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TeeVee Awards '02: Best New Show

We've already written a great deal about Alias, this year's TeeVee Award winner for Best New Show. But a series this refreshing deserves some repetition. Besides, would you rather read about Jennifer Garner or the fact that Tim Curry is returning to network television in the fall? Thought so.

What Alias creator J.J. Abrams has managed to accomplish in the show's first season is nothing short of amazing. Just last summer we here at TeeVee HQ were chortling over an ABC press release praising the virtues of a series about a spy named Sydney who managed to save the world between term papers. That wasn't even the funniest part. This was an action series from the same man who gave us Felicity.

FELICITY: Oh Noel, I love you so much, but you're KGB and I'm CIA. Can we ever make this relationship work?

NOEL: Da, comrade, if we truly love each other. What happened to your hair?

But Abrams surprised us all. Sure, there's still heaps of navel gazing, but it's buffered by some of the most stylish action sequences prime time has seen in years. 24 got most of the critical ink this year, but Alias was every bit as adept at staging battle sequences and ratcheting up tension until fans with weak hearts had to either turn off the television or risk exploding ventricles. This is a show that redefined TV cliffhangers, ending nearly every episode in more outrageous fashion than the previous week. And the storyline? Absolutely ridiculous.

Yet somehow Abrams and his talented stable of writers managed to keep the whole thing from spinning out of control. Or maybe the whole point was to go spinning completely out of orbit, but to make it so entertaining nobody noticed. A 15th century Italian inventor creates a doomsday device, then draws a picture of Sydney in the instruction manual? Sure, why not? Sydney's long-deceased mom is actually the head of a global criminal conspiracy? Of course.

Even after a full season, we're still not sure why this show isn't a car wreck, yet something about the writing keeps this show out of the junkyard. Abrams has shaped a series that is absolutely pitch perfect, tiptoeing the razor-thin line between acceptable goofiness and complete disbelief as if its creator were born on a tightrope.

Of course, Abrams and his writers and directors can not take sole credit for the success of Alias. Jennifer Garner's portrayal of Sydney made her the hottest TV star of the year and for good reason. She is the rare actress who can pull off both the physical and emotional demands of her job; even after five seasons on the air, Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy still runs like a girl. Most amazingly to some of us, the slower interludes are not signals to go find more snacks, thanks to Garner's ability to be affecting without straying into choking sappiness.

Alias will never win an Emmy for Best Drama, this is a show that's just too much fun to win an irrelevant statue. So the cast and crew of Alias will just have to be content with their TeeVee Award for Best New Show and the knowledge that they've put together the best damned rollercoaster ride on television.

Additional contributions to this article by: Gregg Wrenn.


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