The guts. The insides. The bare bones. The heart, the core, the life force. I have been spending a considerable amount of time thinking about the raw and rare center of Alias. It seems to be a perfect marriage of drama and action, a unique combination of literary story telling and the advancement of modern technology and television. I said before, and I will say it again, JJ Abrams is a genius. But why? Why exactly are his show and movies so, so, damn good? It’s the formula.
The formula is a point, a specific idea that is driven home each and every scene, each and every episode, which makes the show familiar and understandable. For example- for has crazy and outlandish as the Rambaldi storyline is- all we really need to know is that Sydney is involved, Ramabaldi is bad, and she is going to do everything in her power to stop it. Who cares about the prophecies or the artifacts- it is really about Sydney, her reaction to Ramabaldi, her ideas about him and how that is carried throughout the show. The formula works in the same way for Sydney as a character. Three of Sydney’s main traits are her loyalty, sense of patriotic duty and her ability to still show a vulnerable and naïve side. Each episode drives these traits home. Perhaps not directly or as plainly, but we certainly walk away feeling as if Sydney is a good friend, someone we understand and know. That is part two of the formula- the ability to relate.
Sydney works for the CIA. She is defusing bombs and wielding weapons and kicking serious bum- and perhaps none of us can really relate to that. What we can relate to is being a working student, with roommates, a boyfriend, a father, a crazy mother, a daughter. Sydney’s “real life” struggles are familiar, identifiable. And we don’t necessarily become detached from her when she is whisked away on a mission- we live vicariously through her. That is part three. Who wouldn’t want to have the fast action life of a super spy? Who wouldn’t want to defend their country behind the scenes, stopping bad guys and saving lives?
So, we have 1. A point 2. Ability to relate and 3. Vicariousness. Next up, number four, that little marriage I spoke of before- Drama and Action, I now pronounce you husband and wife. What a successful relationship! And no one does it better than JJ Abrams. We meet Sydney with her head under water- her red wig floating, her face frantic and scared. Not five minutes later, she is standing in the lawn at UCLA, her boyfriend on his knee singing “Build Me Up Buttercup.” And it works. We believe it. Why? Because of number five- Suspension of Disbelief. I have talked about this little literary device before. It is our ability to believe that Sydney and the gang can do whatever they want, whenever they want, because in TV land, there are no boundaries. They are the CIA for gosh sake!
I bring all this up because we have been searching for a show with this same formula. We want something that has a strong point- a strong story that is hammered home each week. We want to relate and live vicariously- we want action and drama and we want to let go of all rational thought. Hence why I think Bionic Woman might be exactly what we are looking for.
Now, I have talked enough. It’s your turn! What well plays into the success of a TV program? The actors? The directors? Talk to me people.