Stars: David Strathairn, Malik Yoba, Warren Christie, Azita Ghanizada, Ryan Cartwright, Laura Mennell
Writers: Zak Penn & Michael Karnow
Director: Jack Bender
Network: Syfy, Mondays @ 10 PM (note: pilot episode is 90 minutes)
Airdate: July 11, 2011
Shows about people with special abilities come in all flavors. ALPHAS is much lower-key than HEROES or even SANCTUARY, while still having a solid grounding in science-fiction. Moreover, the characters created by Zak Penn & Michael Karnow are engaging on their own and in their interactions. David Straithairn as neurologist/psychiatrist/team leader Lee Rosen is so unassumingly erudite and supportive that you pretty much want to go to work for the guy, even if you don’t have special cerebral abilities.
“Alphas,” as the series terms them, are people whose brains give them special abilities – though these in turn each carry a curse. When former FBI agent Bill Harken (Malik Yoba) gets an adrenaline rush, it carries super-strength – but it also increases his already contentious state of mind, and leaves him fatigued afterward. Rachel Pirzad (Azita Ghanizada) can sharpen any one of her senses to pinpoint accuracy – at expense of all the others. Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright) can visualize electronic frequencies in the atmosphere around him – but he’s a high-functioning autistic, which leads to some interactive issues. Nina Theroux (Laura Mennell) can look into someone’s eyes and make them believe or do whatever she wants – we don’t know what the drawback is for her yet, but we can tell it’s a very sore subject.
Rosen gently guides his charges into solving cases, while also helping them cope with their own problems – and fending off his own aggressive government boss. Investigating what appears to be a locked-room murder – an informant is shot to death from the outside in a windowless room – brings the group into contact with Cameron Hicks (Warren Christie), a man with uncanny aim and a great fear of groups. The situation also alerts our Alphas to the existence of another, less benign organization of similarly special people.
The pilot, directed by LOST veteran Jack Bender, has a beguiling mixture of narrative drive and personal moments, and there’s an agreeable messiness to the character interactions – when people talk over each other, they go for much longer than we expect on a TV episode and more like they do in real life. We get enough information about the persuasive Nina to suspend questions (at least for now) about why she is in her present situation and we feel for the shy Rachel. There’s a very fine line between intriguing and annoying in the character of Gary, but Cartwright (late of BONES) treads it well. Yoba gives Bill an impatient edge that makes sense and Christie is solid as the confused hero type.
Between all the possibilities presented in this opening episode and the sheer enjoyment of watching these characters, ALPHAS is well worth including in one’s TV schedule.
Click on Link: AX’s Exclusive Interview with ALPHAS star Malik Yoba
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Click on Link: AX’s review of Alphas – Season 1 – “Cause and Effect”
Click on Link: AX’s review of WAREHOUSE 13 – Season 3 premiere – “The New Guy”
Click on Link: AX’s review of EUREKA – Season 4 premiere – “Liftoff”
Click on Link: AX’s review of Alphas – Season 1 premiere
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Review: ALPHAS – Season 1 premiere