The book "Alias: Declassified" is about the first season of the television show Alias. The author is Mark Cotta Vaz. He toured the production offices. He talked to just about everyone on the cast and crew. . This book is good for basic information about the television show Alias. The book starts with short bios of the actors and the characters they play
J. J. Abrams created the show. He loved James Bond movies in grade school. He was working on the show Felicity when he had an idea, "Wouldn't be cool if Felicity were recruited by the CIA, because she could go on incredible missions and have kick-ass fights and stunts." He was only joking, but he wrote that idea down to work on later. Felicity was about a young woman dealing with adult life. This show is about a young woman dealing with her dysfunctional family. Sydney Bristow just happens to be a spy.
A typical episode of a drama series is set into four acts. There will be a short teaser then go right to commercial. Abrams had realized that the audience would be bigger if the show had a cliffhanger in every episode. Most of the episodes of Alias open with Sidney in distress and then go on for about ten minuets before the first commercial.
Alias has no bible. A bible is the show's guide that writers and producers accept as the "god's honest" truth to the reality of that show. J. J. Abrams likes to be able to change things until the last minute.
The show is different that other spy shows because of Sydney's personal life. She has a roommate and a friend. Her coworkers all have crushes on her. When Sydney has a mission for SD-6 she also has a mission for the CIA. The audience roots for her to succeed. They forget that the SD-6 missions are for the bad guys.
One major plot point is the Rambaldi manuscript. Rambaldi was invented for the show. He was a de Vinci-like inventer that made many prediction about the end of the world. The pictures of It is still unknown how big a part of the show this will be. It could turn Alias into a show like X-files if they let.
Michael Bonvillain is the director of photography. He tells of some of the camera tricks used for the show. "Sydney's Personal life was designed to have a warmer look, and those shots use longer lenses and the camera movement isn't as frenetic." There is a lot of camera motion in the SD-6 scenes. The add smoke to the main agents' space to lower the contrast and make the set look bigger.
The show has to stay on focus. At the start of the season, Sydney's roommate was about to be married. The writers realized that the show would that be about the couple. If the two were married and left the show then Sydney would be without a personal life. The couple broke up. The audience had given negative feed back on the character of Will. They did not like that he was going against Sydney's wishes by looking into the death of her boyfriend. He was looking for the spies. The main comment was "Just kill him and get it over with." The path Will was changed because of that.
One thing that I thought was interesting was the rewrite. An episode had been completely written and then cast. When Quentin Tarantino was cast in a part the writers went back and rewrote the character for him. They wanted to fit the part to his personality.
I could not believe that they would let Jennifer Garner do the stunts she does. They have her driving into a river, jumping off a three story high platform and walking a tight rope in between two buildings. I want to know what they are going to do when she breaks her arm.
The book has a section on what is called Prop and Drape. It discusses the props used on the show. The writes have an ongoing joke with putting "small black device" in the script. It means any gadget made by Marshall to use in the mission. I thought they would have names for all this stuff before hand.
The fixed sets for show are in one sound stage on the Walt Disney Studios' lot. The book has many color photographs of the set. The same room used as the SD-6 office can quickly be changed to the CIA office. Michael Vaughn's office can be redecorated to be the office of Will Tippin's editor.
The crew has only left California once. That was to go to Las Vegas, Nevada. It was cheaper to use a real casino than make a fake one. All of the foreign countries were really in the Burbank area. A chroma-key is used as a backdrop to add any landmarks that might be missing.
In the book there are summaries of all the first season episodes. This section is good for anyone that might have missed an episode. The pictures of the storyboards let the reader know that the director plans his shots out extensively before they get out there.
The book jumps around. Instead of having one chapter on writing and then moving onto the acting Vaz has different sections for different aspects in each of subject through out the book. I would recommend this book to people that like the show Alias. The book is not laid out in any real order so taking notes from it will be difficult. You should not add it to the reading list.