The Secret World of Alex Mack
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|The Secret World of Alex Mack|
|Created by||Thomas W. Lynch
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||78 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||October 8, 1994– January 15, 1998|
The Secret World of Alex Mack is an American television series that ran on Nickelodeon from October 8, 1994 to January 15, 1998, replacing Clarissa Explains It All on the SNICK line-up. It also aired on YTV in Canada and NHK in Japan, and was a popular staple in the children's weekday line-up for much of the mid-to-late 1990s on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Repeats of the series aired in 2003 on The N, but it was soon replaced there. The series was produced by Thomas Lynch and John Lynch of Lynch Entertainment, produced by RHI Entertainment, Hallmark Entertainment, and Nickelodeon Productions and was co-created by Tom Lynch and Ken Lipman. For home video releases, it was released under the Hallmark Home Entertainment label, making it the first Nickelodeon show not to be released by Paramount Home Video or Sony Wonder.
Alex Mack is an ordinary teenage girl, living with her parents, George and Barbara, and older sister, Annie, in the corporate town of Paradise Valley. While walking home after her first day of junior high school, she is nearly hit by a truck from a chemical plant, and during the incident, she is drenched with a top-secret chemical called GC-161. She soon discovers that it gave her strange powers. These include telekinesis, the ability to zap bolts of electricity from her fingers, and the capacity to morph into a mobile puddle of water. However, her powers prove to be unpredictable (such as when her skin starts glowing brightly while she's 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 plant CEO, Danielle Atron, will do to her if she finds out.
- Alexandra Louise "Alex" Mack (played by Larisa Oleynik) - Alex is an average teenager in Paradise Valley. While walking home from school, she is nearly hit by a truck carrying GC-161 and is doused with it, thus giving her extraordinary powers. Some include levitation and turning into a puddle.
- Raymond "Ray" Alvarado (played by Darris Love) – Alex's closest friend and next-door neighbor.
- Anne "Annie" Mack (played by Meredith Bishop) – Alex's older sister, and a scientific genius in her own right. Next to Ray, she is the only one who originally knows about Alex's powers. She administers various scientific tests to ensure Alex's safety. She also hopes to one day present her research, in an effort to stop Danielle Atron.
- George Mack (played by Michael Blakley) – Alex's father. He is a brilliant chemist who works for Danielle Atron at the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant.
- Barbara Mack (played by Dorian Lopinto) – Alex's mother. She is a more down-to-earth woman who works in a public relations firm.
- Louis Driscoll (played by Benjamin Kimball Smith) – Alex and Ray's abrasive friend.
- Dave Watt (played by John Nielsen) – The dim-witted truck driver who was driving the truck that dumped the GC-161 chemical on Alex. As the only witness to the accident, Dave is often forced to serve as a partner to Vince Carter (see below) in trying to capture Alex. After seeing Alex using her powers while she was in high school, Dave keeps it a secret from Danielle to protect her as he knew what kind of horrible experiments Danielle had planned for her.
- Scott Greene (played by Jason Strickland) – Alex's junior high crush.
- Jessica (played by Jessica Alba) – Scott's first girlfriend and Alex's first school rival.
- Kelly Phillips (played by Hilary Salvatore) – Scott's second girlfriend and Alex's second school rival. Kelly deviously discredits Alex at every given turn, much to Alex's dismay.
- Robyn Russo (played by Natanya Ross) – One of Alex's neighborhood friends. Though she possesses a sardonic sense of humor and is fun to be around, she suffers from low self-esteem.
- Nicole Wilson (played by Alexis Fields) – Another of Alex's friends. An opposite personality to Robyn, has a take-charge attitude and strong-willed demeanor.
- Danielle Atron (played by Louan Gideon) – The owner/CEO of the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant who is the main antagonist of the series. She wants to market GC-161 as a radical new weight-loss drug, and has made it her mission to find the GC-161 child (who she does not know is Alex) and capture her, as both a test subject and a threat to the secrecy of her plans.
- Vince Carter (played by John Marzilli) – The maniacal head of security at the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant, he makes it his obsession to find the GC-161 child (even after he gets fired from the Plant).
- Lars Frederickson (played by Kevin Quigley) – A skilled chemist hailing from the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant's foreign branch in Vienna. He becomes Danielle Atron's chief subordinate after Vince gets fired. He is named after one of the members of punk rock group Rancid.
- Hunter Reeves (played by Will Estes) – Hunter comes to Paradise Valley with an agenda concerning the disappearance of his father in relation to GC-161. He later becomes Alex's confidante and boyfriend.
The series was filmed in Valencia, California 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.
The show's first season (consisting of 13 episodes on two discs) was released by Genius Entertainment (also known as Genius Products, a subsidiary of RHI 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. In October 2011, DVD Rare released a set containing all 78 episodes over 4 seasons of the show on a twelve-disc set. However, this is not an official release but rather an unofficial, customized set.
Season 1 of the show was released on DVD in the UK by Fabulous Films on April 2, 2012. The BBFC caused controversy when they classified the release a 15 for imitable behavior shown in a fun and risk-free manner (in this case, hiding in an appliance that could trap and kill a child in real life): "One episode in this TV series contains a scene in which a child character hides inside a tumble drier. The presentation of this behavior 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 programs. In addition, as the work was being targeted at an adult 'nostalgia' market, children would not be the 'natural' audience. The BBFC decided - given the work's history, the company's willingness to accept a higher certificate and that the work was not being aimed at children - to pass it '15' without cuts." The first and second seasons are available through Amazon.com's Instant Video section and through iTunes. Episodes of the series have been seen on a sporadic basis on TeenNick's 1990s-oriented block, The '90s Are All That.
A book series aimed at young readers was released along with the series. The first and last books of the series were novelizations of the first and last episodes, respectively. The rest of the series consisted of completely original stories, tied into the main series through the mentioning of various plot points from the TV episodes.
- James, Caryn (1996-06-02). "TELEVISION VIEW;Just a Regular Kid Being Remarkable". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- "SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Larisa Oleynik finds the secret is to have fun as 'Alex Mack'". The Los Angeles Times. 1994-10-02. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- Mangan, Jennifer (1994-10-05). "Magic `Mack'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- "Morphing Magic". Sun Sentinel. 1996-08-03. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- "`Alex Mack' Star Just An Ordinary Teen". Chicago Tribune. 1995-10-19. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- "Zap! You're Famous; Tv Show Turns Actress Into A Star". Chicago Tribune. 1995-08-01. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- "Mack Attack For The Star Of The Secret World Of Alex Mack, Life Is More Than Being A Puddle Of Goo.". Sun Sentinel. 1995-08-22. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- "Morphing Teen Plays To Kids' Fantasies In `Alex Mack'". Chicago Tribune. 1996-06-10. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- Schubert, Mary. "NICKELODEON SHOW `ALEX MACK' FEELS RIGHT AT HOME.". The Los Angeles Daily News. March 23, 1997, accessed March 15, 2011.
- "Secret World of Alex Mack - Season 1". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
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