Ten years after it ended, I am binge watching the spy-fi series again despite having ambivalent feelings for the show.
Alias is significant for many reasons, not only because it is a great genre series that brought spy-fi into the 21st century, not only because it marks a successful blending of soap opera style prime time drama and science fiction in an immensely popular and successful show, but also because it established Bad Robot, and the names of JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci as a powerhouse of influence in 21st century entertainment, not only in genre productions but in television and movies in general.
Alias is of course an American action television series created by J. J. Abrams, that was broadcast on ABC for five seasons, from September 30, 2001, to May 22, 2006. It stars Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a double-agent for the Central Intelligence Agency posing as an operative for SD-6, a worldwide criminal and espionage organization.
The main theme of the series explores Sydney’s obligation to conceal her true career from her friends and family, even as she assumes multiple aliases to carry out her missions. These themes are most prevalent in the first two seasons of the show.
A major plotline of the series, and a part I am very fond of, is the search for and recovery of artifacts created by Milo Rambaldi, a fictitious Renaissance-era figure with similarities to both Leonardo da Vinci and Nostradamus. This plot and some technologies used in the series place Alias into the genre of science fiction.
I admit I am very conflicted about this series, it oscillates wildly between great spy-fi/science fiction and sappy soap opera melodrama enough to make your head spin, but considering this is probably the the fourth time, or so, I have binge watched the series from beginning to end, the sappy soap opera aspects of the series have not proven unbearable enough to put me off the series entirely.
As a life long science fiction fan there’s plenty here for me to like, that keeps pulling me back in. The technology, both fictional and real, along with the cyber warfare aspects are well done and engaging. The same can be said for the spy stuff. The plethora of villains, bad guys, gunfights, adventures, mysteries, deceptions, and betrayals are formidable in their volume. the show never seemed to run out of good ideas or get too redundant to make it feel like “Oh brother, here we go again”
Jennife Garner was both convincing and at the same time sometimes laughable as the combination femme fatale and girl next door super spy, but she never gets old in the role, and even her ability to turn on the waterworks at the drop of a hat after shooting twenty mercenary soldiers, and using karate of the rest somehow perversely became acceptable as the norm.
Another of my favorite things about the show was Victor Garber as Jack Bristow. Jack is a bad mother *cker, and a stone cold killer. Its funny to think what it what it must have been like for the guy that took Sydney to the prom.
Anyway, I keep turning back to this series for a reliable, although maybe too familiar at this point, entertaining watch in between finding something more recent that I like as much, which is not as easy as it may sound. I admit I do feel guilty watching it when some of the really sappy soap opera parts are on, but ten years later it still holds up as good quality genre tv.