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I have to admit that my initial motivation for finally sitting down to watch this entire 5-season, 105-episode series was the chance of seeing a hot woman like Jennifer Garner kicking all sorts of a$$ and performing wild stunts while being dressed in colorful wigs and skimpy outfits that reveal her fit body. And while that is, undeniably, part of the show's appeal, "Alias" is much more than that. In fact, my favorite character in the series turned out to be not Sydney Bristow, but the evil (?) mastermind Arvin Sloane: Ron Rifkin's exceptional performance turns this character's journey through the seasons into an almost Shakespearean tragedy about ambition, sin, loss, guilt, redemption, obsession and fate.
Season 1 is the most fun and traditional of "Alias": the emphasis here is on the action, the gadgets, the globe-trotting, and Sydney's efforts to avoid being exposed as a double agent for the CIA. Still, the show does not shy away for the dark sides of espionage (after all, the heroine does lose her fiancé AND some of her teeth in the first episode!), and Jack Bristow's (Sydney's father, also a double agent for the CIA) often morally questionable tactics remind us that this is a world where the lines between good and bad are not always clearly defined. My favorite episode: "Page 47".
Season 2 introduces Sydney's long-considered-dead mother, Irina Derevko (fascinating performance by Lena Olin), which creates further emotional and moral complications for Sydney and Jack, and halfway through it changes the initial premise of the show, taking off in a different direction. Family dynamics, unexpected enemies and intense action make this season arguably the most popular of the show. My favorite episode: "Passage".
Season 3 is my personal favorite, because it is the most Rambaldi-driven, puzzle-like and plot-heavy, because Sloane is at his most ambiguous, and because a twisted, amoral couple (Sark and Lauren) steals the show from the "official" leads, Sydney and Vaughn. Of course, these are the reasons that some people consider this their least favorite season; decide for yourself. The action begins to rely more on guns and less on kickboxing from this point on. My favorite episode: "Conscious" (special guest star: David Cronenberg!).
Season 4 has a frustrating start, because it puts most of season 3's plot lines on hold, and goes off in a series of "stand-alone" episodes that don't even end on the series' trademark cliffhangers. With that said, some of those episodes are enjoyable, the introduction (though technically it was done in season 3) of Sydney's little sister Nadia (the incredibly beautiful Mia Maestro) works well, and the pace does pick up in the second half. Trivia: Jennifer Garner made her directorial debut in this season with "In Dreams", and it's easily one of its best episodes. But my favorite is "The Index".
Season 5 is (or should be) the most controversial, especially for the way it handled the apparent death of a main character. It is also shorter than the others (17 instead of 22 episodes), which makes parts of it, especially near the end, feel rushed. The ultimate Milo Rambaldi secret is finally revealed, but most loyal fans will have already guessed it. Garner was pregnant in real life - and in the show - during the first half of this season, so most of the action was handled by the other characters, including some new arrivals who all have their merits, but not quite the personal connection to Sydney (or Sloane!) that Nadia had. The advantage that season 5 has over season 4 is that it returns to the puzzle-like, one-clue-leads-to-the-next format of seasons 2 & 3, which means very few slow spots. My favorite episode: "The Horizon".
"Alias" has its drawbacks: the main one is that it often requires MASSIVE suspension of disbelief, since nearly every character (not just Sydney) has abilities (physical, intellectual, technical, or all three) that are close to the supernatural. At the same time, "Alias" never - or almost never - forgets the motto: characters come first, action comes second. The action scenes - especially the vehicle chases & crashes - are often movie-level, but it's the dialogue scenes, and the superb acting from everyone in the (regular & guest) cast, that draws you into this world.
At its best, "Alias" is an extremely addictive TV series. At its worst, it's still better than, say, most of the James Bond movies!
The cast are terrific - Jennifer Garner's such a terrific actress and she's surrounded by a stellar cast - Victor Garber, Michael Vartan, Ron Rifkin..
It really is a great show - if you don't mind the confusion now and again and just watch it with an open mind, take it for what it is - a really great series!
