Sequel protection service: Alias

There once was a show called Alias, and it was great. Created by J.J. Abrams, it starred Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a double-agent for the Central Intelligence Agency posing as an operative for SD-6, a worldwide criminal and espionage organization.

Then halfway through the second season, the series changes significantly. Some describe it as a reboot. I don't want to spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that you will know when this moment happens. It will feel like the story has come to a conclusion and a new story is beginning. 

Stop right there. Do not begin the new story. 

The new story is fine, but it is not special. It is frankly kind of ordinary. The show moves from an ingenious conceit to a standard plot that we have seen many times before.

I can't imagine why J.J. Abrams chose this path, but it was a mistake.

Here's the good news:

Alias ran for five seasons, piling up more than 100 episodes in the process. The first 35 episodes are outstanding and completely worth your time.

Go watch them. 

If you want to watch the show, I've just reduced your commitment significantly and saved you the disappointment of the final three plus seasons.

Actually, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have yet to finish watching the final season. It was too weird and ridiculous and implausible to continue. In the spirit of completion, I may get to it someday, but I doubt it. 

Time is far too valuable to waste on bad television.

Sequel Protection Service: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The Millennium) series

So many times in my life, I’ve wished that I had avoided one or more of the sequels to a book or movie. Spoiling the beauty of an original story with a disappointing or (even worse) destructive sequel is a tragedy that should befall no human being.

Thus behold:

Matthew Dicks’ Sequel Protection Service.

Having suffered through scores of horrendous and damaging sequels, I have thrust the mantle of Sequel Protection Champion upon myself in order to spare future consumers the pain that so many of us have experienced. 

I will tell you which sequels are worthy of reading or viewing and which should never be seen.

Quite heroic of me. Don’t you think?

Today’s subject:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The Millennium) series:

If you weren’t sucked into the literary frenzy of these three books a few years ago and are just starting to read them now, I urge you to stop with the first book. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a taut and unexpected thriller that I enjoyed a great deal. It was edge of your seat suspense, and most importantly, it was relatively believable.


As with many sequels, the ratcheting of action and suspense required to make the sequels successful also stripped the second book – The Girl Who Played With Fire – and the third book – The Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet’s Nest – of any plausibility.

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Lizbeth Salandar – the pseudo-protagonist – goes from a badass hero in the first book to superhero in the second and third, and she encounters villains with even more implausible super powers. The story becomes convoluted, and little is revealed by way of the character’s backstories in the two subsequent books to made their reading worthwhile.

Stop after reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. You won’t be disappointed.

Also, I plan for this to be an ongoing series of posts and would like a logo or banner of some kind for the Sequel Protection Service. If you are so inclined to  design one and I like it (and I probably will since I currently have nothing), I will publicly recognize you here and be eternally grateful.