ICYMI: Mack n’ Mad Men

This week was all about reliving our youth, specifically sitting at home on Saturday nights and hanging with Alex and Kenan and Shelby, rather than friends IRL.

The Secret World of Alex Mack LiveBlog: ‘Alex and Mom’ – Pools, Parties, and Pizzas

What did you watch if it was a Saturday night, and you were too old for Matilda (as if!) and it was too 1995 for Orphan Black – but you still wanted a healthy dose of telekinesis and corporate/scientific threats to bodily autonomy? And you also wanted to see a wardrobe made 70% of overalls? Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Mack.

The Secret World Of Alex Mack was a super high-concept show about a typical junior high girl (a pre-10 Things I Hate About You Larissa Oleynik) who is hit by a chemical plant truck and develops strange powers. She also wore a lot of overalls.

Episode Title: Alex and Mom

Air Date: January 7, 1995

Alex “disorganizes” her mom’s files after a huge fight, causing Barbara to nearly lose her job at the plant. A remorseful Alex tries to make amends when Barbara’s final chance at saving face seems doomed to disaster. Incidentally, this is the only episode of the series where Larisa Oleynik wears a Bathing Suit.


Hit Play!!!

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M: Before we even get going, is “only episode where Larisa Oleynik wears a bathing suit” supposed to be a selling point, because I’m pretty sure she’s like 13. Grosssss. Plus is there a reason she’d be wearing bathing suits? It’s not like it was a beach show. Okay, let’s start now.

Opening Credits: T: I love when shows tell you the premise of the series in under 30 seconds or less. It’s one notch up from the ‘Previously on…’, and helpful for elders like me.

0:15 M: I am now realizing I have forgotten all of the characters except for Alex and her brainy sister, Annie. Also, Alex’s friend’s t-shirt with the earth-tone sun on it is the most 1995 thing ever.

M: I used to think Alex had the coolest tomboy outfits ever – growing up with two older brothers, I was outdoorsy – but her hat is just confusing me. There’s a strap in the front like it’s a backwards baseball cap, but then there’s no brim? WHAT IS THIS?
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:55 T: Alex attempts to ask cute boy Scott if he wants to go to a screening of a new movie with her, but she asks if he has “plans for science”. What does this mean? Does he have plans for science class? Or like plans for science in general, particularly radioactive sludge that makes tweens turn into puddles?

1:03 M: Alex’s Mom: Isn’t Scott too old for you? [A beat, seemingly forgetting about too-old guy entirely] I need you to go to the store!

Alex: I can’t, I’m going to the movies!

Ah, yes. 1995. When “free range parenting” was just… parenting.

2:20 T: Now, I didn’t grow up in a town where I could easily go to the grocery store by myself then bring home said groceries, so WTF why isn’t the mom or dad doing this instead of a child?

2:45 M: Alex’s mom, Barbara, works at the chemical plant – but you already knew that. I just feel like in real life, these plants aren’t all shiny and futuristic, like an evil corporate overlord’s secret lair. They probably just look like factories, no?

T: Agreed. This chemical plant looks like Nickelodeon had to stay on budget and double up on the use of the Space Cases set.

M: Ah, yes. Space Cases. Hated the dude with the curly mullet and the pig-pink child, loved the flat-top and the girl with gay pride hair.

Of course Larisa has had a respectable acting career since her days on the Big Orange Couch, including a stint as Ken Cosgrove’s (Accounts) wife on Mad Men. But after she appeared it was this weird trend of 90s actors going back to the 60s… That makes sense.

The 90s Take Over Mad Men

We’re  six episodes into the sixth season of Mad Men, and we’ve already been introduced to a bunch of new characters. But here’s the thing about the show: creator Matthew Weiner keeps everything so under wraps that even the guest stars are kept secret. Elisabeth Moss (Peggy) said in a recent interview that the people who come in to audition don’t even know exactly who they’ll be playing, who they’re acting with, or what the actual scene is. She said the writers change all the character names in the audition sides and they’ll make up a different story line, but it still contains the same type of drama that the real story line has. And then they shred everything.

So because of that, identifying guest stars on the show has become much of a game for me now. Like, ‘Guess which actor you know from that one thing because he/she is now playing a new client on Mad Men.’ It’s gotten to the point where every new character I see, I wrack my brain to figure out if they’re someone or not. 80% of the time it’s just some lucky unknown, and the remaining 20%, it turns out to be Alex Mack. It’s really messing with my flow of watching the show. What’s even more unnerving is that most of these people have been in 90s/2000s TV shows! Remember when Mr. Belding was on the Cool Whip episode last season, or even Clarissa’s Dad from Clarissa Explains it All who plays Pete’s father-in-law?

Here are some other notable 90s guest stars from this season…

Linda Cardellini

Who She Plays:

Sylvia Rosen, wife of the Doctor, mistress of Don. (ugh)

How You Know Her:

Lindsey Weir in Freaks and Geeks, Sam Taggart in ER, Velma in Scooby Doo.

Harry Hamlin

Who He Plays:

Jim Cutler, the head of accounts for Cutler, Gleason and Chaough

How You Know Him:

Creepy Aaron Echolls in Veronica Mars, Michael Kuzak in L.A. Law, husband to Lisa Rinna

Ted McGinley

Who He Plays:

Mel, the head writer on Megan Draper’s soap opera

How You Know Him:

Jefferson D’Arcy in Married… With Children, Roger Phillips in Happy Days, and the ‘Patron Saint of Shark-Jumping’

Craig Anton

Who He Plays:

Screen shot 2013-05-06 at 12.20.35 AM

Frank Gleason, partner at Cutler, Gleason and Chaough ad agency

How You Know Him:

Lloyd Diffy (Phil’s Dad) on Phil of the Future, MadTV, that one episode of The Office where he called out Michael for sleeping with Jan

Danielle Panabaker

Who She Plays:

Screen shot 2013-05-06 at 12.25.11 AM

Daisy the Stewardess that Roger hooks up with.

How You Know Her:

Brittany Aarons in DCom Stuck in the Suburbs (pictured here with SNL’s Taran Killam and Brenda Song), Jacey Jeffries in the iconic Lifetime original movie Mom at Sixteen, Is in Read It And Weep – aka forever a teenager to me


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