Review: SyFy's HELIX, An Infectious Television Thriller
I have a concern.
Whenever a SyFy show impresses me the trend I am seeing is that it does not last longer than two seasons. SGU? Two seasons. Because it was darker than its predecessors - trying to latch on that BSG vibe - and they did not gallivant around the universe. Alphas? Two seasons, though it was a better version of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So take heed to my warning when I say that I like Helix.
Helix is an intense thriller about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that holds the key to mankind's salvation or total annihilation.
Billy Campbell plays the lead role of Dr. Alan Farragut from the CDC. He heads the team that goes to a research facility in the Arctic to investigate this potential breakout. He is joined by Dr. Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes), one of his bright-eyed interns, his ex-wife Dr. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky), Dr. Doreen Boyle (Catherine Lemieux) and Major Sergio Balleseros (Mark Ghanime) from the U.S. Army. The research facility is run by Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (Sanada Hiroyuki) and his head of security, Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother). Farragut's brother, Peter, also works at the facility and is the reason that Alan was called in to this incident. The first season will cover the 13 days from their arrival at the facility over 13 episodes.
Helix is Executive Produced by serial drama royalty. Ronald D. Moore (BSG) and Steven Maeda (Lost) lend their expertise to Helix so it carries some of the same tonal traits that those shows had. Moore helped with writing the first two episodes; the pilot episode and 'Vector'. He also wrote an upcoming episode called 'The White Room'. But good for Campbell. He finally gets his wish to work with Moore, though it is not an episode of BSG.
Everyone- if you are a member of the CDC team or the research facility- has an angle or a secret. Each episode is full of as many tight lips and sideways glances as there are plots twists and turns. And when people want to keep secrets some go to great lengths to ensure they are kept. Tensions run high as Dr. Farragut's team tries to identify the disease and stop it from spreading among the personnel at the facility. They certainly are not getting enthusiastic support from Hatake.
Credit is due. Helix is suspenseful and entertaining. It does everything it needs to do to keep us hooked with cliffhangers and plot twists. The show also has elements of horror to it as the disease begins to spread. The action and violence escalates with that of course. As the season moves along I am sure we will find out what the disease really is and who was it made for. I was even surprised to hear mild swearing in the script ("What, what, whaaaat?"). I got a finished pilot and the two following episodes were the standard bare bones quality; review-able but lacking finished effects and such. But from what I watched the production values are great too.
I do not know how long you can keep a series contained in the same location. So if Helix moves beyond the walls of the facility after the first season then we will just have to wait and see. You can have most rampaging retroviruses wrapped up in less than two weeks real-time. Right? But for now I get to wait a couple weeks for episode four in anticipation.
Helix premieres on SyFy in America and Showcase here in Canada on Friday, January 10th at 10pm EST with a two-episode launch.