Buying ‘Alphas’ was more of a curiosity as much as anything. When you have a mentor leading a group of younger super-humans, you immediately have to draw comparison to the X-Men. In this case psychologist Lee Rosen (actor David Strathairn) runs a team of variable aged adults with enhanced senses. Two of them, Bill Harken (actor Malik Yoba) and new recruit, Cameron Hicks (actor Warren Christie) are more physical and share traits similar to the Hulk (stronger when angry) and Bullseye. A common trait is that they are all dysfunctional in some way, especially Gary Bell (actor Ryan Cartwright) who has a high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder but capable of reading electromagnetic signals from anything. Rachel Pizad (actress Azita Ghanizada) has hyper-senses to smell things out and Nina Theroux (actress Laura Mennell) once eye contact is made can push you to do things for her.
Much of their job is tracking down other dangerous Alphas, the name given to people like themselves, mostly to imprison them. They are supported by a government agency who often have their own ideas what to do at the end. Hardly surprising these rogues form their own national group, Red Flag, although few of them are shown to have the same social problems as the main group.
Watching the eleven episodes, outside of Rosen and Gary, the names of the others rarely sunk in and I was identifying them purely by their powers. I shouldn’t be surprised at this. After all, American shows tend to use their opening season as a shakedown to see what works and what doesn’t. With a super-team, not everyone is going to be able to shine in so few episodes. In many respects, they are often like a super-powered ‘Mission: Impossible’, having the right powers to do the right things. Logistically, that is largely why they were selected but it makes it look too easy that they can track anyone. Saying that, for some episodes, they do jump out from that objective but that’s spoiler.
What sells the first season is the use of special effects on a TV budget that looks as good as film and after five years, they still do. It’s a shame that even on the likes of the SyFi Channel, outside of the pilot, they stick to 44 minute episodes when going back to 50 minutes would give a little more room to play in but that’s advert business.
It was interesting enough to want to see what happens next in the second season, even if the third was aborted. Don’t touch Gary’s lunch. It upsets him.
(region 2 DVD: Universal Playback. 3 DVDs 493 minutes 11 * 44 minute episodes with a couple extras. Price: £ 4.99 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: 828 992 8)
cast: David Strathairn, Ryan Cartwright, Warren Christie, Azita Ghanizada, Laura Mennell and Malik Yoba
check out website: www.universal-playback.com