The only reason I was keeping on watching was to finally understand the mystery around Rambaldi. But in the end, we'll never know because it's not explained. Not to mention that characters were totally lost in the ending (Irina wanting to destroy Washington and London to have power ??? Are you kidding me ???). It's really disappointing and lots of fans are angry about that.
Watching Alias is a waste of time.
Have heard so many different stories about how she was "discovered" in Tinseltown that I do not know which to believe.
What I do know is that, for a period of time, JG was the new "it girl", she could do no wrong, and audiences simply could not get enough of her.
Alias, which ran for 5 years, was simply an OK premise taken to heights of high-camp based solely on the star power of Garner.
She was hot, she could act, she could do stunts, she had great reaction shots, and she made it all seem so easy. Even her film roles in his period are worth a look (which is another section of the IMDb entirely).
Recommended for teenage boys of all ages.
Personally, I was hooked from the first episode, but I strongly urge anyone who has either never seen it, or seen a few episodes and dismissed it, to give it a chance. I agree it might be a little frustrating, particularly in the first two seasons, because (much like that other fantastic JJA show, Lost) each episode leads directly into the next and so missing an episode can be confusing, but it really is worth it.
Watching the final episode and understanding just how everything in the past five years has been building up to the conclusion made me realise just how talented the writers were. Although I am glad the show went out on a high (although there never really was a low point), I still mourn the loss of possibly the greatest television show on Earth.
Well, I think I shall be leaving the show after series 4. It was amusing in the beginning but enough is enough. If it had ended after series 1 with a good resolution of Rambaldi I would have given it an above-average mark. Unfortunately episodes 3 & 4 dragged it down.
2) Sydney bristow - if agent Bristow is really the bleeding hard she is portrayed as why doesn't she have the heart to give Sloane a second chance in spite of his transgressions(the mind boggles). The condescending forwardness with which Sydney conducts herself is a miscalculated attempt to portray her an independent strong woman which backfires because we are all aware that such conduct wouldn't fly with any credible organisation let alone a government agency like the CIA , please,
3)Agent Vaughn's wooden acting, no doubt Vaughn is a cute guy but his face seems incapable of rendering an emotionally rooted performance
In conclusion i feel obliged to recommend to anyone who's planning on catching this show on DVD or tivo DON'T or you CAN'T but if you insist let someone who's watched season season 1 - 3 tell you what happens then watch season 4 & 5
Well, during its 5-years run, nearly everything. Too bad Alias never managed to become a mainstream show, somehow it always remained kind of underground, a cult show, having said that its ratings never were what network executives expected. Which, despite the initial hype around the show, really was a shame. That was why the network finally decided to tamper with Alias, and the results were somewhat mixed. So it wasn't long before the show started to lose its fanbase, its core audience, and since the show never had sky-high ratings, I consider losing its fanbase... well, the obvious downhill of Alias. For me, it definitely was season four, when ABC had an attempt to introduce Alias to a larger audience, so they had JJ Abrams reboot the show, yet again. Nothing wrong with that... except it went horribly wrong, in my opinion. ABC's idiotic mandates such as avoiding any potentially great long-term plot or mystery (including Rambaldi) made the show so simplistic, so dumbed down, that you might as well have watched any other drama series involving dumb CIA agents fighting dumb terrorist organizations. Gone are the plot twists, the interesting story lines, even the cliffhangers, Alias had lost nearly all of its elements that kept us watching it week to week, only to introduce awfully uninteresting, clichéd stand-alone episodes and dumb criminals that no-one ever cared about. Only when the fourth season came to an end, it was terribly disappointing too. The writers' attempts to make up for the boredom in the first half of the season were absolutely ridiculous, and I just couldn't believe why the same producers that banned Alias from being intelligent and creative (not to mention the Rambaldi storyline) let the season's (and apparently the Rambaldi storyline's) conclusion turn into something that resembles some low-budget 70's horror flick. Undoubtedly that was when I realised that Alias had turned into something it was never supposed to be, and I was praying that the fifth season would somehow make up for the disappointment of the fourth.
Sadly, it didn't. Banning Rambaldi again for about the half of season five (but at least not being so desperate about the self-contained format as in season 4), the network clearly had no idea about what they were doing and how much harm their tampering would cause to the show. However, it quickly became clear that Alias would be cancelled, so all we could expect that all the story lines and mysteries would finally be resolved. We also hoped that it would go out with a bang - with the same bang it was introduced to us. But every now and then, we were let down. Really let down.
