Alias: The Complete Fourth Season DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

  • OVERALL
    3.0
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
Okay, I just don't see what the big deal is.

I guess it might have something to do with the level of betrayal on this show, or the fact that Jennifer Garner is really something to look at, or it might even be the fact that this show is heavily dominated by women, but I honestly don't know what the big deal with this show is. Having never watched a single solitary episode of Alias, coming in on Alias - The Complete Fourth Season probably wasn't the best thing to do. I mean, I am seeing characters that have already been established for the past 3 years, and I now I've got to try and put things together as best I can. Sadly, I don't think that I was able to do that or maybe I just stopped trying.

I guess Sydney (Garner) has left the CIA and joined up with a new group that's supposed to be much more under the radar. She seems to not be able to trust anybody. People in her organization, her family and maybe even herself. There is plenty of action and a lot moments in which we get to see Garner make that face where she presses her lips together which means A) she's thinking really hard, B) she's about to start fighting or C) she's trying to look like she's thinking really hard.

All in all, I think it might be a good idea for me to go back and rewatch some of the earlier episodes. I just think I should have liked Alias - The Complete Fourth Season a lot more than I did.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary With Cast and Creators on Four episodes

These are commentary tracks for the following episodes: "Authorized Personnel Only - Pts. 1&2," "Ice" and "Nocturne." The first two commentary tracks feature J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Ken Olin and Sarah Caplan. "Ice' gives us Jeff Melvoin, Drew Goddard and Jeffrey Bell. "Nocturne" lets us listen to Lawrence Trilling, Jesse Alexander and others. I probably should have listened to this before I watched the show. Granted, I think this would have confused me a little bit at first, but hearing from J.J. Abrams to begin with would have illuminated a lot of what I was watching so that I wasn't playing "catch-up" like I was for the majority of this show. The actors, director and everyone else don't seem to have a bad word to say about anyone (not that I thought they would air grievances on a Director's commentary!), but unless you are a really big fan of the show, I don't know that you will really want to watch this.

A Chat With Jennifer Garner; Meet Mia: Syd's Little Sister; Director's Diary; Marshall's World

The "Chat" with Jennifer Garner doesn't really seem to have a point and it plays like it was done during a break on the set. I was looking for a nice setting, with Garner completely removed from the work. Instead, we see her trying to sound intelligent as she talks with Ken Olin. "Meet Mia" gives us a little introduction to Mia Maestro the girl that plays Nadia Santos.

While she gave a pretty "paint by numbers" account of what it was like to work on this show, it was hard not to root for her given the opportunity she'd been given. The "Director's Diary" comes to us from Jeffrey Bell. He walks us through the nuts and bolts of Episode 20. We hear from a lot of crew people, and while this was very technical, I am sure that the film school folks watching will be happy to see a breakdown of the process. "Marshall's World" is a "behind the scenes" look at what goes on on the set through the eyes of Kevin Weisman (Marshall Flinkman). We see him early in the morning and then the rest of his day unfolds. I think it's cool that the makers of this DVD highlighted someone else other than Mrs. Garner.

Blooper Reel; Deleted Scenes; The Guest Stars Of Season 4; Anatomy Of A Scene; Agent Weiss' Spy Camera

The "Blooper Reel" was weird to watch because we get to see the actors act normal. I hate to always be harping on this, but it was really refreshing getting to actually see them breathe. There are "10 Deleted Scenes" that I just sort of skipped through. Honestly, I didn't see anything about the show that I felt would be illuminated with this extra feature. Any questions I might have will have to be answered by going back and screening other seasons. "The Guest Stars of Season 4" gives us Joel Grey, Gina Torres, Angela Basset and others talking about their roles on this show for this season. While none of the people they talked to says anything that amazing, fans of the show will appreciate their insights. "Anatomy of A Scene" was my favorite part of this disc by far because we get a breakdown of the "Train Fight" that opens Episode One and the "Chopper Escape" scene. Now, this IS movie magic, because to look at the these scenes one would never think that there was so much blue screen work involved. "Agent Weiss' Spy Camera" is another "behind the scenes" type piece done by Greg Grunberg. The main difference with this "behind the scenes" look is that this one was done with still pictures and Mr. Grunberg narrates them. A nice touch.

THE VIDEO
1.78:1 - Widescreen. This show sadly falls into all the pratfalls that I dislike about today's dramatic TV. First of all, the action scenes seem to stagey. And, if I hear another person say how the "fight scenes were supposed to be like a ballet," I am going to jump into the round hole if you know what I mean. Secondly, the actors all seem to speak in whispers. Nobody seems real. Every word spoken and every movement these actors do (save for the fight scenes) just seems wooden. Okay, that really is about it. Alias - The Complete Fourth Season looks like a movie not a TV show. It has the solid colors and style that separates it from shows of a similar ilk that appear on FX and other places. While I thought the actors seemed stiff within their scenery, it was the scenery that really came alive and expressed what the actors weren't.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital - 5.1 - English. Okay, I would have liked this show a lot more if they would have at least tried to make the sound stand out. How many times are we going to see spy shows with that techno music that's supposed to help move the action? Also, since most of the actors are delivering every line with a tone of weightiness, I just found the sound really slowed the show down. I really wish that more shows would take a freewheeling approach. You watch a sitcom and they really move because the actors are just talking. They aren't saying words in a sly way or making every line, every enunciation a delivery of sorts. I hate to say it, but just look at a poster or a cover for anything related to Alias, and without knowing anything you can tell what the show is about.
THE PACKAGE
Jennifer Garner stares at us with that "look" she's becoming too well known for. Behind her is Mia Maestro and they both seem like they are wearing negligés. Great way to sell this 6 disc set fellas! All around this front cover box art is a good mixture of black and red. The back features more shots of Garner and the other cast members, a description of what happened in Season 4 (something else that didn't help me), an "Extra Features" listing and some technical specs. The discs that made up this set are housed in "dual trays" with pictures from the show laid out all over this inside cover. There is an Alias episode guide that comes with this set that indexes and describes all 22 episodes. Pretty standard packaging, but the pictures of Garner and Maestro are not standard in any way, shape or form.
THE FINAL WORD
I hate to say this but seeing Jennifer Garner in the interviews and hearing her on the commentary tracks, I don't know that I think she's that smart. There wasn't anything I can pinpoint which made me think this way, I just got the impression that whenever she opened her mouth her responses were canned, or she was trying to give off the impression that she was smart. Afterall, she is playing this intelligent, quick on her feet, fighting machine and it just seems like the game could be up if it turned out she was a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

Maybe this whole thing is over my head, but I just think that Alias - The Complete Fourth Season wasn't anything all that special. Now, what's this I'm hearing about that show LOST...?

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