Facts of the Case
Felicity Porter (Keri Russell) is a shy Palo Alto, CA teenager with her life
planned out for her. Stanford University, Stanford Med, and residency
at…yep, you guessed it, Stanford Medical. Her life has never been an
impulsive one, thanks to her meek nature and her parents' controlling ways. One
day that all changes in a whirlwind of brash decisions.
Over-interpreting the most popular boy in school's yearbook inscription,
Felicity follows him to University of New York. She horrifies her parents and
eventually herself, a fish out of water in this big bad city. Her only
sympathetic ear at first is that of Sally, her French tutor, with whom she
communicates by audio tape. Soon, however, Felicity learns she is not alone, but
surrounded by new students as uncertain as she.
In this first season, we see how Felicity transforms from a sheltered girl
who blurts out her deepest feelings at the risk of making a fool of herself (and
she does) to a more sophisticated woman who carefully wades through the pool of
relationships and career goals. It's a fun dip into the coziness of college
life, of floor meetings and nasty professors, witch roommates and not-so-secret
As she graduates high school, frizzy-haired Felicity
feels none of the joy and jubilation of her fellow students. She feels lost and
somehow empty inside. Then she sees the most popular guy in school, Ben, her
high school crush, and throws caution to the wind. She asks him to sign her
yearbook, and he complies, writing something Felicity never expected: "I've
watched you for four years…I admire you." Well, of course she's gonna
follow him cross country to his school of choice in New York, because this is
television. Her parents are furious, but, finally, Felicity charts a new course
for her life, and boy is it a doozey. Sure, she makes new friends, like Julie
(Amy Jo Johnson), and befriends the Resident Assistant right away (Scott Foley,
Scream 3), but she realizes following a
guy out to New York was foolish and confesses to Ben why she came. He's
flattered and uninterested, but Felicity is still torn between logic and pure,
foolish infatuation. Nonetheless, she tutors him on English assignments and
manages to keep her sweaty, eager hands off of him.
"The Last Stand"
Julie likes Ben. She doesn't want to, but
darn it, she does. And how can she help herself? Scott Speedman is HOT! In the
meantime, because Felicity had confessed to reading Ben's college essay while
working in Admissions, she thinks an anonymous request for her essay is
from Ben. So she mails him a copy of her essay, which is a breathy treatise on
her love for him. She finds out too late that her parents requested the essay,
desperate as they are to find out why she blew off Stanford.
Felicity and Julie work through their torn
feelings about Julie dating Ben. Felicity says there's nothing between her and
Ben but Julie is determined to stay away from him out of respect for Curly Girl.
Yeah, right, like that's going to happen. At their first college party, a fight
erupts between the girls and one of Felicity's tapes to Sally accidentally gets
played over the speakers. God, was college this dramatic?
That perennial game of sex, Boggle, brings
Felicity and Noel to an impulsive kiss. Sure, he has an out-of-town girlfriend,
Hannah, but hey, she IS out of town. Felicity gets to know her lab partner,
fellow med student Elena (Tangi Miller), and Julie starts flirting with the Pink
Guy—you know, the guy who doesn't know how to do his wash so all his
clothes turn pink. Actually, the dude's name is Zack.
Awww. It finally happened. Felicity's first armed
robbery! The robbery takes place at Ben's when Ben and Felicity enter his loft.
Shaken, Ben makes a lot of late night calls to Felicity and hangs out with her
one-on-one, leading to an almost-kiss moment. Excited, Felicity comes to his
Halloween party, only to see him making out with a Power Ranger. Noel tries to
help. So, Felicity pukes on him. Damn spiked punch! Look for: The first
appearance of Ian Gomez (The Drew Carey Show) as the hysterical Javier,
Felicity's new boss at her coffee shop job. Gomez is best known for inspiring
his wife Nia Vardalos' film My
Big Fat Greek Wedding.
The poor girl just tries to help, but good works
blow up in her face. Felicity rewrites a paper for Ben without his knowledge,
landing him in hot water for plagiarism. Julie and cinema student Zack heat up,
as she learns the trials of dating a film geek, like sitting through the
original Solaris (perhaps Soderbergh
was inspired by his hidden Felicity habit?). Elena starts giving her
heart away to a nice guy named Blair. Look for: Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch
from the American Pie movies) as
the helpful video store clerk PJ, giving Julie film-geek dating advice.
"Drawing the Line Part 1"
In one of the funnier ongoing
subplots, Felicity's rude, mean post-Goth roommate Megan (Amanda Foreman) guards
an odd looking box with the paranoia of a heroin addict at a methadone clinic.
