ALIAS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Jennifer Garner as SYDNEY BRISTOW
Ron Rifkin as ARVIN SLOANE
Victor Garber as JACK BRISTOW
Carl Lumbly as MARCUS DIXON
Kevin Weisman as MARSHALL FLINKMAN
Michael Vartan as MICHAEL VAUGHN
Rachel Nichols as RACHEL GIBSON
Balthazar Getty as THOMAS GRACE
Amy Acker as KELLY PEYTON
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Created by: J.J. Abrams
BY KEVIN CARR
I think that J.J. Abrams has learned his lesson: Never make a show about one single person. After seeing what Jennifer Garner’s pregnancy did to “Alias” (and how “Felicity” relied too much on Keri Russell as the title character), it’s no wonder that Abrams’ following shows (“Lost” and “Six Degrees”) rely explicitly on an ensemble cast.
For all intents and purposes, “Alias” ended in the fourth season. The Rambaldi plot line had pretty much been wrapped up (even though they managed to resurrect some of it for the fifth season), and the characters had done pretty much everything they were going to do. Sadly, “Alias” jumped the shark by going ahead with the fifth season.
But for fans of the show, it was nice to actually see the show have a final episode that wrapped things up. Too often, television shows just die in the corner with no farewell episode.
Garner’s pregnancy was a huge hurdle for “Alias” mainly because not only was she the focus of the show, but her character was required to kick ass. These are things you just can’t do when you’re pregnant. Unlike Marcia Cross in the third season of “Desperate Housewives,” Garner could not afford the luxury of just hiding the pregnancy. It had to be written in the series.
For this matter, I think the pregnancy was written in fairly well. The season opens with Sydney Bristow (Garner) and Agent Vaughn (Michael Vartan) after a car crash. Mysterious medics with guns are trying to take him away, but Sydney stops them. Soon, she learns from her father that this was a planned extraction by the international terrorist organization Prophet Five, and that he is a suspected double agent.
We push ahead several months to find Vaughn dead at the hands of Prophet Five and Sydney trying to prepare herself to have a baby. To keep up the action of the show, two new agents are introduced – Rachel Gibson (Rachel Nichols) and Thomas Grace (Balthazar Getty). Gibson is recruited from Prophet Five, a dark agency that operates very similar to SD-6, and Grace is brought in from the CIA.
Soon, the show turns into a restart of the “Alias” show, with Rachel learning the ropes from Sydney as they try to take down Prophet Five. However, there are darker elements to the story as we find a mysterious force keeping track of Sydney’s pregnancy.
The biggest problem with this season is that it hit the ground running while trying to introduce new characters. Garner’s pregnancy, while providing some fodder for interesting twists, really cobbled the chemistry of the show. Both Nichols and Getty were well on their way to become decent characters, but as soon as Garner gave birth, they were forgotten about and it’s back to Sydney Bristow kicking ass.
If you’ve never watched an episode of “Alias,” this is not the season with which to start. Rather, you need to start at season one or three. Viewers will only enjoy “Alias: The Complete Fifth Season” if they’ve seen the previous ones. It serves a fine purpose by putting an end to a great show, but there are so many ends unraveling in the overall story that it will confuse anyone who isn’t a regular viewer.
The DVD comes with all 17 episodes, with commentary on select ones. There’s additional special features in the four-disc set, including a celebration of the 100th episode, a retrospective on Rambaldi, a spotlight on the music of the show, behind the scenes with Rachel Nichols and season five bloopers.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.78:1). Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.