The Secret World of Alex Mack
AlexMackTitle.jpg
Genre
Created byThomas W. Lynch
Ken Lipman
Starring
Theme music composerJohn Coda
ComposerJerry J. Grant
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes78 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Thomas W. Lynch
  • John D. Lynch
Producers
Production locationSanta Clarita, California
EditorCindy Parisotto
Running time24 minutes
Production companiesLynch Entertainment
RHI Entertainment
Hallmark Entertainment
Nickelodeon Productions
DistributorMTV Networks
Sonar Entertainment
Release
Original networkNickelodeon
Original releaseOctober 8, 1994 (1994-10-08) –
January 15, 1998 (1998-01-15)

The Secret World of Alex Mack is an American television series that ran from October 8, 1994 to January 15, 1998, on Nickelodeon (part of the SNICK line-up).[1][2] The series was co-created by Ken Lipman and Thomas W. Lynch and was produced by Lynch Entertainment, RHI Entertainment, Hallmark Entertainment and Nickelodeon Productions. The Secret World of Alex Mack was accompanied by a tie-in series of 34 paperback books, as well as a variety of merchandise. The series concluded with a two-part finale in 1998.

Plot

Alexandra "Alex" Mack is an ordinary teenage girl, living with her parents, George and Barbara, and prodigious older sister, Annie, in the industrial town of Paradise Valley, Arizona. The town is largely funded around Paradise Valley Chemical, a chemical factory that employs most of the adult residents, although the factory's staff and history are notoriously shady. While walking home after her first day of junior high school, saddened by an embarrassing encounter with a boy and bullied for having a Trollz lunchbox, Alex is nearly hit by a truck from Paradise Valley Chemical, and during the incident, she is accidentally drenched with GC-161, an experimental substance developed by the factory. She soon discovers that it has given her strange powers, including telekinesis, shooting electricity from her fingers, and the ability to dissolve into a mobile puddle of water. Alex finds this exciting and fun, however, her powers prove to be unpredictable (occasionally, her skin glows a bright yellow when she is nervous). She confides only in Annie and her best friend Ray, choosing to keep her powers a secret from everyone else, including her parents, for fear of what the chemical factory's CEO, Danielle Atron, will do to her if she finds out.

Series overview

The series evolves from Seasons 1-4 from innocent hijinks to darker connotations; Seasons 1-2 mostly deal with cheerful misadventures and comedic encounters with incompetent Paradise Valley Chemical staff Vince and Dave. Seasons 3-4 take on a more serious and dark development, in which it is revealed that Danielle Atron had been developing GC-161 as far back as the 1970s, and that she may have had fellow scientists and researchers systematically assassinated to cover up GC-161's mutagenic effects on people.

Subplots of the series included Barbara Mack going back to college as a mature student, Alex and her friends being targeted by an overweight school bully, Alex's crush, Scott, turning out to be a fairweather friend, and Louis Driscoll befriending Alex and Ray after moving to Paradise Valley as a new student. Vince, meanwhile, is fired in Season 3, replaced by an asocial Vienna-born scientist named Lars Frederickson. Vince makes frequent reappearances as a guest character, obsessed with trying to get his job back. While Alex was initially bullied by an older student named Jessica in Season 1, Jessica's actress, Jessica Alba, left for other projects and the character was replaced with Kelly, a preppy but mean-spirited cheerleader, and later Jo (the aforementioned school bully who goes after Alex and Ray).

In Season 4, Alex develops a serious relationship with Hunter, a new boy in town. She initially believes he is infatuated with Danielle Atron after discovering what appears to be a love shrine to the woman in his bedroom, but Hunter is revealed to be investigating Danielle's potential involvement in the death of his scientist father by drowning. Alex shares her first kiss with Hunter.

