J. J. Abrams has brought us manifold televisual delights over the years. His production company Bad Robot has been responsible for more than one cultural phenomenon. The new Bad Robot series Revolution – created by Eric Kripke, he of Supernatural fame – details the lives of a group of characters living in a future world without functioning electrical equipment. It stars Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito, Zak Orth, David Lyons, and Anna Lise Phillips. In honor of this new effort, let's take a look back at Abrams' past accomplishments with this J. J. Abrams Buzzlist:
Alias (2001-2006) – This thoroughly unique spy-thriller-romance-drama-historic-adventure-mystery series takes outlandish ideas from multiple genres and welds them together into beautiful and unexpected shapes. It runs on the strength of its outstanding cast (Jennifer Garner, Victor Garber, Ron Rifkin, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Weisman, Terry O'Quinn) and guest stars (Isabella Rossellini, David Cronenberg, Ricky Gervais, Quentin Tarantino). Where else can you find super-spies battling over ancient technology and falling in and out of love with each other as they save the world on a weekly basis? Plus, there's heart-wrenching family drama galore as Sydney Bristow tries to come to terms with her decidedly unusual parents.
Lost (2004-2010) – This esoteric existential mystery series redefined what television could be. Running multiple alternate-reality games on the side to expand its mythology, it was and is as much an extended conversation between fans and writers as a traditional narrative. The show even functions as a book club, promoting literacy by recommending lesser-known titles to viewers eager to solve the puzzle. Whether you're delighted or outraged by Lost's many twists and turns, you can't honestly say you've ever seen anything else like it on television. It takes storytelling in American popular culture to previously unimagined places. And for those of us who still live and die with its characters, it's an experience like no other.
Fringe (2008-present) – This X-Files-inspired series starts as a weird-case-of-the-week show about paranormal investigators, then develops into a complicated and fascinating web of alternate realities and shadowy players. The story follows Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) as she begins working for the Fringe Division investigating cases related to “fringe” science. Her companions are the father-and-son team of Walter and Peter Bishop (John Noble and Joshua Jackson, respectively). There is, of course, a secretive organization called Massive Dynamic pulling the strings – not to mention a mysterious Pattern and a group of peculiar Observers. It's Abrams weirdness extraordinaire.
Person of Interest (2011-present) – Fans of Lost will know that a great deal of that show's appeal came from watching Michael Emerson make inscrutable-yet-somehow-threatening faces at people. Person of Interest stars the formidable Emerson in a more kindly role as billionaire genius Harold Finch who recruits a former CIA-man (Jim Caviezel) to help him stop violent crimes. The system he designed to predict terrorist attacks has the unforeseen side-effect of predicting less-dramatic crimes as well. The government doesn't care, so Finch goes rogue in an effort to do the good that no-one else can. If going too long without looking into Michael Emerson's strange eyes makes you start to feel shaky, this is the show for you.
Alcatraz (2012) – This odd show was unfortunately canceled before it had much time to develop. It concerns “the 63s” – a group of inmates and guards who disappeared from Alcatraz Island in 1963. They begin to return in modern day with little memory of the intervening years and unexplained compulsions dictating their behavior. Among the reasons to watch are performances from Jorge Garcia (Lost's beloved Hugo “Hurley” Reyes), Robert Forster (veteran of films like The Black Hole, Mulholland Drive, and The Descendents), and the always-welcome, always-engaging Sam Neill (from every great, slightly trashy genre film you can think of).