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The many faces of Jennifer Garner

BY KATIE MARIE GATES

Published September 1, 2003

The average college student can hardly imagine receiving an offer to work for the CIA, but Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is far from average. She speaks a dozen languages and sports even more varied hairstyles. With impeccable instincts, she runs, she fights, she makes grown men cry and she manages to return home each time unscathed. After seven years of working for a covert CIA branch, she finally tells her fiance of her involvement in spy operations. When he is killed, Sydney discovers the people she works for are not the good guys after all. Now, her only chance is to report the enemy organization, SD6, to the real CIA. Thus, the young super spy begins her life as a double agent.

The first season of ABC's "Alias," now available on a six disc DVD set, follows our heroine through one far-fetched and often confusing, situation after another. Perhaps creator J.J. Abrams intentionally baffles the audience hoping the storylines will seem more realistic. His jump from the angst of "Felicity" to the action of "Alias" is astonishing. At any rate, watching Golden Globe winner Jennifer Garner run around in ridiculous costumes fighting for God-knows-what can be entertaining and thrilling.

Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Widescreen format, "Alias" plays more like a movie than a television show. The DVD set mimics that idea with more special features than most other television dramas. Abrams and Garner provide the conventional audio commentaries on the first episode and director Michael Bonvillain, producer Sarah Caplan and creator Ken Olin speak over the second. The former is more interesting while both describe the motives behind each scene and humorous tales from filming.

The true treasures of this set are on the sixth disc where lively audio commentary by eight cast members is supplied for the last episode and bonus features are bountiful. They include a brief gag reel montage, six deleted scenes, an interesting ten-minute stunt documentary, an extensive pilot production diary and various commercials for past episodes, an upcoming video game and the second season DVD.

While the premise is far from realistic, even absurd, as Abrams comments, this impressive set amply matches the above average heroine of "Alias." It is a worthwhile watch for first-time viewers and will become a favorite to fans who long for the exciting life of agent Sydney Bristow.

Show: ***

Picture/Sound: ****

Features: *****


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