Thursday, November 08, 2012

Alphas gets an A

Do you all remember how excited we were during the first season of Heroes? Finally we were getting a fresh, contemporary take on the superhero's journey. As expected, we started with our heroes discovering their powers, setting off various chains of events that all converged in an epic boss battle. At the end, the heroes were collected together for the first time - IMHO, the obvious next step was for them to form a superhero team. This would allow them to explore their super-powered nature as an identity - one person with powers might be a fluke, two people might be a coincidence, but twenty, thirty, one hundred people? That's a subculture. Sadly, instead of moving these characters forward, the creative team of Heroes decided to hit a giant "reset" button and scatter the heroes to the wind. This is part of why the series fizzled, but not before churning out two more seasons of diminishing quality. 

From Heroes to Zeroes.

Weep no more, my fellow Heroes fans - SyFy's Alphas is here to save the day. This show picks up where Heroes dropped the ball. It focuses on a group of super-powered people (known as Alphas) who have been recruited by the government to form a task force that investigates crimes perpetuated by similarly super-powered individuals. Their leader is actually a non-Alpha who also serves as a psychiatrist, and the team doubles as a support group. This is an elegant little set-up - we have the perfect structure within which to explore these people's superpowers, their basic humanity, and how the two an play against each other. 

Alphas also does something that Heroes never did - it imposes limits on particular powers, by trying to make them fit within known biological frameworks. Often it's a bit of a psuedo-scientific stretch, but it's interesting nonetheless. More importantly, it means that there are significant downsides to various powers. My favorite character is a man who can see electronic signals and other sonic wavelengths, who also has high-functioning autism. It doesn't hurt that he's played by one of my favorite Bones alums, Ryan Cartwright (aka Vincent Nigel-Murray). The first season also had a couple of cameos from sci-fi standard bearers/fan favorites Summer Glau and Brent Spiner - squee! 

The internet scuttlebutt is that Alphas has about a 50/50 shot at renewal, and that the actors will be told by Thanksgiving. In light of this, I urge all you Heroes fans to check out this series - TiVo it, rent it, buy it, watch it TODAY. The entirety of the first season is available on Netflix Instant Watch, and five episodes from the second season are available on SyFy Rewind. And keep your fingers crossed for good news later this month! 


Clovis said...

I was on the fence about Alphas for exactly the Heroes-related reasons that you mentioned, but you've convinced me. To the OnDemand menu!

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