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The Complete First Season
Starring: Keri Russell, Scott Speedman, Scott Foley, Amy Jo Johnson
Retail Price: $59.99
Features: Audio Commentary with Creators J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves for episodes "Pilot" and "Felicity Was Here", Promos, DVD-ROM: Weblinks
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, 6-Disc Set, Episode Selections
Released: November 5th, 2002
"Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can pretty much change your life."
As I write this, I find it pretty hard to believe that it's already been four years since "Felicity" debuted on the WB network. "Felicity" debuted at a crucial time for that network. Beyond all the jokes and what the network was known for ("Unhappily Ever After" was a comedy goldmine!), "Felicity" came out a few months after the midseason, controversial hit "Dawson's Creek." So thanks to "Dawson's Creek," "Felicity" and other shows the WB began to develop (most of which are now cancelled) as the hottest networks for that teenage demographic. "Felicity" seemed to be right at home with that demographic: featuring characters who were finding themselves, experiences that teens could relate to and a lot of popular music (okay, maybe the show made the music popular).
While "Felicity" may have helped define the WB to an extent, it was also dubbed as a show that some didn't think belonged on the WB due to how real the characters seemed, that it didn't seem as superficial as its other programmings and yet how some thought due to all the plots and characters it wasn't just meant for teens. The show opened to raves, Keri Russell became an instant star and despite all the buzz and hype and everything the show had going for it, by the time the first season ended, it seemed the show never had it to begin with and just disappeared. It's like people knew of the show, and while the dust had cleared, no one seemed to care. People's interested waned (and no, the backlash of Keri Russell cutting her hair is plain ridiculous) and the show only really kept its diehard fans over the years. Certainly that's not a bad thing, as they were quite loyal, outspoken and really understood the show.
In the end, "Felicity" lasted a good four seasons - not bad at all, especially since many WB shows have come and gone (and if you're inclined, cable's Women's Entertainment network now airs the episodes). Still, it probably had enough to go another two or three more seasons (though I suppose it's nice the show ended up embodying all four years of the college experience). Many are actually surprised the show lasted that long, as the show's future had been up in the air several times (and who can forget the whole half season deal? At least there were new episodes the whole time throughout). I think each season held its own throughout, and the show always found news ways to expand itself, its ideals and its characters.
For those unfamiliar with the show, basically you need to know that it's about Felicity Porter (Keri Russell). On the road to Stanford and wanting to become a doctor (who also has a passion and talent for art), Felicity feels her parents run her life and that she doesn't make enough choices. Naturally, her chances to make a life-changing one comes on the day of her graduation where she confronts her crush Ben (Scott Speedman). Ben writes something inspiring in Felicity's yearbook, so much that Felicity manipulates it all to follow him to the ficitional University of New York (something her rather unsupportive parents go crazy on). As the truth comes out, feelings for her residential advisor Noel (Scott Foley) emerge and much more happen, all kinds of self discoveries will emerge for young Felicity. As you can expect, her life will never be the same ever again.
J.J. Abrams, the man who would go on to have a giant success with ABC's "Alias" co-created "Felicity" and surely wrote many episodes, crafting the show along with the other co-creator Matt Reeves. While some of the show can be a tad bit superfluous at times, it's really consitent in its characters and developments. It's definitely the mark of a great show as the characters and stories constantly evolve and develop throughout. Yet what I love so much about "Felicity" are its themes of fate, its themes of destiny and how the smallest things can change our lives, and that everything happens for a reason.
Despite its strong writers and directors (and savvy music choices), the wondrous cast also helps make "Felicity" easier to swallow. Keri Russell was pretty much flawless as Felicity - the girl who was finding herself through life and love, not to mention the insecurities that held her back (Russell's peak of popularity happened when she won the Golden Globe three months after the show debuted). She strongly showed off many conflicted emotions. The supporting cast of Scott Speedman and Scott Foley as her love interests, plus Amy "I was the Pink Power Ranger" Jo Johnson as her friend Julie helped add dimensions to Felicity's quest of self-discovery. Of course there are others and guest stars who also helped the show stand up.
So the whole first season is here, and it's quite an excellent season. The episodes included are: "Pilot," "The Last Stand," "Hot Objects," "Boggled," "Spooked," "Cheating," "Crossing the Line (Part 1)," Crossing the Line (Part 2)," "Thanksgiving," "Finally," "Gimme an O!," "Friends," "Todd Mulcahy (Part 1)," Todd Mulcahy (Part 2)," "Love and Marriage," "The Fugue," "Assassins," "Happy Birthday," "Docuventary," "Connections," "The Force" and "Felicity Was Here." Do try to check it all out, especially if you love thematic, episodic romantic dramas.
All the episodes are presented in 1.33:1 full screen, yet I was somewhat disappointed by them. Fleshtones and colors are pretty well saturated, detail is pretty good too and despite some noise here and there, I guess what I didn't like was that the prints weren't exactly cleaned up or digitally remastered (not that I was expecting them to be). Scratches and blemishes are here now and then, same goes for pieces of dirt. What I found most annoying though was how the transfers of the episodes looked rather faded, how weak blacks were and how bad contrast was. They're decent... but they look somewhat like they did on television. Sorry, knowing Disney and what DVD can bring, I was expecting much better.
Each episode also features English Dolby Surround tracks that certainly fit the bill. Despite some key moments on some key episodes, "Felicity" isn't a major surround player. But I was surprised to find some use of surrounds such as people talking from the back, people clapping and smaller things. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, while the background music or songs played do sound nice. Everything is in tip-top shape, and it all fits, so no one should have any problems here. Also included are English subtitles and English closed captions.
Well... there's actually something here. Fans are sure to enjoy two Audio Commentaries with Creators J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves. Talking on the Pilot episode and the last of the season, "Felicity Was Here," the two are quite candid and friendly, and the two go back a long way (they've known each other since they were fourteen years old). The two talk a lot, but this track is not only laid back, but quite insightful. They offer their thoughts on the show itself, the characters, where they took the show and what they wanted to accomplish. They're both good tracks and really give you a strong impression in how much the two enjoyed making the show. Some laughs are also shared in both tracks, not to mention that they sometimes stray off topic and miss the mark to say something, so it's not always screen specific (though a "sad" mention of 9/11 is!). It's like they want to say something, but then something else comes up and then they move on to that. Still, I found it most interesting thing that Scott Foley was originally cast as Ben. Good stuff on both commentaries all around. I wish they did commentaries for more episodes, though. Maybe for future seasons...
Some Promos for that Soap opera cable channel are included, plus weblinks if you use DVD-ROM. The first keepcase also packs paper advertisments for Soaptalk, "Alias," the bomb "Push, Nevada" (which was cancelled before this DVD came out. BWHAHAHAHHAHAHA!) and an insert for some other Disney DVD titles at a budget price. The show itself comes in three single-disc cases, each housing two DVDs each all stored within a nice cardboard box. No chapter stops are on the episodes, sadly. But if you want, you can have each disc play all the episodes at one shot.
Truly an outstanding show that had a good run, the first season of "Felicity" is strong drama and strong entertainment. While the sound mixes hold up, I wish the transfers looked better. As far as extras, you get some promotional stuff and two audio commentaries (better than nothing). If you've never seen the show you'll probably want to rent it first... otherwise, if you're a fan, this is well worth picking up.