After season three, I was hoping the show would get back on track, and with this season it did. The set-up feels a little too much like they were trying to recreate the first season magic, and that's just not going to happen. But they did do a good job of telling great stories over the course of the season.
Many fans didn't like the first third, which were mainly stand alone episodes with hints of a plot thread moving through them. Personally, I found them just as engrossing as the regular episodes. By the mid point of the season, things are beginning to gel with the storyline about Vaughn's father taking the forefront. The last third was another can't miss thrill ride that ended with the end of the world - almost - and the best cliffhanger of the series. Although I really wish they'd dump the Rimbaldi storyline already. That's the one aspect of the show I've never liked.
This six disc set continues the great season DVD sets this series has already been given. All twenty-two episodes are presented in full surround and wide screen, looking better then originally aired. Four episodes get commentaries by members of the cast and crew, which are always fun and informative. There are the usual deleted scenes and bloopers as well as a profile of new cast member Mia Maestro, an interview with Jennifer Garner, director's diary, info on Marshall's gadgets, and other behind the scenes featurettes.
While I don't think this show will ever regain the magic of its first season, this season was still well worth watching. In many ways, it could stand alone, although watching from the first episode would certainly help understand all the relationships and nuances. This is still one of my favorite TV shows currently on the air.
To summarise Syd - a kick ass secret agent, once working for SD6 who she thought was a black ops division of the CIA - it was not. On finding out she turns double agent working for the real CIA to bring down SD6 headed by the nefarious Sloane. On completion of her task and after many high octane adventures and close shaves she ends up working for their real black ops division and rejoins many familiar faces (her Dad Jack , soul mate Vaughn and work partner Dixon)including to our horror, let alone hers, Sloane as a "reformed goodie" Director of the new division which in itself opens the door to a "got to see next weeks episode" insatiable hunger.
The season opens with some edge of the seat fight and chase scenes and costume change / disguises. Whilst the "stand alone" nature of this season put many loyal fans off, I cannot fault it in general. All that we usually hope for in a show like this was there - stunts, drama, family tensions, twists and shocks and with all our favourite characters still at the fore. I loved the extra injection of humour by using Flinkman more often, the tension between Syd & Sloane added drama and even to the end I was unclear if he was bad or good. The gradual rebuilding of her relationship with Vaughn was realistic to me, given what they had been through in S3 as was the tension with her dad Jack.
There were a couple of eps that on repeated viewing I would be tempted to fast forward through, a first with Alias, however overall this was still far better than most other shows I have tried to get into and failed to be impressed by this year. Without giving any spoilers away, if you have not seen this try and stay spoiler free - it was the best cliffhanger of all time for me setting up a promising choice with regards to direction by the writers for season five.
I would not normally review prior to the DVD release, however given the sparce reviews already posted I wanted to ensure that new viewers are not put off by the minimal offerings currently on display.
Alias is exciting, fast paced, witty, heartbreaking and butt kicking fantastic as well as highly addictive. Based on previous DVD releases S4 is likely to be well presented with loads of Bonus features of behind scenes, featurettes, commentaries and my personal favourite gag reel. It is a definate recommend to continue a collection. Even as a first viewing of Alias it should meet its purpose to suck new fans in, but I urge you go back to day one, S1 and I guarantee you will end up with Season 4 anyway but with a full investment of backstory into this amazing show.
For me this knocks spots over ABC's "breakout hit" Lost, which I enjoy but it pales in comparison to Alias.
I urge you to buy this and be lulled into the world of espionage - even James Bond never did it so good.
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