Characters

Main

Recurring

Episodes

Main article: List of The Secret World of Alex Mack episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
113October 8, 1994 (1994-10-08)February 4, 1995 (1995-02-04)
220October 14, 1995 (1995-10-14)September 28, 1996 (1996-09-28)
325October 5, 1996 (1996-10-05)March 4, 1997 (1997-03-04)
420September 23, 1997 (1997-09-23)January 15, 1998 (1998-01-15)

Production

Thomas W. Lynch, who had created the programs Night Tracks and Kids Incorporated, said the idea for the series was based on an incident from his own childhood.[7] Lynch's father, a nuclear physicist, worked with radioactive material in the family's garage and the chemical spilled out of its container. Lynch said, "Today, they would've shut the whole block down. It cracked me up—the idea that that stuff was right there. What if I ate it? What would happen to me?"[7] For the fictional chemical GC-161 in the show, Lynch said he came up with the GC part of the name while doing DNA research, while the 161 came from the number eight.[7]

Though the character of Alex Mack was initially conceived as a boy, Nickelodeon had the writers change the character to a girl.[7]

The series was filmed in Valencia, Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley.[8] The Mack home and Paradise Valley Chemical Plant interiors were filmed in a converted warehouse used as a soundstage. The junior high scenes were filmed at Charles Helmers and James Foster Elementary Schools. Castaic Middle School was used for senior high scenes.[8] The house, used for exterior shots, is located in the Westford Place neighborhood of Valencia.

Near the end of the series' run, Lynch presented star Larisa Oleynik with a package deal that included a fifth season of the show and a feature film, but Oleynik turned the deal down.[7] Said Oleynik, "I have absolutely no regrets about that. It was an incredible thing he was offering me and I knew that at the time, but I was a little burnt out."[7]

Television airing

The show premiered on Nickelodeon (part of SNICK line-up) in 1994 and ended in 1998. Internationally, it also aired on YTV in Canada, Kabel 1 in Germany, SVT in Sweden, France 2 in France, Viasat 3 in Hungary, Rai 1 in Italy, Fox Kids in Latin America, Channel 4 in the UK, NHK in Japan and was in the children's weekday lineup for much of the mid-to-late 1990s on the ABC in Australia. Repeats of the show aired in 2003 on The N, but it was soon replaced there. The show aired occasionally on TeenNick's 1990s-oriented block, The '90s Are All That.

Cast reunion

The Secret World of Alex Mack 20 Year Reunion was recorded in 2018 and released as a TV movie on YouTube and Vimeo.[9] Initially a live convention interview, the reunion featured numerous cast and crew members from the original TV series, revelations about their lives post-series, and discussions of a possible reboot or sequel.[10] It was revealed that many of the cast members had gone on to various endeavors, with moderate success: Larisa Oleynik (Alex) had gone on to earn mainstream adult roles in shows such as 10 Things I Hate About You, while other cast members had largely left acting. Alexis Fields (Nicole) had gone on to a career in interior design, John Marzilli (Vince) had adopted a son who attended the cast reunion, and Darris Love (Ray) became involved in acting and music.

Availability

The show's first season (consisting of 13 episodes on two discs) was released by Genius Entertainment on DVD format on October 2, 2007.[11] The set is noteworthy for giving Jessica Alba top billing on the package, most likely in an effort to sell more copies, even though she actually only appears in a supporting role, and only in a few episodes. This was then released in Region 2 on April 2, 2012 and in Region 4 on June 6, 2012.

The first and second seasons are available through Amazon.com's Instant Video section and through iTunes.

Mill Creek Entertainment released the complete series on DVD for the very first time on August 1, 2017.[12]

DVD boxed set controversy

The Secret World of Alex Mack, during a British release of the series on a DVD boxed set, received a rating of '15' from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), a rating considered restrictive, particularly since the series was initially aimed at preteens.[13] It was eventually revealed by the BBFC that the '15' rating was applied to the boxed set because of a season 1 episode called "Shock Value" where Alex is seen climbing into a clothesdryer from the pilot. According to the BBFC, "The presentation of this behaviour is comic and no negative consequences are shown which would warn young viewers of the potential dangers of hiding in such appliances. While fatal incidents of children trapped in washing machines or fridges are rare, there remains sufficient cause for serious concern. The distributor indicated that they would be happy to accept a higher certificate rather than cutting the episode. The TV series is rather dated and would not have much appeal to a young audience when compared to current children's TV programmes. In addition, as the work was being targeted at an adult 'nostalgia' market, children would not be the natural audience."[14]

Book series

A book series aimed at young readers was released along with the series.[15] The first and last books of the series are novelizations of the first and last episodes, respectively. The rest of the series consists of completely original stories, tied into the main series through the mentioning of various plot points from the TV episodes. There were 34 books in total, all released as mass-market paperbacks from Simon & Schuster.[16] Authors Diana G. Gallagher and Cathy East Dubowski were the predominant authors of the series, although other authors were recruited in-between to write certain titles.

