Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Alias (TV series)
Alias is an American SpyFi television series, created by J. J. Abrams. It first aired on September 30, 2001 and stars Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a CIA agent. The series is currently in its fourth season.
Sydney Bristow is a college student who is approached with a job offer by someone claiming to work for SD-6, a black ops division of the Central Intelligence Agency; she accepts the offer and quickly becomes a field agent. When she tells her fiancÚ Danny that she is a spy, however, he is murdered by SD-6.
It is then that Sydney is told by her father Jack Bristow (another SD-6 agent) that SD-6 is not part of the CIA; instead, it is part of the Alliance of Twelve, an organization that is an enemy to the United States. Sydney decides to offer her services to the real CIA as a double agent. Her offer is soon accepted, and she begins the long and arduous task of destroying SD-6 from the inside. She soon learns that her father is also a double agent for the CIA.
A major subplot of the series is the search for and the recovery of artifacts created by Milo Rambaldi, a fictional Leonardo da Vinci-like inventor and Nostradamus-like prophet from the Renaissance period. Rambaldi's works include electronics and other devices that would not be invented by others for centuries. He also predicted that a woman who looks like Sydney will cause "utter devastation" to the world. This subplot pushes Alias into the genre of science fiction.
Midway through the second season, the series underwent a "reboot" of sorts with Sydney successfully destroying SD-6 (after gathering valuable intelligence for tactical strikes from an airborne SD-6 server) and becoming a regular agent for the CIA, still in pursuit of former SD-6 leader Arvin Sloane, his associate Julian Sark, and the Rambaldi artifacts.
The third season takes place two years after the events of season 2, with Sydney having been missing and presumed dead all this time. In fact, she had spent the time on a deep undercover mission for another branch of the CIA, posing as an assassin named Julia Thorne, following which Sydney voluntarily had her memories of the mission erased, both to protect herself and to try and forget some of the deeds she was forced to undertake as Julia. The third season saw Sydney investigating her missing two years while reintegrating into the CIA and dealing with the facts that Arvin Sloane had become a world-renowned humanitarian after being pardoned, a well-resourced terrorist organization called The Covenant (with Julian Sark and Lauren Reed in charge of its North American operations) has arisen, and that her lover Michael Vaughn had married Lauren (unknowing her true allegiances at the time). The NSC also plays a role, a radical governmental organization that holds massive unaccountable power, most notably a detention facility well outside the law and considerable influence over the CIA, and holds questionable motives.
Another "reboot" of the series occurred at the start of season 4, when Sydney joins a black ops division of the CIA that is actually part of the CIA, patterned after SD-6 and run by her once nemesis, Arvin Sloane. The cliffhanger from Season Three, in which Sydney uncovers a shocking, classified document called "S.A.B. 47 Project" (with an initiation date of 04/17/75, her birthday), perhaps explaining her brilliance as a prodigy during a child, was explained away (unsatisfactorily, to some) as a CIA document authorizing Jack Bristow's execution of Sydney's mother, who had mysteriously placed a contract on Sydney's life.
Ironically, the new division is dubbed "APO": Authorized Personnel Only. It is named after a sign on the secret entrance to APO headquarters, at an unnamed subway station in Los Angeles (that is actually in real life the Union Street station), which advertises "Authorized Personnel Only". Members of APO (all hand-picked by Sloane) include almost all of the recurring characters from previous seasons, including Jack Bristow, Michael Vaughn, Sydney's former partner (and third season CIA director), Marcus Dixon, the computer and technical genius, Marshall Flinkman, and Vaughn's best friend Eric Weiss (brought in after having to be rescued by Sydney and Vaughn, who he previously believed to have left the CIA). Sloane's daughter and Sydney's half-sister Nadia Santos also eventually returns to join APO.
The fourth season saw the series moving to a traditional standalone episode format for the first half of the season - designed to provide a hook for viewers in its new Wednesday night timeslot, where it follows ratings smash hit Lost, which was also created by J.J. Abrams. The show has watched its ratings rocket up thanks to its new lead in, its first episode scoring 16 million viewers and subsequent episodes averaging around 14 million viewers, up from last season's average of around 8 million viewers. A contributing factor in the rise in viewers is considered to be the move away from the complicated arc-based plots of previous seasons, although Abrams has been quoted as saying the Rambaldi storyline will re-emerge later in the season.
The first season of Alias begins in 2001, the same year the series first aired. Reference to Homeland Security in an early episode suggests the series begins not long before, or not long after September 11. In season 1, each episode covers roughly the events of one week in Sydney's life, thus each episode is said to take place a week apart, although it is unknown if this is still the case.
The season 2 finale, which sees Sydney lost two years of her life, would suggest that the series now takes place two years ahead of "real world" time (i.e. Season 4 takes place in 2007, not 2005 when it was broadcast). However as of the first few episodes of season 4, the writers have avoided mentioning any current calendar dates in any episode.
- J. J. Abrams - Executive Producer
- John Eisendrath - Executive Producer
- Ken Olin - Executive Producer
- Michael Giacchino - Composer
- Alias episodes (Season 1)
- Alias episodes (Season 2)
- Alias episodes (Season 3)
- Alias episodes (Season 4)
The series was moved from Sunday to Wednesday night for the fourth season. ABC pledged to air the season without any rerun periods — as opposed to previous seasons when new episodes would be interrupted for weeks at a time — although occasional preemptions still occurred.
