Alias: Just Another Name For Crap

I watched the first season of "Alias" while working at summer camp three years ago, from episodes saved on a fellow counselor's laptop. Whether my desperation for entertainment and distraction from power-hungry camp authority figures and cute but exhausting 9-year-olds biased me in favor of enjoying an otherwise unremarkable show, I do not know. What I do know is that it got progressively worse, with the end of the second season verging on the unbearably tiresome, to the third and now fourth season completely unwatchable. There are only so many formulaic double-crosses, new secret organizations with (literally) identical characters, and cookie-cutter storylines before one must say, "No more Season Pass for you."

"24," a show with a remarkably similar focus (CIA, lots of double-crossing, terrorism), which debuted the same season as "Alias," succeeds where the latter does not. Each episode of "24" is part of the seasonal storyline, and cannot (or should not) be viewed independently as a one-shot-deal. The producers are willing to kill off major characters, without cheating by bringing them back the very next episode. "Deadwood" does this nicely too. In "Alias," on the other hand, I can only think of one major character who has been killed off since the first season, and even she was brought back in the form of an evil clone.

I'm reminded of all this after reading a month-old review in the New York Times. Please forgive the author's jabs at comic book simplicity, for surely she is talking about the storylines aimed at children and not books like The Sandman, Watchmen, and other modern classics. But even if that vexes you, the review is worth reading anyway, for it gets "Alias" just right:

What you think of "Alias" depends a lot on what you think of Jennifer Garner. If the actress's great beauty suggests to you infinite variety, then the show's claim to profundity, which it makes with ponderous attention to Ms. Garner's face, will ring true. But if Ms. Garner's winning modes - smiling and dimply, or precociously solemn, jaw set like an Eagle Scout - seem merely like two tricks she's being forced to repeat in place of acting, then the series is a bore.

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I think the real surprise is

I think the real surprise is just how normal Jennifer Garner looks. She's not beautiful, and she doesn't have bizarre proportions. She's appealing because she looks fresh and clean in a movie world of fake boobs, fake noses, fake chins, fake eyebrows, fake butts, fake hair, gaudy make-up...etc.

But man, is that chin weird.

- Josh

But it’s still one of the

But it’s still one of the best, well-plotted, and intelligent shows on television,

Oh, I completely agree.

If Alias is crap, then most other television dramas must be the stained birdcage newspaper liner it rests itself on.

Yup, that about sums it up.

"If Alias is crap, then most

"If Alias is crap, then most other television dramas must be the stained birdcage newspaper liner it rests itself on."

Not exactly an implausible hypothesis.

I couldn't agree less with

I couldn't agree less with Micha's review of Alias. The show's had its speedbumps and wayward storytelling over its 3+ seasons (especially immediately after the break out of SD-6). But it's still one of the best, well-plotted, and intelligent shows on television, despite the somewhat ill-advised attempt on trying to attract a "wider" audience by parading around Jennifer Garner in sexy outfits. Although I do think Garner is overrated, while Melissa George (Lauren Reed) and Jennifer's new sister surpass Jennifer herself in the hottie department.

When they aren't trying to water it down, a la going for loud and sexy after the Superbowl last year, it's one of the best-written shows on television. Arvin Sloan is the emotional bad guy (good guy?) that reminds one of the Cigarette Smoking Man of the X-Files. Jack Bristow delivers his cold and calculated lines on perfection. Dixon is good in the sometimes-on-the-edge field agent. Marshall is funny as the office techie/nerd. David Anders (Mr. Sark) is brilliant and nearly deserves a spinoff, and has the best phony British accent I've ever heard from an actor. I always enjoy the occasional cameo by Quentin Tarantino. Michael Vaughn... well, he's kind of annoying on occasion.

Season 2's SD6 breakup and the forthcoming Rimbaldi episodes did show signs of weakness, and it remains to be seen if this new black-ops setup (obviously trying to recapture the Us vs. Them of Season 1) will work. But Alias is one of my guilty pleasures week in and week out. It's a refreshing alternative to cop dramas, courtroom sagas, and silly sitcoms. If Alias is crap, then most other television dramas must be the stained birdcage newspaper liner it rests itself on.

I haven't really been

I haven't really been impressed with Alias *or* 24. 24 has a large vocabulary of technobabble, but they misuse it so frequently and badly that it makes my head hurt and makes it very hard to suspend disbelief, though I'm sure it would sound quite good to someone not as steeped in networking as I am.

The only redeeming thing about 24 that I've seen so far is the "Berus" story line, or however you spell his name. I really hope Berus kills his father. His mother deserves to die, too, but that's up to Berus I suppose.

I'm with Scott on this, I

I'm with Scott on this, I mean: isn't the whole point of the show to display Ms Garner exerting herself in assorted sexy outfits? any plot consistency after that is surely a bonus.

Soap opera actresses are

Soap opera actresses are pretty hot too. That doesn't mean I'm gonna start watching soap operas. (Maybe if there was some nudity involved...)

Look, none of that is

Look, none of that is relevant at all to the simple crux of the issue, which is: Jennifer Garner is friggin' hot. She's a babe. How are you going to sit there and deny that? What are you? Gay?