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Alias - The Complete Fourth Season


TITLE: ALIAS - THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: October 25, 2005 (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Color
MSRP: $59.99
Number of Discs: 6
Number of Episodes: 22
Running time: Approx. 923 Minutes
Audio Tracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Video: Widescreen (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 televisions
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; Spanish subtitles; English Closed Captioning
Special Features:
Commentary by cast and creators on four episodes
A Chat with Jennifer Garner
Meet Mia: Syd's Little Sister
Blooper Reel
Anatomy of a Scene
Deleted Scenes
Director's Diary
Guest Stars of Season 4
Marshall's World
Agent Weiss' Spy Camera


Introduction:

The action explodes in ALIAS' phenomenal fourth season. When Sydney leaves the CIA to join a powerful new Black Ops unit, she has no idea of the reunion in store for her. Family secrets are revealed and old adversaries come together for a year of betrayal, suspense and breathtaking surprises. It's nonstop excitement - from the spectacular two-hour first episode to the stunning impact of the season's final seconds.

Experience all 22 heart-stopping episodes of season four in a sensational six-disc set. ALIAS features "the best acting and most addicting plot lines on television," raves CNN.com. Now, with exclusive bonus features, including a conversation with Jennifer Garner, bloopers, deleted scenes and more, this spectacular set makes TV's most exciting show even better.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Alias' fourth season premiered on January 5th, 2005 on ABC with a two-hour episode. The series aired on Wednesdays at 10PM following the hugely popular "Lost," which was also created by J.J. Abrams. There were many stand-alone episodes at the start of the season, but there were the usual story arcs in the last half to third of the year. Mia Maestro was added to the cast as Syndey's half-sister Nadia Santos.

Memorable episodes included "Welcome to Liberty Village," in which Sydney and Vaughn are sent to infiltrate a training camp run by the October Contigent. While on a mission in Havana, Sydney is captured by the Third Faction and buried alive in "Tuesday." With Dixon still imbedded in the terrorist group, the APO team follows him to Vienna to steal back the Hydrosek in "Mirage." The APO team belatedly discovers that Elena Derevko has been in their midst for some time and has managed to get away from being discovered in "The Descent." With the Russian city of Sovogda in chaos, video footage shows Rambaldii's Mueller Device hovering nearby in "Search and Rescue." The APO team team lands in Sovogda for the final showdown with Elena in "Before the Flood." This season finale ends with quite a cliffhanger!

There were a number of notable guest stars, including some that had appeared in previous seasons of Alias. Angela Bassett played CIA Director Hayden Chase in "Authorized Personnel Only, Part 1," "The Index, "The Descent," "Search and Rescue," and "Before the Flood." Kelly Macdonald appeared as Kiera MacLaine/Meghan Keene in "Ice." Sydney's arch-nemesis Anna Espinosa, played by Gina Torres, returns in "Echoes" and "A Man of His Word." Freaks and Geeks' Jason Segel guest starred as Sam Hauser in "The Road Home." Sonia Braga returns as Sophia Vargas/Elena Derevko in "The Orphan," "A Clean Conscience," "Mirage," "The Descent," "Search and Rescue," and "Before the Flood." Joel Grey played Another Mr. Sloane/Sloane #2 in "Pandora,""Another Mister Sloane," and "In Dreams..." Isabella Rossellini returns as Katya Derevko in "Pandora" and "The Descent." Michael McKean appeared as Dr. Liddell in "A Clean Conscience" and "Mirage." Lena Olin returns as Irina Derevko in "Search and Rescue" and "Before the Flood."


Packaging:

This six-disc set has some attractive packaging. The outer, clear plastic case features a photo of Jennifer Garner and Mia Maestro on the cover. The back of the case has smaller photos of the cast and lists a summary of the set and the special features. The main DVD box slides out from the bottom of the outer case. It features a photo of Victor Garber and Ron Rifkin with the Alias logo. It has a red background color. The back of the box has a photo of Jennifer Garner with her arms crossed and also features the Alias logo. There are various black and white photos on the covers and inside the box as well. The box unfolds and shows four sections where the discs are held. Inside the box, there is a holder that has inserts for some other TV on DVD releases, a booklet that promotes Lost, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and various Alias products. There is an 8-page booklet included that lists all of the episodes with short summaries and has a number of photos sprinkled throughout. The special features, which are found on disc 6, are also listed. It would have been nice if they had listed the original airdates and guest stars as well, but I guess that information can easily be found on the internet.

