TV Watch: ‘Alias’ lacks good plots; ‘7th Heaven’ is hellish

Robert Taylor

‘Alias:’ Where’s the overarching plot?

9 p.m., Wednesdays on ABC

I feel like such a bastard. For three years I’ve been pushing “Alias” on all my friends, insisting the cult series was an amazing show that would be a big hit if only more people would try it. But now that it has, at long last, attained “hit” status, I find myself unable to recommend it.

After the Crackerjack season premier that used the show’s mythology and premise to remind longtime fans why they fell in love with “Alias,” the series has abandoned many of its driving forces for the past three years and in the process lost much of what made it special.

Instead of overarching plotlines spilling in-between episodes in the form of astonishing cliffhangers, fans are now dished out stand-alone episodes week after week (blame it on the invasion of the writers from “Angel,” who turned the show’s final season into stand-alone after stand-alone). There are some fun ideas in these single stories (the potion that freeze-dries humans and Sydney (Jennifer Garner) being bitten and going mad), but these could easily be integrated into more than one episode and have even more impact on viewers.

Gone are the Rambaldi artifacts and any trace of a big bad villain like SD-6 or The Covenant. And when was the last time a character said something remotely memorable?

And then there is Vaughan. Has there ever been a more mopey and chronically unshaven character in the history of television? In seasons 1-3 he had reasons to brood: worrying about Sydney’s safety in SD-6 and learning his wife was a double agent.

Now that he has a relationship with the woman he has lusted after for years, he’s one of the good guys again and seems to have gotten over shooting his evil wife.

Get the mythology back, give the characters a purpose and drive again and give us plots that aren’t predictable, and you can breathe new life into the series. Until then, just give Michael Vartan a razor, and I’ll be happy.

‘7th Heaven:’ Series implosion alert

8 p.m., Mondays on the WB

I am taking a break from my “24” coverage this week (you’ll remember my lengthy review two weeks ago, nothing has changed since then) to put a spotlight on, for my money, the worst series on television.

I’m not an avid “7th Heaven” viewer, but I don’t mind watching it if nothing else is on. It used to be witty and full of intriguing characters but has lately become so grating I cannot imagine why anyone would want to go through the torture of viewing an entire episode.

I watched the episode where Lucy (Beverly Mitchell) had her baby in an elevator (“Nanny” ripoff alert!) in some sort of department store that has only baby products and a food court where teenage boys hang out.

And it was on the day when Simon just happened to be in said department store exactly when Lucy was having her baby. And then there was the dialogue. The characters look like they are enduring Chinese water torture while speaking their lines, and not one of them could act even if the dialogue was written by Shakespeare.

Did I mention the show is still rated TV-G? Even though Simon (David Gallagher) was addicted to sex earlier this season (I kid you not) and Kevin (George Stults) wanders around every episode or so in underwear that would make even “One Tree Hill” shudder.

There is only one way to end the pain and that is to stop watching. This is the reason there are no quality family series on in prime time anymore. Families expect every other new family series to be as bad as “7th Heaven” and therefore don’t give them a shot, which is a shame because there should be at least one quality show you can watch with your kids on the major networks every week.

Contact pop arts reporter Robert Taylor at [email protected].