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Season One Episodes Checklist:
Truth Be Told (pilot film)
So It Begins
A Broken Heart
Time Will Time
The Box, part I
The Box, part II
Almost Thirty Years
"What's my counter-mission?"
- Jennifer Garner, as Syd the spy
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...
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
Torres, and Angus
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).
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
reviewed by Donald Morefield
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!.