The six discs are found with two discs overlapping each on three separate holders. Each disc has a different photo of a cast member as well as the Alias logo. Disc 1 features a photo of Jennifer Garner and has episodes 67-70. Disc 2 pictures Mia Maestro with episodes 71-74. Disc 3 shows Victor Garber and contains episodes 75-78. Disc 4 features Ron Rikin and has episodes 79-82. Disc 5 pictures Michael Vartran and has episodes 83-86. Disc 6 shows Greg Grunberg and contains episodes 87-88 and the bulk of the special features.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very slick looking and appealing. They have a gray background, with various videoclips and music playing in the background. There are options at the bottom for "Episodes," "Bonus," "Set Up," Play All," and "Sneak Peeks" (only on the first disc). There is a small, red rectangle next to the option you select. The sub-menus feature various still images and have background music on them also. The Set Up option lets you select English captions or Spanish subtitles. The Sneak Peeks features trailers for The Chronicles of Narnia movie and various TV on DVD releases including: Desperate Housewives, Lost, Alias, Scrubs, Home Improvement, and The Golden Girls. There are chapter stops within the episodes, but no scene selection menus.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality is outstanding. The episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) format. There is very little grain on these episodes, which primarily can been seen in scenes that were filmed in dark settings, and the overall detail is very sharp and clear. The episodes are well spread out over six discs with no more than four episodes per disc, so there are no compression issues. All the episodes appear to be unedited with running times around 40-43 minutes. I'm not sure why the episode times vary so much from week to week. I guess ABC only gives them a certain amount of time each episode, depending on how much commercial time they sell.

The audio is a Dolby Digital. 5.1 Surround Sound track. It is very impressive with no major faults. I love the music score by Michael Giacchino and how they utilize songs in the episodes. There is closed captioning available in English as well as Spanish subtitles.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
67. Authorized Personnel Only, Part 1 (43:23)
68. Authorized Personnel Only, Part 2 (43:21)
69. The Awful Truth (40:44)
70. Ice (40:33)

Disc 2
---------
71. Welcome to Liberty Village (41:25)
72. Nocturne (41:51)
73. Detente (40:38)
74. Echoes (42:31)

Disc 3
---------
75. A Man of His World (40:02)
76. The Index (42:23)
77. The Road Home (41:27)
78. The Orphan (41:27)

Disc 4
---------
79. Tuesday (43:20)
80. Nightingale (41:59)
81. Pandora (43:11)
82. Another Mister Sloane (41:59)

Disc 5
---------
83. A Clean Conscience (42:28)
84. Mirage (42:34)
85. In Dreams... (43:04)
86. The Descent (42:48)

Disc 6
---------
87. Search and Rescue (42:53)
88. Before the Flood (43:02)


Special Features:

I was very impressed with the amount and variety of the special features. There are over four hours worth of bonus material included. There are four audio commentaries by the cast and creators of the show. Creator J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Director and Executive Producer Ken Olin and Executive Producer Sarah Caplan comment on "Authorized Personnel Only, Part 1" and "Authorized Personnel Only, Part 2." They give a lot of behind the scenes details and talk about the production of the episodes. Jennifer Garner left after about 17-18 minutes in the second episode, as she had to film a scene for the end of the season. Executive Producer Jeff Melvoin, Co-Executive Producer Drew Goddard, and Co-Executive Producer/Writer/Director Jeffrey Bell do the commentary for "Ice." They talk about how this was one of the stand-a-lone episodes and about guest star Kelly Macdonald. Supervising Producer and Director Lawrence Trilling, Co-Executive Producer and Writer Jeff Pinker, and Co-Executive Producer Jesse Alexander provide commentary for "Nocturne." They talk about how ABC wanted less serialized episodes, about Weiss/Nadia's and Nadia/Sydney's relationship, and about the shooting locations. All of the commentaries were entertaining and added to my knowledge of the show. Ken Olin's impersonations were funny.

