Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Alias Finales: Season 1


Three words: SO FREAKIN' GOOD! As I've said in previous posts, I got into Alias in season 3 and caught up by renting seasons 1 & 2 over my Christmas break that year. I totally didn't see that cliffhanger coming, and to my advantage, was able to run out to the video store that night and rent the next set of DVDs. For all of you who were watching Alias in season 1, I can't imagine the anxiety of waiting an entire summer to find out what happened next! Did anyone come up with any interesting theories besides what really happened? IMO it was obvious the writers already knew the direction the show would head in season 2 by how smoothly it transitioned. One of the only discrepancies was the fact that they hadn't cast Irena's character yet, so you can tell the voice of the woman who says "I've waited almost 30 years for this" in season 1 wasn't our beloved Lena Olin. She had a slight accent, which didn't fit with the idea of Irena fooling everyone into thinking she was an American named Laura, but other than that, it was an awesome way to leave the audience on the edge of their seat.

I also really enjoyed the change in Will and Syd's relationship from this point on. Instead of just a sidekick friend pining after Syd, Will became a confidant, someone who knew the real Syd and
could help her cope with the crazy life of a spy. As sad as it was, I still can't help but laugh when he's on the flight home w/ Syd and Jack and asks "what about me?" to which Jack responds "...you're going to have a hard time." So, let's hear your thoughts and opinions on the S1 finale/S2 premiere!


Page48 said...

After about 16 months without an "Alias" eppie under my belt, I watched 1.22 and 2.1 for the third time overall. Everytime I watch an episode, I just get real lonesome for the best show ever.

It's always very comforting to see the opening credits and see "written by JJ Abrams". It's his baby and the early years just wreak of his desire to spin a masterful yarn. Pity he hadn't been as eager at the end.

The show is gorgeous. One thing that struck me right off the bat was the conspicuous absence of the dreaded shaky camera, so prevalent in one-hour dramas today.

First time around it's the broad strokes that get thru to you but on subsequent viewing the little things start to show up. Things like Jack trying to ascertain whether or not he had a "real" friend in Devlin, after Sydney had earlier asked him if he indeed did have any real friends. It's like Jack had never actually posed that question to himself before.

Another little thing was Vaughn singing the praises of the most basic of tools, the screwdriver. Shortly after that, we see the gun on the rooftop in "the bible" scene rigged to fire repeatedly while unattended, accomplished with the aid of the humble screwdriver.

A very little thing, 1.22 featured executive producer Alex Kurtzman, 2.1 sported executive producer Alex Kurtzman-Counter (what up with that?)

Much of 2.1 was housekeeping, an obligatory recap of series-to-date using Barnett as a table setter for Sydney to refresh our memories after a 6 month layoff. The DVD renders that gimmick pointless, but, first time around it was no doubt necessary.

Marshall's role was very small in 1.22 and not much bigger in 2.1.

Sydney's confrontation with Dixon when she came ashore was a preview of the beauty that would soon follow in "Phase One". Sydney is very intense in her conversations with Dixon when she needs to be. Sydney was much quicker to forgive Dixon than Dixon would later be to forgive her.

Vaughn's meeting with Syd in the train stations seems like yesterday. I wonder if there was ever a moment on "Big Shots" where MV felt he was a part of something special the way he must surely have known he was with "Alias". I don't even know what his character's name was on BS.

I wonder what it will be like to watch this years from now when things have changed. When the cars start to look like antiques. I noticed Jack's laptop was not a widescreen. Five years ago it looked high-tech, now it looks wrong.

The show was so beautifully written. Not only were there season ending cliffhangers, but every commercial break was a mini-cliffhanger all it's own. Looking back, I don't know how I lasted the whole summer wondering how Vaughn escaped that would-be watery grave.

I miss me some "Alias" and I really miss Sydney Bristow in pajamas.

P.S., am I the only one who looks at Ben Stiller and is immediately reminded of Will Tippin?

srg-alias said...

hehe yeah I think you are the only one who thinks that page... ;-)

Awesome overview, I completely missed the tie between Vaughn's ode-to-the-screwdriver and Irena's impromptu rifle distraction, nice! I agree the show is a thing of beauty, so often when I'm watching it I'm amazed that this was a TV show when every episode looks and feels like a mini-movie. From the flawless acting to the incredible action of blowing up the Circumference, it's utter eye candy.

Alex Kurtzman - I'm assuming is a woman (Alexandra, Alexis...) and she got married over that summer, yes?

The train station scene is also one of my favorites, when it came on I said "aww I forgot about this, I love this part!" After seeing these DVDs so many times I'm still surprised by little things here and there.

uncle111 said...

I've made my notes, but I've been overloaded at work. I'll try to get my comments written up and posted and reply to others' comments tomorrow.

uncle111 said...

Great observation about the screw driver and Jack. I don't know what your favorite scenes was, but mine is also one of my favorite Jack scenes- The final scene with Halodki(SP?). Such a quintessential Jack moment.

