'Alias Declassified: The Official Companion'
By: Mark Cotta Vaz
(Paperback / 202 Pages / Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub / ISBN: 0553375970 / $16.95)
Description: The only all-access AUTHORIZED behind-the-scenes look at the making of the smash TV show, with reflections and anecdotes that readers won't find anywhere else - from cast members, writers, and creator/executive producer J.J. Abrahams.
Verdict: 'Alias Declassified' opens with the six words, "Alias is a story about identity ..." and with these words in mind, author Mark Cotta Vaz deftly chronicles the origins and the production of the first season of the ABC drama 'Alias.'
The book is written with the finesse one would expect of a New Yorker feature article and as such is conspicuous in its economy and elegance of language. At the outset, Mr. Vaz invites the reader along to the famed Disney lot to explore the mystery at the core of 'Alias,' that "things are never what they seem," with the proviso that this is as true in TV production as it is in life.
For me, the behind-the-scenes insights are the best feature of the book. There are many thoughtful quotes from the main players, both those on camera and off. The photographs are an excellent mix of studio stills, shots from production, and even informal cast and crew shots. Mr. Vaz really shines when he focuses on the wizards who create the world of 'Alias.' From Sydney's fantastic costumes and make-up, to the special effects, to the gadgets, even the gorgeous Rambaldi drawings all receive loving attention and ample display in a book with exceedingly high production values of its own.
At 202 pages, this book isn't comprehensive and wisely doesn't try to be. Even so, as a script junkie, I found the episode summary section disappointingly thin, lacking depth of plot and action points. I would have been deliriously happy if they had treated each episode with the same deep exposition and description as they did "After Thirty Years." Maybe they are saving this for an episode guide companion book, well, one can hope!
Nit picks-where were the quotes from the dialogue of the key scenes and how could they have entirely overlooked the great puzzle of the push-throughs?
For me, the best test of 'Alias Declassified' is that by the last page, I felt I had learned some previously undisclosed truth about the identity and the character of 'Alias.' Seeing Season Two now, this generous book has really enhanced my viewing experience.
Lastly, the included CD-ROM (NOT a DVD) is awesome because it contains cast interviews, clips from the show, character profiles and cast biographies!
Reviewed by Sirona Seven