Noel decides not to be Mr. Nice Guy and tells Felicity that because of his
feelings for her, she can't keep confiding in him about Ben. Zack gets drunk and
somehow thinks Julie saying "NO" means "PLEASE HAVE SEX WITH
ME." Yes, this is the Very Special Episode Part 1 of Felicity.
"Drawing the Line Part 2"
Sure, it's a "very
special" episode, but the writers of Felicity treat Julie's
acquaintance rape with sensitivity and a nice dose of reality. She struggles at
first what to do, and is loathe to talk about the incident, but finally seeks
medical help. Word spreads, Ben beats up Zack, comforts Julie, and Julie herself
This new circle of friends solidifies their
freshman-year bonds with a Thanksgiving meal. The special guest? Why, Hannah,
Noel's "out-of-town" girlfriend! And boy, does she have a
surprise—she's moving to New York City! Felicity becomes jealous, Noel
becomes nervous, and everyone is starving as Javier brings by the most beautiful
bird you ever did see. Look For: The splendid Jennifer Garner, the star
of Alias (now that's an upcoming boxed set that sets me a-drooling),
guesting as Hannah. As you may know, though Hannah and Noel's on-screen coupling
wasn't a lasting one, the two actors Garner and Foley are a happy real-life
Hollywood husband and wife.
To keep their academic lives in check, Felicity
and Noel, now a couple, try to stay away for three days during finals week.
Doesn't happen. Bickering, bantering, and actual studying commence.
"Gimme an O!"
Christmas break is over. Felicity's done some
thinking and tells Noel that she decides it's time for them to have sex. So she
makes an appointment with Noel to lose her virginity. I'm serious. She does
thorough research, thanks to sex books ("Gimme and O!" was roomie
Megan's favorite book…in the seventh grade). Needless to say, their first
attempts aren't too romantic.
Remember that nice guy Blair that Elena's been
seeing? Well, he's been seeing a little of her friend Terry in the stacks, and
not just with his eyes, if you know what I mean. Felicity catches them in the
act and she and Elena do some detective work to find out the truth. Ben is
frustrated as his dad cut his funds off for no good reason, and Julie searches
for her birth mom, whom she has long known lives in the city. Look
For:Jane Kaczmarek in the first of many appearances as Julie's
isn't-she-or-is-she? birth mom, pre-Malcolm in the Middle.
"Todd Mulcahy, Part 1"
Felicity gets a taste of her own
medicine when Todd travels cross-country to "kiss her," in his own
words. See, he had a crush on her in grade school, and wants to finish where
they…uh, left off. Okay, this guy's a nut, worse than Felicity.
Unfortunately the fates must think so too because as he says good-bye to
Felicity he gets hit by a bus with an obviously blind driver. I mean, the boy
gets hit HARD. He's not the only one: Elena confronts Blair—with her
"Todd Mulcahy, Part 2"
Todd miraculously survives, and
Felicity's obsession with his recovery prompts Noel's jealousy. (Dude, he almost
died, get a grip!) Felicity agonizes over her academic life, feeling a pull to
her artistic talent despite getting accepted into a very competitive medical
"Love and Marriage"
Noel learns his brother is gay. Yay!
Someone to shop for shoes with. Oh, except Noel is straight as straight can be.
Ben, having to work with Felicity now and struggling with his new hardships,
wonders if he's in the right place. Javier doesn't want to get deported so of
course he asks Ms. Helpful, Felicity, to marry him, even though it's quite
obvious Javier would make a nice companion for Noel's brother.
Sure, Hannah had issues with Noel too, but darn
it, she's still moving to New York. Noel can't quite let go and visits Hannah,
much to Felicity's distress. So distressed is she, in fact, that she sleeps with
Eli, an art student. Not a good move, Curl Girl.
Noel's dumb idea comes back to haunt him as he
sets up a dorm "getting to know you" assassins game, complete with
suction cup dart guns. Noel's busy with his issues with Felicity, especially
after she tells him she slept with Eli…when Noel didn't so much as get his
groove on with Hannah. Oops. Needless to say, this confession doesn't
…because Noel has decided to move
out. Felicity tries to stop him while the gang puts together a party for Julie's
birthday. Julie gets quite a present: her birth mother finally steps up and
admits the truth. In a fun subplot, Megan's parents come into town forcing a
complete transformation—Megan wears demure clothes and hides all skulls
that normally lurk on her side of the room. Felicity relishes the opportunity to
torture her. Look For: Jane Kaczmarek's real life husband, Bradley
Whitford (The West Wing), in a cameo as her on-screen hubby.
