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OnTV Today's Date:

The Complete First Season

Not Rated
Release Date: September 2, 2003
Ten-second Rundown: College student Sydney Bristow has a dangerous secret: she's a double-agent for the CIA and the rogue spy ring working against them. Or maybe it's vice versa.

  • Interactive Menus
  • Scene Selection
  • Commentary by crew and cast on various episodes
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Stunt Documentary
  • Pilot "Video Diary"
  • Preview of Season Two
  • Preview of Video Game
  • ABC On-air promos for Season One episodes
  • Gadget Gallery
  • DVD-Rom features including a link to scripts
  • Tech Specs: Widescreen anamorphic, English Dolby Surround

    In the wake of the end of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there's a void to be filled by a good action show with a strong female center. Is Alias that show? Checking out the new DVD release of the first season makes a fairly good case for it.

    From the get-go, this brainchild of J. J. Abrams lays out all the elements that make viewers come back week after week. The pilot alone sets the tone. Grad student Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) seems to have it all: looks, brains, and a fiancé who will do anything for her. But Sydney is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

    The opening image is actually of her head being forced into cold water as part of an interrogation by Chinese nationals. However, Abrams' pacing allows us to almost forget that as we get wrapped up in the careful laying out of Sydney's college life.

    Things start to unravel. Calling her father (Victor Garber) distant is an understatement. Her job at an international finance company turns out to be a front for her work as a spy. And letting her fiancé know who she works for means that the "company" has to execute him.

    It's a dark and convoluted world that Alias lays out, made more so by the revelation that Sydney doesn't work for who she thinks she does, and will spend the rest of the series trying to rectify that. (Sure, more revelations have occurred in Season Two - but I can only go by this set.)

    Occasionally the series plays like soap opera - Abrams had created Felicity previously - but it makes up for that by providing plenty of action. (A facet that apparently annoys Garber, a point revealed in the commentary).

    The action is a cut above what you might expect from weekly television, with quite a few high-octane sequences. In a behind-the-scenes documentary, it turns out that the stunt coordinators end up affecting story, as they're eager to prove what they can do. Rather than the tail wagging the dog, however, the reversal tends to work, a credit to a good writing team.

    It's also got a good cast. If Garner doesn't quite do it for you (a matter of taste), look to the supporting cast. Broadway vet Garber is suitably tortured in his role as one of the worst fathers in history. Moreover, I'm extremely grateful to see the excellent Carl Lumbly (voice of J'onn J'onnz on Justice League) in a role that doesn't require his "exotic" accent.

    In just a few short months, Buena Vista will release the second season on DVD, in time for Christmas. The only problem is that with a show this convoluted, it's hard to want to jump aboard the third season actually starting this fall. Here's hoping that you die-hard fans can keep it alive long enough for the rest of us to catch up.

    Also out from Buena Vista today: Kim Possible: The Secret Files, culled from the Disney Channel/ABC Saturday morning series about a teen-age secret agent. It's an occasionally clever series, vaulted into uniqueness by giving Kim a pet naked mole rat. That alone makes it worth a look.

    Derek McCaw


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