TV Review: Helix

If there's one credit worth giving to Syfy, it's that they never stop trying. Despite producing some pretty terrible Made-For-TV movies, they just keep going at it. Whether it's their films, specials, or serials, Syfy seems to keep a bunch of low-rent writers employed. But every now and then, something they make rises to the top and is not only tolerable but good.

Their newest series, Helix, aired just the other night (and all throughout the next day but that's a different story). The show centers on a team of doctors with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) who are called up to an Arctic research station to investigate a mysterious virus that has infected three of the scientists there.

For the most part, it sounds like the trappings of a low budget movie but in actuality, Helix has most of what it takes to create a creepy thriller. Isolated locale. The threat of an unknown disease. And judging from the first two episodes, "Pilot" and "Vector", it takes advantages of these pretty well. "Pilot" introduces to the dangers fairly early, pulling the characters into the plot within the first few minutes. I like Billy Campbell as Dr. Alan Farragut, the shows main character. After seeing Campbell in the first two seasons of The Killing, I appreciate his abilities. He's got a great on-screen presence and brings a lot of gravitas to the show.

Assisting Farragut are Drs. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky) and Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes). Here, the premise gets to be a little cliche as Walker is Farragut's ex while Jordan clearly has a thing for the man, despite being nearly half his age. All that aside, Zagorsky also brings some great qualities to the show, exhibiting a wide range of emotion while maintaining the composure a CDC quality doctor should have. Hayes, on the other hand, doesn't thrill me as much of the rest. She's by no means a bad actress, but her time spent of screen just seems to fall flatter than the rest. It may be, however, that most of the time her character has to prove herself as she's not taken as seriously due to her young age. I am hoping that this turns around at some point.

The station is run by Hiroshi Hatake, played to perfect mystery by Hiroyuki Sanada. Sanada recently showed up The Wolverine and luckily, his part is better played here. Hatake comes off as a shady guy, obviously telling the doctors half-truths and hiding things from them, but when he speaks you want to believe what he says. The writers are playing him up pretty well, keeping his cards close to the vest for some later reveals down the line, which I'm cool with. I want to know what's happening with this guy so I'm willing to trudge through and find out more about him.

But probably the most enticing performance is by Neil Napier, who plays Alan's brother, Peter Farragut. Peter is one of the initial three infected doctors and what make his so interesting is that he doesn't die from it. It changes him, makes him something more than human, but less at the same time. Napier barely says a word through out the first two episodes but each time he shows up, things turn creepy. The whole basis of the show is the horrors that face the doctors in their search for the disease and Napier certainly brings the horror.

What worries me about Helix, however, is its staying power. Many recent shows, like Lost, The Killing, and even 24 are based on such short-sighted premises that once the initial question is answered (What's going on with the island? Who killed Rosie Larsen? Where is the bomb?) gets answered, where does the show go from there? Is Helix meant to be a two- or three-season endeavor, with a planned end once the secret to the disease is discovered and eradicated? or, if the show actually takes off, with Syfy milk it for all it's worth, turning the final product into a shell of itself?

From just the first two episodes, Helix really appealed to me. For the most part, the characters were interesting enough for me to become emotionally invested in them, and I really loved the creepy atmosphere that it created. I was excited to see that the third episode was available On Demand, so I immediately jumped into that after the first two. I'm looking forward to see what else comes down the pipe and to learn more about just what the hell is happening at that station.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...