Question: I really enjoyed the new series Dark Angel. I think Jessica Alba is beautiful, and it's about time a Latina receives the main-character role. My family and I have a bet over her ethnicity; perhaps you can help us out. What exactly is it? L.L.
Televisionary: Dying for more details on that particular actress, L.L.? Get in line. Readers have buried me in such queries since the series debuted Oct. 3 on Fox (9 pm/ET).
Like her character, the genetically enhanced Max, the suddenly hot Alba is of mixed ethnicity. Her dad is of Mexican descent, while her mom is Danish and French. And not to get too heavy in a TV column, but I think series creators James Cameron (Titanic) and Charles Eglee (Murder One) deserve their props for the implication that genetic perfection means blending rather than the racial purity of the blond-haired, blue-eyed super-soldier that many others might have presented.
The guy I feel sorry for in all this cyberhype, though, is writer William Gibson, who fathered the cyberpunk genre with his various short stories and the series of breakthrough hit novels started by Neuromancer. First his Johnny Mnemonic, starring Keanu Reeves, bombed at the box office and with critics. Then The Matrix, which "borrowed" many of the concepts and ideas from his books, was a monster theatrical hit with the same star and no involvement from Gibson. Now Dark Angel looks to be a success, judging by early ratings, and it owes quite a bit to his works.
Don't believe me? Check out his novel Virtual Light, which features a sassy, young bike messenger zipping around a dystopic San Francisco and the rest of California's carcass. It may not be outright theft there is no such thing in the entertainment biz but the "inspiration" from that and his other books is rather obvious.