The following titles were included in the series (in order, published between the years 1995 to 1998; note that the exclamation point at the end of each title was a stylized and intentional punctuation):

  1. Alex, You're Glowing! by Diana G. Gallagher
  2. Bet You Can't! by Diana G. Gallagher
  3. Bad News Babysitting! by Ken Lipman
  4. Witch Hunt! by Diana G. Gallagher
  5. Mistaken Identity! by Diana G. Gallagher
  6. Cleanup Catastrophe! by Cathy East Dubowski
  7. Take A Hike! by Cathy East Dubowski
  8. Go For the Gold! by Diana G. Gallagher
  9. Poison In Paradise! by Diana G. Gallagher
  10. Zappy Holidays! by Diana G. Gallagher
  11. Junkyard Jitters! by Patricia Barnes-Svarney
  12. Frozen Stiff! by Diana G. Gallagher
  13. I Spy! by John Peel
  14. High Flyer! by Patricia Barnes-Svarney
  15. Milady Alex! by Diana G. Gallagher
  16. Father-Daughter Disaster! by Clayton Emery
  17. Bonjour, Alex! by Cathy East Dubowski
  18. Hocus Pocus! by "Joseph Locke" (pseudonym of Ray Garton)
  19. Close Encounters! by David Cody Weiss
  20. Halloween Invaders! by John Vornholdt
  21. Truth Trap! by Cathy East Dubowski
  22. New Years' Revolution! by Diana G. Gallagher
  23. Lost in Vegas! by John Peel
  24. Computer Crunch! by Patricia Barnes-Svarney
  25. In Hot Pursuit! by Mel Odom
  26. Canine Caper! by Diana G. Gallagher
  27. Civil War in Paradise! by Bonnie D. Stone
  28. Pool Party Panic! by V.E. Mitchell
  29. Sink Or Swim! by Cathy East Dubowski
  30. Gold Rush Fever! by Diana G. Gallagher
  31. New York Nightmare! by Erica Pass
  32. Haunted House Hijinks! by John Vornholdt
  33. Lights, Camera, Action! by Ray Garton
  34. Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained! by Diana G. Gallagher

References

  1. ^ Mendoza, N.F. (October 2, 1994). "SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Larisa Oleynik finds the secret is to have fun as 'Alex Mack'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  2. ^ Mangan, Jennifer (October 5, 1994). "Magic 'Mack'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on May 30, 2022. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  3. ^ a b James, Caryn (June 2, 1996). "TELEVISION VIEW; Just a Regular Kid Being Remarkable". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  4. ^ Prescott, Jean (October 19, 1995). "'Alex Mack' Star Just An Ordinary Teen". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  5. ^ Johnson, Allen (August 1, 1995). "Zap! You're Famous; Tv Show Turns Actress Into A Star". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "Mack Attack For The Star Of The Secret World Of Alex Mack, Life Is More Than Being A Puddle Of Goo". Sun Sentinel. August 22, 1995. Archived from the original on May 28, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Harnick, Chris (November 28, 2012). "Remembering 'Alex Mack': Cast & Creator Look Back". HuffPost. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Schubert, Mary (March 23, 1997). "NICKELODEON SHOW `ALEX MACK' FEELS RIGHT AT HOME". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2011 – via The Free Library.
  9. ^ "The Secret World of Alex Mack 20 Year Reunion Full Interview". YouTube. March 26, 2018. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  10. ^ "The Cast of 'The Secret World of Alex Mack' Host Virtual Reunion Over Zoom". June 12, 2020. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  11. ^ "Secret World of Alex Mack - Season 1". DVD Talk. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  12. ^ "The Secret World of Alex Mack - SCOOP: Press Release Announces 'The Complete Series' on DVD!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on June 8, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "The Secret World Of Alex Mack - Shock Value". www.bbfc.co.uk. The British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  14. ^ Nissim, Mayer (February 13, 2012). "Alex Mack' DVD rated 15 for tumble drier scene, BBFC explains". www.digitalspy.com. Digital Spy. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  15. ^ "The Secret World of Alex Mack Book Series". ThriftBooks. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  16. ^ "The Secret World of Alex Mack: Bet You Can't by Diana Gallagher [SIGNED! by LARISA OLEYNICK]". Bookshop Apocalypse. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  17. ^ "Zappy Holidays! (Secret World of Alex Mack, book 10) by Diana G Gallagher". www.fantasticfiction.com. Retrieved May 31, 2022.