The Third Season
The third season of Alias continues to bring an interesting mix of high-paced and intense action, drama, mystery, and suspense. This season picks up right at the end of the second season. For that reason, if you've missed the earlier seasons in this series, you should most definitely check them out before viewing the third season. In case you're new to this series, Alias centers around Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), an intelligence operative for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The show focuses upon 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.
In the third season, the show focuses upon a major mystery, covering the details about Sydney Bristow's past. At the end of the second season, she awakens without memory of the last two years. This season uncovers the truth of those missing two years and the truth is far from what Bristow expected. There are also some stories that touch upon the previous seasons. But it's not specifically these stories that make the season entertaining, but rather the characters.
The cast of the previous season is the same, with the addition of Lauren Reed (Melissa George). But since this season is set two years after the previous season, the characters return with slightly different roles. Nothing is the way it was before. I enjoyed this change, because it gave this season a slightly different pace from the previous seasons. There's also a lot of focus on these characters, which give new insights, making old enemies friends, and friends enemies. In a few cases, old enemies who became friends once again become enemies, which shouldn't be too much of an eye-opener. This is done in a manner that makes it almost difficult to like or trust most of the cast. For this reason, you're repeatedly left in suspense, wondering if this character will backstab our hero or someone close to her.
Despite that I enjoyed this season it wasn't nearly as gripping as the earlier seasons. The high-paced and intense action, drama, mystery, and suspense felt a little too much like the earlier seasons. For that reason, the show just doesn't feel like it really grew and developed a great deal. For instance, the earlier seasons produced the suspense and mystery with their shady characters and this same effect was provided in the third season. In general, this season simply plays off the same concepts as the previous seasons. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it works. One of the reasons is that the show is slightly different. The two year gap between the second and third season allowed the series to change a bit. There are a number of changes to the cast, in terms of their roles and personalities. This change simply allowed the third season to be somewhat new, providing our main character with new interactions, new missions, new friends, and new enemies. However, this change made the first half of season three seem a little too slow for my tastes. We're still given some high-paced action and drama, but there's also a lot of focus on laying the foundation for the third season. I really didn't find this portion of the season to be overly gripping.
Some of these stories covered a sordid and twisted love affair. There's also the introduction of the National Security Council's (NSC) involvement with daily interactions of the CIA. This adds an interesting development, simply because the CIA and NSC do not always "play" well together. It's your basic struggle for power. There's also the development of older characters with new faces. The big bad guy of the previous two seasons, Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin) isn't such a bad guy anymore. The development of his character adds a new layer of mistrust. With the earlier seasons seeing the major terrorist organization in the can, some new faceless bad guys have surfaced. It's no surprise that the weasel of the earlier seasons, Julian Sark (David Anders) makes his bed with them. This pretty much gives the season a purpose to continue. Someone has to stop them and it might as well be Sydney and her friends at the CIA. There were also some more stories that occurred in the first half of the season, some of the interesting and some of them not. But really, it's not until the second half of the season do things get really exciting.
With the foundation of the season three laid out, the intense high-paced entertainment of the earlier seasons returned in the second half. At this point, there were some really great stories that made this an intense season. With the new characters defined and the new roles of older characters laid out, there were plenty of opportunities for their faces to change. In this portion of the season, the excitement came from watching the two face characters reveal their true colors. Also the show's focus returns to the pursuit of Rambaldi. On its own, it isn't terribly exciting, but we get plenty of twists and turns with our characters mixed in. This makes for some gripping episodes, as we learn a few secrets about the Bristow family.
Overall, I felt that the third season of Alias did not have the same punch or rather, the same level of excitement that the earlier seasons had. Perhaps after watching the earlier seasons, I expected too much in the third season, but I really do not think that it was nearly as gripping or entertaining. However, I'm not saying that season three was bad, because it was entertaining. There were enough interesting stories that trickled throughout the season that held my attention. I also enjoyed how this season continued to twist the characters, making some of the good guys into bad guys and bad guys into good guys. The entire cloud of mistrust kept me on my toes with suspense. The bottom line is that anyone who has enjoyed the sordid tales of Alias should be happily entertained with this addition to Sydney Bristow's life. However, if you've never cared for the series, this season isn't much of an improvement over the previous seasons. Finally, newcomers to the series should definitely start with the first season to get a full swing of things.
