The X-Files (particularly the first 6 seasons) was a seminal TV show that first aired in 1992. Anyone around at the time remembers how influential this conspiracy theory thriller series was.
It introduced a wide audience to conspiracies about UFOs, alien abduction, genetic engineering experiments, contemporary mythology, mutants and a whole host of other weird and wonderful creatures and lore.
And, you might have noticed, it’s back on TV with a new 6-part mini series featuring original cast members David Duchovny (Mulder), Gillian Anderson (Scully) Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) and some other familiar faces. It takes up in present time, years after both Mulder and Scully have left the FBI and the eponymous “X-Files” unit.
The Return of A Cult Classic
For fans of the show, it’s great to see the two main protagonists reunited on screen, especially after the poorly received X-Files: I Want To Believe movie from 2008. And for new viewers who weren’t around or were too young to watch the original series, it’ll bring a whole new generation of fans eager to watch the original series for themselves.
But there’s a problem. The X-Files aired in the 1990s when shows were broadcast in the old 4:3 (1.33:1) ratio and not the current 16:9 (1.78:1 widescreen) ratio. Having black bars on the side of an image makes viewers feel that they’re missing part of the picture.
Anyone who bought the X-Files DVDs should remember that the quality wasn’t great. The picture was 4:3 (at least for the first 4 seasons), somewhat blurry and a lot of highlights were blown out. Kind of like the contrast level on the image was set too high.
Rumors that there was a high-definition version of the X-Files crossed the internet for years but no proof was ever found. At least until a HD-quality 16:9 presentation of the first season of the X-Files appeared on a German TV channel of all places. And it only appeared once.
Still, that revelation got the rumor mill going again.
Then news about the new 6-part mini series was released early last year. It was a good bet that Fox would release an updated version of the X-Files on Blu-Ray to coincide with the new series airing on TV.
A Remastered X-Files
In the last few months of 2015, Netflix users got a nice surprise – all seasons of the original X-Files were available to watch in 16:9 (widescreen) HD. Comparing the remastered episodes with the DVDs I own was a revelation.
Firstly, the picture isn’t simply panned and scanned where the “window” centers on people’s faces and such. It appears that a lot of the X-Files was shot in widescreen but framed for 4:3 transmission on TV. Now the original widescreen framing is used as much as possible with pan & scan used elsewhere.
Color is rich, unlike the pallid DVDs and detail is superb. Watching these remastered episodes was like watching a different series. The quality is on a par with any TV series you’d watch today. It’s obvious that Fox have put a lot of effort into remastering the series which was so ill-served by the original DVDs.
The X-Files isn’t available in all Netflix regions, however.
If you’re longing to see Mulder and Scully in HD, with 5.1 DTS sound, then Fox have also released a Blu-Ray boxset of all 9 original series. While the set doesn’t include the new mini-series, there is space in the box to add its Blu-Ray box when the mini-series is itself released on BD. In all, you get 9,061 minutes of viewing pleasure!
There’s more than 23 hours of special content across all 9 seasons as well.
If you’re interested in getting the X-Files on Blu_Ray, check out the prices of the Collector’s Set ($245 at the time this post was published) and the price of buying the 9 seasons separately (about $145 as time of writing), so that’s a saving of $100 right there!