Take one impulsive teenage girl, a cross-country trip to follow her high school crush, several dozen sweaters, thousands of soft spoken “heys” and one of the greatest love triangles on prime time television and the result is “Felicity.”
From co-creators and executive producers J.J. Abrams (“Alias”) and Matt Reeves (“Gideon’s Crossing”), this college drama examines the life of Felicity Porter (Keri Russell, “We Were Soldiers”), a native Californian who decides to trail Ben Covington (Scott Speedman,) a boy she hardly knew in high school but always adored, to college in New York City.
Despite committing a endless string of mistakes, Felicity triumphs over her failures and uncovers insight into life and love along the way.
The six-disc DVD set of season one presents Felicity’s romantic and tumultuous journey in 21 episodes, plus the complete pilot. Starting out in New York is difficult, but Felicity soon finds friends in Julie (Amy Jo Johnson, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”) Elena (Tangi Miller) and her Resident Adviser, Noel (Scott Foley), while battling college adjustment, her feelings for Ben, and issues with her bizarre roommate, Meghan (Amanda Foreman).
Ben is the initial romantic interest; a track star voted “most popular” in high school, whom Felicity believes to be perfect. Throughout this first year we see him as a struggling student with little money and a family life plagued by alcoholism. Felicity’s unrelenting pursuit of Ben is enough to drive him (and the audience) crazy throughout the season, until he finally reciprocates her feelings.
Noel is the final corner of this ongoing triangle. He confesses his feelings for her rather prematurely in the pilot. A computer graphics major, his geeky personality makes him endearing and a sharp contrast to Ben’s bad boy image. Noel is around every time Felicity needs him to dish out cheesy lines like “Trust me, I’m the RA.”
Throughout the first season Felicity discovers being in love with two great guys at once is not easy. On top of schoolwork and her drastic switch from pre-med to art, Felicity juggles her feelings for both Ben and Noel until the cliffhanging finale. Russell, who won the Golden Globe for her role, plays this “spastic” character with grace, allowing the audience to understand even her most erratic actions.
A key element of the first season is Felicity’s narration of her own life. The creators allow the audience to hear her thoughts in tapes she records and sends to an old friend, Sally. In these intimate talks, Felicity reveals the deep desires and emotions any young woman in college can relate to, supplying the series with a movie-like quality.
Creators J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves admit their intentions to make this show resemble a film in the commentary provided with the first and last episodes of this set. They discuss the defining Felicityesque camera angles and dim lighting while joking about the unrealistic dorm room size. The look of this show is unique in its filming and soft brown colors. It presents a stark contrast to the fluorescent lights and beige walls of a real university, making Felicity’s world one to admire.
These pieces of commentary are interesting but inadequate as they are the only supplemental material on the DVD set. Those looking for outtakes, deleted scenes or cast interviews will be disappointed to find them missing from the collection. Good picture quality and sound along with a dramatic menu attempt to make up for this void but still leave fans wanting more.
By far the best season in the series, this set reveals a time before the issue of Felicity’s haircut, Ben’s fall from grace, and too many whispered scenes. It takes fans back to the fun and frustrations of freshman year to relive the moments that made “Felicity” a favorite for many.