* Features six of Abrams’ shows that got people talking
* Includes one provocative series that earned 22 Emmy nominations
* Relive each moment and experience these shows anytime on Amazon
If you own a TV or subscribe to a streaming service, chances are you’ve heard of J.J. Abrams and seen some of his work. Abrams has made a huge impact in the world of television, first with the WB’s Felicity, then with ABC’s Alias. And over the past decade he’s been involved with ushering in some of the most groundbreaking TV ever, including his most recent involvement with HBO’s Westworld. Here are SPY’s picks for the best J.J. Abrams series of all-time.
6. Fringe (2008-2013)
Abrams’ Role: Executive Producer, Co-Creator
Co-created by Abrams, Fox’s Fringe began as an X-Files type of show about an FBI agent investigating inexplicable sci-fi weirdness every week. However, it soon evolved into an imaginative exploration of parallel universes and alternate timelines. In fact, Fringe offered some of TV’s biggest mind-blowing moments, and like so many Abrams shows, it features a strong female protagonist.
5. Person of Interest (2011-2016)
Abrams’ Role: Executive Producer
This CBS thriller, created by Jonathan Nolan and produced by Abrams, instantly elevated the network’s evening lineup. The inventive drama starred TV’s most pensive vigilante played by Jim Caviezel. Other actors included post-Lost Michael Emerson and pre-Empire Taraji P. Henson. Many viewers agree the show packed an emotional punch, even if it was just about two guys using a semi-sentient surveillance system to stop crimes before they happen.
4. Felicity (1998-2002)
Abrams’ Role: Executive Producer, Co-Creator, Showrunner, Director (two episodes)
Abrams’ first TV hit was the WB drama he co-created with Matt Reeves. Keri Russell played a New York undergrad trying to discover herself while also wavering between two love interests, Ben and Noel – a role that basically cemented her pop culture legacy. For four years, a nation was torn between Team Ben and Team Noel, although the show’s biggest dramatic and most talked about moment was Russell’s ill-advised short haircut throughout the sophomore season. The WB coming-of-age tale is still a fan favorite to this day.
3. Alias (2001-2006)
Abrams’ Role: Executive Producer, Creator, Showrunner, Director (Pilot and two additional episodes)
Three years after Felicity, came Abrams’ most lauded work (at the time). Alias, was a show about Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) and her quest to take down a fake-CIA branch called SD6. Alias helped reinvigorate not only the spy drama, but the action heroine drama as well. Looking back, it’s still hailed as one of the best shows of the past 20 years.
Abrams was all hands on deck with Alias in both the writing and directing capacity. It was also his first collaboration with writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who would go on to work with Abrams on Fringe, Mission: Impossible III, and the new Star Trek movies. Although never a ratings machine, ABC’s spy thriller became a pop culture phenomenon thanks to its action-packed sequences and slick narratives. It was also the show that propelled Jennifer Garner into super stardom.
2. Lost (2004-2010)
Abrams’ Role: Executive Producer, Co-Creator, Director (pilot)
Many would argue most of the credit for this sci-fi saga belonged to show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, but Executive Producer Abrams was there from the beginning (and would later co-write the Season 3 premiere), helping pave the way for some truly gripping television. The ABC drama’s two-part 2004 premiere, remains one of the best television pilots ever made — if not the best.
The action-packed, “keep you guessing,” flashback-filled saga of the castaways changed the way we watch television. You’d be lying if you claimed not to have watched Lost with one hand on the pause button (what did we just see?) and the other on your computer arguing on the Internet about “what it all means?”
Whether or not you felt betrayed or enlightened by the final season, especially the series finale, you can’t deny that it was a TV phenomenon.
1. Westworld (2016-Present)
Abrams’ Role: Executive Producer
Person of Interest collaborators Abrams and Nolan joined forces again to create the provocative series, Westworld. The show is based on the 1973 film of the same name. It explores how a cast of robots and humans search for meaning and purpose within the confines of a theme park catering to wish-fulfillment.
Westworld tells this narrative primarily from the perspective of the androids, as the series asks the classic question of what might happen if our creations turned against us. Essentially, the human beings of Westworld are, to a certain extent, supporting players in a drama of android self-actualization.
Although the sci-fi Western overcame some creative hiccups early on, it emerged as one 2016’s most fascinating — and best — series. And they’ve got the numbers to prove it as Westworld was nominated for 22 Emmy Awards, making it (and SNL) the most-nominated shows of the year.
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