The Secret World of Alex Mack

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alexmack 8822.jpg

The Secret World of Alex Mack was a live-action show which aired on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1998. It told the story of Alex Mack (Larisa Oleynik), a young girl who lives with her parents and older sister in a planned community owned by a chemical plant, where her parents work. She has a bad first day at her new school, and to make matters worse, a truck from the plant crashes and drenches her in a top-secret chemical called GC-161.

The chemical gives her an... interesting variety of superhuman powers: telekinesis, the ability to zap electricity from her fingers, the ability to turn into a puddle of cheesy CGI "water" melt a la Terminator 2, and glow when she senses danger or gets upset. Her best friend Ray Alvarado (Darris Love) and her older sister Annie (Meredith Bishop) learn soon after and try to keep it a secret from anyone else. Unfortunately, Danielle Atron (Louan Gideon)--the head of the chemical plant that created GC-161--wants to see what effect the chemical has on human beings and has decided that finding the kid who was drenched and experimenting on him/her is a good way to go about this. She enlists the help of Vince Carter (John Marzilli), the head of plant security, to track her down. Vince is partnered up with Dave Watt (John Nielsen), the driver responsible for the accident, who may or may not (more likely the latter) be able to recognize the child.

Tropes used in The Secret World of Alex Mack include:
  • Accidental Art: Robyn's oral narrative "The Dogs Ate My Homework" gets a good grade, even though that really was the story of what happened.
  • Accidental Athlete: Alex is sprinting down the hallway of her school attempting to avoid being late to class and getting in trouble. She is still late for class, but instead of getting chastised she is recruited for the track team.
  • Adults Are Useless: Lampshaded in the finale when her parents wonder why she never told them about her powers in the first place.
  • An Aesop
  • Alpha Bitch: Kelly. There was also a character named Libby who was like this and was intended to develop into a bigger character but pulled a Brother Chuck and her spot was taken by Kelly.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: "I wish I'd never been born at all."
  • The Blob: Alex's most infamous power was turning into goo. Went from a jellyfish-looking thing to actual silvery goo.
  • Big Bad: Danielle Atron
  • Billing Displacement: A young Jessica Alba appeared in two episodes... yet still got mentioned on the DVD cover... twice.
    • This is unfair; according to IMDb, she appeared in three episodes. She is even less mentioned on the cover than the number of episodes she appears in.
  • Black Best Friend: Ray
  • Combo-Platter Powers: Lightning generation and TK make a little bit of sense, but how either one fits with turning into what looks like quicksilver is beyond me.
  • Cool Loser: Alex and her group of friends aren't considered cool or popular, but Alex is on the school newspaper and generally considered to be a fun, nice person, and Ray is on the basketball team.
  • Correspondence Course: One plot has Dave taking a course in detective work and eventually discovering Alex's secret identity. This also led to him using Obfuscating Stupidity for the rest of the show to stop anyone from realizing he knew,
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Danielle Atron
  • Cursed with Awesome: Essentially, the whole premise of the show.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: When Danielle Atron realized that GC-161 has too many side effects to be used as a weight loss product she decided to sell it as such anyway and leave the country with the money before the FDA would realize what happened. It never occurred to her that she would be able to make a lot more money (and not be an outlaw) if she would sell it to the army as a Super Serum.
  • The Dragon: Vince. Even after being fired he constantly tries to convince Danielle to re-hire him.
  • Elemental Powers: Electricity and Water.
  • Evil Twin: In one episode, Alex got a duplicate, who among other things, nearly killed her by trapping her in the basement of a building scheduled for demolition and later by trapping her puddle form in some clogged plumbing and waiting for her to either suffocate or reform while still inside the pipes.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: That's how Dave learned Danielle's true colors.
  • Fan Service: During the pilot episode, Alex accidentally transforms into a puddle for the first time. As Annie walks in to check on her, she manages to reform behind a stack of boxes several feet away... without her clothes. Above-the-shoulder camera angles aside, it was still pretty risque for a Nick show in the mid 90's.
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Alex and one of her friends runs across a kid trapped under a giant pipe. Her friend tries to lift it and Alex uses her powers to make it seem like he does in order to save the kid. The kid turns out to be the governor's son, promptly putting the spotlight on her friend.
  • Freaky Friday Flip: Alex switches bodies with her mom, but it was All Just a Dream.
  • Free the Frogs
  • Fun with Flushing: Alex travels through plumbing pipes in puddle form.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Annie and Alex, though the rivalry itself takes a back seat to Annie's fascination with Alex's powers and Alex's reliance on Annie's smarts when she gets in trouble.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Alex ends up naked after morphing the first time. Also, in a later episode, her aunt talks of how she made a jackass out of herself at christmas.
