Alias TV Series Review and Comparison to Other Shows of J.J. Abrams

Warning: May Contain Spoilers

Alias TV Series Cast
Alias TV Series Cast

How I Got Into Re-Watching Alias

I promised myself that I will write about Alias as soon as I finish re-watching season 1. I figured that I might as well write about it and have some sort of productive output from all the lying around and watching this TV show. It actually took me 6 days to finish all 22 episodes of the first season and like with most shows I end up liking, I am hooked and obsessed.

You have been forewarned: this article will have a lot of spoilers not just for the first season of Alias but also the other shows that were also created by J.J. Abrams like Lost or Fringe (this is because I found a lot of connections/similarities between Alias and his other shows).

It all started a few days ago when I watched the TED talk of J.J. Abrams (also posted below). I realized that I needed to re-watch Alias for sure because during the time that it was showing about a decade ago, I was very different and didn't have as much passion when it comes to stories, literature, fiction, and TV in general. It's just very different, the way I watch TV nowadays as compared to before.

Plus, it was only shown once a week before, and missing out on one episode would be a big factor to the holistic absorption of the story. Also, I never really got to finish season 1 or continue to the further seasons. All in all, I'm glad I decided to look up this show cause now I'm really more than satisfied with watching it. I just hope that, as my experience with most of the TV series created by J.J. Abrams, it doesn't end up getting bad as the story progresses (something that I am reluctant to admit happened to both Lost and Fringe).

One thing I realized is that Alias is probably J.J. Abrams' strongest, most authentic, unpretentious and honest work even when compared to both Lost and Fringe combined and this is something I hope I am able to show as I continue writing this. I must emphasize once again though, especially for those who have not seen this show or any of the others I have already mentioned: there will be possible spoilers.

JJ Abrams talks about "the mystery box" on TED

Elements of Science Fiction

I've always loved spy movies. There are also several other things I love though like history and sci-fi that are also mixed in the cloak and dagger plot of Alias.

We've all been accustomed to sci-fi being stories about aliens or robots or space travel but really there's really more to it than that. I always try to emphasize that even movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could be considered sci-fi, perhaps soft sci-fi, because of its play with technology relating to memory erasure. It really becomes so different when the story focuses on characters rather than the plot. My best example would be comparing The Island to Never Let Me Go, both having similar plots but different approaches in executing the story.

And so IMDb considers Alias to be in the genre of action/crime/drama which I think does make sense at first glance. A closer and deeper look at the story shows something very different though. Aside from the Indiana Jones type of scavenger hunt the characters and groups in the show portray, looking for artifacts and documents made by renaissance man Milo Rambaldi (a sort of Leonardo Da Vinci mixed with Nostradamus).

As the story progresses though, it shows the sci-fi-ness of the story more and more. Although it does borderline on being fantasy sometimes, it's still pretty much closer to science fiction especially with how it deals with history, archeology, and fictional technology. This is also why I'm really curious as to how the story will progress because usually J.J. Abrams or his writers aren't that good when it comes to followthrough when it comes to latter seasons.

Fringe Science?

I love how Michael Vaughn (Sydney's CIA handler) talks about DSR in episode 16. DSR or Department of Special Research, he says, was created after world war 2 to research on "fringe sciences. I was really so mind-blown when I heard this. It really shows how J.J. Abrams had always been frustrated with creating a show like Fringe even a decade ago.

And the similarities and overlaps with the concepts and stories with his other shows like Lost or Fringe, and I would have to say even most movies he has made like Cloverfield and Super 8, are so many that I can't even really remember all of them. I should take notes for the next season (which hopefully won't be disappointing). It's a good thing I was able to update my Twitter as I finished the first season of Alias today.

There's an Alias Videogame!

Alias TV Show Pictures

Quentin Tarantino makes a cameo appearance in episode 12. This really entertained me.
Quentin Tarantino makes a cameo appearance in episode 12. This really entertained me.
Just a few seconds later, he takes off the jumpsuit he is wearing and is now wearing a suit. How very Reservoir Dogs of him.
Just a few seconds later, he takes off the jumpsuit he is wearing and is now wearing a suit. How very Reservoir Dogs of him.
Terry O'Quinn, the same guy who plays John Locke in Lost appears in episode 17 "Q&A" and interrogates our protagonist.
Terry O'Quinn, the same guy who plays John Locke in Lost appears in episode 17 "Q&A" and interrogates our protagonist.
In one of her missions, Sydney and her partner Dixon finds a hatch (very similar to the hatch found in Lost), where Milo Rambaldi's journal of some sort is hidden.
In one of her missions, Sydney and her partner Dixon finds a hatch (very similar to the hatch found in Lost), where Milo Rambaldi's journal of some sort is hidden.

All a reflection of "mystery box" and the universe in the imagination of J.J. Abrams

I guess if you watch his TED talk above you will be able to see what I mean when I say that this is his most honest work yet (and strongest, in my opinion). He really focused on the "mystery box" concept and it's really portrayed in all the playfulness and imaginativeness of the plot and shows how Lost and Fringe are just offsprings of Alias. If anyone would ask me, I'd say Alias would be his magnum opus. Seriously, this show is so ahead of its time. To think that it's been a decade since the pilot aired, it's really amazing that I can still watch it now and the story, plot, and characters can still stand against most new TV shows being created nowadays.

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