Spy television is good television. It has been successful over the years with shows like 24, The Americans, Chuck, Nikita, and Burn Notice. Viewers love the suspense, the intrigue and the danger as well as the disguises and action. One show in particular delivered an hour of pulse-pounding television when it began in 2001: Alias.
#JenniferGarner played Sydney Bristow, a naive college student who thought she'd been recruited by the CIA, only to discover she was working for a criminal organization called SD-6. In the pilot episode, Bristow becomes a double agent, vowing to take down the syndicate that was also responsible for the death of her fiancé.
#Alias was a critical success and managed solid ratings, but its convoluted plot, tinged with sci-fi elements, prevented new viewers from tuning in midseason. Though it provided plenty of daredevil stunts, fighting, and race-for-your-life moments, it was a show that catered to mostly die-hard viewers.
Countless missions, wigs, and costumes later, Garner ended her run on the Emmy-winning series in 2006, but the series finale was a wide open door for a potential reboot. Eleven years later, it could work very well in today's television landscape with three important, necessary changes and the return of some familiar characters.
1. Less Focus On Science Fiction
One of the biggest plot points of Alias was the search for Rambaldi artifacts which would provide SD-6 leader, Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin), with access to a device that promised immortality. It was one of the most difficult plots to follow. When Alias focused on episodes not relating to Sloane or Rambaldi or any other other "out there" premise, it really shone.
For instance, the Season 2 episode "Phase One", where SD-6 was finally crippled, is an emotionally charged episode and brings Sydney's life full circle. In a Season 4 episode, "Tuesday", Sydney ends up being buried alive, and the race to save her is edge-of-the-seat television as is the Season 3 episode "Crossings", where Bristow and her partner, Michael Vaughn, played by #MichaelVartan, are captured in North Korea and face imminent death. These episodes were action-packed, focusing on the CIA agents with life or death consequences in high-quality television.
2. More Focus On The Family
Sydney wasn't the only Bristow who was a spy. Her father, Jack Bristow (#VictorGarber), joined the CIA long before she did, and her mother was a KGB agent. Sydney also had a half-sister, Nadia, as a result of an affair her mother had with Sloane. Nadia was also a spy. In addition, Sydney married Michael Vaughn. Though Sydney's parents and her half-sister perished during the series run, the finale left opened the door for Sydney and Vaughn's daughter, Isabella, to become the next spy in the family. Since eleven years have passed, their daughter would be nineteen or twenty now, about the same age as Sydney when she was recruited.
Alias worked best when the family combined their abilities on missions. Though Sydney and Vaughn didn't marry until the end of the series, they were partners before, and between the two of them, they took down some of the best in the business, including a former SD-6 agent played by Quentin Tarantino. When Sydney worked with her father, in spite of the ups and downs of their relationship, the results were pure magic. Having Sydney partnering with a family member brought a real connection to the storylines. In essence, a rebooted Alias could be the CIA version of #TheAmericans, which centers around a KGB spy family.
3. Less Focus On Tragedy And More On Missions
In the five years the series ran, Sydney Bristow endured too many tragedies to count, including the loss of Michael, learning she was working for a criminal organization, her half-sister's death, discovering her mother really was working for her own, selfish agenda, losing two years of her life after being kidnapped, discovering the man she loved (Vaughn) had married in her absence, and losing her father. These are only the bare essentials, and after awhile, viewers started wondering how much more one person could take and still stand upright.
But the missions were always on point, and that's what kept the viewers coming back. The Alias writers were some of the best in the business when it came to creating intrigue. The action scenes never disappointed, and Sydney Bristow was a woman who could handle herself in pretty much any situation. This wasn't a woman who needed to be saved. Her personal life might not have been on point, but she kicked ass in the field, and that's yet another reason why the series should be rebooted.
All in all, Alias could bring a lot back to television, especially if the original characters could return. Even a hard reboot with a focus on Sydney's daughter could possibly work as long as the original characters played some role in the series.
If only for a limited run, Alias would be welcomed back to network television as the series still maintains a dedicated fan base who have continued to watch the episodes available through online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. And it seems that a potential return isn't so far off the mark. At this year's ATX Television Festival, a group of Alias writers convened to talk about J.J. Abrams and the show. When asked if a reboot would ever be considered, Josh Applebaum, one of the writers said:
“We were talking about this before. It would be amazing to do it but the right idea would have to come.”
There's little doubt that a reboot of this incredible show would draw the viewers right back to their television screens. For five years, this series was must-watch TV, and it could be again.