"Alias" Goes On Its Final Mission
Posted: Thursday November 24th, 2005 10:12pm
Author: Garth Franklin
"Alias" will end its five-season run in May 2006, it was announced today by Stephen McPherson, president, ABC Entertainment. The spy drama from "Lost" producer J.J. Abrams has over the course of its run garnered seven Emmy Awards including best actress for Jennifer Garner as CIA agent Sydney Bristow in the show's spectacular first season.
In a press release Alias executive producer Jeff Pinkner says "Five years ago J.J. Abrams designed 'Alias' to encompass a unique and challenging blend of spy-adventure, family drama and love story that contained deeper mythological elements," he continued. "The arc we have planned for the remainder of the season will honor all of these disparate elements, as we wrap up the story of Sydney Bristow in a surprising and, we think, thrilling way".
Mr. McPherson added in the brief that "Right out of the box, 'Alias' attracted a cult following of fans that were completely invested in the show. J.J. Abrams and his team developed characters that were compelling and storylines that were intricate and engaging, and Jennifer and the rest of the cast brought them to life. We owe both the storytellers and the fans a send-off worthy of a show that has been such a big part of the pop culture vernacular. J.J., Jeff Pinkner, Ken Olin, Jesse Alexander and Jeffrey Bell have an amazing story arc planned for the remainder of the season. 'Alias is not going to wind down as it comes to an end, it's going to rev up, and we're going to make it the event it deserves to be".
The series, which is filmed in Los Angeles and premiered on September 30th 2001, has been a critical and fan favourite (not to mention one of this editor's favourite shows) even if ratings have only been solid rather than hit worthy. The first two seasons of the show in particular have been repeatedly singled out by reviewers as great television and its success helped pave the way for the recent wave of fast paced, slick, continuity heavy drama that has become a TV staple in the last year or two.
Despite the acclaim, loyal audience and strong DVD sales, new viewers were rarely pulled into the show due to its heavy reliance on viewers having watched all the episodes that had come before it in order to keep up with events that were unfolding. The third season took the mythology to such complicated extremes that the show drew criticism for its difficulty to follow, even from Abrams itself.
As a result the fourth season underwent retooling into a simplified version of itself with more stand alone stories and a shift back to the old model that worked throughout the show's early days. Thanks to a post-Lost timeslot the series achieved its best ratings ever in the first few episodes with new audiences embracing it, but many long term fans were left upset about the changes which they felt undermined a lot of what had come before it.
This season the show suffered from dramatic cast changes, Garner's pregnancy issues, and more importantly a new timeslot on the more competitive Thursday nights. Thus whilst still holding its own, the drop off has been significant enough that the show has posted amongst its weakest ratings ever (scoring around 7 million viewers on average this year compared with 10-11 million last year). The series will air two episodes in a post-Lost timeslot in December before going on hiatus to allow Garner some maternity leave. The final thirteen episodes are looking likely to resume in an uninterrupted run starting in March.