Noel waffles about moving out, and Ben sinks
further into gambling trouble after starting a bad horse-betting habit. In these
tense times, Sean, Ben's roommate, tries to make a college documentary in one of
his many attempts to make money (don't know why he needs to because he owns
their gorgeous apartment), and everyone uses it as a free therapy session. Sean
even catches Ben on film in a barroom fight as a result of his gambling
tensions. Another Alias Connection: Abrams recruited Greg
Grunberg, the actor who created Sean, to his hit show Alias. He plays
Agent Eric Weiss, the wise and witty companion to Michael Vartan's
über-serious CIA handler Vaughn.
Ben is not doing so well. Because of his
gambling debts, he can't afford tuition. He keeps scrapping with his bookies'
goons and tries to get a loan, but nothing's working out. Meantime, Felicity
gets to fill in for her no-eye-contact assistant manager Abby at her coffee shop
job, and her first task is to fire someone. Oh dear.
Megan's at it again. You know, performing spells
and stuff. Normal college student Wicca behavior. Somehow, her
"clumsy" spell is working on Felicity, who breaks things right and
left. However, Felicity is not clumsy when it comes to relationships, now
balancing life and love with ever more sophistication. She, Julie, and Noel
decide to join Ben on his road trip home. Noel, however, decides to accept an
internship to Berlin.
"Felicity Was Here"
Through the uncertainty, the
first-semester dowdy clothes, and the reckless insecurity, Felicity has
developed into a wild woman. She's got tighter (barely) clothes, good grades,
and that certain something that makes Noel and Ben fight for her like elk in
heat. Okay, it's not that dramatic, but Noel asks her to Berlin, and Ben wants
her to go with him on his road trip since Julie and he have parted ways. Uh-oh.
What will this headstrong, newly confident girl do?
As Felicity: The Complete First Season flows from one emotional moment
to another, it rarely becomes twee, or sappy sweet. Felicity captures the
essence of college so well: the abandonment of high school personas, the sense
of adventure for the first time, the days fraught with insecurities and doubts
of the future. Like the best television shows, a genuine community builds: the
goofy and charming RA (which Foley plays perfectly with his comedic timing and
ability to listen so well to his fellow actors), the naïve freshman who
learns the lessons of life quickly and wisely, the super-hot guy who I guess is
a wonderful character but I really couldn't tell because I was too busy gazing
at him…what else has Scott Speedman done lately and can I review those
I couldn't help getting sucked into this series. The twists and turns of the
plot were relatively true to real life with that extra soap opera oomph that
good television provides, although the potential union between Felicity and Ben
seems forced at the end of Season 1. Sometimes the characters sound older and
more eloquent than college upstarts really are, but Felicity gets nowhere
near the annoying precociousness that pollutes Dawson's Creek. Of course,
the sensitive acoustic music and serious slo-mos get a little cloying, but the
straightforward dialogue and heavy doses of comic relief go a long way. The
writers kept their sentimentality in check for the long haul, and the story
lines were irresistible.
I wish my college life had been this exciting. Oh well, I went to school
where the average belt buckle was larger than my head. What did I expect?
Technically speaking, this 1.33:1 full frame transfer is well done. Colors
are rich, capturing the sophisticated New York City presence that series
creators Abrams and Reeves were obviously seeking. Rich browns, warm creams, and
muted colors reflect the old city buildings of the campus and its surroundings.
They are reflected very well on this DVD except for a bit of heavy shadowing,
where some browns and blacks get a little too deep and murky. The full screen
presentation was true to the actual presentation of the show, so no qualms
The sound impressed me, surprisingly. I kept sitting up and looking around
my apartment, confused as to the weird muddled sounds I was hearing to my right
and left—when I realized it was my side speakers catching subtle pigeons
clucking as Felicity and Ben talk on the dorm rooftop. This is not a show that
warrants major sound tweaking, considering its dialogue-driven nature, but Buena
Vista still gives us a well balanced, thoughtful Dolby 2.0 surround sound mix,
with no hissing, fuzz, or obvious ADR work.
Not much on extras here, especially considering what a runaway hit this
series was for at least the first two years of its short run. We do get a nice
sandwich of commentaries, however: Abrams and Reeves comment on the pilot and
the final episode of the season, pointing out how the plot makes a clean circle
from beginning to end. The commentary is fun, laidback, and yet full of nice
bits. They discuss how haircuts caused a huge ruckus from fans (though it didn't
happen until season 2, Russell's dramatic chop created some much-needed
controversy in Felicity's second season), inside scoops about the sets,
and genuinely reflective musings on details of a show they obviously hold dear
to their hearts. It's a fun, mellow, informative commentary.
Still, I longed for a behind-the-scenes featurette or documentary on the
history of the show, considering what a hit it was initially. Or how about a