J.J. Abrams may have the magic touch when it comes to movies, but he’s been even more influential on TV. If your favorite show involves parallel universes, vast conspiracies or mysterious boxes, it’s probably Abrams’.
While you get up to speed on back episodes of “Fringe,” here’s a cheat sheet for beginners.
1. Abrams started building his reputation in television with 1998’s “Felicity.” He created, wrote, produced and directed it – and even helped compose the theme music. He followed up that success with 2001’s “Alias,” 2004’s “Lost” and the current “Fringe.” Less successful: 2006’s “What About Brian” and “Six Degrees” and 2010’s underrated “Undercovers.”
2. He can be identified by his geek-chic glasses, which make him a dead ringer for Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki’s character on “The Big Bang Theory”).
3. There are high expectations for the two shows Abrams has put together for the fall season. “Person of Interest,” on CBS, will star beloved “Lost” baddie Michael Emerson as a billionaire who has developed a computer program that predicts crimes of the future. He tries to stop them with co-stars Jim Caviezel and Taraji P. Henson. Fox is planning a mid-season premiere for Abrams’ “Alcatraz,” a time-traveling mystery about the prisoners being transported to the present, looking none the worse. It stars Sam Neill, Parminder Nagra and beloved “Lost” lottery winner Jorge Garcia.
4. He frequently casts Greg Grunberg, an Abrams friend since kindergarten who starred in his home movies. You may have to squint to see him in “Super 8” – he has a cameo as a sitcom character.
5. Some of the recurring themes in Abrams’ work include a box with mysterious contents; the Milgram Small World Phenomenon, in which seemingly unconnected characters turn out to have unknown links; and pregnant women getting kidnapped.