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On Sept. 29, 1998, The WB premiered Felicity during the 9 p.m. hour, kicking off a four-season run. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below:
If the buzz surrounding Felicity and its star, Keri Russell, gets any louder, you’d have to wear ear plugs within a 10-mile radius of the set.
It’s not just the WB publicity machine working overtime. In a recent survey of network entertainment presidents, four out of five said they recommend Felicity for their viewers who watch dramas, or something like that.
Much of the praise is deserved. Russell may well possess the angelic face that could launch 1,000 commercials. This show could so thoroughly eclipse everything else on the WB schedule that, by comparison, Buffy looks like a mosquito slayer. But not so fast.
Russell plays Felicity Elizabeth Porter, who is graduating from high school in Palo Alto, Calif., but is unenthused about her future. She and everyone else assumes she will follow in her father’s footsteps and go to Stanford University to study medicine. All of that changes, though, after she asks Ben (Scott Speedman), a classmate she barely knows but has had a crush on, to sign her yearbook. He writes that he, too, has seen her from afar and admired her. When Felicity learns he is going to college in New York (fortunately, the city has only one university), she applies there, too.
Once enrolled, she discovers that a) Ben isn’t interested in her romantically, b) Noel, the residence assistant, is, c) even after studying together, Ben isn’t interested and d) she might just admit she made a mistake and go back to Palo Alto. But she’s OK with that because, in this series, every one is either “OK” or “totally OK” with everything.
Clearly, what powers this show is not the compelling story. It is the attractive actors, starting with Rus sell, who plays the part as if she was born for it And the script whatever its shortcomings, still successfully manages to tap into the heightened emotions of angst, excitement, fear and exuberance of the residential college experience.
Some have labeled this show “Ally McBeal goes to college,” which is a mistake. Felicity lacks the quirkiness and the humor of Ally McBeal. However, it has a warmth, a charm and a dramatic urgency that could, at least in part, justify the buzz. — Barry Garron, originally published on Sept. 28, 1998.
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