. . . one thing I'd emphasize is that the straight 20-week run of "Alias" is the way to go. Instead, it looks like ABC will be premeiring "Alias" on Sept. 29, which also suggests that it will get the usual network treatment (i.e., six or seven first-run episodes to get through November sweeps, then one or two new episodes amid repeats until February sweeps, and then so on).
For a serialized show like "Alias," that kind of patchwork schedule doesn't work well at all. On the other hand, I suppose this means that the producers are moving even more toward standalone episodes.
Then again, it doesn't really matter. Considering that ABC moved "Alias" to a new time slot, where it gets to go up against CBS' "Survivor," the writing is on the wall.
At least Fox still has the good sense to keep "24" to the non-stop schedule. . . .
UPDATE (7/27): ALOTT5MA's Matt has some good thoughts in the comments, including speculation that "Alias" will do so badly in the ratings on Thursday nights that it will be moved quickly to Wednesdays. Maybe, but if this story is true, I don't think the inevitable ratings crash will be due solely to the timeslot. . . .:
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Jennifer Garner is expecting a baby, so her "Alias" character will be too, even though she's a globe-trotting spy. "We are going to embrace the fact that she's pregnant," ABC programming chief Stephen McPherson said, referring to the character, Sydney Bristow.
I mean, obviously I have nothing against babies, considering that I'm the proud daddy to one, but "Alias" hasn't shown the ability to offer the kind of serious plotlines that would make this work.
"The X-Files" faced this issue in the second season, when Gillian Anderson was pregnant. The solution of shooting from different angles, having her be abducted, and even filming a scene where it looked like aliens were doing something unspeakable to her belly was a stroke of genius, and it allowed them to bring Agent Scully back without making her a mom. (Ironically, much later on, when they did make Scully a mom even though Anderson wasn't pregnant, it just accelerated the decline of the show, as the interaction between Scully and her baby wasn't all that believable.)
Just to be clear -- I am not against shows with main characters having babies, so long as it can be integrated effectively into the show. ABC's "Lost" and USA's "The 4400" have both done so in ways that advance the story. I just don't see it happening on "Alias."
UPDATE 2 (7/27): More details about the upcoming season of "Alias," including the even more dubious step of adding a new young female agent-trainee (played by Rachel Nichols of "The Inside") to mentor under Sydney. On the plus side, Vaughn's ex-wife Lauren is confirmed dead, and Sydney's sister is being downgraded to a recurring role.