Production locations are primarily in Los Angeles, California and the series is produced by Touchstone Television and Bad Robot Production. Despite its worldwide locales, only one episode has ever been filmed outside the Los Angeles region (and that one was shot in Las Vegas).
- Australia - Seven Network
- Austria - ATV+
- Belgium - VijfTv
- Canada - CTV
- France - TÚva and M6
- Germany - ProSieben
- India - AXN
- Latin America - Sony Entertainment Television
- Portugal - SIC and AXN
- United States - ABC
- United Kingdom - Channel 5, Sky One, Bravo Channel 4
Note: United Kingdom's most recent seasons are showing on Bravo.
The Alias production team has participated in at least two spoofs based upon the series and featuring cast members.
- The first was produced in 2002 for a segment of ABC's Monday Night Football in which Sydney (played as always by Jennifer Garner) is ordered by Sloane (Ron Rifkin) to infiltrate the locker room of a NFL team in order to steal the coach's playbook. Syd disguises herself as a cheerleader and distracts a group of football fans with a jug of beer before stealing the book. Upon returning to SD-6 headquarters, she is horrified to find Sloane wearing a pig mask (the mascot of one of the NFL teams playing that night) and oinking. This skit was advertised as being included in the season 2 DVD box set, but it was dropped from the set at the last minute without explanation.
- Another faux Alias "episode" was produced for a 2003 TV special celebrating the 50th anniversary of ABC. Featuring most of the regular cast of the series, the skit began with Jack Bristow preparing Sydney and Vaughn for a mission, and informing them that they will have a new partner - Det. Columbo (Peter Falk). Columbo proceeds to wreak havoc at CIA headquarters, accidentally shooting Vaughn with an anesthetic dart and volunteering to wear a skimpy bikini intended for Sydney to wear during the mission. Columbo reveals that his mission is not to aid the CIA but rather to help Walt Disney Company/ABC head Michael Eisner better understand the show. His work completed, Columbo departs, leaving Jack to utter a confused, "My god, that was strange."
Alias: The Video Game
The video game Alias, based on the series, is a 3D third-person stealth/action title developed and released by Acclaim Entertainment for the PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The plot was written by the creators of the show and the game features the voices of the cast principals.
Prior to the Acclaim release, ABC Television produced an online videogame entitled which was available through ABC's website, and sponsored by a major automobile manufacturer and the Nokia cell phone company. Each level of the game, which was a 3D third-person stealth/action game like the Acclaim production, was produced as individual episodes and released on a weekly basis during the second season of the series. Some levels resembled episodes from the TV series, and some were unique creations. For a time, players were eligible to enter a contest based upon their score in the game.
A number of original novels based upon the series have been published, primarily for a teenage reading audience. Due to the intricate and story arc-based nature of the series, most novels published to date have been prequels to the series, some focusing on Sydney in her early missions for SD-6, and others focusing on Vaughn's missions before meeting her. Their canon status with regards to the televised series has yet to be determined. Although aimed at young readers, the books tackle serious subject matter, such as one volume which details the first time Sydney kills someone.
- Recruited - Lynn Mason (2002)
- A Secret Life - Laura Peyton Roberts (2003)
- Disappeared - Lynn Mason (2003)
- Sister Spy - Laura Peyton Roberts (2003)
- The Pursuit - Elizabeth Skurnick (2003)
- Close Quarters - Emma Harrison (2003)
- Father Figure - Laura Peyton Roberts (2003)
- Free Fall - Christa Roberts (2004)
- Infiltration - Breen Frazier (2004)
- Vanishing Act - Sean Gerace (2004)
- Skin Deep - Cathy Hapka (2004)
- Shadowed - Elizabeth Skurnick (2004)
The first three seasons of Alias have been released on DVD. The fourth season is expected sometime in September 2005 after its initial airing on television in January of 2005.
Season 1 Features
Released September 2, 2003
- Audio commentaries on select episodes
- Deleted Scenes
- Pilot production diary
- Featurette: A Mission Around The World
- Marshall Finkman's Gadget Gallery
- Season Two Preview
- PS2 game sneak peek
- Season Three Preview
Season 2 Features
Released December 2, 2003
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Audio Commentary with cast & crew
- The Making of The Telling - An In-Depth Look at the Season Finale
- The Making of the Video Game
- Featurette: Undercover: The Look of Alias - A Look at Costume Design, Makeup, and Disguises
(A skit filmed for Monday Night Football was advertised as being in the set, but was removed from the DVD set before release.)
Season 3 Features
Released September 7, 2004
- Animated Alias: Tribunal - a brief animated feature detailing a mission that Sydney undertook during her "missing" two years.
- Deleted scenes
- Blooper reel
- Featurette: Burbank in Barcelona - a look at the production design
- Gadget Lab - Marshall Finkman's gadgets from script to screen
- The Alias Diaries - meet the unsung craftsmen and technicians
- Team Alias - a special introduction filmed for Monday Night Football and Michael Vartan meets the Stanley Cup.
- Ultimate fan audio commentary
- Script scanner
- Cast & Crew Commentaries
- Widescreen anamorphic video format.
- US distributor ABC Alias Website
- Canadian distributor CTV Alias Website
- Alias fan community All Alias
- Alias on Television Without Pity televisionwithoutpity.com
- Alias Media Site Alias Media
- Alias French Website Alias CommunautÚ
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