Most of the blame should fall on ABC, for constantly dumbing down Alias and turning it into something it was never supposed to be, and JJ Abrams, who had abandoned the show and moved on to Lost, leaving his own 'child' for the dead (which you might consider a successful move if you are a Lost fan, but otherwise you might as well hate Abrams forever). They should have asked themselves the question: is Alias exactly the same great, intelligent, exciting, suspenseful drama that the audience came to know in its first season? And if there's even a slight possibility that the answer would be 'No'... then clearly, something has gone wrong. Horribly wrong. And it needs fixing. That is what the creators of Alias, along with the network, always failed to do. And this is what led to the ultimate destruction of a once-great TV show. So to answer my initial question: the show is to be loved, and the creators are to be hated for killing it.
(Let's be a little bit rude with the rating. The first 2 seasons were near-perfect, the third was a so-so, the last 2 were utter crap. Golden mean it is, I give Alias 5 stars.)
Please don't waste your time on this junk. 3/10
Why? Because I seem to be the only one to notice that this series is old dug up scripts/actions/themes that has been seen many, many times before on TV. But I guess with youth comes the ignorance of the past - I mean, I wasn't around when the original Oceans 11 came out so liking the new one is probably a big disappointment to those who WERE around at that time...so I guess you all can see where I'm coming from.
But I give everything a chance before I render an opinion. I hate it when folks hate something they haven't even saw or tried. So I saw and tried. It was a bore for me. The big deal seems to be around the actress Jennifer and the idea of a college student getting recruited for this work and yadda..yadda..yadda...yawn. Sorry, the actress Jennifer whozits is about as interesting to watch as a cactus growing in the desert to me. The story? Refurbished. The actress? Nothing special, memorable...
The real star? Well, just like with "Sex in the City", it's the fashion and just added with this one, the special effects. The special effects guys and gals are stellar. But the show? Well, it's a guys new T& A "Charley's Angels" and a young woman's new, "gosh a woman can do everything" argument with her semi-chauvinistic group of guys on a Friday/Saturday night as they go out drinking and debating.
What would make this series interesting to me? A whole host of things but all of those things would make everyone else who is looking at this now, turn away. So why bother. It's entertainment for some, good for them. There ARE worse programs on the air, which is why this is probably doing as well as it is.
JJ Abrams is getting much more credit than he deserves -- his series are bland and rehashed to me, but that just says one thing: I am old. Maybe I'll continue to watch TV Land and old series like 'Honey West' or 'The Girl From Uncle' or 'The Avengers' or even 'Get Christy Love' or 'La Femme Nikita' (not that other Americanized version, the real one), et al.
And then maybe when I'm even older and I've lived long enough -- this crowd will be watching this on TV Land and saying the same thing when another program by another youngster that is just the same comes out.
A double-agent working for both a ruthless terrorist organisation and for the CIA and yet when she comes across a bad guy she just nocks them out? Well that's a great way to win a war! How about carrying a weapon? Say a silenced usp? How about shooting you enemies so they can't return in another episode?
COME ON GIVE THE GIRL A GUN!!!
Example: She's chasing that other female agent that is about to climb up a ladder and get away on the roof and she asks her partner for his gun and then proceeds to shoot the other agent in the shoulder so she drops the bag! Come on she should have hunted her down and executed her, it would be far more realistic.
Example2: She was just in Moroco or whatever and she was spotted and the bad guys then shoot one of the people who she was workign with. What does her partner do? Starts beating them up instead of reaching for his gun?!?! Doesn't make sense.
Infact this series doesn't make sense. People are comparing it to 24, La Femme Nikita, X-Files, SG-1, Buffy and even James Bond. No it's like a mix between A-Team, Melrose Place and Dark Angel only taking the worst parts from those series.
The only fun thing is the guy who provides her with spy gear.
I am really sick of JJ Abrams and his tendency to write great shows, lose interest, and move on to another idea and let the previous show to flounder. I've stopped watching shows he writes. It's just a waste of time.
