It is not difficult to pick up on the long-standing trend of females presented as “powerful” in modern culture. This inevitably spills over into female-driven television or film dramas. I myself do not “need” that picture in order to feel good about who I am (or my gender) but that doesn’t mean that I don’t find a lot of television series that I like. This is one of my newest finds. It stars a popular movie star in what I assume is a kind of “launch pad” of her career.
Be aware: There will be a few minor spoilers in regards to this season.
Alias, Season One (2001) TV Review
Seven years ago she was just a normal college student. Now, normalcy is a fading dream. Her dysfunctional life ceases to exist outside the classroom – most specifically the relationship (or lack of) she has with her father. Now, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is a successful SD-6 agent, a branch of the CIA. Told she was one of their best with natural talent as a field operative, Sydney determines she’ll be the exception. Balance a normal life and her work as a world-class spy. Attending grad school and madly in love with her medical student boyfriend, Sydney is ready for marriage when Danny proposes. Then, dreams fall apart when Sydney walks through the door to find the lifeless body of her fiancé…
Left with a broken heart, Sydney immediately looks to blame her boss (Ron Rifkin) and earns hit squad for her trouble. Rescued by her estranged father (Victor Garber), Sydney learns the most terrible secret of all: Not only is Jack an agent, but the SD-6 agents are a mercenary group – not the good guys. Looking for revenge, Sydney finishes one last mission… and then walks into the CIA.
As a “walk in,” she becomes a double agent in a cat-and-mouse game that could either blow her cover or get results. Backed by her CIA handler Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan), it isn’t long before Sydney learns to easily balance the workload. Meanwhile her best friend Will (Bradley Cooper) starts digging into Danny’s death and discovers that there are mysterious circumstances surrounding it.
If only one thing could be said about Alias it would be its sense of adventure that leaves your pulse pounding and heart racing. Around every corner (and in every exotic location you could possibly think of) we question what will happen to Sydney. Whether or not she’ll be caught while on her latest mission; if she’ll finally tell the truth about what she suspects of her father; and if she’ll ever fully recover from her fiancé’s death. More than once I question how Sydney gets herself out of situations all while “knowing” that she will come out fine. (Because who kills the heroine of a successful five-season series?)
Much like NCIS what I find engaging her is the effortless intertwining of two worlds: reality and secrets. Because Sydney tries to live two lives, things get intense. These emotions we feel, and actress Jennifer Garner conveys them beautifully. Her girl-next-door innocence might fool you into believing she isn’t cut out for the work of a CIA field agent but believe me, she is as tough as she is sweet-natured – a personality that makes her a stellar agent and woman of character.
The show itself is compelling because of its cast. Bradley Cooper’s chemistry with Jennifer is nice but the payoff is seeing the two reach a “deeper” connection by the finale. (Although, not meant to be funny, I cannot help but be amused at his reaction to being rescued once by Sydney.) Michael and Jennifer also share a sweet, easy-going relationship that we grow to be fond of. I love their wishful banter and genuine concern for each other. The relationship between Sydney and her father is another tangled web all of its own accord. Jack’s character is an interesting one; and not always easy to like.
Given what I knew going in, I did expect to like this show, but I didn’t realize how quickly it would pull me in. The show literally plays out more like a 500-something minute long movie. Each episode ends on a cliffhanger (unusual for a show to end every episode that way) and seems to revolve around one common goal or plot thread; a plot that is woven all through the series, even the series finale. Creator J.J. Abrams has had multiple success’ to his name – Alias was just one such title.
It’s fun, dangerous, and intriguing – and the music is phenomenal. Every song fits the mood and tone of each scene. If you like crime dramas to have a bit more humor than mystery then this one is probably not for you – although there are much-needed tension breakers. However, if you like the breezy USA show, Covert Affairs with Piper Perabo as a CIA operative, then Alias will interest you. It takes intense suspense to a new level.
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You can find Alias, season one digitally on Amazon Video.‘Alias,’ Season One: An Exciting Female Spy Show! A TV review of the 2001 show with Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan. Click To Tweet
CONTENT: TV14 for instances of torture [primarily in the premiere and finale]; two characters have teeth ripped out. Another man is injected with a toxin, and also has his finger severed [unseen]; still another character’s hand is crushed and is then executed [off-camera]. Numerous other characters are shot and killed or shot at. There is barely any profanity but are three sensual scenes. There’s some foreplay between a couple; the camera catches a blurred shot of them nude standing in the shower. One close-up shot shows a woman in bed with a man who has something she wants; later it’s implied Sydney sleeps with an old boyfriend [they begin undressing before we next see her under the sheets sleeping]. Immodest dress is often a part of Sydney’s disguise.