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Let me first say these episodes deserve 5 stars. They essentially encompass the climax of the series' mythology (its most fascinating element) and are incredible in all terms: acting, story, cinematography, the fabulous background music of Mark Snow, which I'd hoped Fox would allow him to release on CD (only his earlier, inferior music is available). The stories are simply better told with dialogue more interestingly done than before in the series; up to this point, stories and dialogue sometimes seemed a bit slow-paced and dull, in addition to seriously lacking in the special effects department due to insufficient funding. Starting with these episodes, the show seemed to evolve into a whole new entity -- its dramatic effects twice as powerful as what they were before. These episodes required repeated viewing to fully comprehend the increasingly complex plot, but this was hardly a chore since they were so beautifully done and had so much dramatic depth to explore as well. They made me an unapologetic fan (yes, my friend nicknamed me after two characters I was imitating at the time: Seinfeld and Mulder), and made this my still-favorite show of all time. My reasons for 3 stars have to do with the few commentary tracks available, which are done only by directors. No offense to Rob Bowman, Kim Manners, and R.W. Goodwin, but director commentaries are never as interesting as those done by the writers. These episodes are available on full-season sets, which I already own and which have great non-mythology episodes to attract those who haven't bought either, despite their exhorbitant price. While I would like to see Chris Carter's documentary on this part of the mythology, it still isn't really worth it to me.Read more ›
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Let me first say these episodes deserve 5 stars. They essentially encompass the climax of the series' mythology (its most fascinating element) and are incredible in all terms: acting, story, cinematography, the fabulous background music of Mark Snow, which I'd hoped Fox would allow him to release on CD (only his earlier, inferior music is available). The stories are simply better told with dialogue more interestingly done than before in the series; up to this point, stories and dialogue sometimes seemed a bit slow-paced and dull, in addition to seriously lacking in the special effects department due to insufficient funding. Starting with these episodes, the show seemed to evolve into a whole new entity -- its dramatic effects twice as powerful as what they were before. These episodes required repeated viewing to fully comprehend the increasingly complex plot, but this was hardly a chore since they were so beautifully done and had so much dramatic depth to explore as well. They made me an unapologetic fan (yes, my friend nicknamed me after two characters I was imitating at the time: Seinfeld and Mulder), and made this my still-favorite show of all time. My reasons for 3 stars have to do with the few commentary tracks available, which are done only by directors. No offense to Rob Bowman, Kim Manners, and R.W. Goodwin, but director commentaries are never as interesting as those done by the writers. These episodes are available on full-season sets, which I already own, and which have great non-mythology episodes to attract those who haven't bought either, despite their exhorbitant price. While I would like to see Chris Carter's documentary on this part of the mythology, it still isn't really worth it to me. The whole reason I bought the first mythology set was to hear writers' commentaries on the mythology episodes they largely avoided in the show's season long DVD sets. With such paucity of writer involvement this time, there's no need for me to buy this set.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Another volume for casual X-Files fansAug. 19 2005
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The second volume in the X-Files Mythology series focuses on the Black Oil aspect of the series. Compiling 15 episodes from seasons 3 to 5, this volume is mainly features episodes about the parasitic, black colored oil like alien substance that can infect humans. The episodes included here: Nisei, 731, Piper Maru, Apocrypha, Talitha Cumi, Herrenvolk, Tunguska, Terma, Memento Mori, Tempus Fugit, Max, Zero-Sum, Gethsemane, Redux, and Redux II, are all excellent and just about classic X-Files episodes that are compiled here for a cheap price, which is what makes the X-Files Mythology series worth owning for casual X-Files fans who don't want to shell out the money for complete season sets. If you are a die hard X-phille, you're better off with the season sets which include all the great stand alone episodes (where as the Mythology sets revolve around the series' single storyarc), but other than that, this is a solid deal for casual X-fans.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Glaring omission calls the value of this set into questionMay 25 2006
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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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Best Way to Take in the "Conspiracy" epsAug. 15 2005
Christopher Loring Knowles
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Like many people, I found the "Mythology" eps hard to follow when they aired. I also came to see them as tedious, confusing and arbitrary as well. However, when I began to consume my X Files in ways other than a weekly one hour dose, they not only came to make more sense to me, they became my favorite XF eps, to the point that many of the MOTW and other stories took a backseat to the Myth arc. Carter and Co. may have given themelves a wide berth for plenty of improvisation, but the basic jist of the story is almost painfully simple when you watch the Myth arc in order. A close encounter of the fourth kind is followed by an insidious program of colonization- abduction, implantation, impregnation, genetic manipulation, and planned annhilation are what the greys have in store for us. The XF crew don't allow you much contact with the aliens themselves- that would allow you to familiarize them, perhaps even humanize them. As it is, the Conspirators are barely human.
This volume has the added bonus of containing the poignant Scully Cancer arc, a frightening second act to the Scully abduction story of the first volume. You'll get a heaping helping of Vancouver rain, mud and gloom as well- creating an ambience the series missed terribly when the production moved to sunny LA.
Perhaps Fox is milking the still healthy X-Phile Nation with these boxes, but for many fans who haven't yet taken the DVD plunge, this may be a good place to start. One of the greatest serial dramas in history at its peak.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Best Storyline of the SeriesAug. 18 2005
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The whole "black oil" storyline was one of the best storylines in the entire show of X-Files. I am happy that FOX Entertainment has brought all these episodes togther in one place because it compiles episodes from different seasons and the price is right too. It would cost a little less than $300 to buy three seasons of the X-Files, but this is only $32! I really like this storyline because I am a fan of strange things being able to inhabit people. Watch the X-Files!!!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Deeper into the abyss *****March 25 2006
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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.