Alias: Season 4
Virginia Heffernan is apparently not Jennifer Garner’s biggest fan:
What you think of “Alias” depends a lot on what you think of Jennifer Garner. If the actress’s great beauty suggests to you infinite variety, then the show’s claim to profundity, which it makes with ponderous attention to Ms. Garner’s face, will ring true. But if Ms. Garner’s winning modes – smiling and dimply, or precociously solemn, jaw set like an Eagle Scout – seem merely like two tricks she’s being forced to repeat in place of acting, then the series is a bore.
In the second view, “Alias,” whose fourth season has its two-hour premiere on ABC tonight, is nothing more than a pretentious comic strip: static, allegorical, a pleasure only to addicts, but also headache-inducingly difficult to criticize in these times when American comics have become, through male nostalgia and the canonization of the graphic novel, sacrosanct.
Let’s be honest. Many of us don’t like comic books and have feigned interest in their jumpy bif-bam fighting scenes and the way they redeem loser guys, only to impress and minister to those loser guys. And now we can admit that while the redemption dynamic – little X-Men boys finding in their eccentricity and loneliness a superpower – is touching, there’s nothing duller than listening to someone explain, in all seriousness, the Syndicate and the Shadow Force and the Hard Drive and the Plutonium Lance. And the characters: lame. One is good and the other is evil, and then one is evil pretending to be good, and then one is good pretending to be evil.
I watched a few episodes of Alias in its first season and thought it was a pretty good show, but not enough so as to commit to watching it every week, as is required of serial programming. Of course, I like comic books, too.