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'Alias' nostalgia react: Everything I thought I knew was wrong

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Truth Be Told” | Aired Sept 30, 2001

OK, it’s time for full disclosure: The nostalgia recap series you are about to read is not written by someone who is actually nostalgic for Alias. I would say that I’m nostalgic for the idea of Alias, but truth be told, I’ve never actually seen the show until now. If it helps, it’s been sitting in my Netflix queue for ages—like, long enough that it’s possible I’ve watched some of it by some sort of strange Netflix osmosis. If that’s not a thing (which is possible), then I’ve never seen Alias.

Now that we’ve gotten the awkward part out of the way, I thought I’d share with you what I thought Alias was about going into the show. SPOILER ALERT: The pilot shattered most of what I thought Alias was about. Keep in mind that I was in the eighth grade when this show premiered and … OK, enough with the excuses.

What I Got Right

  • Alias is, as I suspected, about a secret agent played by Jennifer Garner.
  • Victor Garber (known to me at the time of Alias’ initial run as “that guy from Titanic and the Disney version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella“) plays Jennifer Garner’s dad.
  • A red wig is prominently featured.

This concludes the list of things I had right about Alias going in. Everything else about the show (including basic, basic things about the setup and plot) falls into one of two categories: “What I Got Wrong” and “Ignorance!”

What I Got Wrong

  • The Hot Teacher from Never Been Kissed (or Michael Vartan, if you prefer his given name) is not Jennifer Garner’s boyfriend (YET?) or super spy partner (he’s her handler, and even that position is tenuous as best).
  • The red wig does not appear to be a permanent fixture of the series. I kind of thought it was. It was featured really prominently in advertising, I guess.
  • Jennifer Garner doesn’t work for the CIA in the traditional sense. She’s actually a double agent working undercover in an evil version of the CIA called SD-6. This also applies to her dad.


  • BRADLEY FRIGGIN’ COOPER IS IN THIS? We’re talking pre-Hangover Brad. Heck, we’re talking pre-Jack & Bobby Brad. And his hair is so early ’00s, my butterfly clips just crawled out of limbo in solidarity.
  • There’s a whole thing where Jennifer Garner’s fiancé dies because she told him about being a spy. It’s also how she learns that SD-6 is evil. It’s a pretty key bit of info. I assume this will get in the way of her love for Hot Teacher from Never Been Kissed and/or bleach blond Bradley Cooper.
  • Jen’s character, Sydney (I guess I should start using character names here), is posing as a college student as part of her cover. I think she’s supposed to be a grad student. If she’s not, then I have to call BS. It’s true that Jennifer Garner has a certain youthful aura about her, but she was pushing 30 when this series premiered, and passing for 18 she is not.

So there you have it: My Alias illusions are shattered and now I’m ready to rebuild as I embark on this journey. Did you watch Alias in its first run? Do you think it will hold up for a 2014 first-time viewer?

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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