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Feature: Alias

A New Start

It’s not a good year without disguises. Spoilt wife… dancer. Is there no end to Syd’s talents? …sexy young clubber…

He’s worked on The X-Files and Angel and now Jeffrey Bell has signed up as a producer on Alias. We asked if he felt the need to put weird, supernatural events into it

After waving a fond farewell to Angel, co-producer and writer Jeffrey Bell traded in his fangs for the hi-tech gadgetry of the spy saga Alias. Thanks to its change in time slots and lead-in Lost, Alias has been experiencing a ratings hike, a relief after creator JJ Abrams publicly proclaimed that Season Three fell short of his expectations. “I can’t really comment on what JJ said, but when I was brought in, without really pointing at anyone, there was a concern the show had become mired in its mythology,” says Bell. “One of the things they were interested in doing was opening up the show to a wider audience while not taking away any of the emotion which is its greatest asset. As much as it masquerades as a spy show, it is really a family drama.”

Perhaps that should be a dysfunctional family. Spy sweetheart Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) has always had a far from normal relationship with her father Jack (Victor Garber) but things hit rock bottom recently when it was revealed he had her mother Irina Derevko, a Soviet spy, killed. To top it off, Jack is now keeping secrets from his daughter and the ramifications promise to end in a meltdown of Three Mile Island proportions. “There are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” agrees Bell. “Has Sloane [Ron Rifkin] really changed? Sloane and Jack seem to have some kind of agreement going on. They seem to be looking for Katya Derevko, and what does she want? There are still a lot of Rambaldi questions in terms of Sloane and the Derevko sisters.”

At the same time, Sloane, the man who had Sydney’s fiancé murdered, has apparently switched sides to the good guys and is heading up a covert CIA team, a position that will continue to be a sore spot for everyone. “Oh God, yeah! It has to still be because he’s Sloane!” exclaims Bell. “He’s Sloane and he’s killed more than a couple of people, so on one level our people are just stupid to ever trust him so they never completely do. And there’s tension because whether or not he’s changed is irrelevant.”

As volatile as Sydney’s association with Sloane is, Bells admits handling Ms Bristow and Vaughn’s (Michael Vartan) romance can be equally tricky, especially after his marriage to double agent Lauren. “One of the things we try to do, like in the first episode I wrote and directed, was to put to bed any questions about Lauren and what happened last year, what Vaughn felt about that, and give Sydney and Vaughn a clear path,” he explains. “The question continues to be… well, shows like these are always better when fans want a couple to be together than when they are together, so how do we balance that?”

by Bryan Cairns

Get the full interview in
Cult Times #116

Photo © ABC Inc.
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #116, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #116
May 2005
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