From my remarkable powers of deduction, as well as the frankly impressive ability to endure the extra-long premiere (I mean, c'mon SyFy, haven't you ever heard of "Leave 'em wanting more"?) I can tell you with some confidence that the new original series Alphas is merely the latest in a long line of SyFy knock-offs (see: Battle of Los Angeles, The Mighty Thor, etc.) And the newest subject of SyFy's sincerest form of flattery?
The X-Men. Yeah, you totally want to click the jump.
The parallels are fairly clear. A group of extraordinary individuals (Alphas) are assembled by a well-intentioned Doctor (somehow played by David Strathairn--well done Casting Dept.) in order to study and hone their powers, and use them in the pursuit of justice.
The powers are as follows:
Bill (played by the guy who was Ted in Defying Gravity, which, and I don't care what you say, was fantastic and I will always love it and wish it could come back) has super-strength, apparently triggered by his "flight or fight" response. Except for the fact that he can merely clench his fists really hard and get his adrenalin going whenever he wants to use it, as evidenced by him sweating through a fresh shirt in the morning to move a car blocking his driveway. The downside is he can't do it for very long, or it seems as if he starts to have a heart attack. The character itself is flat; he has FBI training but repeatedly misreads situations, is agressive to friend and foe alike, and is generally a douchebag.
|Yeah this is from Defying Gravity. Sue me.|
Gary is a teenager with aspergers who can read wireless transmissions. The special effects for this are actually pretty good, insofar as they really show you what he's doing. He can follow any stream of data visually, tapping into street cameras to follow perps, internet for research, even read the text messages being sent on your phone. The downside, obviously, is his disorder. His social inabilities are heavily played up, most often against the frosty Bill, while also offerring regular comedic relief.
Nina is a pretty, slim, confident woman who can alter overpower someone's will and bend them to her wishes. Yes, that is as absolutely freaky and morally repugnant as it sounds, but it seems we're supposed to find it endearing that she drives a stolen car and lives in a SoHo penthouse she never paid for. Apparently her downside is she either can't control everyone, or it gets out of control and turns against her (it's called karma, ya mind-rapist.) The unfortunate power set is backed up by a shaky acting job--for the first half of the pilot she is independent and snarky and superficial, and then by the end she seems to be attempting to fill the Mother Hen role of the group. So far she's one of the main weak links in the cast.
We meet Cameron due to his brainwashing by the pilot's enemy ("The Ghost" who has the ability to...well, brainwash) into being an assassin. He was chosen because of his ability, referred to by the show as "hyperkinesis." A simple google search informs one that this is a disorder of restlessness, similar to ADD. What the writers meant was highly developed, instinctive reflexes that rarely falter. Marksmanship, agility, etc. The downside is he's not infallible (I guess?) and when he loses control, he loses it entirely. The example given was pitching two perfect games in a row, and then being unable to throw a single strike. He's rescued, deprogrammed, and reluctantly added to the team. He's also very handsome, which is a definite benefit.
Lastly there's Rachel, a shy young girl with the ability to enhance her senses. The show dossier again screws up their definition of her power, calling it Synesthesia, which is actually a condition that causes the senses to get confused (smelling sounds, seeing numbers as intrinsically colored, etc.) She doesn't have that, she can just focus and use her senses with a super acuity. (Except for touch, apparently, which is unfortunate because that could be enjoyable for her.) The downside is that when she focuses on one sense, visual for instance, she loses the use of the others, and thus can't hear a warning scream or the smell of smoke. The character is meek but well played, and will doubtless experience a journey of inner strength.
|I hear...lazy research.|
|I was nominated for a freakin' Oscar.|
Despite the slightly plodding nature of the pilot, and the missed opportunities for providing the shows ultimate mission statement, and a couple casting slips and thin characters, Alphas was still entertaining. And even if I hated it, which I didn't, it would be tough for me to turn away from anything resembling the X-Men. I'm gonna stick with it for awhile, and I'll let you know if it gets better or completely offends me and gets removed from the DVR series manager.
Either way, I'm pretty sure it outshines SyFy's movie event Mega Piranha.