘Existence’, while the sixth disc holds the bulk of the supplimentary material: a half-hour documentary called ‘The Truth About Season 8’ sums up what happened on and off set (Duchovny (wisely) deciding it was time to leave, the fans initial disdain for Robert Patrick coming on board as his replacement), more deleted scenes, trailers and seven special effects vignettes with commentary.
Overall there’s nothing bad here. The transfer, sound and features are all of high quality. It’s just that you get the feeling nobody wanted to end the show after season seven and with season eight (and nine) you’re left with the TV equivalent of a cool uncle who knew lots of fascinating things when you were a kid, but is now just rehashing old stories and trying to hide the fact he’s past his best.