Alias: The Complete First Season review, Alias: Season One DVD review
Starring
Jennifer Garner, Victor Garber, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan, Kevin Weisman, Bradley Cooper
Director
Various
Alias: The Complete
First Season

Reviewed by Jason Zingale

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ext to "24" and "The Shield," ABC's "Alias" is at the top of my list as one of the best shows on television today. "Alias" mixes the spy-film intrigue with the romantic drama experience of "Felicity" creator J.J. Abrams, who's also the man behind "Alias." With the DVDs for season one already available and the second season scheduled for release soon, this is the best chance to catch up with one of the hottest shows on primetime.

This six-disc box set features all 22 season-one episodes in their glory, presented beautifully in a widescreen format (1.78:1) and including a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track. Each episode looks crisp and colorful, exploding onto screen with bursting sound complementing every last action sequence.

Bombshell Jennifer Garner stars as Sydney Bristow, a graduate student by day and spy by night, working at SD-6, a top-secret branch of the CIA that focuses on the retrieval of mysterious devices invented by an ancient man named Rambaldi. Syndey soon realizes that SD-6 isn't in fact the CIA, but instead a small part of a much larger alliance with aspirations of some sort of world domination.

After running into her father Jack (Victor Garber), a double agent for SD-6 and the CIA, she soon follows in his footsteps, vowing to take down SD-6 from the inside with the help of her CIA handler Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan). With graduate work and two spy gigs getting in the way of her home life, Syndey creates more slack for herself by keeping secrets from her two best friends Francie (Merrin Dungey) and Will (Bradley Cooper).

Some of the best moments in "Alias" feature many of the show's co-stars, including SD-6 leader Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin), Sydney's SD-6 partner Dixon (Carl Lumbly) and the ultra-hilarious SD-6 tech guy Marshall (Kevin Weisman), who probably generates the program's funniest moments. Season one is an amazing ride, featuring some of the best episodes of the series thus far while placing Sydney in situations that fully test her ability to keep secrets and complete her missions. Highlights include the two-part episode "The Box," guest starring Quentin Tarantino, and the season finale "Almost Thirty Years."

The box set is nicely broken up into three separate cases (a handy feature you won't see in most DVD sets) with two discs per case, each generally containing three to four episodes. Although the DVD arrival of "Alias" was annoyingly delayed, the hard work paid off in the form of some quality extra features. Most of these can be found on the last disc of the set, including two featurettes: "The Alias Production Diary," a slick 19-minute look into the filming of the pilot, and "Inside Stunts," a short 10-minute feature on Jennifer Garner and the stunts she performs on the show. Also included are six deleted scenes that justify their cuts, a three-minute gag real of dialogue bloopers, an "Alias" video game preview that doesn't really reveal too much, five TV spots and a sneak peak at the season two DVD set.

By far the best extras on the first season, while sparse, are the audio commentaries by the cast and crew littered across three of the discs, including: episodes one and two on the first disc; episode 17 on disc five; and episode 22 (the finale) on the sixth disc, a real treat that gathers the entire cast onto one track of unending insight and joking.

If you've missed "Alias" up until now, grab this DVD set quick and hop onto the bandwagon before you miss anything else. With such a powerful cast and stimulating storyline, it's hard to catch anything more captivating on television today. Fast action, sexy women and a killer mystery always present, "Alias" is a sincere gift from the TV Gods.

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