Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The X-Files Mythology Vol 2 - Black Oil|
Actors: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Patrick, Tom Braidwood
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Two FBI agents investigate paranormal events and the cover-up of extraterrestrial contact; presents the government conspiracy-themed episodes.
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Glaring omission calls the value of this set into question
Jeffrey Blehar | Potomac, MD | 05/25/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As any devoted X-Phile will tell you, the idea of a collection devoted exclusively to the "mythology" episodes alone is a somewhat dodgy idea, with many attendant problems. First of all, much of the show's ineffable charm was found in the balance of standalone/comedic/MOTW ("monster-of-the-week") episodes vs. the heavier mythology episodes - watching all of these tangled, knotty mytharc episodes can be a suffocating experience. Secondly, the overarching character development of both Mulder and Scully (as well as the secondary characters) was rarely restricted to the mythology episodes; someone who only knows the X-Files through these four mythology-only boxed sets will miss the introduction of Skinner and Cigarette Smoking Man's first speaking role ("Tooms"), the introduction of Alex Krycek and Mr. X ("Sleepless"), and the revelation that Scully has cancer ("Leonard Betts"), among other things.
Finally, there is some dispute as to what constitutes a "mythology" episode in the first place. For example, Volume 1 ("Abduction") of this four volume set has drawn a lot of justifiable criticism for excluding a pivotal early first season episode called "Conduit," where the depths of Mulder's obsession about his abducted sister Samantha are first explored. (The fact that "Conduit" is arguably one of the ten finest episodes in the history of the series, both eerie and poignant, only makes its omission that much more painful.) "Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man," concerning the secret history of Mulder's nemesis, is also a mythology episode, as is the excellent late Season Four installment "Demons." Some of the decisions made in what to include or exclude seem arbitrary.
This last point is important because it DOESN'T address the inexcusable omission of a major mythology two-parter from this set: "Christmas Carol" and "Emily." Their omission can't be explained by an arbitrary "is it mythology or isn't it?" judgment call: these two episodes are directly on-point with the larger mytharc, complete with questions about Scully's abduction, the harvesting of her ova, alien-human hybrids, green-blooded shape-changing bounty hunters, and government conspiracies. What's more, they're very good episodes, ones which I would place in the upper echelon of X-Files mythology installments.
The most surprising question, then, is: why hasn't anyone noticed they're missing? My theory: these episodes came chronologically after "Redux" and "Redux II," which conclude this set, and before "Patient X" and "The Red And The Black," which open Volume 3. The compilers must have thought nobody would notice their absence, I guess (a suspicion furthered by the fact that the "Mythology Timelines" included with these sets conveniently omit any reference to these episodes, even as they namecheck other episodes which aren't included in these packages). The reason I'm TRULY steamed, however, is because there's absolutely no reason why they couldn't have been included here. Each DVD can hold, at the very least, five full episodes (see disc 6 of the Complete Season Two boxed set), and the final disc of this set only holds three. This wasn't an issue of limited space and painful decisions needing to be made, it was simple laziness.
There have been a number of X-Files mythology episodes that were either badly written or irrelevant to the larger conspiracy. (For an example of the former, see the atrocious "Per Manum" or the Season Nine two-parter "Nothing Important Happened Today." For an example of the latter, see "Fallen Angel" and "Tempus Fugit"/"Max": all three of these are excellent, and in fact the latter - included on this set - may be my favorite two-parter in series history, but none of them have anything to do with the greater conspiracy.) "Christmas Carol" and "Emily" are neither of these, and their unexplained disappearance in these sets is therefore inexcusable. It comes close to invalidating the entire raison d'etre of this package in the first place.
This may seem like a bit of a rant, but the mistake/intentional oversight in this case is so inexcusable, and the loss so great, that it seriously damages the value of the "Black Oil" set. Unless you buy/rent/have already seen these missing Season Five episodes, you're missing a huge part of the story. Additionally, the Black Oil set is light on useful extras: there are only three commentaries (and R.W. Goodwin is soporific as always on "Talitha Cumi"), and the documentary is skimpy and inessential.
Ultimately, these mythology boxed sets are most useful for fans who want to follow the continuing storyline through the last few dodgy seasons without buying the complete seasons. In that sense Volumes 3 and 4 are the ones to get, while Volumes 1 and 2 are less so since you're much better off purchasing the new reduced-price editions of the first five or six seasons. (Also, there's far less confusion in Seasons 7-9 over what does or does not constitute a "mythology" episode - you won't be missing anything crucial with the later boxed sets like you are with the first two.)
I'm giving "Black Oil" two starts as opposed to only one because there's no denying the objective quality of most of the installments found here. "Nisei"/"731" ("Scully, let me tell you, you haven't seen America until you've seen it from a train"), "Piper Maru"/"Apocrypha," "Memento Mori," "Tempus Fugit"/"Max" - these are series highlights. But for reasons explained above this set was already a questionable investment; the omission of a major (and high-quality) mythology two-parter merely ices it."
Deeper into the abyss *****
JWK | Dallas, TX USA | 03/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The X-Files is my favorite all-time TV series (though, I must admit, it is tied with Seinfeld and the Simpsons). I would always look forward to seeing it, whether a rerun or a new show. Though I missed many, many, many episodes during its 9 year life (I was never really one to be glued to the TV for any show), I have been frustrated in my efforts to watch episodes I have missed, mostly due to the expense of the Complete Season DVD sets. It is once in a blue moon that I can afford to put down as much as $120 for a TV show, so I've done without for a long time, barring my ownership of Season 3. Also, I've found that the episodes I care the most about catching up on are the ones that push the main story line along-- the ones dealing with the government-conspiracy-alien-takeover story line; something I've since learned is referred to as "the Mythology arc." This will sound lame (even to this writer) but the Bare Naked Ladies song "One Week" summarized my hopes when sitting down to watch the X-Files. "I hope the Smoking Man is in this one." The smoking man's involvement in an episode usually indicated a furthering of the overall plot, the mythology arc. In short, these are the Smoking Man episodes.
Vol 2 of the most current repackaging (though I found "slimmer" versions of complete Seasons 1, 2, and 3 which are cheaper than the originals), takes us further down the rabbit hole, with the mythology episodes from Seasons 3 - 6. Early acting jitters from Gillian Anderson and David Duchovany (seen in seasons one an two) are all but gone. And with the monster of the week episodes gone, what remains is arguably the best material in the X-Files history, particularly in the first two discs. Sure, certain helpful episodes are noticably absent (especially to X-heads), but few can argue with what's here; all killer no filler. Though typical fans rate Seasons one through five as *****, then taper off the scores of the last half of the show's life, don't let that scare away the curious. The last two Volumes of this repackaging are stellar, not to mention a great value @ $30.
I can't say any of the episodes or seasons or Volumes are my favorite, but "Black Oil" comes close. I mean, body jumping alien liquid trying to get back to its ship in a forgotten silo in the middle of nowhere? C'mon! Forget about it; it's solid, television gold. STILL setting the prime time curve over ten years later.
OVERALL: 10 out of 10."
The Meat and Potatoes Of The Series
The geacher | Irvine CA | 07/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's been interesting reading the reviews of the X-Files Mythology series. The die hard fans love it all. THe purists find fault in episodes not included. I was out of the country during the X-years and appreciate this whole set of 4 topic driven collections. I can watch the sets one at a time and get a good overview of the threads of the series. I think it's a good idea and will use this same review for each. bg"