REVIEW: ALIAS – SEASON 4

Starring

Jennifer Garner (Arthur)
Ron Rifkin (Limitless TV)
Michael Vartan (One Hour Photo)
Carl Lumbly (Justice LEague Unlimited)
Kevin Weisman (Runaways)
Mía Maestro (Savages)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Victor Garber (Argo)

Victor Garber, Jennifer Garner, Greg Grunberg, Carl Lumbly, Mía Maestro, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan, and Kevin Weisman in Alias (2001)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Angela Bassett (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
Rob Benedict (Waiting…)
Rick Yune (The Fast and The Furious)
Peter O’Meara (Leap Year)
Sharon Ferguson (Buffy: TVS)
Yuri Lowenthal (Young Justice)
Kelly Macdonald (BRave)
Jim Pirri (Now You See Me 2)
Alla Korot (Another World)
Rick Overton (Willow)
Julie Ann Emery (Better Call Saul)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Sebastian Roché (The Originals)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
David Anders (Izombie)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Anthony Cistaro (Sense8)
Melissa George (A Lonely Way To Die)
Michael Des Barres (Me)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your M<other)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
Cliff De Young (The Craft)
Cullen Douglas (Shuttle)
Sônia Braga (Luke Cage)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
José Zúñiga (Alive)
Amanda Foreman (Forever Young)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Celebration)
Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave)
Robin Sachs (Galaxy Quest)
Elya Baskin (Spider-Man 2)
Joel Grey (Buffy: TVS)
Paul Ben-Victor (Daredevil)
Michael McKean (Better Call Saul)
Oz Perkins (Not Another Teen Movie)
Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)
Amy Irving (Carrie)
Nick Jameson (Frozen)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Lena Olin (Romeo Is Bleeding)

Victor Garber and Kevin Weisman in Alias (2001)The television series Alias brings an interesting mix of high-paced and intense action, drama, mystery, and suspense together for an intriguing and entertaining show. Alias is about Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), an intelligence operative for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The show focuses on Bristow, her missions, and fellow operatives. There are plenty of cool high-tech gadgets, double-crossings, mistrusting personalities, and other elements that make this a great series. This fourth season contains twenty-two entertaining episodes.Jennifer Garner and Peter O'Meara in Alias (2001)In season four we see the cast Alias come back together as one happy family. In the earlier seasons the cast worked together in an odd mish of double agents between SD6 and CIA. Now we find them all working together on the same team for a black ops CIA organization called APO, which stands for Authorized Personnel Only. It is an odd arrangement to see Sidney, Jack, Vaughn, Weiss, Marshall, Dixon, and a few others working along side each other and under the command of none other than Sloane.Jennifer Garner in Alias (2001)The first two episodes “Authorized Personnel Only” parts 1 and 2 has the cast being put back together with Sloane acting as director, Jack the second in command, Marshall in charge of tech, and Sydney in the field with Dixon. Vaughn and Weiss also return to take a more active role. No longer are they the voice behind the microphone as we have seen them in the past. Instead we find them along side Sydney and Dixon more often than not. There is also an episode when Marshall gets put in the field and the combination of his comical geeky personality and the high pace seriousness of the situation make it pretty entertaining to see him working along side Sydney in this fashion. The major addition to the cast this season is Nadia Santos, who was introduced as Sydney’s half-sister (Sloane and Irena’s daughter) in season three. She joins the rest of the crew working for APO.Jennifer Garner and Jason Segel in Alias (2001)The whole idea about the old SD6 group (and a few others) getting together for another twenty-two episodes of fun is quite odd. It is this single aspect of season four that makes it beyond unreal and unbelievable. Let’s think about it. Despite Sloane has been working for years as the head of an international criminal organization and a known terrorist, the government gives him a director position of a new secret spy organization that works off the books with full government disclosure and accesses to CIA resources. It is believable he would be an asset in chasing bad guys, because of his extensive knowledge and whatnot, but to put him in charge and expect people like Dixon and Sydney who have lost loved by his hands to work alongside him is unreal. This was the one thing that made me roll my eyes over and over again.Kevin Weisman in Alias (2001)Now the questions remains, is this season exciting? Well, it lacks the same punch the first two seasons had and it rivals season three in excitement, but as explained it is by far the most unrealistic and hard to accept season of them all. However once past the unrealism, there is still plenty of action, suspense, and drama to keep you tuned in. This season uses the same tact previous seasons do, plenty of misdirection and dramatic shifts. The episodes do well keeping the characters, whether from the main cast or supporting roles, hard to make out. You just can’t tell if they are good or bad. Their loyalties seem to shift enough throughout the stories to keep you second guessing who will betray who and whether or not the betrayal really happened. Mix that well worked angle of suspense with plenty of action, some corny drama, and the ever-so-goofy Marshall and you’ve a pretty exciting addition to the Alias series.Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan in Alias (2001)Since Nadia is a new character, a majority of the season is about her relationship forming with the rest of the cast. It is a slightly odd setup as Sydney is her step-sister, Sloane is her father, and Jack is the man who was married to her mother. The general get-to-know-you details aren’t too interesting, but the back stories that tie into Nadia are. She becomes an integral part to the Rambaldi dream and there are a few other great tie-ins to other stories. The Rambaldi story found in the previous seasons comes to the fore and plays a big role in the season with the Derevko sisters acting as the villains. There are also familiar faces like Sark and Doren who make several appearances. We also see another back story with Vaughn trying to unravel mysteries about his father. This season has many other stories to keep you hooked and they do a pretty good job at building suspense and leaving you on the edge of your seat!All together season four is an enjoyable season. While it is clearly not one of the series’ best, it is still a cut above other television series. The stories keep a fine level of suspense by keeping you second guessing about the character’s loyalties and whatnot. There is also plenty of kick ass fight scenes, humor from Marshall, and high-tech gadgets to keep you amused.

