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ALIAS - Back to tv in 2 days... (Article, might have spoils)
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For "Alias" fans,it has been a long summer and fall with no newadventures with Sydney Bristow and her covert cohorts.But they're all coming back in a big way at 9 p.m.Wednesday in the spy-fi drama's two-hour fourth-seasonpremiere.
The season opener is a costume-changing extravaganzafor star Jennifer Garner, who finds herself runningthrough the streets of Shanghai dolled up as aschoolgirl punkette and donning an itty-bitty negligeeto distract a Russian scientist and thereby thwart thesale of some really dangerous nuclear materials tosome really dangerous terrorists, among othersituations. The stakes are always high on "Alias," and this year,they're particularly high for the show offscreen tooas it moves from Sunday to Wednesday.
For the firsttime since the series debuted in fall 2001, "Alias"will have the support of a highly compatible, hugelypopular show as its lead-in: "Lost," which also hailsfrom "Alias" creator/executive producer J.J. Abrams. The fact that "Alias" never popped big Nielsen numbersfor ABC in the Sunday 9 p.m. slot has always been ahead-scratcher.
The show about a young woman'simmersion in the undercover world of the CIA hasenjoyed a devoted cult following since Day 1, andGarner's star has shone ever brighter during the pastfew years. For its first two seasons, "Alias" was undoubtedlyhandicapped by its incongruous lead-in, thefamily-friendly "Wonderful World of Disney" movieshowcase slot.
Last season, ABC shifted to anall-series lineup Sunday, but the short-livedcops-on-the-beat drama "10-8" didn't do "Alias" anyfavors as its lead-in. Now that ABC has wisely decidedto make the Wednesday 8-10 p.m. block must-see TV forfans of Abrams' stylish-thriller milieu, the starsshould align for "Alias." Of course, "Alias" already emerged as a shiningexample of a new breed of primetime drama series whosesuccess has been measured less by its Nielsen numbersthan by all the ancillary business it has drummed upfor ABC and Touchstone Television.
Like Fox's "24,""Alias" has been among the first contemporary seriesto reap the rewards, promotional and otherwise, of DVDboxed set sales as well as video games, books,T-shirts and other strategically targeted "brandextensions." From a creative perspective, one of the strongestattributes of "Alias" has been how its writers havesmartly mined the realpolitik of the post-Cold War erato keep the audience guessing as to who the enemy is-- this week.
In the absence of rigid ideologicallines of demarcation, i.e. capitalists vs. communists,it's a much more nebulous world of bad guys whosealliances and allegiances can turn on a dime (asevidenced by a major plot development in the seasonopener involving the malevolent Arvin Sloanecharacter, played by Ron Rifkin). Moreover, "Alias" premiered 19 days after the Sept.11, 2001, attacks, but Sydney was battling homegrownterrorist cells from the start in story lines thatwere conceived long before the twin towers fell.
And at a time when the CIA is being turned inside out andupside down by post-Sept. 11 scrutiny of itsoperations, "Alias" fans can be forgiven for taking abit of refuge in the fictional heroics of anall-American girl operative who can kick major buttand almost always gets her man, or woman. As Sydney puts it in the season premiere when she'sdrafted into yet another super-top-secret "black ops"CIA unit, "I'm ready to serve my country in the bestway that I can."