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Alias and 24 Plots

Discussion in 'Alias' started by kiki81ny, Mar 27, 2003.

  1. kiki81ny

    kiki81ny Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    New York
    From JS Online- another article that talks about the similarities between Alias and 24.



    Fans of '24,' 'Alias' follow twists, turns week after week

    By JOANNE WEINTRAUB

    Journal Sentinel TV critic

    Jack Bauer and Sydney Bristow have dodged bombs, bullets, murderous strangers and treacherous friends, but that's nothing compared to what their respective series have survived.

    Fox's "24," which stars Kiefer Sutherland as counterterrorism expert Bauer, and ABC's "Alias," starring Jennifer Garner as CIA agent Bristow, were launched a year and a half ago in one of the most unusual fall seasons TV has ever seen.



    No one really knew at the time what the shock waves from Sept. 11 would do. But the conventional wisdom was that drama series, already losing ground to reality TV, would come to seem trivial or hollow in the face of real-life catastrophe.

    "Alias" and "24" in particular, with complex, demanding plots and violence inherent to the stories, seemed to have dubious futures.

    Yet after slow starts and rumors of early cancellation, each series picked up enough viewers to be renewed for the following fall, making dozens of fan Web sites fairly vibrate with delight.

    Last month, with war growing closer and prime-time programming once again heading for an upset of unpredictable length and intensity, "Alias" and "24," which enjoy respectable but far from stellar ratings, were picked up for a third season. Sydney and Jack each have associates who've double-crossed them, but their network friends have been true-blue.

    Changing formats

    The ABC and Fox series represent a trend that is reshaping prime-time drama: the lengthening of plot lines over multiple episodes.

    "24," which covers one hour of an eventful day in each episode, spins a single story line out over an entire season. The even more complex "Alias" has been playing out a continuous plot since Week 1.

    These long story arcs make it somewhat intimidating for newcomers to sample a series and become fans, which may be one reason that more conventional dramas like "CSI," "ER," "NYPD Blue" and "Law & Order" dominate the top spots in the Nielsen ratings.

    But the serial dramas' fusion of suspense and character development exerts a powerful hold on viewers.

    "It's a very compelling way to tell a story," says Ron Simon, curator of television for New York's Museum of Television and Radio. "You might not have the larger numbers, but you do get a passionate group of fans."

    There's nothing new about serials, which have been part of the storyteller's art from Homer's "Odyssey" to early film's "The Perils of Pauline" and radio's "Stella Dallas."

    A few radio serials even made the leap to television, where they established a genre that came to dominate daytime, the soap opera.

    So firmly did the long story arc become linked to hot, sudsy domestic strife that the handful of prime-time serials that became popular in the '60s and '70s were quickly dubbed nighttime soaps.

    But, as Simon notes, "Peyton Place," "Dallas" and "Dynasty" were guilty pleasures. It took "Masterpiece Theatre" and "Hill Street Blues" to make the TV serial respectable.

    PBS approach

    The prestigious PBS anthology series, with early hits such as 1971's "Elizabeth R" and 1973's "Upstairs, Downstairs," gave serial dramas a sophisticated treatment and won an audience to match.

    "Hill Street Blues," which NBC launched in 1981, was even more influential. With some subplots resolving in an hour and others threading through weeks or even months, it brought a complexity to network drama that wasn't possible in shows where everything ended neatly at 9:55 p.m.

    Complexity demands concentration, and those with short attention spans will tune out. But those who keep tuning in are rewarded for their patience.

    "There's a richness to that kind of narrative that really hooks people," says Simon.

    In recent seasons, HBO's "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under" have ensnared viewers with cliffhanger plots and robust long-term character development. The characters of "NYPD Blue," "ER," "The West Wing" and a number of other network hits have their characters put out small fires from week to week, while long conflicts - professional, familial, romantic - smolder over the better part of a season.

    Disaster of the week

    With "Alias" and "24," on the other hand, the heat is usually on high. For the writers, no less than for agents Bristow and Bauer, it's out of the frying pan, into the fire. Ro

    bert Cochran, co-creator of "24," puts it a little differently.

    "We always feel," he says, "like we're up to our neck in alligators."

    Last season, in the course of 24 hours, Jack saved presidential candidate David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) from assassination while rescuing daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) - but not, tragically, wife Teri (Leslie Hope) - from the same fate.

    This season, it's another day, another catastrophe. This time, Bauer must stop Middle Eastern terrorists from blowing up Los Angeles.

    Cochran and fellow series creator Joel Surnow deliberately chose to skate close to the edge of reality this time. Even witha Middle Eastern war dominating real-world events, Cochran says they have no regrets.

    How do the writers keep the subplots from tangling?