 

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REVIEW: ALIAS – SEASON 2

Starring

Jennifer Garner (Arthur)
Ron Rifkin (Limitless TV)
Michael Vartan (One Hour PHoto)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Merrin Dungey (EDTV)
Carl Lumbly (Justice League Unlimited)
Kevin Weisman (Runaways)
David Anders (Izombie)
Lena Olin (Romeo Is Bleeding)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)

Lena Olin, Victor Garber, Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper, Merrin Dungey, Carl Lumbly, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan, Kevin Weisman, and David Anders in Alias (2001)

RECURRIG / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Derrick O’Connor (Daredevil)
Greg Gruberg (Heroes)
Patricia Wettig (City Slickers)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Wolf Muser (The Man In The High Castle)
Joseph Ruskin (The Scorpion King)
Marisol Nichols (Riverdale)
Amy Aquino (The Finder)
James Lesure (Men At Work)
James Handy (Jumanji)
Amy Irving (Carrie)
Austin Tichenor (The Practice)
Petra Wright (The Pact)
Marshall Manesh (How I Met Your Mother)
Derek de Lint (Daylight)
Ira Heiden (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3)
Faye Dunaway (Supergirl)
Ric Young (The Transporter)
Courtney Gains (Back To The Future)
Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Yvonne Farrow (The Hard Truth)
Lindsey Ginter (Argo)
Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)
Richard Lewis (drunks)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
David Caradine (KIll Bill)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
Amanda Foreman (Star Trek)
Robert Joy (Amityville 3)

Lena Olin in Alias (2001)Alias is one the most unbelievable, unrealistic, outlandish shows on television. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, it’s also one of the most exciting and definitely the most fun. And if the thrill-a-minute ride of season one wasn’t enough, season two really takes it up a notch.Victor Garber and Jennifer Garner in Alias (2001)Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is back as the double agent who works for the CIA and the evil organization known as SD-6. Sloane (Ron Rifkin) is the leader of SD-6, and Agent Vaughn (Michael Vartan) is Sydney’s handler. He’s also her would-be lover. Add to the mix another double agent who happens to be Sydney’s father (Victor Garber), and you have a show that seems like it would be too weird to work. But it does.Jennifer Garner in Alias (2001)What surprises me most about this series is the fact that the action, and the reason for the action, is often the least important aspect of any particular episode. Sure, it gets all the glory, but the whole idea of chasing Rambaldi artifacts is nothing more than Hitchcock’s McGuffin. These chases are a means to get the characters in motion, but in the end they mean little (if you doubt this, look at how quickly and easily every “important” event is brushed under the rug before the next episode). What matters, however, is how the characters react and grow.Jennifer Garner in Alias (2001)For example, season two continues the trend of letting the secondary characters in on the big picture. They’re not around just to give Sydney someone to talk with when she’s not at work. Instead, they have a life of their own; a life that is vitally important to the show, with intrigues that really drive the show’s emotion. In season two, Will (Bradley Cooper) gets a bigger roll, and it’s plausible and exciting. Francie (Merrin Dungey) even gets in on the act. These “smaller characters,” and many others, are used and developed throughout the show, an idea that other television shows can learn from.Lena Olin, Victor Garber, and Jennifer Garner in Alias (2001)Season two also features more humor, and this can only mean one thing. Yep, more Marshall. Lots more. This character, played perfectly by Kevin Weisman, adds the much-needed comic relief to the show, and at times, he’s outright hilarious. Add some subtle humor provided by Will, Vaughn, Weiss (Greg Grunberg), and even Jack, and you have some great stuff.. But that doesn’t mean this season turns its back on the bread and butter of the series. If anything, the action and excitement have multiplied. Sydney goes on 33 missions (yes, I counted), many with counter-missions for the CIA. That’s an awful lot of action and suspense for 22 one-hour episodes. Of course, for all those fan boys out there, this equates to 19 wigs (I counted) and even more sexy, revealing outfits, another of the series’ best traits.Jennifer Garner in Alias (2001)Yet all these missions does have a downside. In order to get in and out of so many missions, the audience is required to suspend their disbelief through some really hard-to-swallow moments. These become readily apparent when watching too many episodes in a row, which is now easy to do with the DVD set. What’s worse, much of the tension surrounding the cliffhangers is lessened when the outcome is so easily viewed. The show is written and directed with an idea that each episode will be viewed seven days after the previous one. Season two may stand up to quick viewing better than the first, but it should still be enjoyed slowly. The show glosses over some realism to get to the heart of matters, but it’s for the best. Instead, the series focuses on the action and great subplots for both the main characters and the secondary ones. Sure, I recommend taking it slowly to get the full effect of the tension, but there’s little question about how much enjoyment is packed into these six discs.

