tek's rating:

The Secret World of Alex Mack, on Nickelodeon
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Caution: spoilers.

When this premiered in 1994, I didn't have access to cable television. So, it was one of countless shows I wished I could see, but couldn't. When the second season started in 1995, I was in college, so I had access to cable there. And also, my parents got satellite at home. So from that point on I could watch the show, but I didn't actually see the first season until I got the complete series on DVD in 2017. (I finished watching season one in early 2018; I finished the series in 2019.)

Season one
While walking home from her first day of junior high, a girl named Alex Mack (Larisa Oleynik) gets drenched with some kind of experimental chemical called GC-161, when the truck that was transporting it from the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant has an accident. The plant happens to be where her father, George, works as a scientist. Also, her mother, Barbara, works at a PR firm that is often hired by the plant. (In fact, probably most of the people in Paradise Valley work for the plant. I kind of get the impression the plant is the main reason for the town's existence.) Anyway, the GC-161, ends up giving Alex various powers, such as telekinesis, and morphing into a liquidy substance. The only two people whom she lets know about this are her best friend, Ray Alvarado, and her older sister, Annie. Annie is a science prodigy, and studies the effects of the chemical on Alex, as well as trying to help her learn to control her powers, and keep her secret. This is important, because the woman in charge of the plant, Danielle Atron, wants to find the kid who was doused in the chemical, and run experiments on her (or him; Atron has no idea who the kid is or even whether it was a boy or a girl). The plant's head of security, Vince, is tasked with finding the kid. He gets some help from Dave, who had been driving the truck that had the accident. But Dave doesn't know who the kid was, either, since he didn't get a good look at her. Dave, unlike Miss Atron and Vince, is basically a good guy, but not very bright.

Well, I also want to mention, now that I've watched season one for the first time, that Alex had a couple of other friends besides Ray: Robyn Russo and Nicole Wilson. I guess they were on the show even in the seasons I watched when they first aired, but somehow, by the time I watched it on DVD, I had zero recollection of their existence. (But I do like them.) Also, in a few episodes of season one, there was a popular girl at school named Jessica (Jessica Alba), who always acted like a jerk towards Alex. And there was a guy named Scott, on whom Alex had a crush, though I guess he was dating Jessica. But he acted much more friendly toward Alex. And... basically the show is about Alex living a relatively normal life, which gets more interesting (both more fun and more dangerous) after gaining her powers. But her powers don't really change her as a person. (The opening credits, which Alex narrates, may say "I guess I'm not so average anymore," but I still think she's basically a normal kid, with normal challenges and interests, and whatever.)

Season two
When I watched this season on DVD, I was surprised to find that I didn't specifically remember any of the episodes. I still feel like I must have started watching the show in season two, when it originally aired, but... it really bothers me how unfamiliar the stories were. One thing that did ring a bell was the new character, Louis Driscoll, who moved to Paradise Valley this season. Like Robyn and Nicole, I had forgotten about him; but once I saw him on the DVD, I definitely remembered him. Another new character this season is a girl named Kelly (whom I don't remember at all, even after watching the DVDs). She's Scott's new girlfriend, since Jessica has moved away. Also, Annie is dating a guy named Bryce. Other than that, I'm not sure what to say. It's basically the same kinds of stories as season one. (Oh... I did want to mention that Alex narrates the opening credits with the same script as in season one, but it's obviously been redone. There were a few points in the narration where, in the first season, Alex did a little laugh, and that's gone this season. In fact I think the whole reading is a bit drier than it was before. It's kind of weird, because when I watched the first season on DVD, I thought the reading felt a bit fake, or something... but watching season two, I missed the old reading, because this season it just seemed too emotionless.)

Season three
First I need to say, the first six episodes of season three were produced for season two, according to Wikipedia. And that checks out with the episode guide on Nickelodeon's old website (which has been archived by the Wayback Machine). It actually lists those episodes as being in season two, not season three. So I'm not sure why they wouldn't have been included in season two, especially considering that, if Wikipedia's airdates are correct, there wasn't any break between seasons two and three. (But there was apparently a six-month break in the middle of season two.) But whatever. I'm going to go along with what Wikipedia (and my DVDs) say about the seasons, and consider those six episodes as part of season three. Although there's another strange discrepancy I noticed when watching the DVDs, which is that the seventh episode to air in season three (which the old website lists as the third episode in the season) is the first one to use different scenes in the opening credits than were used in season 2 (and the first six episodes of season 3). Also, while the production codes listed on Wikipedia at least get the seasons right, they don't always seem to get the order within-season the same as the old website's list. But I suppose it's not important. I just wanted to mention all this confusion, for the sake of posterity.

So... season 3 begins with a 2-parter, in which Alex gets divided into two versions of herself, good and bad. (It's a pretty common sci-fi trope, but it was certainly interesting.) And in the sixth episode, Alex joins the school yearbook staff as a photographer. She later works on the school newspaper. Also, Danielle hires a guy named Lars Frederickson to join George's research team at the plant, to spy on him. He becomes involved in the search for "the kid," especially after Danielle fires Vince and demotes Dave back to just truck driving. However, Vince keeps trying to find the kid, in the hopes of getting his job back. And Bryce breaks up with Annie. And Annie starts working as an intern on her father's team at the plant. Alex and her friends start high school. And Dave used to think Danielle wanted to help the kid, but he has recently learned that if she ever found the kid, he or she would be in danger from Danielle. So when he eventually discovers that Alex is the kid, he decides to keep it a secret. And... you know, various other stuff happens throughout the season, but those are the major developments.

There are eleven more episodes that were produced for season 3, which ended up airing in season 4. Oddly enough, the old website listed some of them in season 3 and some in season 4. But it doesn't list any of the episodes that were actually produced for season 4. (Of course, the Wayback Machine has limits to what it can find.) Anyway, I won't worry about any of that when I watch season 4.

Season four
Well, I suppose first I should say that this season has the same opening credits as season 3. Also, I don't think Nicole was in this season at all. Annie eventually goes away to college, and isn't seen much more after that. A kid named Hunter Reeves, who had moved away from Paradise Valley years ago, now returns. He's suspicious of Danielle, believing she had something to do with the disappearance of his father, who used to work at the plant. Alex eventually reveals her secret to him. Of course various other things happen throughout the season that I don't need to go into. But in the two-part series finale, Louis discovers the truth about Alex. Meanwhile, Danielle is planning to release GC-161 to the public as a weight-loss drug. And she finally finds out that Alex is the kid from the accident, and sends a security team to abduct her, as well as her parents, who also finally learn the truth. So Ray and Hunter have to help rescue the Macks and thwart Danielle's plans. (Louis tries to help, but that doesn't amount to anything.) And without any of their knowledge (at the time), Dave also provides some crucial help.

Well, I definitely think it was a decent conclusion to the series. The whole series was mostly pretty goofy, but fun. And I really like the characters. And it's become rather nostalgic to me. And I guess I don't know what else to say.

kid stuff