    "Last season," says Cochran, "we had huge charts across a whole wall of a room saying what every (character) was doing from week to week. This year, for some reason, we've just found it easier to keep it in our heads."

    Over at "Alias," executive producer and writer John Eisendrath says the chart is still on the wall. For all the complexity and the occasional confusion, he says, he wouldn't trade the series' endless plots for anything.

    In one concession to simplicity, creator J.J. Abrams did make a crucial change this season: Sydney, formerly a double agent involved in an elaborate game to trick a master trickster, is now rid of the crisscross subplot, though not of a dozen other hazards.

    "People would tune in and be, like, 'Huh? I don't get it,' " Eisendrath says.

    Eisendrath says the writers have "some very broad, general ideas" about the focus of Season 3.

    Asked about the same topic, "24's" Cochran laughs.

    "I have absolutely no idea," he says. "We're still trying to make it through Season 2."
     
  2. onedizneefreek

    onedizneefreek Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    I have never seen 24 so I can't say that they are similar or not.
     
  3. GO Syd

    GO Syd Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2002
    i love 24 kind of similar but really not
     
  4. The Kate Vartan

    The Kate Vartan Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2002
    Location:
    California
    My friends keep telling me to watch 24, but the deal is they have to watch alias first...

    :angelic: Kate
     
  5. GO Syd

    GO Syd Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2002
    well i made that deal with someone but they didnt really keep there part :grrrrrrrrr:
     
  6. Lynne

    Lynne Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2002
    I watch both Alias and 24 but I admit I like Alias better. 24 is very suspenseful and has good plots to it as well. There are elements that are the same that make you think that the writers or Actors are talking to each other. (Jack characters but it seems to be a common chacter in shows including "American Dreams"!) Bomb plots and a few other elements too! ;)

    Yet I don't like how 24 is now going somewhat Anti-American theme with the issues on the WAR we are in the thick of it now and should support our troops and the story line is too similar to American issues to ignore the fact the writers are criticizing the American leaders choices of late! :( Yet it is still interesting enough with the story line to keep me watching it from week to week so far... :o I haven't been turned off like I have from "The Agency" which seems to have turned all violence and no plot since Season Two! (n)

    Alias writers are smarter than 24 writers in that they listen to their fans and incorporate it in their story lines you can see they respond to feedback from the audience! :rolleyes:

    Alias also has strong female figures that women can look up to where in 24 the women figures are ditzy and wishy-washy except for two women characters but they mainly are supportive characters to strong male figures. 24 writers are more macho than Alias -- Alias writers seem to be mature enough to support a female strong action figure role which besides Voyager -- (star trek type show) is still very rare! (y) :)

    24 keeps their audience because of the suspenseful plot and twists but if they can keep it going is the question -- we will see... but it also attracts viewers because of Kiefer Sutherland he does a great job as Jack Bauer... and you know that Jennifer Garner thinks he is hot! :LOL:

    Enjoy your weekend! :D

    Lynne
     
  7. Victoria King

    Victoria King Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    USA
    i have never seen 24 even though i have heard its really good!
     
  8. twinzz2003

    twinzz2003 Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2002
    MY two favorite shows linked together that's a first! OH! Alias is the best out of the two!
     
  9. Sophie

    Sophie in love

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Location:
    France
    i just saw the first two episodes of 24, so i can't say if i like this show or not !! it's stressing because it's long, i would like to know what will happen !
     
  10. syd_spy47

    syd_spy47 Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    I've just started watching 24 and it's really good! Not as good as Alias, but still good. It's really interesting and breathtaking to watch! His daughter (Jack B.'s) is a moron. Really she is but I like the president. He's really cool. Both very good shows!
     
  11. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    I watch both, and I must say that I had hoped that Keifer Sutherland would win the Emmy for best actor last season. I really did think that he was magnificent. My goodness, he had much more powerful material to work with than Sheen did! But, of course, I love Alias more. It has more depth in the sense of its family drama--so much love, betrayal, protectiveness, sacrifice! Plus it has the spice of mystic and genre-incongruous elements (Rambaldi) that I find absolutely impossible to resist. In that way it reminds me of an almost totally different series that I wish had lasted more than one season, the unique and pixilated Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

    24 is a pressure cooker that doesn't let up. Alias is more of a rollercoaster. I say, keep em coming! And let's have more of the same. I love the series where you can build characters and they actually grow and change.
    :D
     
  12. lenafan

    lenafan Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Location:
    So. California
    Second that, VH. BTW I tape three 24's, then watch them, zipping thru commercials. THree hours of the storyline on 24, is like one of Alias, a rollercoaster with commercials. Each show has a main character named Jack. I'm becoming fond of that name.
     

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