The other special features are found on disc 6. Here is a breakdown:

A Chat with Jennifer Garner (5:56) - Jennifer Garner and Executive Producer Ken Olin on Location; Night 4, Warehouse Roof - San Pedro, CA - April 26. They talk about Mia Maestro and how they usually cast somebody for a season and then take them away. They also talk about Jennifer Garner's directorial debut on the 19th episode of the season: "In Dreams..."

Meet Mia: Syd's Little Sister (3:38) - Mia Maestro talks about how she had never done television before. She also talks about how she bonded with Ron Rifkin and working with the other cast members. She said she won't be returning as a regular, but will be back for some certain storylines.

Alias Bloopers (11:47) - J.J. Abrams presents the gag reel that they showed at the season wrap party. Who doesn't love bloopers? These are fun to watch.

Anatomy of a Scene - The Train Fight (6:41) - This scene was from the season premiere episode. It was an added sequence. It features Kevin Blank (Visual Effects Supervisor), David Morizot (Fight Coordinator), J.J. Abrams (Creator), and Shauna Duggins (Stunt Double for Jennifer Garner). I think they did an excellent job with this scene to make it as realistic looking as possible. The wonders of computers.

Anatomy of a Scene - The Chopper Escape (4:08) - Kevin Blank talks about how this scene was shot. Jennifer Garner wasn't able to be there, so they used her stunt double and then put in Jennifer's face and her running scene with a computer.

Deleted Scenes (11:17) - There are 10 deleted scenes included. They are identified only be scene name. Unfortunately, they don't list which episodes they were deleted from. Here is the list: Choices (:56), End of An Era (1:29), Taking It Slow (1:15), Ghosts (:31), Six in the Corner (1:03), Stood Up (:50), Innocent (:41), Checking on Jack (2:23), Off the Mountain (1:16), A Sister's Escape (:55)

Director's Diary (13:42) - Director Jeffrey Bell goes through the various steps from the start of an episode to the finish. It starts with breaking the story. ABC had them do the episodes with a 6 act structure. There also segments on Location Scouting, Production Begins, and Post-Production and Visual Effects. There are interviews with Kevin Blank, Assistant Director Sally Sue Lander, Storyboard Artist Tom O'Neill, Assistant Director Brian O'Kelly, Mia Maestro, and Editor Kristin Wendell. It's quite a long and elaborate process just to complete a single episode.

Guest Stars of Season 4 (11:40) - This segment features interviews and video clips from the episodes of various notable guest stars. It includes Joel Grey (Sloane #2), Gina Torres (Anna Espinosa), Hayden Chase (Angela Bassett), Sonia Braga (Elena Derevko), and Lena Olin (Irina Derevko).

Marshall's World (11:38) - Kevin Weisman, who plays Marshall Flinkman, takes you around to various sets and talks to a bunch of people. There are segments on Meet the Cast, On Location, The Writer's Office, and Train Wreck. He starts off talking with Director Lawrence Trilling. He then talks to Victor Garber, Mia Maestro, Jennifer Garner, Michael Vartran, Ron Rifkin, Carl Lumbly, Greg Grunberg, and J.J. Abrams in Meet the Cast. He's at Santa Anita Park in On Location and he talks with Director Frederick E.O. Toye. In The Writer's Office segment, he talks with Jeff Bell, Josh Applebaum, Luke McMullen, Jeff Melvoin and Sam Humphrey. The last segment is on the band he plays in called Train Wreck.

Agent Weiss' Spy Cam (6:43) - Greg Grunberg shows you some of the digital snapshots that he has taken of the cast and provides narration for the segment.


Final Comments:

This DVD set kicks butt! I became a fan of Alias starting with season four. I'm a big Lost fan and decided to give Alias a chance, since it aired right after it. I'm glad I did. I thought I would be confused by the complicated storylines that I had read about previous seasons, but I found the show pretty easy to follow. I can't say it was beter or worse than previous seasons, as I've yet to see them. It is a bit sad to see so many characters that I came to know in season 4 are no longer regulars in season 5. It almost seems like a completely new show this year. Overall, this is an excellent release with many special features that add value to the set, and that you will enjoy whether you are a new or die-hard fan of the series.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 10/26/05

To order the DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000A6T2BW/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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