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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Felicity: Season Three
Felicity: Season Three
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // September 21, 2004
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted October 7, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

I wouldn't normally start watching the third season of a show I'd never seen before, but in this case, enthusiastic recommendations from several of my friends gave me a reason to pick up Felicity: Season 3 for review. For viewers who (like me) are new to the show, it chronicles the life and loves of the titular Felicity Porter, now a junior in college, along with her various friends and roommates.

It's clear fairly early in the season is that Felicity is soap opera, plain and simple. The show's ensemble of characters gives us quite a tangle of relationships (past, present, and wished-for), bad decisions, secrets, lies, and revelations, and a healthy serving of friend-to-friend angst and cried-upon shoulders. Felicity and Ben have their moments, such as in the story thread starting with her drunken mishap in "Greeks and Geeks"; Ben has to deal with his on-again-off-again relationship with his father; Sean becomes ill and has to come to terms with his relationship with Meghan as well; Elena has some serious issues with fidelity to Tracy; and so on. What makes these stories work on a serious level, when the actual content could easily push into silliness, is the cast, who consistently turn in believable performances.

One thing that makes Felicity stand out a bit from the crowd (and, from what I understand, sets Season 3 apart from the earlier seasons) is the consistent self-referential touch supplied by Sean's documentary filmmaking. As part of his efforts to create a reality show, he's constantly following his friends around, filming the details of their lives (whenever he can get away with it) and interviewing them for the show. It's an interesting touch that gives the show a distinctive feel.

But while it's reasonably well done soap opera, I still found myself wishing for Felicity the way I thought it would be from the first couple of episodes: stories of college life, with a few ongoing story threads developing over the course of the season. The season opener, "The Christening," is a perfect example of this, with its story focusing on Felicity and Ben's well-intentioned but humorously disastrous attempt to live together in a small off-campus apartment. (A very realistic student apartment, I might add... it looks remarkably like one I actually lived in.) The following "Anti-Natalie Intervention" also keeps a reasonable focus as the friends struggle to deal with the consequences of Noel's abrupt change of life plans. After that, the episodes become steadily less focused, as each one interweaves the dramatic (or over-dramatic) happenings in the lives of the various characters.

I'm normally enthusiastic about ongoing story arcs in television, so you'd think that Felicity would set very well with me, but I think that part of the reason why the stories aren't as satisfying as they could be is that Felicity is trying to keep too many balls in the air simultaneously. The emotional roller coaster of having every single character continually beset by relationship problems does wear a little thin after a while; it'd be nice to have some other types of plot events once in a while. It's also a little too clear which story elements are going to have a big "reset button" at the end of the episode.

One of the things that I initially found appealing about Felicity was its college setting, but in the end, you'd barely know that any of the characters were in college at all: that's how irrelevant the setting is to the story. Apart from the occasional reference to a mid-term or paper, seemingly tossed in at random, the only way that we know these characters are students is that they don't have regular jobs and they tend to live in groups. There's so much potential richness and depth to the college setting... but it's all basically ignored here, or rather just used for window dressing. It's a shame that Felicity misses out on this opportunity to give the series more substance.

Despite my feeling that Felicity could have been more than it turned out to be, in truth it's still a reasonably entertaining show. After all, it kept me watching, and I'm not usually one to tune into soap-opera style shows.

The DVD

Felicity: Season 3 is a five-DVD set, packaged in three ultra-slim keepcases inside a glossy paper slipcover. While the cases look very nice, unfortunately the spindles don't grip the DVDs very well at all, and I found that the discs repeatedly came loose under normal handling. All seventeen episodes from the show's third season are included.

Video

The image quality for Felicity: Season 3 is quite good. Colors are bright and clean-looking, the print is in good condition, and contrast is handled well. Some edge enhancement appears now and again, but for the most part the image is clear and reasonably detailed. Felicity: Season 3 appears in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack provides a clean and attractive-sounding presentation for the show. The dialogue is always clear and distinct, and the music, which seems to form an important part of the overall ambiance, is well balanced with the rest of the track.

Extras

Fans of Felicity will be most interested in the three commentary tracks included with this set. On Disc 1, "One Ball, Two Strikes" features Greg Grunberg, Amanda Foreman, and Robert Patrick Benedict; Disc 3's "Let's Get It On" has director Lawrence Trilling along with writer Josh Reims; and Disc 4 has "Blackout" with a commentary from Keri Russell, co-creators J.J. Adams, and Matt Reeves.

The remainder of the special features are found on Disc 5, and they're nothing really outstanding. A 28-minute featurette called "Docuventary: A Look Back at Season 3" seems promising, but it's mainly just fragmented reminiscences from various cast members with only a few nuggets of interesting behind-the-scenes information. "Keri on Mad TV" is a 5-minute parody of Felicity, featuring Felicity interviewing potential roommates. Presumably long-time viewers of Felicity will catch the humor, because I admit I didn't find it funny at all, just odd.

Final thoughts

Though Felicity doesn't live up to what I'd hoped it would be, it's still a well-crafted soap opera, with a solid cast bringing the tangled story threads to life in a believable and quite watchable manner. Season 3 didn't completely hook me, but it was moderately entertaining to watch, and viewers who have been following Felicity's story through the earlier seasons will undoubtedly want to pick this set up. I'll give it a mild "recommended."

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