Who said being doused in a mysterious chemical was bad? Not Alex Mack! The Secret World of Alex Mack was one of the longer running Nickelodeon shows, even if you don't remember it. With 78 episodes over four season, people tuned in to watch this 12-year-old-turned-science-experiment live a secret life and be the target of an evil chemical company.
Here are something things about The Secret World of Alex Mack that aren't covered in goo.
1. One of a Kind
Over 300 girls auditioned for the role of Alex Mack. Co-creator and producer, Thomas W. Lynch, says he didn't want a girl who "looked like she worked too much in television, had the kinds of reactions you always see, the smile, the look, the acting with eyes and all that kind of thing." That's why when Larisa Oleynik auditioned, he knew she was the one.
Larisa had such a great natural instinct," he said. "It was stunning. She made the character richer and more shaded."
2. Replacing Clarissa
Clarissa Explains It All was one of Nick's most popular shows. It was the beginning of the classic Saturday night lineup on the network, followed by shows like All That and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? When that show ended, the network decided they needed to replace the slot with another female lead. That's when Alex Mack took over. Eventually, the show would get two new episodes on Nick per week.
3. Welcome, Jessica
Though she's known now as a movie star and successful business woman, Jessica Alba was a budding child star when she landed a role on The Secret World of Alex Mack. Alba had just made her film debut in Camp Nowhere and was hoping to make it big on the small screen. She only appeared in three episodes of the show, before she left to star in the television reboot of Flipper.
4. Naked Controversy
The pilot of the show caused more controversy than I'm sure it intended. When Alex is reformed back into a human after being turned into goo, she's not wearing any clothing. The writers quickly realized it probably wasn't a great idea to have a 12-year-old girl be naked in every episode, both for the character and the actress, so they gave Alex the ability to keep her clothes on.
"I remember being mortified!" Larisa Oleynik said years later. "I was just really embarrassed, being that I was 12 or 13 or whatever. I had this towel wrapped around me or something and was behind some boxes. I was so, so embarrassed. They did then end up changing that ... which was a good thing."
5. Banned DVDs
In the United Kingdom, the first season DVD set was released in 2012. But the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) pushed to have an age requirement to purchase it. They said one of the episodes features a "child character" hiding in a tumble dryer, but never addressed how dangerous this was. The BBFC suggested the scene be cut, but the distributor actually agreed to the rating. They said the DVDs were aimed for "an adult nostalgia market" anyway, so there was really no risk of kids purchasing the DVDs.
6. No Chemistry
Lynch and fellow creator, Ken Lipman, wrote the pilot script for the show, but many people don't realize that the chemical name used in the show has a sad meaning behind it. GC-161 was named after his parents' divorce. The GC came from "DNA research", while 161 is a reference to Lynch being 8 years old when his parents split (1 + 6 + 1 = 8)
7. Mrs. Belding?
The evil owner/CEO of the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant, Danielle Atron, which gave Alex her superpowers, may have seemed like a familiar face to some people. The actress who played Atron appeared in an episode of Saved By The Bell as Mr. Belding's wife, who gives birth in an elevator with the help of Zack Morris.
8. Book Smart
If you couldn't get enough of Alex Mack, you could also read the book. Between 1995 and 1998, 32 books were published with original stories. There were two other books that were published without original stories, which were novelizations of the first and last episodes. All the books were written by Diana G. Gallagher, who specializes in writing books based on TV shows.
9. Moving On
A lot of people assume Alex Mack was cancelled, but it was actually a little shady business from Oleynik that had it end. According to Lynch, the actress was offered "a ton of money" to continue on for a fifth season, but she said she wanted to keep the character innocent. Plus, she was burnt out and wanted to finish high school. While these are valid reasons, it was a little sketchy when she joined on to the cast of 3rd Rock From The Sun not long after Alex Mack ended.
10. Big Names
Though the show was short-lived (in TV land), a lot of the staff moved on to big projects. Matt Dearborn, a writer, went on to create the series Even Stevens. Vance DeGeneres, Ellen's brother, was a writer on the show before becoming a corespondent on The Daily Show. Neena Beber went on to write for Daria and the Mandy Moore film How To Deal. Shawn Levy directed on Alex Mack before moving on to Steve Martin's version of The Pink Panther, The Internship, Date Night, and all three of the Night at the Museum films.
11. That Ending...
In the series finale of the show, Alex was given an antidote by her father (a scientist) that would rid her of all her powers. At the end, Alex pulls out the vial and smiles, but it's never revealed what she does. When asked what she thought, Oleynik was pretty blunt.
"You know, I never ... and I don't know what acting teachers would say about this, 'cause you're always supposed to have a choice ... but I never made that choice for myself when we were doing it," she confessed. "Just because I wasn't sure how I wanted the show to end in my mind."
However, Lynch cleared things up in a 2012 interview: Alex Mack keeps her powers.