REVIEW: ALIAS – SEASON 1

Starring

Jennifer Garner (Elektra)
Ron Rifkin (Limitless TV)
Michael Vartan (Bates Motel)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Merrin Dungey (Buig Little Lies)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Kevin Weisman (Runaways)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)

Jennifer Garner and Greta Sesheta in Alias (2001)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Edward Atterton (Children of Dune)
Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)
Ric Young (The Transporter)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Nancy Wetzel (Undercovers)
Evan Parke (King Kong)
Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal)
John Aylward (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Ravil Isyanov (The Last Ship)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Tom Everett (Air Force One)
Lori Heuring (Just Go With It)
Yvonne Farrow (The Hard Truth)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Bob Clendenin (Scrubs)
Elaine Kagan (Goodfellas)
Miguel Sandoval (Sharp Objects)
James Handy (The Rocketeer)
Quentin Tarantino (Death Proof)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
Patricia Wettig (City Slickers)
Jennifer Tung (Maksed Rider)
David Anders (Izombie)
Amy Irving (Carrie)
Michelle Arthur (Mission Impossible III)
Roger Moore (Live and Let Die)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy: TVS)
Derrick O’Connor (Daredevil)
Wolf Muser (MacGyver)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Peter Berg (Ballers)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Joseph Ruskin (The Scorpion King)

Jennifer Garner, Greg Grunberg, and Michael Vartan in Alias (2001)“Alias” is the creation of “Felicity” creator J.J.  Abrams and stars Jennifer Garner. The choice of Garner as Sydney Bristow is one of those things where most will likely not imagine anyone else in the role. Able to portray a natural sweetness and likability, Garner turns Sydney into a highly engaging character with complex and conflicting emotions, as well as one who is an expert in martial arts.Victor Garber, Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper, Merrin Dungey, Carl Lumbly, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan, and Kevin Weisman in Alias (2001)At the opening of the show, Sydney works for a top-secret organization called SD-6, who is searching for a mysterious device by a scientist named Rambaldi. It’s not long before Sydney realizes that SD-6 isn’t the branch of the CIA that it says it is, leading Sydney to work as a double agent for the real CIA to investigate SD-6. It’s not long before Sydney finds herself in the midst of double-and-triple crosses, not to mention surprises, as she finds out her father (a terrific Victor Garber) is an agent, as well.The show does take a bit from previous efforts such as “Mission: Impossible” and “La Femme Nikita” (the latter was also turned into a well-liked TV show), while also running on the techno-pulse of a “Run Lola Run”. Still, the show manages to add its own twists and turns on a familiar genre. The show’s production design, cinematography and costumes are all first-rate, while the occasional jump to a foreign location or new gadget intro make the show fun and compelling. As with “Felicity”, Abrams and the show’s music supervisors make interesting choices that fit with the show rather than showcase certain artists. Quentin Tarantino makes a great guest appearance in “The Box”; while he might not win an Oscar for acting, Tarantino is never less than a fun, unpredictable presence in any acting appearance, and this is no different. Although it doesn’t operate with the pulse-pounding dramatic intensity or impact of “24”, “Alias” is still high entertainment and worthwhile viewing.Lead by a terrific performance from Jennifer Garner, as well as several excellent supporting efforts, “Alias” is a fast, fun series that is consistently compelling in its debut season. Buena Vista’s DVD edition offers fine audio/video quality and several enjoyable supplements. Recommended.