Plot: What’s it about?
The fourth season of “Alias” kept up the show’s image for giving the audience twists and turns. For loyal viewers of the show, there were some old and familiar faces and they weren’t well-liked by some of the characters on the show. Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin) for example has been the baddest of the bad, yet he still ends up as the leader of the team, asking people to trust him and they always do. For the uninformed viewer, however, they’ll just know that this is the show that Jennifer Garner is on, and make no mistake about it – this is her show. Garner’s real-life pregnancy is being written in to the current season (its fifth, by the way) which might put a damper on the trouble that her character constantly gets into. In this fourth season we meet Sydney’s (Garner) half-sister, Nadia (Mia Maestro) as she joins the force. This season also puts back the familiar team of Sydney, Vaughn (Michael Vartan), Jack (Victor Garber), Marcus (Carl Lumbly) and my personal favorite – Marshall (Kevin Weisman).
The plot of the show is fairly simple, though it seems like every season people change sides or are working for a new black ops division of our government. Everyone is employed by the CIA and are off to every corner of the world to recover ancient artifacts, stop the world from being poisoned and every other cliché in the book. Essentially, they’re like a team of James Bonds, off to save the world every day and night. The allure of the show is Jennifer Garner, beautiful and not afraid to kick a little ass as Sydney Bristow. By watching the opening credits, she’s able to blend in nearly anywhere, yet something usually goes awry and she’s punching and kicking her way out of a mess nearly every episode. The show was created by J.J. Abrams, who also came up with “Lost”, so expect the unexpected and take each and every episode with a grain of salt – you’ll be much happier that way. “Alias” is a good show, it takes a bit of getting used to but once you do, you’ll be hooked.
Video: How does it look?
Each episode is presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer that is simply fantastic. I try and catch the new episodes when they come on in HD and I’m hard-pressed to see much of a difference between the HD broadcast and the DVD’s in the sets. That’s to say they look great, showing a lot of detail with very little loss in quality. TV on DVD is hit or miss, but when you have a big budget show like this or “Lost” then the quality does make itself known when you pop in the discs. Excellent transfers all around.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is actually pretty good for a television show. There’s plenty of things that blow up, bullets whiz by and activate the surrounds and even the general ambiance is fairly active. Dialogue is clean and lacks any distortion. Quite frankly, if you didn’t know this was a TV show then you’d be hard pressed to tell otherwise. Much like the video, the audio is top notch.
Supplements: What are the extras?
TV on DVD sets (seasons) are, again, hit or miss. Some sets have the original episodes and that’s all – but “Alias” tries to offer a bit more bang for the buck. There are four commentaries on selected episodes (Authorized Personnel Only Parts I and II, Ice and Nocturne) by the show’s producers and Garner offers up a track in “Authorized Personnel Only”). These are fairly entertaining and interesting to listen to, fans of the show will enjoy them and its nice to see at least some episodes with a commentary track. The rest of the bonus features are a series of featurettes along with some deleted scenes. The one I was looking most forward to was “Marshall’s World” because, well, he’s my favorite character on the show. For those who don’t know, Marshall is the equivalent of “Q” on James Bond – he’s the gadget guy and I figured this would be an insight into how they come up with these cool things. Well, I was wrong; it’s just a “Day in the life of…” Kevin Weisman who plays Marshall on the show. Anyway… there are some other features like “A Chat with Jennifer Garner”, “The Guest Stars of Season 4” and “Meet Mia: Syd’s Little Sister” and they offer a little insight into the show. The “Anatomy of a Scene” is also an interesting watch as well. “Alias” is a great show that’s just as good, if not better, on DVD. If you own the first three seasons are you really going to stop now? Me neither.