Wednesday, May 31, 2006

TV Party: Ali-axed

Last week’s series finale of “Alias” was promoted by ABC with about as much gusto as they had to; the tone of the ads leading up to it were on par with “Hey, if you bothered to stick with a series that we pulled off the air for five months in the middle of the season, you may as well see how they wrap it up.” And that pretty much was the reason my girlfriend and I tuned in; it would be like reading all but the last chapters of a book.

If J.J. Abrams hadn’t given them “Lost” then it’s doubtful “Alias” would have escaped the fate given “Commander in Chief”.

I had watched the show since its beginning, and after we got together, my girlfriend got into it. I’m not suggesting it was that great a show. It was generally compelling—the episodes ended with one wanting to see how it would play out in the following episode—but it was not such that I found myself inclined to watch re-runs; there I knew what happened, and I could find some better way to occupy an hour.

As regards its compelling aspect: My girlfriend would say at the end of watching each episode, “I hate this show! I can’t wait for next week.” Another friend who got into the show later and rented the DVDs of the early seasons noted she couldn’t stop part way through a disc even though she tried; each cliffhanger made her keep watching, in defiance of sleep or whatever activity she should attend to.

While that seems to be applauding the show, I would not recommend checking it out if you never watched it in the first place. The mystical recurrent plotline on which the show more or less became founded did not ultimately prove to be that satisfying when resolved in the final episode. There were many twists they could have pulled at the end that would have redeemed the entire series, but in the end they wrapped everything up in a quaint little bow; the effort put into the ending of the series seemed about as enthusiastic as how ABC promoted the ending (eh, let’s get this over with). For example, (spoiler warning) I would have reclassified the show to something pretty cool if in the end the creators (who admittedly no longer included J.J. Abrams, as far as I heard) had the gumption to kill off the main character, Sydney (portrayed by Jennifer Garner); in so many episodes through the series I thought the way she comported herself that she should have died, so that to some extent seeing if they would kill her in the end was part of my motivation to keep watching.

Oh well.

Much like “Gray’s Anatomy”, I watched the show despite the main character; there were other characters who made it worthwhile, and the plots had the potential to be good. However, ultimately, that’s all any show like that ever has: potential.

After watching the end of the series finale, I found myself pleased about one thing. I was happy I never got into “Lost” (the series Abrams developed part way through the run of “Alias”). I did watch the first episode, but for whatever reason it did not hold my interest. (I’m sure those devotees of the show would be incredulous that I could have such a reaction; perhaps I wasn’t in a good mood at the time.)

What I hear of the show through the usual pop culture outlets leads me to believe it is filled with the same compelling elements that “Alias” had but with only the mystical plotline (“Alias” could play with the typical spy stuff for episodes and pick up the mystical one when desired—not unlike the “X-Files” in how it could be about just whatever freaky thing popped up that week or about the larger alien plotline). Thus, when eventually “Lost” must be concluded, I won’t be similarly disappointed by how that show is wrapped up, because I won’t have devoted any time to watching it.

It’s not much, sure, but it’s what I have.

Good endings are difficult to concoct, obviously. (See how awful this one was?) It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to the writers, really; I am hardly in a position to assume some kind of viewpoint of superiority in the matter, given how many TV series I have written (at last check, zero). Of course, I haven’t been paid exorbitant amounts to try to come up with a satisfactory ending to a series, so I don’t feel too bad about that. For the right amount (or even a fraction thereof), I could be convinced to give it a shot (if there’s any producers out there reading this… by mistake).

I could be as detached as it seems the writers of the end of “Alias” were, of that much I’m certain.


  1. I'm in total agreement. That finale was SOOO bad that it made me nervous to watch the Lost finale two nights later, lest it suck too. Granted, the entire last season of Alias had been pretty bad as well--hell, it started going downhill somewhere in season 3--but still, you think the writers would have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and at least made an effort at an interesting series finale. As it was, Ian and I were so bored that we almost couldn't watch the whole episode. Boo to them.

    By the way, the Lost season finale was fabulous! Hopefully that show doesn't eventually get as bad as Alias did.

  2. My name was used in the above comment: I wish She wouldn't do that.

  3. Not to worry. It's not like I have more than about 4 readers.


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