This is Femme Fatale (already a below average series) gone horribly, horribly wrong. Intense? Intelligent? Am I watching the same show as the majority of these female critics?
It's just so dumb... I can't even sit through this utter crap to see a scantily-clad Jennifer Garner. This has to mean something.
The fact that THIS has been beating The X-Files in the ratings this season is a valid argument in favor of devolution. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to be beating The X-Files by too much, so maybe this won't last too much longer.
After five long years of constant media hype and a publicity barrage that reminded one of the constant Buffy marketing campaign.
Like Buffy, Alias never really delivered. audiences remained slim, especially considering the fortunes invested in its promotion.
Historically, the show will stand out as a warning to network executives on the dangers of believing your own PR.
Artistically, one of the other comments said that Alias was a blockbuster movie every week and there lies the rub. Alias slavishly copied every contrivance of the bad blockbusters of today while having very little actual content or quality (again like today's "tentpole blockbusters" that the public is learning to tune out.) Hopefully, Jennifer Garner will finally get a good part and J.J. Abrams will go back to the obscurity that his work seems to deserve.
There was something for everyone. Good looking characters for those unable to immerse themselves in the main plots, action, plot twists, romance, family, life, death... it had it all.
The thing I liked most about Alias was the character development. How relationships started, were repaired... how some ended. By the final episode you knew exactly where each character was in regard to their friendships and relationships, it was communicated very well via the dialogue and of course, the acting.
By the end of the finale I really was rather upset at this TV show, in regard to who dies at the end, what happens to the main character etc. The ending was so good, because it wrapped up all the main story lines in a neat little bow. Abrams is so good with planting the seeds for future plot developments early on, so everything just flowed consistently.
I really would recommend Alias for everyone, not just intellectuals who can keep up with the science and language used within each episode. It's funny, it's action packed (with upbeat music in every scene), it's sweet (Sydney and Vaughn = the cutest TV couple *ever*) and addresses important issues.
Just because it lacks profanity, gang violence, racism and sex, doesn't mean it's not a good show ;)
No! It's the worst bits of all of the above. Although to be fair, it's overwhelmingly Nikita, even down to the angst ridden protagonist.
What more needs to be said? Well, on the plus side, Alias has the courage to end on cliffhangers, which makes for an interesting change. That's about it though. The acting is sadly mediocre. The main character is bland and uninteresting, and (as with Dark Angel) the actress has clearly been cast to fit a preconceived look (collagen-lips-on-stilts in this case) and not for any particular acting ability. That's a damn shame, especially when you consider that X Files showed that you don't *have* to cast valley girls to attract viewers.
The supporting cast demonstrates that you get what you pay for, although what John Hannah is doing slumming it in this mess is beyond me. The blaring score jars with the attempts at genuine tension and drama, and they are so keen to showcase the star's mediocre physical skills just because they can that they never pause to wonder if they *should*. Leave the kickboxing to Buffy, guys, it's essentially frivilous and fantastical and ruins the pretentions towards a gritty feel that you insist on putting on.
Alias gives you no reason to care about its protagonist, other than the artificial Saturday Serial cliffhangers. On tha basis alone, it should be consigned to the archives as soon as possible. Unfortunately, audiences and critics aren't just tolerating it for being the least-bad of the current slew of Men In Black shows, they are rather sadly confusing least-bad with actively good. I guess that means that we get exactly the quality of show that we deserve. Sad, sad, sad.
The network just finished season 2 of 24 and then started sending Alias. Oh boy does it suck compared to 24, and Days of our lives and Jenny Jones doesn't look too shabby if you compare it to Alias.
What really annoys me is that she goes to do her thing unarmed. Who the hell goes on a covert mission knowing that all the people are there to kill you and you don't even have a frigging slingshot!?! The fights are just stupid, if you're in a life-or-death-fight, you don't open yourself up to getting tumbled to the ground, shot or stabbed, you try to kill the other one as fast as possible. It's even more unrealistic than A-Team ffs!!
