Felicity - Season 4 is about a girl who moves to New York to be with the person she’s in love with. Along the way, this maiden voyage ends up really being about her awakening as a women and her own self-discovery. Before I was given this DVD box set, I had never watched this show so I was expecting it to contain a lot of angst about Felicity’s place in the world, her friends problems, her boyfriends problems all mapped out along the road she takes to find herself. Well, this is all there and I honestly was quite put off in the beginning. Everyone seems to be playing a type. Everyone seems to be someone in the show with no other purpose then to drive the narrative. Knowing this(having been a slave to the screenwriting lords for the better part of the past 11-12 years), it gets hard to watch a show of this nature without being able to guess the intentions of why things are happening the way that they are happening.
Amidst all this, I found that the show was able to function on one of the primary tenets that I learned in my first screenwriting class. I could have cared less. J.J. Abrams, the show’s creator could have had them all die sad death and I don’t think the expression on my face would have changed one iota. I kept watching, episode after episode, and one thing I noticed(and I think it started around the 1st episode) is that the central screenwriting tenet had been laid out, applied and stamped on me from the shows first frame.
“MAKE ME CARE”.
It’s as simple as that. I cared. I wanted to see what happened. I even cheated a bit while watching some of the episodes and read ahead on the episode descriptions, just so I wouldn’t be too blind sided by the decisions that our “damsel in distress”, Felicity, makes along the way. And the more I watched, the more I realized that if I could care(coming in on the 4th season, knowing nothing about anything) the people who had been following this show, must be in a state of rabidness by this time in the show. And if they are like this at this point, the 4th season, then Felicity claim as institution not unlike “Melrose Place” or other shows in the group.
I wish my knowledge of current TV was better. I say this because I feel that reviews of such things like Felicity - Season 4 would be more informed. Maybe I would come into the show with a different slant, maybe I wouldn’t be so open to having my mind changed. I will just conclude this talk of the show by saying that I did care and I still do care. The fate of Felicity and her friends is now something that I have been brought into. I will never look at the show or the actors the same way again.
Now, if that isn’t a good show, I don’t know what is. Even if I do get a little tired of seeing them have problems, or of seeing the “cliffhanger” fade out when Felicity has just had another life altering encounter. That gets a tad tiresome and by the numbers at times, but in the overall scheme of things, I think it does make for very good TV.
Exclusive Never Before Seen Footage
This centers around the Elena character. Is she alive? Is she dead? It is all explained by the creators at the beginning of this special feature, and I don’t really want to give away the answer because from what I have seen and read I know that this is a “burning” question among fans of the show. So what this clip has is the scenes that were lost(due to time constraints by the network) and they are further bolstered by the creators sort of leading us along every step of the way. Helping us understand how the scenes played and helping them fit into the overall format and structure of the show. This is very interesting considering that much of this episode has an weird similarity to what I know the subject matter of Abrams’ current hit, “Lost”, is about.
This is a behind the scenes look at filming the final episode with the show’s creators and Keri Russel. Even though I am new to the show, I got a little choked up watching this. I mean you’re seeing people who have been working together, year after year and now all of that is coming to end. I really felt for Keri Russel, mainly because this was the show that made her. That truly introduced her to a viewing audience(I mean, can we really count those Coppertone commercials or whatever it was she did before this?) and we’re seeing all of that being over. It’s always during stuff like this, where it seems like I am given the DVDs on their last season, where I watch and I am into it, but I sort of feel like a fraud. As if I can’t really be too into the show or really claim it as my own because I am a johnny come lately. This featurette more then serves it’s purpose and reminds me of a Robert Altman film in how it incorporates real emotions about the end of a TV series as well as the end of a group of TV friends being together.
This is a seminar on creating characters with J.J. Abrams, Keri Russel, Matt Reeves and Jennifer Garner at the Museum Of Television & Radio. It’s very interesting how personal Abrams makes this show, the characters, etc...as he draws from his own personal experiences in his own life. He is really that rare artist that has a way to bridge the worlds of art and commerce and bring his personal stories to the screen. It was interesting hearing the people involved talk about their motivations for a specific scene(Garner even relates “Felicity” to “Alias”!), or what a certain piece meant to them. How the characters relate to them, how they relate to the characters. Nothing too outstanding here, although it was different to hear so much about the politics that goes on behind the scenes of a show like “Felicity”. I guess I am just impressed with J.J. Abrams ability to bring his personal sensibilities to the mainstream.
Audio Commentary With Cast and Crew
Some people think that if you’ve heard one audio commentary then you’ve heard them all. While I might agree with that to a point, I feel that everybody is different and if you are truly interested in learning about movies and TV shows, there is always something to glean from these commentary tracks. There are only commentary’s for 3 of the episodes. “The Declaration”, “Your Money or Your Wife” and “The Graduate”. I also like how the people doing the commentary tracks are not the same people each time. I really liked the commentary on “The Graduate” episode mainly because Scott Foley directed it, he comments on it and he and Keri Russel just seem to enjoy being together talking about it. They don’t take things to seriously and I also think it’s an interesting dynamic seeing them being “close” on screen and then hearing them talk over it.
