06 May 2005

Alias has LOST it.

Puns are never funny. But sometimes--and only sometimes--they are accurate. It's just something we have to live with. (Tangent alert--why say "no pun intended"? Of course the pun was intended. And if it wasn't, why call attention to it now? I have a friend who decided to follow just about every sentence with "no pun intended" and a wink. Pure comedy. Try it. Watch people dig for the pun.) On to the topic.

I've seen every episode of Alias. Every single one. I watched the pilot in the Fall of 2001--one of the flashiest, catchiest, sexiest pilots in the history of pixelated viewing. So…I think I can speak with a li'l bit of cred when I say that I'm considering giving up Sydney Bristow. For good. Cold turkey. Will it hurt? Some. But not nearly as much as it should.

For two full seasons, Alias was the best show on television. At least on my television. 24 was hot and Jack Bauer has no equal, but Sydney Bristow was un-freaking-touchable. Some elements of the show were unfathomable--primarily the idea that this show came from they guy behind Felicity. But the leaps of logic were forgivable. Shocking red wigs and frantic costume changes kept my attention occupied. More than anything, however, the drama was not dramatic. Jennifer Garner somehow kept Syd grounded in everyday. And, for two seasons, I couldn't stop watching this grad student turned spy turned double agent turned confused daughter.

I applauded every twist. I sucked up every Rimbaldi mindbender. I thought my left arm fell off when Lena Olin appeared as Syd's mother at the end of season 1 and pumped a bullet into Syd's shoulder. And…I fell in love. Not with Jennifer Garner (or Syd, although it was tempting), but I fell in love with a story. A fragile, twenty-something utterly confused by her surroundings and struggling to establish some sort of familial identity. Someone my age unable to keep up with it all.

And nothing could match the Sydney's realization at the end of season 2--a two-year period had been wiped from her mind. Everything had changed. Vaughn was married to a woman my friends and I would soon refer to as "Horseface" and Syd was more alone than she had ever been. I hesitate to draw any sweeping parallels, but Syd's situation spoke to a broader condition. Modernist writers struggled to express the senseless devastation of World War I and the growing difficulty of real, personal communication. Not that JJ Abrams is T.S. Eliot, but Syd's growing disorientation seems to express the disillusionment and confusion of Gen X, especially in a global community teeming with enemies and no clear-cut bad guys.

So where did it go wrong? Why would I discard a show I love? I don't know for sure. In fact, writing about it now makes me want to hold on and grab every remaining thread of intensity. But my desire is waning. My pulse fails to quicken in the critical moments. The bottom line: This show isn't about Sydney anymore. Sure, she plays a prominent role and Jennifer Garner has a contract extension with ABC through 2008, but Alias is too concerned with fringe characters and subplots to hand the keys back to the woman behind the wheel. Nadia? Yeah, right--a girl like that would definitely go out with chubby slob Weiss. Vaughn searching for his father? Who cares (even if it did involve a clever twist at the end of the interminable mini-arc). Proto-Sloane? Really? A look-alike? Of Sloane? Yikes.

When I saw the first episode of LOST, I thought this would happen. LOST is a new challenge for Abrams and his crew. A fresh story with infinite possibilities. And while LOST is still in season 1 honeymoon bliss, it's everything I want Alias to be. It's creepy and beautiful and sad and uplifting. The characters are wonderful and the acting is first-rate. And it succeeds where Alias fails. While Alias continues to wander and drift to secondary characters, LOST is beginning to hone its scope. Each episode features the backstory of one character. Some have featured lesser characters like Hurley and Charlie, but the most powerful and consistent episodes have focuse on Jack, Sawyer, Locke, and Kate--the very souls of LOST. Hopefully, JJ Abrams won't forget about them.

Is there hope? I hope so. I miss Sydney. Most of all, I miss the way I felt about her. I miss Will Tippin. I miss thinking Vaughn was el hombre furioso. I miss wishing Jack would give his daughter a hug. I miss hoping Sloane would die a slow and painful death. I miss season 1. I miss season 2. I miss parts of season 3. And, like a frightened twentysomething with a wife, a 2-year-old, a partially-rewarding career, and no clue how I'm going to survive the next 40 years…I'm just as confused as ever.

1 comment:

xango addict said...

Yeah, I agree that Alias is losing it. I personally miss living through sydney and enjoying the delicate romance that she shares with vaughn. I love vaughn.