Review By Paul Mount, 4 out of 5

Season Six of THE X FILES was a turning point for the long-running, ground-breaking series created by surfer boy Chris Carter. After five years trudging around the woodlands of Vancouver (generally carrying umbrellas because of the appalling weather conditions), the show upped sticks and decamped to the sunnier climes of Los Angeles, mainly to appease the newly-married Mr Duchovny. The resulting ‘new look’ gives the show a fresh lease of life – due to a generally brighter look and some more interesting locations and also due to the intriguing feature length film which hit movie theatres in the Summer. The film reawoke my dwindling interest in the series, if only briefly and Season Six stands as a testament to the show as it finds a new energy and enthusiasm and a new way of telling its stories.

As usual, it’s the stand-alone, non-conspiracy stories which captivate the most – and there are some gems in Season Six. Disc One alone boasts the pulsating ‘Drive’ and the timeslip drama ‘Triangle'(featuring Brit actor Robert Beck in a bit part) and further along the collection are the delights of the twinkling comedy episode ‘How the Ghosts Stole Christmas’ and the memorable ‘Monday’ where the simple act of cashing his paycheque drops Mulder into a bank robbery scenario which keeps on replaying itself with the same ghastly outcome. Then there’s ‘Arcadia’ where Mulder and Scully appear to be living the good life in a Suburban nightmare. David Duchovny writes and directs the baseball-themed ‘The Unnatural’ and as the series wends its way towards its conclusion there are more discoveries in store for Scully when spacecraft found in Africa provide evidence of an ancient alien incursion on Earth – discoveries which will have further repercussions at the very end of the whole series. It’s the conspiracy stories which tend to drag THE X FILES down. There was always the sense that the story arc which seemed to drive the series was its dead end, that Carter and his crew hadn’t really thought it through and were making it up as they went along. Episodes like ‘Two Fathers’ and ‘One Son’ and ‘Dreamland’ only serve the muddy already muddy waters. THE X FILES is at its best when it’s being seriously spooky and not wilfully obscure.

So what’s left to say about the whole X FILES phenomenon, especially now when the series is finished? Season Six is a welcome chance to relive old glories and remind ourselves just what a good series it was, even in its later years. More than anything else, we must be grateful to the show for reawakening the public’s interest in the genre and let’s never forget that without THE X FILES’ huge crossover success, so many of the hit shows we’ve enjoyed in the last ten years (and some of the best-forgotten flops) would never have reached the Pilot stage.

THE DISCS: Six discs, flawlessly presented. The blazing sun at the start of ‘The Beginning’ is not only a knowing wink at the audience familiar with the series previous wet look but also a foreshadowing on the bolder canvas of the episodes ahead. There are commentaries and plenty of deleted scenes which can be watched independently or seamlessly branched into the episodes themselves. Disc six boasts the most substantial extras in the form of a thirty-minute documentary about season six, a two-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and more deleted scenes. These may all be very informative but sadly my review pack consisted only of the first four discs so I’m not really in a position to give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. A nice package altogether, a fitting presentation for an important series.

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