(You’ll need to be familiar with the TV show “Alias” to understand anything in this post. If you are an Alias fan, please let me know your thoughts on Season 4 thus far.)
Earlier today, I started watching the first season of Alias on DVD (again). Starting with the pilot, I found myself simply gripped by the story. Going through the first 8 or 9 episodes, and then comparing them to what we’ve been seeing on Wednesday nights, here are some of the reasons, I believe, that our much-beloved Alias is in trouble (in terms of remaining a good show, rather than being cancelled).
Mystery and intrigue. Seasons 1 and 2 had that. There were so many questions, and you didn’t know who to trust, or what would happen next. There’s nothing like that in season 4 so far.
Depth of character relationships. From Sydney finding Danny dead in their bathtub in the pilot, to the awkwardness of the kiss with Will, to the heart-tugging involved with Sydney’s mom. The show was full of deep relationships, whether comfortable and casual (Syd, Will, and Francie), intense and angst-ridden (Syd and Jack/Irina), or filled with romantic tension (when Vaughn was still with Alice). All of those relationships are missing this season, with no replacements.
Continuing storylines/multiple missions per episode. Alias was very edgy and fast-paced. There was always so much that happened that it almost left your head spinning by the end (in a good way, of course). Many episodes were cliffhangers going into the next, and they had a feeling of continuity to them. This season feels very… disconnected. I believe that self-contained episodes plays a large role in this. Also with the whole one-mission-at-a-time thing, this season feels very slow by comparison. Comparing Alias seasons 1 or 2 to the Fox show “24”, they were right on par as the two best shows on TV. Now, only 24 can hold that spot because Alias felt the need to reinvent itself again.
Current relationships are very wrong. Jack hated Irina, then trusted her for a season (3), and then killed her. WTF? Dixon and Sloane work together now, but didn’t they kill each other’s wives? Didn’t Slone get the death penalty by lethal injection last season? And now he’s everybody’s boss? I know that they’re trying to fix the show this season, but they’re asking us to forget an awful lot about the characters we know and love.
Too much Sydney. Sydney is in nearly every single scene of every single episode. What about scenes like when Will was investigating Danny’s death? Or when Sloane and Sark or Irina were working together? Or scenes between Arvin and Emily Sloane? The show needs more character balance. I like Sydney too, but it’s getting to be too much of a good thing.
Too much sex, not enough character. I know that making the show “sexier” may be a way to get more viewers, but I think it’s a detriment to the show. Syd is sexy, but also very intelligent and capable. We don’t need to see her in bikinis or lingere to know she’s hot, because that’s not her sole characteristic.
Sydney needs to have some fun. That’s one of the biggest problems of last season that JJ said would get fixed, but it hasn’t happened yet. And even then, how can it? She’s only just met her sister. How can they have fun like best friends do? Syd, Francie, and Will had an awesome dynamic that I don’t think can be filled by adding some new character. She needs to feel a closeness with people to be able to relax and have fun, but she doesn’t have that. Since Will is the only one still alive, he really needs to make a full-time comeback. But in order for him to fit in this season, they really need to go back to a season 1 or 2 format for shows — when there was room for other characters with or without Sydney.
Everything is inside. Have you noticed that? She’s never out doing stuff anymore. She’s always in a room somewhere doing whatever it is she does. It may be minor (like complaining about lighting), but it can really set the right mood for the show.
Be like “24”. It used to be. The shows were very comparable: season-long plots, deep characters, mysterious and intense, very edgy. Now Alias has turned into a show just like every other so-so show on TV, while “24” is still awesome! You’d better bet that I’m at the edge of my seat waiting to find out what’s going to happen next to Jack Bauer from CTU. I used to feel that way about Alias… even in season 3 (although season 3 just got really heavy and dark). I want to feel that way again.
Back to roots. Rather than continuing to try to reinvent itself, Alias needs to go back to being the show it was during the first two seasons simply because it was a winning formula for a fantastic show. Maybe it didn’t get as many viewers, but it was a much better show. And again, if “24” can do it, why can’t Alias?
I love this show so much that it makes my physically sick to my stomach to see this show in the rut it’s in. These are my suggestions for fixing it. No, I won’t stop watching it (unless it continues to get significantly worse), but I really, really, really want it to go back to it’s roots… back when it was the best show on TV.