Back before Bradley Cooper was the sexiest man alive, he was the up-and-coming reporter Will Tippin on the J.J. Abrams spy-fueled drama series, Alias.

Although Alias does not go down in my personal history books as one of my top five TV shows ever, it likely would make the top ten. (Considering how much TV I actively watch, this is still a high place of honor.) The series premiered in 2001, but back then I was graduating high school (with Quill & Scroll honors, if you can believe it) and a little bit too preoccupied to commit to TV the way I’d like. But on one of those lazy, post-millennial “I refuse to do anything perceived as productive” Saturdays that are still a tradition in my life, ABC was promoting Alias by re-playing a mini marathon of episodes. By complete accident, I discovered one of the episodes playing.

he TV was meant to serve as white noise while I chatted with fellow online teenagers on AOL about our favorite Destiny’s Child songs and how annoying our younger siblings were (my respective answers: “Say My Name” &  incredibly so.) But my attention was captured by an unknown actress (Jennifer Garner) and a show I knew zero about.

I remember that I left the computer to go watch the show in my parent’s bedroom, and kept feeling lucky when another episode would come on after the last. (Especially with those infamous Alias cliffhangers.) I knew, almost instantly, that I loved what I was seeing.

One of the episodes I saw that day was “Parity.” I remember it for two distinct reasons: I really wanted to be that actress in the sexy red dress who was doing crazy action kicks, and I fell for the character of Will Tippin as he and the character of Sydney Bristow had sexy ice cream kisses. )

“Parity” was directed by Mikael Salomon, written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, and had the fabulous Gina Torres as a guest star. It was also noteable for being one of the only times Sydney and Will ever had onscreen romance. So it really set me up to love a couple that would never have to fruition. (I’ve never read any Sydney/Will fanfic but I probably should have.)

I honestly can’t recall which other one or two episodes I saw that day. It might have been just the one episode. What I do recall is rushing down to sign-on AOL with my dial-tone model (cue those screeching noises that let my parents know I was attempting to connect with the outside world of potential crazies.)

After the eons it took to get online, I began searching about the show. The actresses name was Jennifer Garner, and she was gorgeous. The show was Alias, and it was awesome.

I distinctly remember copy/pasting an image of Garner from “Parity” into two different e-mails. The first e-mail was sent to a female friend (and future frenemy) where I said something like “Omg, this show is so amazing. You HAVE to watch it.” (As you can see, I’ve always been a TV show pusher.) She deferred my excitement with some apathetic emoticons and text about how she didn’t really care about the show. (She went on to worship the series.)

The second e-mail was sent to another, closer friend where I said, “Omg, did you know about this show? Why did no one tell me about it!” See, I remember having some bitterness that something so cool could be in life that was so up my alley and no one had alerted me to it. This friend, who is also notable for going on to have a serious Alias addiction (we’re talking about having the action figures), didn’t realize how important the show would be and simply confirmed that he’d seen it and liked it, but it was still new.

I went on to love this series, and eventually recognized Jennifer Garner as the actress who was then-married to my uber crush on J.J. Abrams show Felicity* – Scott Foley. Later I would also realize she’d been on the short-lived (“omg I really want this show to work”) series Time of Your Life starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and on the other short-lived (“omg I really like this show!”) series Significant Others* with Eion Bailey (most recently on the USA Network show Covert Affairs), Scott Bairstow, Michael Weatherly and Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell. (For those wondering, the first season of this show is available to purchase on DVD, and Garner is such a class act she even did a post-series DVD interview about her time on the show. And Supernatural fans might enjoy knowing that Nicki Aycox guest starred on this show.)

There are other long gone TV shows that I can recall viewing for the first time, most notably Dawson’s Creek (I watched the pilot twice, both times with my sister), Angel (I was at someone else’s huge, estate-like house and we debated the opening credits), Veronica Mars (I saw the season 1 finale before anything else), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.  I think your first memories associated with the first time you see one of your favorite TV shows (or movies) is incredibly interesting.

Do you remember the first time you saw one of your favorite TV shows of all time? Was it the very first episode or did you get hooked by watching a season 2 finale? Please comment & share any memories you have associated with what you remember watching of a beloved TV show.

* That’s right, I’ve always been a Noel girl. Sorry, Scott Speedman! To this day I sometimes will drop in on Noel Crane’s website (I think I love the “feedback” page most of all. God, I would have dated him so hard.) He was an intellectual nerd after my own heart.

* The last scene of the pilot episode is something I remember vividly watching that first time. It’s not available on YouTube, but you can watch the lively 90’s-esque opening credits.

Random Fact: Getting to talk to Michael Vartan for a TNT conference call to promote HawthoRNe was a huge deal for me.

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