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Season One Episodes Checklist:

Truth Be Told (pilot film)
So It Begins
A Broken Heart
Time Will Time
Mea Culpa
The Confession
The Box, part I
The Box, part II
The Coup
Page 47
The Prophesy
The Solution
Almost Thirty Years

portrait of Jenny
"What's my counter-mission?"
- Jennifer Garner, as Syd the spy

November 2003 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Alias: Season One
cast: Jennifer Garner, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan, Bradley Cooper, and Victor Garber

created by J.J. Abrams

865 minutes (15) 2002
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Touchstone DVD Region 2 boxset retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Donald Morefield
Recruited from college by the CIA, young Sydney Bristow becomes an international spy for covert operations unit 'SD-6', although her friends believe she only works at a bank. After she tells her fiancé the truth about her job, her employers murder him to ensure his silence, and try to kill her, too. When she learns that her boss Sloane (Ron Rifkin) has nothing at all to do with the CIA because he actually belongs to an international crime syndicate, Sydney now uses her agent training against SD-6, and works for the real CIA. Her estranged father, Jack (Victor Garber), is also a double agent for the CIA at SD-6, her personal life is a regular disaster area, and studying to be a teacher is a constant problem when she's sent away on missions overseas. Sydney's SD-6 partner, Dixon (Carl Lumbly), gets suspicious of Sydney when she uses the support crew of her CIA handler, Vaughn (Michael Vartan), to save the wounded Dixon's life, and prize-winning journalist Will Tippin (Bradley Cooper) is investigating the unsolved case of her fiancé's murder. On top of all this cloak 'n' dagger stuff, there's a sci-fi twist to the series' on-going narrative. Organisations in the world's intel community are engaged in a fierce competition to acquire the important books and various potentially lethal inventions of 15th century prophet, Milo Rambaldi, a mysterious architect and fortuneteller (think Leonardo da Vinci meets Nostradamus) whose encoded manuscripts suggest that Sydney will become the most dangerous woman in the world...
ready for office work Garner in action girl mode
Efficiently combining the kitsch appeal of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. with the action adventures of La Femme Nikita, the gadgetry of Mission: Impossible, and hints of international conspiracy intrigue (cribbed from The X-Files), Alias is the premier post-Cold War espionage TV series, with lots of designer spy trade suspense, a cast of likeable supporting characters (despite several dismal moments of soapy relationship problems), and a highly attractive female star. There's also an eclectic choice of guest stars: Peter (of The Last Seduction, TV's Chicago Hope), Berg, John Hannah (from The Mummy movies), Amy (The Fury, Benefit Of The Doubt) Irving, former 007 star Roger Moore, Terry (The Stepfather, TV's Millennium) O'Quinn, Quentin Tarantino, Gina (Cleopatra 2525) Torres, and Angus (Phantasm) Scrimm, plus an appealingly diverse selections of rock songs as incidental music underscoring the show's most dramatic scenes. Although the show's basic setup and format (which bravely includes some cliffhanger endings) is largely derivative, there are a few inspired moments: of horror (as Sydney gets tortured by an Asian dentist), edgy humour (the 'clips episode' Q&A has a rapidly edited collage of flashbacks to illustrate the dangers of Sydney's job), and several bittersweet scenes (as Sydney's embarrassing struggle to establish a fresh rapport with her stony-faced dad are complicated further by their increasingly difficult new working relationship).
   Complex story-arcs of players in the world of surveillance and security forces aside, Alias is definitely "the Jennifer Garner show." She certainly can act the part of undercover agent well enough to be convincing as multilingual business rep in a range of clever disguises, and if they want to please the girl-watching audience, the programme makers can always put lithe Garner in bikinis, skimpy lingerie or other provocative outfits, such as the famed electric-blue rubber minidress of So It Begins.
   The packaging for this DVD boxset is probably the worst design ever. Inside the card slipcase, plastic backing plates for the six discs are held together with sticky tape! Cheap and shoddy by anyone's standards, this is quite unacceptable from a major label (I've seen better packaged pirate DVDs than this!). Disc extras include featurettes Inside Stunts, and Alias: Pilot Diary, plus commentary tracks on Truth Be Told (by Abrams and Garner), So It Begins (producer, cameraman, and director), and Almost Thirty Years (the noisy main cast, together). You also get six deleted scenes, a gag reel, TV spots, video game advert, and a sneak preview of the second season, which looks to feature Lena Olin!.

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