Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Syfy's Viral Thriller Helix?

By Tim Surette

Jan 09, 2014

New television shows are a lot like diseases. Sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's too late. And while I can't burst through your computer screen and shove a rectal thermometer down your throat, I can help diagnose some of the upcoming new series that you might stumble upon this midseason. Why all the medical mumbo-jumbo in this intro? Because A) it's hilarious and endlessly creative, and B) this story is all about Helix, a new Syfy drama about staying healthy. I've seen the first two hours of the series and I'm here to help you figure out if it's worth catching in the latest edition of What's This Show, TV.com? 

Helix. Okay I give up, what is it?

Syfy's latest features absolutely ZERO sharks or tornadoes and isn't a co-production of Britain's answer to Hercules: The Legend Continues. This is an all-original science-fiction thriller that's perfect for flu season because it's about a deadly viral outbreak in a high-tech research facility in the Arctic. A group of CDC scientists are sent in to check it out, and then next thing you know unlucky immune-deficient people are barfing up black sludge and suffering to total freakouts. And lest you think, "What's the big deal about a bunch of cold scientists dying in a far away place?" many promos hint that the fate of mankind could be on the line, so you better be concerned.

Who created Helix, and who's in it?

The big name in lights here is Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore, whose name occupies the executive producer slot, but Helix was created by writer Cameron Porsandeh. Lost's Steven Maeda will serve as showrunner, so already the pedigree is pretty solid. The cast isn't loaded with big-name talent, but you'll recognize Billy Campbell (The KillingThe 4400) as the lead CDC science dude and Hiroyuki Sanada (Lost's weirdo temple guardian from Season 6) as the lead scientist of the research facility. Other cast members include Kyra Zagorsky, Mark Ghanime, and Jordan Hayes

When does Helix infect our television sets?

Helix premieres Friday, January 10 at 10pm with a pair of back-to-back, hour-long episodes, so make sure you take a really long nap that afternoon or hit up CostCo for a tub of 5-Hour Energy.

If I'm [blank], I will like Helix. Fill in the blank. 

Blank = a sci-fi fan, a horror fan, a sci-fi-horror fan, cool, smart, and attractive. If I had to compare Helix to something else, I guess it would be John Carpenter's The Thing. There's a lot of that movie in Helix, given its frigid setting and virulent/parasitic subject matter, and that's nifty because The Thing is GREAT.

What's to like about Helix?

Once the show gets going, it's downright spooky! Don't expect lots of gorgeous exterior shots or big-time laser-gun battles, though, because it looks like 99.9999999999999 percent of the series will take place inside the antiseptic research facility. And Helix uses that to its advantage to create an air of paranoia and claustrophobia where there really isn't any room to run for these poor scientists. The limited setting also means that Helix has no choice but to reuse creepy, impersonal, and sterile standing sets, so there won't be any of the awful greenscreen effects that often drag down Syfy's other shows. Helix also has a surprising amount of style (including its theme song!).

What isn't so great about Helix?

Depending on your propensity for being patient, Helix can be considered slooooow out the gate. And the first half of the first episode is a bit of a slog as the story is established. There are also some weird romantic storylines set up early on that feel out of place, but hey, the CDC circle of horny scientists can't be that big, can it? And because this is a Syfy original, expect some terrible dialogue from time to time. 

So, should I watch it?

Judging from the first two hours, this could very well be the best thing Syfy has put out since Battlestar Galactica. Helix is definitely worth checking out. Watch it!

Show me a trailer!

Okay, I have one right here!

Helix premieres Friday, January 10 at 10pm on Syfy.

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  • Dogger1 Jan 11, 2014

    I will watch for a while, appears interesting. However, I'm afraid to watch and get into it only to have it canceled for ratings and be left hanging. Or it will open many story lines and never close them like too many (most) other shows any more. That's very disappointing and makes me doubt watching a new show as this one. Anyone agree out there?

  • jaredzusmc Jan 11, 2014

    I've yet to watch the series premiere... but already It would appear that for some reason... episode #3 is currently available for viewing. (45 min.) online.
    Perhaps a temp. mistake, or perhaps a marketing tactic. Either way... I'm gonna wait to watch the 2 premiere episodes; And also for those wanting to go on a 3 episode marathon, I suppose.
    SyFy's Helix ep. #3 @ syfy.com

  • edshrinker Jan 11, 2014

    First book I read that left me speechless. "The Andromeda Strain". Leave the movie and the mini be. Just know, you start that book - you better have time to just finish it.

    Watching Helix now. The prominent question I have right now is, "Isn't that babe a little young for Billy Campbell? Gotta be 25 year difference.

  • graindesable Jan 10, 2014

    If you want to see a great medical and acurate tv show with good actors and a plot that leaves you breathless I recommend Regenesis, a canadian show.
    As for Helix, I'll watch the pilot and then, we'll see.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 10, 2014

    Paaaaaaasssssssss for me. Ron Moore lost all credibility with the BSG last seasons, and I'm not into horror sci-fi things, and I don't trust Siffy any further than I can throw it, and with my bad knee Ed I shouldn't be throwing anybody.

  • DavidSinger Jan 10, 2014

    At best it's night time, turn-off-the-lights viewing that I need to see ASAP every week. At worst it seems like my new adult Saturday morning cartoon. Win-win with low expectations (fooling myself, I have high hopes, but not until at least episode 4-5 will I judge hard).

  • SongbirdMusic49 Jan 10, 2014


    Of course I haven't seen Helix yet but given the fact that you seem to find even the most trivial things to pick apart when reviewing some really entertaining new shows, IMHO, I am quite surprised you didn't rip this show apart for everything it seems to have in common with what is again, IMO, the biggest, best, sitting on the edge of my seat, most intense Brad Pitt movie I myself has ever seen and according to one headline.......

    'World War Z' Set to Become Brad Pitt's Biggest Opening Weekend Earner.

    Whether there are zombies or no zombies in Helix, it still shares some big commonalities which I really don't think were overlooked, just never mentioned and I guess I'm just a tad curious as to why? Don't get me wrong, Helix has been one of the most anticipated series this season for me and I am psyched that premiere night is finally here! However, I would be lying if I didn't say that even though I would have checked out the show anyway, but World War Z's concept minus the zombies, influenced me quite a bit. Well, here's to some big numbers for premiere night. If it does start out slow, let's try to be patient because I truly believe it will be worth it. Peace, Diane

  • estella87 Jan 10, 2014

    Hi Tim, so since I am a molecular biologist I was wondering: is there any focus on actual science or should I consider it more heavily on the fiction side of everything? (I'm gonna check it out anyway, I just wanna be prepared.)

  • graindesable Jan 10, 2014

    I'd recommend Regenesis if you're a molecular biologist. It's a canadian show.

  • JCVeros Jan 10, 2014

    I'm tempted to give it a shot. But I question how big this research facility is. I don't want to spend the entire course of the series (however long that is) going between all of 5 or 6 different rooms. I like variety.

  • jaredzusmc Jan 10, 2014

    I agree. I can name at least 3 failed series or mini-series that failed because of entire sequence was played out in a confined space.
    Someone has got to breach quarantine to give it bite.

  • JCVeros Jan 10, 2014

    Indeed. It worked for Battlestar Galactica because despite being 'enclosed', the ship itself was enormous with many varied locations, and we frequently ended up seeing the insides of other ships, the surfaces of other planets, and lots of space battles.

  • antdude Jan 10, 2014

    I find it interesting that Syfy put this late on Friday nights. I can understand being late because it is gory, but Fridays?

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