Credit Dauphine

Or, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Television Again.”

I finally got around to watching the last disc of season 1 of “Alias” last night. Man, they weren’t kidding about the “big cliffhanger” thing. Murders, everybody finding out all about everybody else, simultaneous torture scenes, the return of some old favorites from the pilot, and a valuable life lesson: don’t disable a giant ball of mysteriously suspended water unless you’re sure where all the water is going to go. Give the people what they want, JJ!

Best part for me: I’d expected there to be four episodes on the disc and was surprised to see it end suddenly, so I watched the extras and blooper real. From this, I learned two things:

1. I’m in love with Jennifer Garner. Watch your back, Ben.

2. The makers of the show “get it.” I mean, obviously if you’ve got a show with as many double-agents and ancient manuscripts and, you know, the zed-word, they’re not taking it too seriously. But still, I’d been treating the show as a guilty pleasure, trying to maintain a level of distant smugness that I was appreciating it on a level of pure escapism that the makers of the show didn’t intend. Entertain me, plebians!

But in the making-of-the-pilot documentary, Abrams mentions how fortunate they were to get a cast and crew who understood the tone of it. Because it’s always right on the verge of parody, and would descend into just pure nonsense unless everyone treated it as if it were 100% serious.

That actually struck me as somewhat profound. It’s not camp, it’s not “Touched by an Angel” earnest, it’s not an attempt to be gritty and realistic. And it’s not that nebulous three-layers-of-irony detachment of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” where it’s not a silly teen soap opera because it’s smarter than that but don’t get us wrong we don’t take ourselves too seriously and aren’t afraid to make fun of ourselves but then again it’s a metaphor for life and we do Meaningful Important episodes as well. The “Alias” guys are just trying to make an entertaining roller-coaster of a show without taking it too seriously and without being too self-referential. And they do a damn good job of it, too.

Plus, Jennifer Garner is at least 18 times more appealing than Sarah Michelle Gellar. I’m going to go back and recant all my Hilary Swank comments.

I just don’t understand how y’all managed to wait a year between the cliffhanger and the next season. I didn’t even last 12 hours; I couldn’t wait for Netflix, so I went by the video store to get the first disc of Season 2. Your mom was a spy!

By the way, when I was up on Haight street to get the video just now, I saw Fred Schneider of the B-52’s and a small, easily excitable entourage. I thought it might’ve just been somebody who looks like him, but then I heard him talk. Odd. I wonder what he was doing up there, and I hope that someone hooked him up with some kind bud.

2 thoughts on “Credit Dauphine”

  1. Yeah, my mom and brother are big fans of the show, so I’ve already heard enough about what happens to spoil it for me. I’m still looking forward to it, because it’s always neat to see writers paint themselves into a corner and then magically find a way out.

    One other thing I didn’t mention: I usually hate those blooper reel things, because Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds ruined it for everybody. But the one on “Alias” was entertaining because on the show they have to take everything so seriously. It was nice to see them get the chance to just crack up.

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