the conspiracy deepens, Agents Mulder and Scully - and their
closest relatives - find their lives placed in ever greater
my mind, the third season of The X-Files is the strongest
one of the lot. The more obvious paranormal targets may have
all been used up by now (apart from lake monsters, which are
dealt with in Quagmire) but that doesn't stop the series
from growing ever more adventurous. More obscure supernatural
subjects are introduced, such as succubi in Avatar
and stigmata in Revelations, while Syzygy manages
to inject dramatic potential into astrology.
the success of the previous year's Humbug, penned by
Darin Morgan, the series also began to explore its comic potential.
Morgan wrote three of this season's best episodes: Clyde
Bruckman's Final Repose, War of the Coprophages
and Jose Chung's "From Outer Space". All three are
excellent satires in their own individual ways, although Clyde
Bruckman is also extremely poignant, aided by the performance
of Peter Boyle as a man cursed with the ability to predict
the death of every person he encounters. The character of
Bruckman inspired the psychic profiler Frank Black in Chris
Carter's later Fox series, Millennium.
of the Coprophages is better known as "the one with all
the cockroaches". This episode is an incisive analysis of
mass hysteria, which makes several nods toward Orson Wells'
notorious War of the Worlds broadcast. Much fun is
also had as Agent Scully (Anderson) continually pours cold
water over Mulder's (Duchovny) wild theories, by phone, from
the comfort of her home.
Chung is one of the most elaborate scripts ever written
for The X-Files. A complex web of lies, misinformation
and false memories impedes Mulder and Scully's investigation
of an apparent abduction - and also ensures that the viewer
can never be entirely sure what the "truth" really is. The
presentation of dubious second- and third-hand accounts allows
for many outrageous moments, including Mulder's exaggerated
whoop of excitement, and a police officer whose expletives
have been deleted. This episode stretches the X-Files
envelope as far as it will go, without sinking to the frankly
silly extremes of certain later episodes, such as Season Six's
How the Ghosts Stole Christmas and The Unnatural.
However, the effects team's efforts to create a creature that
looks like a bad special effect (the Inner Earth dweller Lord
Kinbote) work a little too well!
is not just the Darin Morgan scripts that extol humour. The
cosmic alignment that affects the behaviour of the townsfolk
in Chris Carter's Syzygy also intensifies the friction
that exists between Mulder and Scully - with hilarious results!
Both Syzygy and Howard Gordon's D.P.O. feature
comical teenage characters. In the case of D.P.O.,
the two losers in question are based on MTV's Beavis and
highlights include the Silence of the Lambs-inspired
Oubliette and Pusher, which marks the first
appearance of Robert Modell (Robert Wisden), a fascinating
villain with the ability to influence the perceptions and
actions of others.
season also contains excellent "mythology" episodes, including
Paper Clip - the stunning conclusion to the previous
season's cliffhanger - and Piper Maru/Apocrypha, which
introduces the Black Oil. Paper Clip is particularly
notable for the pivotal and exhilarating scene in which Assistant
Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) tells the Cigarette Smoking
Man (William B. Davis) to "pucker up and kiss my ass!" Apart
from making you want to punch the air, this confrontation
also signals an even greater ongoing role for Skinner.
are no out-and-out duds in Season Three, although The Blessing
Way is a little slow-moving and Teso Dos Bichos
is rather silly (killer moggies - ooh, I'm scared). 2Shy
is a rather obvious variation on Season One's Squeeze
(and not the last one, either) but is still a good, scary
episode. These shows remain stronger than the weakest instalments
of any other season.
with the previous DVD boxes, this collection contains the
now customary The Truth About... documentary, 12 short
Chris Carter interviews about his favourite episodes, Behind
the Truth spots (17 this time) from the F/X channel, foreign
language clips, special effects clips, deleted scenes, and
TV trailers for each episode. Among these features, you will
get to hear the "Kim Manners directing cockroaches" anecdote
three times, but never mind! This time around, the special
effects clips, deleted scenes and TV trailers on the bonus
features disc have been made more user-friendly by the addition
of a "play all" option.
to the information on the packaging, Chris Carter's commentary
over the deleted scenes is not optional on the features disc.
Fortunately, these scenes - three minutes from The Blessing
Way, 30 seconds from Clyde Bruckman, two minutes
from The List, a few seconds from Revelations,
and two and a half minutes from Avatar - can also be
accessed, without the commentary, on the relevant episodic
discs. As with the Season Two box, the deleted scenes can
also be played within the context of the episode itself.
new to this series include episode commentaries: director
Kim Manners and writer Chris Carter talk about Apocrypha,
while director Rob Bowman and writer Darin Morgan discuss
Jose Chung's "From Outer Space". Another innovation
is the "cast credits" feature that accompanies each episode.
This text feature allows you to see exactly who played whom,
which is useful with a show that tends to list only the actors'
names but not which characters they played.
in all, there is very little to fault this box set - an excellent
collection of episodes, attractively presented.
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