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Alias: The Complete Third Season (2001) – DVD Review

Alias: The Complete Third Season


Series Created by J. J. Abrams
Starring Jennifer Garner, Victor Garber, Michael Vartan, Melissa George, Ron Rifkin


  • All twenty-two second season episodes
  • Deleted scenes
  • Featurettes:
    • Creating Characters seminar at The Museum of Television & Radio
    • Alias Up Close” – Behind the Scenes with the Cast and Crew
    • “Burbank to Barcelona” – Location Production
  • The Animated Alias: Tribunal
  • Blooper reel
  • Television spots
  • Running audio commentaries:
    • Episode 1: “The Two” by Alias fans Erin Dailey and Jennifer Wong
    • Episode 9: “Conscious” by director Ken Olin, and actresses Garner and George
    • Episode 11: “Full Disclosure” by director Lawrence Trilling, writer Jesse Alexander, and Scott Chambliss
    • Episode 15: “Facade” by creator Abrams, director Jack Bender, and actor Greg Grunberg

Released by: Buena Vista.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: That’s affirmative.

My Advice: Fans should own, rest should rent.

[ad#longpost]When last we left our heroine, super spy Sydney Bristow (Garner), she had awakened in an alley in Hong Kong. Had she been drinking a bit too much? No, according to Vaughn (Vartan), she has been considered dead for two years. Things have changed a lot: her former partner Dixon (Carl Lumbly) is now head of the L.A. office of the CIA, uber techie Marshall (Kevin Weisman) is about to become a father, her dad and fellow spy Jack Bristow (Garber) is in jail, and her nemesis and former boss Arvin Sloane (Rifkin) is now running a humanitarian organization. But the cruelest change of all is her lover Vaughn, thinking she was dead, moved on and married an NSC official, Lauren Reed (George). There’s also a new player on the international terrorist scene, The Covenant. And wouldn’t you know it; they have an interest in the creations of Renaissance inventor and seer Milo Rambaldi. So Sydney needs to grab a wig, because she needs to start kicking ass pronto. Can she sort through the various double-crosses, secrets, and lies to keep the world, as well as her sanity, safe? What do you think?

I hate to say it but this season felt a little off. I think the main problem was the character of Lauren. Many fans were disgusted that after Sydney and Vaughn finally hook up, this English tart mucks it all up. And the whole accent deal was weird too. Lauren’s father is a senator from Virginia. Virginia. In America. Now Melissa George does the best job she can throughout the season. But her whole character was handled badly. At some points, she seemed to have actual feelings for Vaughn, but at other times she seems to hate his guts. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but in a story it’s a nice thing to have. And coming off the sublime job Lena Olin did last season, George’s performance comes off looking worse than it actually was.

The overall story arc for this season was also off. The first part of the season has the main mystery being Sydney’s lost two years but then it gets resolved in one episode. You could get whiplash from a stunt like that. Then we find out about double crosses that our heroes don’t–not yet anyway–and we have a couple of episodes with close calls where they just miss finding out. After a while, this complicated back and forth, cat and mouse game gets a little irritating. Then there’s this sister that Sydney’s mom had with Sloane and of course this all relates to back to Rambaldi. There is a line between complex and overly complicated. And Alias crossed it a few times this season. Between the National Security Council, the Covenant, the Trust, the ancient conspiracy around Rambaldi…you could get dizzy. If it weren’t for the strong performances from the cast, this would be unremitting garbage. They portray such realism in their characters that it balances out the outrageousness of the plots. When you see Dixon’s reaction to when his children are kidnapped, you believe this is a father whose heart is being stomped on. I think I can say that this is one of the strongest casts on television right now.

Like the last two DVD sets, we have a ton of extras to inspect. First, there’s the Animated Alias which is an obvious rip-off of the Animatrix. And like most rip-offs it is neither done well in its writing or animation. Next are some edited parts on a question and answer session done at the Museum of Television and Radio. Essentially some random observations on creating and playing the character of Sydney Bristow. Not very exciting. And unless deleted scenes contain some good character work and an expanded plot point, I really see the need for them. And what included here is no exception.

But there is some good stuff to be found here. The Alias Up Close feature is actually a group of featurettes that deal with everything from prop creation to choreographing fight scenes integrating music and sound effects. You really get a sense of how complicated a show this is and how much of it you never consciously notice. This is evident in another featurette “From Burbank To Barcelona” which focuses on how the show creates exotic international locals with utilizing local L.A. locations and manipulating the image with computer graphics and video effects. Again, it’s the things that you don’t notice that that the most work.

The commentaries have some of the happy talk and mutual appreciation society vibe to them with two noticeable exceptions. The season opener was commented on by two Alias fans. I admit I was nervous about how inane this could be. Boy, was I wrong. These two are True Fans. True Fans are like True Friends, they’re there to hold your hair back when you’re puking your guts out and even help you bury the body. However, all in the spirit in helping you, will smack you upside the head and scream “What is your major malfunction?!” The two women point out some of the slipups the show makes. For instance when Dixon and Weiss discuss the Covenant, they do it on the other side of a glass door…and Sydney can see them and read their lips. The commentary is worth it if only for the “This is the time on Alias where we dance” line. The other commentary is with creator J. J. Abrams. What is remarkable is that he admits that the show made some missteps during its third season. Like concentrating on what Sydney would wear on a mission more than whom she was going to be. You have no idea how rare it is in Hollywood to admit something is your fault. But on tape for everyone to hear? You have to give Abrams props for being honest.

While this season wasn’t up to the level of the previous two, there is still plenty of super-spy goodness to enjoy and lots of informative and entertaining extras. Just in case you’re not a diehard fan, you might want to rent before you decide to spend your money on the third season of Alias.

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