Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review - Alphas Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Alphas fits the current Syfy brand perfectly in a way that will bother those who call on Syfy to have actual science fiction and appease those who probably don't watch the channel too often. Like the two shows airing before it, Eureka and Warehouse 13, Alphas is terrestrial, without aliens in makeup, spaceships, or scientific jargon.

The characters of Alphas are distinctly human, located in America, and seem normal--except for their powers. There is Bill Harken (Malik Yoba), the super-strong black guy, Nina Theroux (Laura Mennell), the hot seductress who can control people's minds, Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright), who has Asperger's syndrome and can see all kinds of waves, and Rachel Pirzad (Azita Ghanizada ), who can sense what others feel. Joining the team by the end of the episode is Cameron Hicks (Warren Christie) who was being controlled to kill a witness. Running the team is Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn), who dilligently and calmly handles this ecclectic group of people, and his boss Don Wilson (Callum Keith Rennie).

The powers all seem pretty strong, but limitations are seen throughout the episode whether their come from personality or an inability to fully control the powers, so potential plot holes can be avoided. One thing that isn't fully explained is Nina's dark past, something that cuts into her godly powers which seem the most useful.

The plot, like the characters, is simple case for the team the solve through the first episode. There isn't some massive conspiracy or superhero underworld they wade into. They investigate, find the bad guy, and that's that. The biggest thing to carry over into future episode is Red Flag, an organization made up of other alphas. We don't know anything about them so far, but I'm sure we'll be seeing them soon enough.

The writers know the limitations of Syfy and of the genre. They aren't going for the Heroes "we're going to save the world!!" vibe or something philosophically deep. Instead, Alphas has good characters and simple plots with powers thrown in. With ready humor mixed with the serious tone, the show is well-suited for the summer.

Score: 8.8/10
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