1. The Two
4. A Missing Link
6. The Nemesis
8. Breaking Point
11. Full Disclosure
13. After Six
17. The Frame
20. Blood Ties
The video in this release looks absolutely gorgeous. It's a beautiful anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color presentation. The picture quality suffers from very little grain, but detail remains to be very sharp and clear. I also noticed there were no troubling issues related to video compression, which can result in color distortion, compression artifacts, or a poor frame rate. This release had very little of the aforementioned problems, with the exception of very dark scenes. Like reviewers of the earlier seasons noticed, during scenes filmed in a dark setting, a distinct grain could be detected.
The audio track in this release is in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. The sound quality is fairly impressive, but it has a few faults. There's a slight glitch during the first episode, approximately 6 minutes and 44 seconds through. For a slight second, the audio cuts out. It's not the worst thing about the audio, but it shouldn't have been there. Another problem that I found with the audio relates to the dialogue and background music. There were more times than I would have liked, where the background music was overpowering and drowned out the dialogue. Other than that, the audio was pretty impressive. Non-dialogue audio (i.e. sound effects, music, etc.) came off very rich and vibrant, taking full advantage of the surround sound setup. The spoken dialogue is fairly flat throughout the season and as mentioned earlier, at some points a bit too subtle. Overall, I didn't feel that the audio values were as well done as the previous seasons. The release also has subtitles in the English and Spanish languages.
This DVD release of Alias has some pretty exciting and not-so-exciting extras. The first set is four audio commentaries. They cover the episodes "The Two" with fans Erin Dailey and Jennifer Wong, "Conscious" with Jennifer Garner, Melissa George, and Ken Olin, "Full Disclosure" with Lawrence Trilling, Jesse Alexander, and Scott Chambliss, and "Facade" with J.J. Abrams, Jack Bender, Gregg Grunberg. I found that the fan commentary was the most entertaining. It was nice to hear the thoughts from a couple of diehard fans. Additionally, they had some humorous comments to make about the show.
The next extra The Museum of Television & Radio (9:34) is a featurette that I did not find too interesting. It was a portion of a panel with J.J. Abrams, Matthew Reeves, Jennifer Garner, and Keri Russell. During which, they discussed about the development of the characters in both Felicity and Alias. The next extra, The Animated Alias: Tribunal (7:24) was pretty cool, but I really would like to have see it expanded. It's a short seven minute animated featurette with a brief look into Sydney's missing two years. Yet, it still doesn't really explain much.
Continuing along with featurettes, Alias Up Close (56:05) is six featurettes that cover some of the vital portions of this series: "The Guest Stars", "The Assistant Directors", "The Stunt Team", "The Effects Team", "Creating Props", and "Set Dressing". Then we have Burbank to Barcelona (9:31), which is a short featurette about sets used for show. The previously mentioned extras are best suited for the fans looking to learn more detail about the series. I personally didn't find them too intriguing.
There are also seven deleted scenes (7:17). There is no reference to which episode they were deleted from. Next we have the extra that is typically my favorite, the Blooper Reel (7:28). I really enjoy these, because we typically get to see the comical side of the cast and with a series as serious as Alias, it's a nice change of pace. However, this blooper reel wasn't entirely funny. The final extra is Team Alias, which has two promotional items: "Monday Night Football Teaser", promo that Jennifer Garner did for Monday night football and "Michael & the Stanley Cup", a very short featurette with Michael Vartan doing a promo for the Stanley Cup. Overall, there was a nice variety of special features, enough to appease both the fans and casual viewers.
The third season of Alias brings another strong season, filled with action, drama, and suspense for the fans. It's pretty much extension of the previous seasons, with a few subtle changes to the overall format. The character roles are slightly different and there are new faces, new bad guys, new missions, and new gadgets. I found that it was solid with plenty of entertainment, but not nearly as gripping as the previous seasons. Those looking to continue the story of Sydney Bristow should definitely check this season out, but new viewers should start with season one. I recommended this title, simply because of the exhilarating content and the great set of special features. There's more than enough fun stuff to entertain fans and causal viewers alike.