Monday, September 28, 2009

Nerd Man of the Month: J.J. Abrams

I just had five brilliant ideas in the time it took you to sneeze.

I had an epiphany the other night and it's name was J.J. Abrams. I realized, while catching up on the last episodes of "Fringe"'s first season, that so much of the entertainment that has truly brought me geek joy over the last few years has somehow involved Abrams. This past year alone, we had the introduction of "Fringe," an awesome year of "Lost" and the best action/sci-fi film in my recent memory, the new "Star Trek" -- all of which were envisioned at least in part by this one-man writing/producing/directing juggernaut. And I kinda love him for it.

Although I never watched "Felicity," which seems so oddly out of step with the bulk of Abrams' oeuvre at this point, I was a fan of "Alias" from day one. One of Abrams' earliest successes, the pulse-pounding spy series starring a wig-wearing, ass-kicking Jennifer Garner showcased Abrams' ongoing ability to effectively add surreal elements into already fantastic premises. The show was incredible, leaving its viewers breathless at the end of every hour. And it was unlike anything else on TV.

Which sounds a lot like "Lost," a truly groundbreaking series that, in my humble opinion, will one day rank as one of the best TV shows of all time. With its insanely intricate plot, its maze of mysteries and the page-turning suspense that keeps viewers hooked -- whether they want to be or not -- the series is nerd nirvana.

As if "Lost" didn't give us enough to think about every week, we now have "Fringe," another freaky brain teaser that's quickly evolving into a "don't miss" cult series. Has there ever been a character as wonderfully nutty and dark as mad scientist Walter Bishop? And come on, there's a cow on the show! And Leonard Nimoy! An actual cow and an actual Leonard Nimoy! Brilliant.

Perhaps best of all, Abrams is the man responsible for transforming the "Star Trek" movies from the joke they had become into truly one of the best sci-fi flicks in recent memory. I will admit, I was afraid of what the "Star Trek" reboot would bring but five minutes into the new film, I knew everything would be alright -- in fact, even better than alright. Abrams showed a firm understanding of what makes "Star Trek" great, respecting the cult classic's origins while lifting it up, dusting it off and giving it new life. It was the best surprise of the summer.

As a screenwriter, Abrams also gave the world "Armageddon" which, in its campy awesomeness and rousing montages, has made 90 percent of the male population cry at least once. And yeah, I kinda like it too -- Bruce Willis saves the world in a completely incomprehensible and ridiculous way while Ben Affleck cavorts with animal crackers and Liv Tyler! No one can resist that.

Abrams also gave us one of my favorite sleepy thrillers: the underappreciated "Joy Ride" about two brothers played by Steve Zahn and Paul Walker who get chased cross-country by a crazed truck driver. Yeah, sounds lame but you won't want to get within 100 yards of a CB radio after watching it.

And although some may mutter angrily over its shortcomings, you gotta admit that "Cloverfield" was everything that lame-ass "Godzilla" remake of the 1990s should have been and wasn't. Rowr!

For all the joy he's given the nerd world over the years, for the miracle of resurrection he performed on "Star Trek," for the fact that he composes music and for the very simple reason that he can rock a pair of dark-framed eyeglasses as well as anyone, The Park Bench is pleased to name J.J. Abrams as its September Nerd Man of the Month.


Lissy said...

Felicity was a good show. He threw in some sci-fi themes in a couple of episodes. Characters living in Megan's box, time travel...

LadyGaga said...

such an inspiration :)

Gotta love that slow motion scene in Armageddon. classic gold.

Anonymous said...

I owe J.J. Abrams a drink for both LOST & Star Trek. I still haven't watched Fringed but figure I'll just catch up on with the DVDs after LOST ends. *sniff*

TV Lowdown said...

I've also never watched Felicity for the same reasons - it seems on the surface to be so contrary to what Abrams does.

Having said that, he is now working on a medical comedy series (, which may be even more non-Abrams!

Goggles and Glasses said...

All I can say is love those Nerd Glasses and you can get some here:

Beej said...

I tried to hook up my my now-fiancée via J.J. Abrams. Cloverfield had just come out, and I really wanted to see it. Unfortunately, the girl I had been dating for two years and I had just broken up the previous week, so when I made the comment that I guess I'd just have to go see Cloverfield alone, trying to get a sympathy vote, I was left with an "I guess you will."

Yes. That's how bad my game is.

In the end, it worked, and we bonded over Joss Whedon and other Abrams stuff, and we're getting married on Halloween (eek! four weeks!), but our lives could have crossed because of J.J. Abrams but didn't.