These are mostly in order, but not totally. They are my notes of times something in S1 finale tied to something that had gone before, illustrating just how serialized the series was, and a few other important events in the story that made this such a good episode:
1- "Previously on Alias"- Shows that they knew people wouldn't follow what was about to happen without a catch-up scene.
2- Will's troubles were tied to the earliest parts of the series and his attempts to help Syd by finding Danny's killer.
3- Everything Rambaldi in the episode is tied to the first episode with the small model of the Circumference.
4- Dr. Glasses, who tortured Syd in the first episode now tortures Will.
5- There is a lot of relationship development (when was there never in Alias) that was all tied to previous episodes- Jack and Syd, Jack and Vaughn, Weiss and Vaughn, Syd and Vaughn, Syd and Will, Syd and Dixon, Sloane and Emily.
6- Sloane's confession to Emily was a dramatic turn of events that was the beginning of Sloane's plot to bring down the Alliance.
7- Dixon begins to suspect that Syd is a traitor.
8- Jack goes Rogue on the CIA to save Syd and Will.
9- Again, my favorite- Jack kills Halodki because of things he did in previous episodes.
10- The rest of Will's life changes when they publish his SD-6 story, which began as an attempt to find Danny's killer. The result is that Will finds his manhood.
11- We find out more about Vaughn's father than in most other episodes put together.
12- Another great Jack moment- his halting effort to comfort Will after his release.
13- This episode put Rambaldi on center stage for the rest of the series.
14- Important- Syd loses Vaughn.
15- Kasinow, who we know from earlier episodes, we discover is not The Man.
16- We find that not only is Syd's mother alive, but she may be The Man.

S2/E1 flowed right from the previous episode. It is not as energetic or heavy on development, but does end well.
1- Irina shoots Syd- great beginning and contains a great line from Syd- "Or what, I'm grounded?"
2- Scene with Dr Barnett Does work to catch people up and illustrates the serialized nature of the show. Syd also gets to show she's worried about Vaughn, and she shows very visible hatred of her mother.
3- It bothered me how easily Kasinow bests Syd in a fight.
4- Sloane continues his "Syd was like my own daughter" idea, setting up some great mystery in future episodes.
5- Irina starts playing Syd with the "Truth takes time" line and then really puts everyone in turmoil by turning herself in the CIA. That made the ending of this episode about as good as the previous episode.

Great ideas, great writing, great sets, great music, great acting. I think Alias will stand alone throughout TV history for it's overall quality and uniqueness.

Page48 said...

Uncle, I remember being mildly shocked the first time I watched the scene where the battered Will approaches Jack after his freedom was purchased from Sark. At the time, I thought the odds were 50/50 that he would either collapse at Jack's feet or take a swing at him. Little did I suspect he would hug Jack and thank him.

Jack's uncomfortable reaction also harkens back to Syd's question about whether or not he has any real friends. It's obvious that Jack has fierce loyalties, but it's equally obvious that he drinks alone.

The moment where he pops that rat-fink Haladki was a gift to "Alias" fans. There is a slight delay before Jack pulls the trigger which gives viewers the chance to collectively say "c'mon Jack, DO IT"...and perhaps just for us, he does it.

Srg-alias is right about the "movie quality" of "Alias". I've always felt like they took great care to give it that feel. You need look no further than the scene where Jack leaves Syd standing at Danny's gravesite. Gorgeous beyond description.

Uncle, I understand what you're saying about Khasinau getting the boot in with Sydney. At his age, I thought she could have whooped him soundly. I was also stunned at how long Vaughn took before he started to cut and run with the water filling the hall before his very eyes. With those kinds of reflexes, it's a wonder he even landed a job with the agency.

Best TV show ever, bar none.

Page48 said...

Felicity Bristow?

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I had just watched my first ever episode of "Felicity". While youthful angst is totally not my genre, I just felt compelled to have a look-see due to the strong "Alias" ties.

It's interesting to connect the dots between certain shows and movies, and it seems that the character we know and love as Sydney Bristow can trace her roots back to the brainy Felicity Porter. According to JJ, the idea of a seemingly ordinary girl who just happened to double as a kick-ass spy chick was actually conceived (if not seriously considered) with Felicity in mind. Several years later, "Felicity" guest star Jen Garner was chosen to bring that character to life, and a star was born. Along with her came "Felicity" actors Grunberg, Weisman, and Foreman (Mrs. Flinkman).

Fast forward several more years and JJ makes good on his idea to turn Felicity into a spy-chick, when he casts Keri Russell in MI3.

Another connection between these 2 shows was that they both had less than satisfactory endings. Apparently "Felicity" ended in a string of time-travel shows or something like that. If bad endings are the hallmark of JJ's shows, I fear for the time I have invested in "Lost".

uncle111 said...

Yeah, everytime I see the scene of the water coming I think,"Okay Vaughn. Are you just waiting to drown?"

Alias roots- to fully understand them you have to catch The Pretender. You'll remember that I have listed before some significant "borrowings" Alias made from that series, including the character JG played a couple of years before Alias aired named Billie Vaughn, which turned out to be an alias given to her to protect her from people who were hunting her. Also, the fact that the lead actor's name is Micheal Weiss (Alias characters MICHAEL Vaughn and Eric WEISS).

Page48 said...

Uncle, I notice there is still a very active "The Pretender" message board.

A quick look at the Wikipedia entry for the series also indicates that the creators of TP, as late as last fall, indicated that a conclusion for the series will happen:

On September 7th 2007 in an interview for their new miniseries Tin Man, creators Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle stated "Our fans still clabber for the answers because we never closed The Pretender out. We will just say to them please be patient, it’s going to happen, hopefully soon." They also referred to it happening in relationship to "Strange Highway" Entertainment and that the story line would continue digitally on the web.

The 2 post-series TV-movies are yet another example of fans successfully nagging the daylights out of the network for more of their favourite show. Would that "Alias" fans were so vocal.

I have been keeping an eye out for TP to run on the Space Channel, but no go yet. I may have to find other means to watch it.

uncle111 said...

I looked for TP sites a year or so ago and didn't find anything that looked active, so thanks.

I just bought the DVD's. 1st season was a little repetitive, but got better towards the end of the season and stayed increasing good in following seasons. I haven't seen the TV movies, but would like to if I could find them.

You would think Alias fans could get some TV movies. I suspect that the Alias crew got tired of it, though. Don't know what to do about that.