I’ve long been a fan of writer/director/producer/all-round-wonder J.J. Abrams. It’s something that started with the TV show Alias and was brought to mind again on seeing the latest (awesome) Star Trek movie recently – so I thought I’d write a bit about it and share a little of the said wonder of J.J. with the world (or at least the lovely folk who read this blog).
As I’ve already mentioned before (many, many times), I love sci-fi and fantasy and it’s a huge influence on pretty much everything I write. For me, a big part of that is the cult TV genre that includes shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica and Dark Angel, to name a somewhat eclectic few – and, of course, some Abrams creations.
The main thing I love about them is not necessarily the fantasy elements – although, let’s face it, they are rather cool – but more the way in which those elements can allow for the development of character in really big, interesting and often emotional ways. Cult TV shows, and especially Abrams ones, usually rely a lot on long story arcs that span a season, or even multiple seasons. It’s one of my favourite forms of storytelling because it allows you to travel a long way with the characters, over a lengthy period of time.
So, here are my three Abrams favourites…
Following FBI agent Olivia Dunham and the Fringe (investigates weird science stuff) Division, this show has just ended after a five season run. Not for the faint hearted, it’s a bit like The X-Files meets, well, Alias (see below), but it goes into lots of new territory as well and isn’t really like anything else I’ve seen. One of the best things about it is the character of Walter Bishop – a genius scientist who’s been in a mental institution for several years and is taken out by his son, Peter, so he can assist the FBI on Fringe cases. Played by the brilliant John Noble, Walter has to be seen to be truly explained (here’s a ‘best of’ video), but I can say this – he is probably the most original, deeply moving and incredibly funny character I have ever seen, in anything. To give a hint of how good Fringe is, I’d watched the final season twice within two weeks of getting the DVDs. I was thoroughly gripped and cried both times.
Here’s the season one trailer.
Ah, my first Abrams show. Following the exploits of Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), a CIA agent doubling in an illegal organisation that’s pretending to be the CIA (sneaky, right?)… Like Fringe, it ran for five seasons and had a big reliance of mega story arcs. It was dramatic, emotional and completely, compulsively addictive to watch. Oh, and Bradley Cooper’s in it, so that’s always a plus. My friends and I got so into it we even made up a dance to the theme tune, that we did in synchronicity every time it played at the start of an episode. Genuinely. It was called “the Alias dance”. …Maybe I shouldn’t tell people that.
Here’s a season one trailer.
Probably the most well-known Abrams show. Survivors of a plane crash are marooned on a desert island. The longer they stay, the more “weird” things start to happen… I was really into Lost for the first couple of seasons, but then got lost (see what I did there?) when they moved it to Sky TV – which I sadly don’t have. I caught up a few years later though, with some epic DVD watching sessions. Pretty much every episode ends on a question-inducing cliffhanger. I think a lot of the pull of the story is in the things that you don’t know – and can argue about (ahem, sorry, debate) for hours on end with other viewers.
Here’s the season one trailer.
So, there you go; three great shows. Well done, Mr Abrams. Well done.
P.S. I know it’s not a TV show, but here’s the trailer for the Abrams directed Star Trek: Into Darkness movie – just because, as previously mentioned, it’s awesome. And Benedict Cumberbatch is kind of a legend.