Aspect Ratio 1.33.1. At first I thought that these episodes might be in full screen for some reason. I guess I think in a weird way that this show is still on TV(I guess that’s how out of it I am) but that might be because J.J. Abrams(the shows creator) has also created a bunch of other shows that all have a somewhat similar look(ie. “Alias”, “Lost”). This show did run until 2002, so it isn’t like it’s ancient history, right? The transfers all look very good and it’s interesting to see the lighting, shot compositions that today seem to have been abducted by many of TVs biggest shows like “CSI”, “Coldcase”, etc. Although truthfully, this opinion is really the byproduct of channel surfing. Other then “CSI”, I haven’t really watched any of the other TV shows that I mentioned, I am mainly going off a previews I have seen and various bits of channel surfing. It is very easy to see why these shows get as big as they do, and how they grab the audience. They are all setup like cliffhangers before every commercial, so that if you know what’s going on( as you know this was my first viewing experience), you are on the edge of your seat waiting to see the fate of your main character the whole time. The fact that not everything has to be tied up neatly in 2 hours, and the peoples lives are strung out over a TV season(much like how events in our lives don’t resolve themselves in 2 hours), this identification factor becomes even more heightened. The newer shows of this ilk, seem to have mastered this and it probably is largely responsible for their success.
Dolby Digital and that is a blessing. Marlon Brando would be very proud to see how his acting style has been taken, rearranged and aped by many of the new actors and I am not even sure if they are aware that they are doing it. Everyone on this show SEEMS TO BE TALKING IN A WHISPER!!! Everyone!!! These characters could not see each other for years. They could be separated forever and when they finally see each other, all of their reactions would still sound like they are on mute. It isn’t that the sound is bad, it’s just the deliberate acting styles, in trying to make a show that is supposed reflect(or mirror) reality all seems to get lost when the actors don’t seem real. Maybe it’s just that J.J. Abrams has all these shows on the air, but TV just doesn’t seem interesting to me right now(in fact I think the creators are more interesting then their creations). Sure the plots are good, but we get to those plots through the actors and if this is the way to go, I don’t know that it’s worth the journey. I sometimes wonder if I am being a bit hard on these newer shows? If maybe I am too “into” the shows of the past, but I can’t explain why I just find that they’re easier to watch. Everything is so dramatic..., okay, enough...back to the sound. One really good point is that all there seems to be is the audio of the characters and not a lot of music and other sounds obscuring it. For this, I am very thankful.
This 6 disc set’s packaging seems pretty conservative. Keri Russel has always struck me as one of the “golden girls” who actually matured, so I guess maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. The cover features Felicity with the Noel and Ben characters behind her. Hmmm...I guess that’s supposed to mean that she’s caught between the two, and can’t make a choice, but since she’s in the forefront she has to remember to think about herself? Who knows. On the back is a large picture of Felicity in her graduation gown, with some other pictures from the show, a description of what the extra features on the discs are and a very brief description of what the show is about. The discs are housed in 3 plastic cases each with one of the 3 main characters adorned on the cover. Nothing too crazy here but for a show that was a drama about a girl in college, I don’t really think that there needs to be.
Felicity - Season 4 is a very admirable DVD box set. Seeing her from Episode one “The Declaration” to Episode Thirteen “Kiss and Tell”, all the way to end...I slowly found myself really caring. I had to know what happened to these characters. At times I asked myself, “Self? Why do you care so much?”, but then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that this is the genius of J.J. Abrams. This is why he is one of the hottest, if not the hottest TV people right now...he makes you care and if you care you’re going to keep coming back for more. Sure, I feel a lot of these shows are just simply mealy mouth, post-teens. just getting a grip on life, but hey, there is a place for that. This is needed in our lives. I mean, just because I am 31, doesn’t mean that I am passed all these issues, right? I am just passed certain parts of it. So I don’t get into the entire show, so what..., at the end of the day I cared about what happened to Felicity. I cared about Noel and Ben. Sadly(or not), I think I still do.
What I also like is that these characters don’t always win. They don’t get what they want or even what they expect. Then they get what they want and they lose it, or they reconfigure what their goals are. This to me is another part of this shows strength. Of it’s essence. I can do without a lot of the extraneous stuff, will Noel get this or that job, what is Felicity doing with her life, is Ben going to be able to handle all the schoolwork this semester, blah, blah, blah. Yet, within all this, where the truly human emotions emerge, where we see these people vow to be one thing and then change up midstream, it is here that for me Felicity - Season 4, was the most interesting.