Friday, July 15, 2011

New TV Scorecard: Alphas

Well Syfy finally premiered its summer shows this week. We won't discuss those weird pseudo-reality series they have debuting/premiering, but among the actually anticipated series (by this viewer, at any rate) were Eureka, Warehouse 13, Haven (premiering tonight), and new series Alphas.

I have to say, getting David Strathairn to head up one of their series is a major coup for Syfy. So off the bat I had high hopes for this series. The addition of Ryan Cartwright, most recently seen as one of the revolving squinterns on Bones and Laura Mennell, who will be a familiar face to fans of recent genre shows, are definitely nice bonuses. Along with a guest appearance by Callum Keith Rennie, yum. I don't have much to say about the rest of the cast yet, but as a whole the group seems to have a nice chemistry. They feel very much like a team that has an effective and efficient rhythm down despite the dysfunctional family dynamic they have going on.

The basic premise is nothing terribly new, a group of "evolved" humans, each with their own special ability, assembled by a super secret government branch work together to foil bad guys, said bad guys also being super-powered in most cases. We've got the chick who can use mind-control, a young woman capable of enhancing any one of her senses at a given time, a guy that can hulk out when needed, another able to see all electromagnetic frequencies (i.e., see all television/internet/cell phone signals in the air around himself), and another with crazy insane perfect aim. Then there's the goodly doctor who keeps them all in check and doles out the missions.

The pilot introduces the group to us and more or less demonstrates the recruitment process--the guy with ridiculous aim starts out as the puppet of the bad guys but is drafted into the White Hats (well, more like blackmailed, but it works) after he helps them right the wrongs he unwittingly committed. We learn of a group called Red Flag, also made up of Alphas (the people with powers) who are set on destroying the White Hats. That looks to be the big overarching season plotline right there. The episodes themselves look to be aiming toward a super-powered baddie of the week formula, but I could be wrong there.

The show itself didn't really bring anything new or fresh to the table, I'll admit, but it was entertaining enough. It has definite potential. The premise may not be fresh, but the execution was interesting, as were the characters. Not their powers, necessarily, but how they deal with those powers in their everyday lives. We are shown right off the bat that most of them have families at home who are unaware of what they do for a living. I will be curious see how things play out over the first season. As long as they can steer clear of the missteps made by other super-powered humans stories *cough*Heroes*cough* and avoid stealing too much for the comic books then we might have a pretty decent show on our hands.

One thing that makes me think Alphas might be headed in the right direction is the indication that these powers aren't unlimited or without repercussions. The woman who can hyperfocus, for instance, loses access to her other senses while she does so (i.e., she can't hear anything if she is "seeing") and the guy who hulks out can only go for so long before his body starts shutting down. I like that and look forward to how that gets explored as the season progresses.

I also really, really, like the fact that they drive around in a mini-van. It is actually a logical choice for their operation and the low profile they are trying to keep (their office seems to be in a building fronted by a bowling alley). Also, it's funny.

First Impression Rating: 7/10 (With fingers crossed and a hopeful optimism.)

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