|The Secret World of Alex Mack|
|Created by||Thomas W. Lynch|
|Theme music composer||John Coda|
|Composer||Jerry J. Grant|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||78 (list of episodes)|
|Production location||Santa Clarita, California|
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Production companies||Lynch Entertainment|
|Original release||October 8, 1994 –|
January 15, 1998
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). 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.
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.
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 a 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.
Main article: List of The Secret World of Alex Mack episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||October 8, 1994||February 4, 1995|
|2||20||October 14, 1995||September 28, 1996|
|3||25||October 5, 1996||March 4, 1997|
|4||20||September 23, 1997||January 15, 1998|
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. 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?" 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.
Though the character of Alex Mack was initially conceived as a boy, Nickelodeon had the writers change the character to a girl.
The series was filmed in Valencia, Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley. 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. 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. 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."
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.
The Secret World of Alex Mack 20 Year Reunion was recorded in 2018 and released as a TV movie on YouTube and Vimeo. 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. 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.
The show's first season (consisting of 13 episodes on two discs) was released by Genius Entertainment on DVD format on October 2, 2007. 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.
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. 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."
A book series aimed at young readers was released along with the series. 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. 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):