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Alphas Added to Syfy Summer

By December 10, 2010

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David Strathairn headlines the new superhero series.

David Strathairn headlines the new superhero series.

© Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

When I was a kid, summers were when nothing was on. But Syfy has just greenlit another new dramatic series for its summer season, which is already loaded with decent-to-great shows like Haven, Warehouse 13, and Eureka.

The new series in question is the latest ordinary-folks-with-superpowers series, called Alphas (this is still marked as a working title). In the context of this series, "alphas" is the name for ordinary citizens with hyper-developed neurological talents. The show centers on a group of alphas who form a team to investigate cases involving extraordinary mental and physical abilities that suggest the activity of others like them--trying, as crusading crime-fighters so often are, to uncover what the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon have not been able or willing to solve.

Syfy has ordered 11 episodes, not counting the 90-minute pilot, and has slated it to air in summer 2011.

The series has been in the pipes a while. In 2007, ABC Studios started and set aside the project, then called Section 8, from writers Zak Penn (who, fairly or not, gets a lot of the blame for X3; his current credit is The Avengers) and Michael Karnow. Then in August 2009, Syfy approved a 90-minute action/adventure pilot from its sister company Universal Cable Productions, directed by Jack Bender, formerly the director/executive producer of Lost. The pilot went before cameras in Toronto in June 2010.

The cast of Alphas includes veteran actor and recent Emmy-winner (for Temple Grandin) David Strathairn (Bourne Ultimatum) as team leader Dr. Lee Rosen, along with Warren Christie (October Road), Malik Yoba (Defying Gravity), Laura Mennell (Watchmen), Ryan Cartwright (Vincent Nigel-Murray from Bones), and Azita Ghanizada (Blood Shot).

Has the Joe Superhero bit run its course? I think if anything, it's gaining traction. Stories involving established costumed superheroes have been emphasizing the tribulations of the alter ego since at least Superman, but the split personality still keeps half of the hero at arm's length from the audience; early Smallville and Heroes, despite the latter's own inability to sustain the effort, underlined the possibilities inherent in the Joe Superhero concept by killing off the oversimplifying duality. Meanwhile other supernatural tales--particularly Being Human--have taken this approach and run with it with great success.

The latest crop--the middling-to-good No Ordinary Family, Syfy's Being Human, The Cape, Three Inches (which is reportedly being tweaked to be less like Alphas), and now Alphas--seems like it's establishing the new way to tell superhero stories, by emphasizing character over power. Next year may be a good year for superhero drama.
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July 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm
(1) jnb says:

I could not even fource myself to sit through the first epiosode,,IT SUCKS

July 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm
(2) wanda says:

Alphas is one of the best new series this summer. Love it.

July 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm
(3) Christopher says:

I thought that this was just going to be another “Heroes” clone. I went into this with this pessimistic attitude. The pilot was OK. It introduces us to the somewhat disjointed cast, and of syfy fare, it was ok.

The subsequent two episodes, holy hell were they awesome. These aren’t just Heroes or X-men knockoffs, this is some uncharted waters, and it is fun. The villain in the second episode, it was exhilarating looking through his eyes and seeing how he can effect things in a manner reminiscent of death from the “Final Destination” movies. It was a fun watch and introduced some pretty exciting foreshadowing.

The third episode was about an alpha that could use pheromones to make crowds fall into a murderous rage. At one point the team themselves fall to it. The color onscreen changes and the filming angles become violent and erratic, capturing the sheer violent malevolence on the characters as they enact their rage. Blood flies, a integral character actually dies… it was a great scene well edited.

So, this series has earned itself a spot on my DVR,

August 8, 2011 at 10:04 pm
(4) Karen Bell says:

Good show. It’s getting better as the development of characters evolves.

August 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm
(5) Red Dobbs says:

I loved it…The autistic guy is great, saw him on Bones and liked him there, love him on Alphas. Good concept, will keep watching.

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