But what REALLY takes the cake, is the constant popular music being thrown in your face. Whatever chance there ever were of anyone trying to tell a story or convey an emotion gets completely hammered by all that stupid-ass music. Someone should tell them that a bit of silence could help build S U S P E N S E !!!!! For crying out load, playing Sinead O'Connors no mans woman after she blew something up is just pathetic.
It's not a tv-show about an agent, it's a music video. And frankly, MTV does it better.
The acting is bloody terrible - the actor playing Garner's CIA handler looks on the verge of tears every time and the one playing her dad just pushes his lips together and looks constipated. Yet, the cameos by Tarantino and Faye Danaway are great and Lena Olin creates a very intriguing character throughout season 2. The whole concept of an evil global alliance bent on world domination places Alias in the James Bond spy universe - good looking, well dressed, very urbane, multilingual, savvy and cruel guys, against well dressed, immensely talented, good guys.
Most of the dialogue goes to show that the show takes itself very seriously and even though it is not as bizarre, self contained and irrelevant as a Mamet script, it still is far away from how normal people talk to each other.
And then there is Rambaldi. A fictional renaissance inventor/artist, whose creations ( dispersed in hard to get to locations all over the earth) are coveted by seemingly everybody in the intelligence community and their enemies; they seem to hold the answer to mankind's eternal questions about power and truth and life unending.
Reading my review so far, I realize that I haven't touched upon the main premise/plot line of the series, that of a young woman being recruited by the CIA right out of college, only to discover that she has in fact been recruited by SD-6, a criminal organization posing as the CIA. Then the CIA recruits her and asks her to act as a double agent. And her father is a double agent as well. And her mother. Only she might be a triple agent or something. It looks a bit preposterous, no? Still, it somehow works. I was more annoyed with the whole " your plane leaves in an hour, infiltrate that facility in this east European city, grab the schematics/usb/camera/suitcase etc., kick ass on your way out and come back" idea, that seems to be how the creators of the show vizualize how high-priority, top-secret, intelligence-gathering operations are conducted. Jennifer Gardner dresses up, goes to the place, speaks a bit of the lingo, gets in the lab, grabs the stuff, comes out kicking or shooting and is brought back to the states every single time. Seriously, this process I just described accounts for at least 90% of the episodes.
All that notwithstanding, the show seems driven by some sort of ambition that hope gets it somewhere and for that, I give it a 6.
One thing to address is the plot. It's not a soap opera style plot where everyone knows one another and there is set guidelines and plot requirements. Instead there are plot twists, and turns and by the end of ever episode after Sydney has completed a mission (or several) you end up staring at the screen in awe wondering how brilliant the writers must be.
The plot is not the only thing that draws the viewer into the realm of Alias. Another key component would have to be the cast and characters. The main character is Sydney Bristow, who is a grad student and a spy for The CIA... but in the first episode after she divulges her secret to her fiancé and learns of his murder...she also discovers that she has been working for the very people who she thought she was fighting against. Sydney is played by Jennifer Garner, who is to star in DAREDEVIL (which is expected to be released next Feb.) Her character is forced to go through emotional turmoil while attempting to gain justice for the assassination of her Fiancé (Daniel Hecht) with no one to turn to Sydney turns to the real CIA, and she becomes a double agent. Her CIA handler Michael Vaughn (played by Michael Vartan, who has appeared in NEVER BEEN KISSED and the recent release 1 HR. PHOTO) ends up being one of the only people in her life who she can trust and turn to. Their relationship is complex, due to the fact that they can not act on their apparent feelings for one another, eventually there feelings cause danger to be heightened and situations to gain risk
Another member of the acclaimed Cast is Ron Rifkin who Plays Arvin Sloane, the head of SD-6 which is an agency which is an enemy of the CIA, and of AMERICA. Then there is Victor Garber who portrays Sydney's father, a man who also is affiliated with the CIA and SD-6.
There are many other phenomenal characters and cast members who deserved to be pointed out. Such as Sydney's closest friends Francie and Will. There is also Sydney's partner at SD-6, Dixon and another CIA agent who works with Vaughn named Eric Weiss.
This Show is amazing and this review can not give it justice. I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who is looking for a show with depth, drama and a departure from Shows of the past. The plot, dialogue, characterization and acting are spectacular and if your not watching Alias on ABC You really should be!