Tuesday, February 04, 2014


I have a poor track record with Syfy original drama series. Sure, I like their Canadian imports (like Lost Girl), and there have been some winners (Battlestar Galactica), but for the most part I find their shows like Warehouse 13, Eureka, and Haven barely tolerable.

So I didn't have high hopes for the new series, Helix. But the preview looked intriguing--kind of like that episode of The X-Files, Ice, where Mulder and Scully travel to the arctic to investigate a parasitic worm alien thing that was dug out of the ice.

And it turns out Helix is actually better than intriguing: it's tense, creepy, and the plot goes way past what I saw in the previews. Think of it as The Thing + Contagion + The Walking Dead = AWESOME.

From the Syfy show page:
Helix is an intense thriller about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that holds the key to mankind's salvation...or total annihilation. Helix is the product of some of the biggest names in genre television, starting with Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica). 
The show takes what has become a standard genre plot (weird viral/parasitic outbreak in the arctic), and adds some cool twists by teasing out details of larger mysteries. What is the real purpose behind the experiments at the research facility? Why is the head honcho creepily obsessed with one of the CDC scientists? Who is the military engineer really working for? I'm invested in finding the answers which is more than I can say for most drama series these days.

Two other things that really make the show work. A certain percentage of the infected people become what the CDC calls "vectors." Meaning they seek to the spread the infection to as many people as possible....which in the Helix world means they become crazy feral monsters who run you down and vomit black goo into your mouth. Think fast zombies, but with less brain munching and more black fluid expulsion. Not only are the current survivors fearful of invisible microbes, they also have to watch out for their friends and colleagues.

This will certainly end well for us all.

The nature of the assaults (the vomiting of the black goo into the victim's mouth) is almost sexual in nature which only adds to the terrifying atmosphere. It's frightening in the same way the Alien moves are frightening--the assault is invasive and violating and all the scarier for it.

Helix is not for the faint of heart--while there isn't a lot of typical gun/knife/punching violence, as mentioned above there's lots of fluid spewing and claustrophobic tense scenes. But there's also a complex and interesting plot which moves the show beyond the typical Syfy series. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Helix airs on the Syfy channel Fridays at 10:00 pm EST and the pilot episode is available for viewing online on the show's home page.

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