By Wook Kim
May 18, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

The X-Files Season 3 Gift Collection


Just as The X-Files (now finishing its eighth season) is in a bit of a downward spiral along comes this seven-disc set that captures the series as it really hits its stride, effortlessly veering into dark suspense and even darker comedy — sometimes all in the same episode. In one such show, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are in a car with a lonely insurance salesman who possesses the unpleasant and unwanted ability to see how people die. ”You know, there are worse ways to go,” he blithely informs Mulder, ”but I can’t think of a more undignified one than autoerotic asphyxiation.” The deliciously morbid humor of this scene (from ”Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” with a delightfully deadpan Peter Boyle as the titular shlub) is one of many memorable moments from the show’s breakthrough season. Having established the relationship between David Duchovny’s Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Scully, and laid the groundwork for the mythology — the story arc at whose center is a crypto-government agency for which Mulder plays Ahab to its Great Black Whale — The X-Files started its third season with a bang. ”The Blessing Way” and ”Paper Clip” reveal an ever-widening conspiracy that deliriously engulfs every paranoid totem from alien abduction to Nazi eugenics. And settled in their comfortably antagonistic roles, our intrepid G-persons confront ghostly felines (”Teso Dos Bichos”), deal with issues of religious faith and science (”Revelations”), and even appear in clever genre send-ups (the wicked self-parody of ”Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space”’). Sure, there are a few episodes more deserving of the ecch-files (”Avatar” and ”The Walk”), but this package, with enough extras (TV spots, deleted scenes, featurettes, and a pair of audio commentary tracks) to fill an abandoned hangar, reminds us why we once stayed home on Friday nights. A

The X-Files Season 3 Gift Collection

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