  • Government Conspiracy
  • Heel Face Turn: Dave, when he finds out Danielle Atron wants to kill the child he contaminated with the GC-161.
  • Hero Antagonist: Dave qualifies without knowing it. While he actively helps Danielle and Vince, he honestly thought he'd be helping "the accident kid."
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Averted, surprisingly. Despite the trouble they get her into and the people hunting her down because of them, she genuinely seems to enjoy her powers. She even keeps them at the end of the series when given a chance to be normal.
  • Imagine Spot: Alex has a bunch, especially in the early seasons.
  • Inspector Javert: Vince is obsessed with finding the kid from the GC-161 accident, even after he's fired as head of security.
  • Lethal Joke Item: According to George Mack, GC-161 was intended for a mundane usage. [1] Guess they need to go back to the drawing board with that one.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Annie, who's regularly a supergenius, falls apart around her new cute lab partner.
  • Luminescent Blush: Alex, literally, as a side effect of the chemical.
  • Magical Girl
  • Masquerade
  • Mind Over Matter: Telekinesis is probably Alexs' most used power.
  • Naive Everygirl
  • Never Bareheaded: You almost never see Alex without some sort of hat on her head. Lampshaded as sometimes others even mention her frequent hat usage.
  • Nice Hat: See Never Bareheaded, above. Occasionally subverted with hats that were just plain ugly, such as the brown knit cap the production team called the "condom hat".
  • Ordinary High School Student: Alex, she even says "I was just another average kid until an accident changed my life" in the opening credits. It's also worth noting that she wore a similar outfit to the one mentioned in the description of this trope on the day she was soaked with the chemicals that gave her superpowers.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Rather selective. The Mack parents often notice the problem of the episode that Alex and/or Annie is having, but didn't notice Alex's powers or Annie studying her for four years.
  • Parents as People
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: Alex's powers go haywire when she gets the common cold.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Alex Mack and Danielle Atron.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Alex and Ray, a rare example of a platonic friendship portrayed realistically.
  • Power-Up Food: Whenever Alex eats curry, she'd gain Super Strength.
  • Required Secondary Powers: When Alex turns into an amorphous puddle, she also can turn things she touches (usually her clothes) amorphous as well, though this takes at least some effort--the first time she tries it, she ends up naked. Also, she can still see while amorphous, despite no longer having any visible eyes, and can speak, despite lack of a mouth.
  • Romantic False Lead: Three of 'em, in fact, though two were only one-shot characters.
  • Searching the Stalls: Alex Mack once avoided detection this way, when her stall was opened for examination, she had liquefied and hid in the toilet bowl.
  • Secret Keeper: Annie and Ray, and later Alex's boyfriend Hunter Reeves.
    • Secret Secret Keeper: And, unbeknownst to any of them until the finale, Dave, the driver responsible for the accident.
  • Shallow Love Interest: Scott, Alex's first crush.
  • Shorttank: Alex.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Louis Driscoll
  • Snap Back: Due to episodes not being aired in production order, there is a moment that seems this way. In one episode, Ray provides the plant with false evidence as to the identity of the accident victim (in order to get the $250 reward), and accidentally convinces Vince that he himself is the kid. He nearly gets vivisected, but Alex helps him escape. In the next episode, in which all of the students in Alex's school get one-day jobs at the plant as part of a project, Ray is working with Atron herself and Vince doesn't seem to recognize him. Later episodes actually have Ray covering his face as he walks past Vince.
  • Super Serum: GC-161
  • Super Strength: Later in the series, she gains the ability to become super-strong after eating curry.
  • Teen Genius: Annie, though with a lot less angst most of the time.
  • They Would Cut You Up
  • Those Two Girls: Alex's other friends, Nicole and Robyn.
  • Three Amigos
  • Tomboyish Name: Never really pointed out in the show, but it's funny now that there's an Alex Mack in the National Football League.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Danielle Atron, though considered a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing by anyone who has met her, works to maintain a good public image.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The "shape" being an amorphous puddle, but whatever.
  • What If: Ray has an All Just a Dream episode where a bolt of lightning causes Alex's powers to jump to him and Alex has two What If episodes: one where she switches bodies with her mother (making her mom have Alex's powers) and one where Alex sees what the world would be like if she were never born, which also includes her mom being the victim of the chemical accident that led to Alex's powers.
  • Wonderful Life: See Be Careful What You Wish For.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: At first, Danielle was interested in keeping the GC-161 child alive as a test subject. However, once the development of the GC-161 reached a level where having the child would be of no use to further development, she wanted the child destroyed.
  • You Killed My Father: Hunter Reeves's motivation for taking down Danielle Atron.
  1. A dietary aid for weight loss.