Thursday, December 15, 2005

Alias goes on hiatus with a Bang!

I’m a TV watcher rather than a TV viewer.

In my own personal definition of these two terms, a viewer is someone who has the TV on while he or she does other things and gives it some attention. A watcher is someone who, when he or she has the TV on, is watching with more or less full attention. If I have the TV on I am almost always fully engaged in what I’m watching. Of course I’m not the only person in my house so the TV is on at times that I don’t really care much about what’s on but if I put it on I want to really watch something. That’s why I love DVD’s – I’m not bound to someone else’s timetable, the picture quality is very good and there are no commercials.

There are only two shows I watch without fail whenever new episodes are aired. In fact, even if I’m sitting in the room watching it I run a tape just in case the phone rings or somebody needs me for something or in case I want to watch it again. I also sometimes need to bail out friends who aren’t as careful about making sure they have their VCRs programmed. Those won’t-miss shows for me are Alias and The West Wing. (Full disclosure: there are a few other shows I watch on DVD that I don’t watch when they’re broadcast like The Simpsons and Arrested Development.)

Last night Alias had its last show before the show goes on hiatus for a few months so that Jennifer Garner could give birth. When the show returns in March (or whenever) they’ll crank out the last few episodes of the series. As I’ve mentioned here before, it’s been cancelled and this season is the end.

Not only have I watched every episode of Alias as it has been broadcast (either live or on tape soon after – OK, occasionally I’ve done both.) I have also been watching the DVDs pretty faithfully and I’m now a bit over halfway through the season four set right now. Even when the show has been less than stellar I have found that it plays even better on DVD. I got excited last season about halfway through because I felt that they started to get back to the original form of what made it great. Many reviewers have felt that it seemed a little lackluster this year with the new characters not really taking off. I actually have really enjoyed the new characters, especially good spy Rachel Gibson and bad spy Kelly Peyton.

Last night’s episode was touted as the return of Michael Vaughn and, indeed it was. He returned in a dream sequence so he’s still dead but there were all kinds of hints that maybe he wasn’t. And the way they’re doing it is not in an I-feel-ripped-off kind of way but rather in a here’s-what-they’ve-been-planning-all-along kind of way. And the way his return was handled was a huge shout-out to the serious fans bringing back new versions of scenes from nearly all the previous seasons. This episode had me completely hooked and loving it and then Lena Olin showed up. (For the uninitiated, she plays Syd’s mom, Irina Derevko and is universally acclaimed to be really really good at this role. Fans go nuts whenever she shows up, which has been rare since season two.) Her appearance was, as far as I can tell, completely unspoiled. The fans – especially this one – didn’t see it coming or hear about it ahead of time. So we had a great episode with a wonderful surprise twist. Does it get better than that? I don’t think so. This was, pretty clearly, the best episode of the year and one of the best of the last couple of years.

Now I’m geeked about what J.J. Abrams has in mind for the series finale!

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