Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Alias - The Complete First Season

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
9 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: Unrated

Starring:
Jennifer Garner as Agent Sydney A. Bristow
Victor Garber as Agent Jonathan 'Jack' Donahue Bristow
Ron Rifkin as Arvin Sloane
Michael Vartan as Agent Michael C. Vaughn
Bradley Cooper as William 'Will' D. Tippin
Merrin Dungey as Francie Calfo and Allison
Carl Lumbly as Agent Marcus R. Dixon
Kevin Weisman as Agent Marshall J. Flinkman
Terry O'Quinn as FBI Asst. Director Kendall
David Anders as Mr. Sark
Amy Irving as Emily Sloane
Greg Grunberg as Agent Eric Weiss
Joey Slotnick as Agent Steven Haladki

Special Features:

Pilot production diary

Deleted scenes

“Inside Stunts”

Gag reel

Audio commentaries

Special season 2 preview

PS2 game sneak peak

DVD-ROM web puzzle, script link & season 3 preview link

Number of discs: 6

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 21 1/2 Hours

Synopsis:
Sydney Bristow is not your typical graduate student. While going to school, she also works for a top secret CIA division called “SD-6”. Her work as a secret agent requires her to fly to exotic locations, fight vicious enemies, get dressed in various disguises, and make death-defying escapes. The only rule that SD-6 has for Syd is that she not tell anyone about the organization. This is not much of a problem for her since she is estranged from her father, her mother is dead, and her friends suspect nothing.

When her boyfriend Danny proposes to her, though, she feels obligated to tell him the truth. She reveals her secret life as a spy. Unfortunately, SD-6 finds out about this and has Danny brutally assassinated. Shocked and horrified, Sydney’s life is shattered. This is also her first clue that something’s not right with SD-6. When she tries to leave the organization, they attempt to assassinate her, too. When her father, Jack Bristow, comes to her rescue, she finds out that he is also an agent for SD-6. He reveals that SD-6 is not a CIA organization at all. In fact, it’s an enemy spy organization that the CIA is fighting.

With her world turned upside down, Syd turns to the real CIA for help. There she meets Agent Michael C. Vaughn who recruits her as a double agent. He also tells her that her father is already working for them as a double agent. After rejoining SD-6, Syd starts working to take down the organization from the inside and get revenge for the murder of her fiancée. Her investigations also lead her to the “Rambaldi Prophecy”. This Renaissance document not only correctly predicts the future, but it has plans for a device that could give the owner ultimate power. With SD-6 and the CIA after it, it’s up to Sydney to save the day.

Alias – The First Season is unrated, but it has a US TV rating of “TV 14 VSL”.

The Movie:
I saw the first couple of episodes of Alias when it first came out, but due to other distractions I didn’t see many more episodes afterwards. It’s easily one of the best series on TV and I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw. However, it was next to impossible to keep track with the show and the story soon got beyond a point where I could pick it back up again. Now, with the first season released on DVD, I can go back and watch the first 22 episodes at my own pace.

As already mentioned, this TV series is one of the best out there. If you’re a fan of James Bond or even Buffy The Vampire Slayer, then this show will be right up your alley. Every episode is jam packed with action, suspense, exotic locations, and dramatic twists and turns. It’s a first class production all the way. The costumes look great, the stunts look cool, the hand-to-hand combat is well choreographed, and the acting is superb.

Alias is the show that made Jennifer Garner a real star. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s a good actress that only gets better through the series. She has the extremely difficult role of not only being the lead star of the show, but the main actor doing most of the stunts. Garner handles all of the action well and her fight work is truly impressive. She’s really the one that makes this show worth watching. A great supporting cast backs her up.

Overall, it’s a great TV show and it’s worth checking it out on DVD. You’ll see why the show has been nominated for multiple awards and why Jennifer won a Golden Globe award for best actress in a television series.

The Extras:
While fans new to the series will be kept busy just watching the TV shows, there’s plenty here to keep established fans of the series happy, too. The extras can be found on the sixth and first discs. Here are some of the highlights:

Pilot production diary – This is essentially a “Making Of The Pilot” documentary. It looks like footage from someone’s home movies spliced together into a 15-minute or so video. You’ll see Garner training for the fight scenes, J.J. Abrams figuring out how he’s going to set up shots, and more. The producer of the series also pops in and talks about what it was like putting the pilot together. It’s a pretty interesting feature.

Deleted scenes – There are 6 deleted scenes on this DVD. Most of them feature the relationship between Will and Syd. The scenes aren’t pivotal to the plots of the shows, but they do add a little more depth to the characters. There’s also one scene with Sloane where he reveals that he has set up ways to reveal SD-6 should anything ever happen to him.

“Inside Stunts” – The stunt coordinators for the show discuss how they did some of the bigger stunts in the show including a jump from a tower, a jump from a cliff, a car falling into water, a few explosions, and more. They also get in-depth into how they coordinate the fight scenes and how they practice for them. Proper credit is also given to Jennifer Garner’s stunt double, though they repeatedly state how Garner does as many of the stunts as she can on her own. It’s another cool extra on the DVD.

Gag reel – Most of these bloopers feature the cast flubbing lines or breaking into uncontrollable laughter. I thought there would be more accidents from the fight scenes, but there really weren’t that many. It’s still a fun feature.

Audio commentaries – Only four of the episodes have commentaries. The pilot has a commentary by J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner. Abrams dishes out a ton of trivia about the series and many factoids that you’d never know. Garner seems to declare every scene her favorite, but she also provides some great behind the scenes thoughts. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll want to hear this. Episode 17, which is primarily a flashback episode, also has commentary from other cast members. The final episode in season one features a commentary by all the principal cast members including Garner, Garber, Vartan, and the others.

Special season 2 preview – This is a sneak peek at the second season. It reveals a lot about what happens, so you might not want to see it if you want to be surprised. Expect this to arrive on DVD soon as well.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re a fan of James Bond, Charlie’s Angels, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then this is a DVD set you’ll want to check out. If you’re an established fan of Alias, then this is a DVD set you’ll be required to add to your collection.

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