With the year getting ready to draw to a close, one thing has become clear to anyone who's been paying attention: Despite television rating freefalls and a movie industry dependent on franchises for success, one man has managed to sail the choppy waters of genre entertainment with almost no mis-steps and still find success. Isn't it time that we finally gave JJ Abrams his long-awaited due?I know that there's more than a small amount of apathy and hatred towards Abrams out there - Yes, I'm talking about you, haters - but that shouldn't stop the triple threat writer/producer/director of Felicity, Alias and Mission: Impossible III get what's coming to him. In an era where Joss Whedon is reduced to making ballet and webshorts in order to get fulfill his muse the way he wants, we've come up with some reasons to consider Abrams' place as the new Joss.
He Makes The Mainstream Understand. Yes, he's not necessarily a trailblazer like Whedon - although his projects tend to do well when it comes to ARGs - but let's face it: His shows are more popular with both audiences and networks. Not for Abrams are there multiple pilot episodes due to network concern, or shows cancelled due to low ratings. What's more impressive is that this success has come without truly sacrificing the integrity of his work - Fringe may be somewhat insane (and inane), but it's very much true to its own weirdness; the same can definitely be said of the Abrams-produced Lost. Through aiming lower than Whedon, perhaps, he nonetheless manages to introduce mainstream America to some wonderfully unusual ideas.
He Made Simon Pegg Cry With Star Trek. No, really. Abrams explains:
I showed Simon Pegg [footage] when we were at Comic-Con. I showed him this little trailer thing and it was my favorite thing ever. He literally started weeping. It was ridiculous. He was sitting there, I mean he must have been plastered. Because he was looking at my iPhone [crying].
Maybe it's because I find it easy to forget Run, Fatboy, Run, but I tend to consider Pegg someone with reasonably good taste; if he started crying when he saw footage of a movie that he'd worked on himself, that's got to be a very good sign for one of the most anticipated movies of 2009. (Or, admittedly, a truly, truly bad one. But somehow I don't think it was meant like that.)
He Plays Well With Others. Whether it's Cloverfield's team of Drew Goddard and Matt Reeves, Lost's Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (or the impressive writers' room for the show) or his Fringe collaborators Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinker, Abrams has a proven legacy of putting aside his ego and assembling strong teams of creators able to carry out his creative vision - or improve on it, as needs be (Hi, Lost writers!).
Who Else Has Had A Better 2008? Put any anticipation of Star Trek out of your mind - or, for that matter, worry about the moved release date for the movie from this Christmas to next summer - and look at the trinity of 2008 releases bearing Abrams' stamp: Cloverfield, Lost and Fringe. Who else has had as strong a year in terms of quantity, success and quality? The role of being the largest mover and shaker isn't a lifetime position, of course; Joss Whedon's length as fanboy figurehead has probably been lengthier than many would've expected, perhaps because of the lack of appropriate replacement. Abrams may not deserve the role past the release of next year's Gene Rodenberry lovefest, but between now and then? We should all just finally embrace the truth, and throw away our shame: JJ Abrams Is Our Master Now.