Alphas is Betta Than You Think

We've heard it before from every new sci-fi series that's tried to ground the superhero concept: ordinary people with extraordinary yadda yadda blah blah snooze snore. Syfy's Alphas is the latest show to take this route, pulling together a group of regular folk who are completely normal—except for the fact that they have superpowers enhanced abilities. And who are, for the most part, extremely attractive.

But more often than not, these types of shows do what Alphas' enigmatic sharpshooter Cameron Hicks (Warren Christie) can not: miss the target completely. Since the success (and free-fall into stupidity) of Heroes, there's been an influx of shows that feature normal dudes turning into superheroes, instantly pandering to anyone who's ever dreamed of pulling on a colorful leotard and saving the city from becoming a crater on the globe.

You probably know this already, but Alphas is about a group of crime-fighters led by the non-superpowered Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn). The members of this group all boast enhanced... whatevers—the show describes their abilities as "stretching the capabilities of the human mind. We've seen these supertricks before: super-strength, enhanced senses, the ability to intercept digital signals, mind control. But these characters also have something we haven't really encountered in groups of this type: the ability to have personality.

For me, the best moments of the pilot weren't the chase scenes or the special effects (oh look, Gary is pulling stuff from iCloud again); what it really had going for it was the group's team dynamic and effortless banter. The show's characters are already fully formed, as made evident by the way they interact with each other and the people in their separate lives. They misplace their keys, they worry about others eating their clearly marked sack lunches, they call each other jerks behind each other's backs. (Superheroes, they're just like us!) These little details do big things for the validity of the show. I especially liked seeing autistic Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright) and angry black man Bill Harken's (Malik Yoba) together. There's a natural sense of family and friendship here; these characters are fun to hang out with and will leave viewers looking forward to more.

But what I like most about Alphas so far is that it not only showcases the ordinariness of these now-extraordinary people, but it doesn't gloss over their flaws. Hey, I have flaws, too! Now I can relate even more. And whether those flaws are part of their powers (Rachel can heighten one sense at the cost of others, Bill is limited to about five minutes of Hulking before he looks like he's having a heart attack—HNNNNGGGHHHHHHH!) or their personalities (Gary's distractedness, Nina's indifference), the Alphas are sometimes humanized to the point where we forget they have powers, and that's a good thing.

I'm not so sure how the series is going to work moving forward. Will each episode feature a self-contained case, a la Law & Order, or will there be season-long serialized stories, as there were on Heroes? One thing the show will need is a formidable villain or three, and I thought it had one in that first bad guy who was a creepy combination of a mind-controlling super freak and Adrian Monk. He would have been good to keep around, but alas—he's dead.

Production-wise, I watched the premiere early with temporary visual effects and music, but the eye candy seemed fine even in the early stages—event if it may have been overused at times (see my earlier comment about the visual representation of Gary's power). I never once cringed at any acting, so it must have been good. David Strathairn is always good.

The only major problem Alphas faces is our familiarity with the shows that were amalgamated to create it—including Leverage, Heroes, and various crime-scene procedurals, to name a few. Though Alphas mixes those shows with other elements in a well-done way, the idea of combining existing concepts isn't exactly fresh and new. Not really. I don't think Alphas will be a breakout hit, but thanks to strong characters it should be a Syfy staple for a few seasons at least.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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I hope this show doesn't get cancelled. Enjoyed the first episode. Was especially happy to see Ryan Cartwright from Bones. I loved the interaction between the characters and the fact that I didn't immediately love every one of them. Will be interested to see where this goes.
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I really enjoyed the pilot! Definitely lookin forward to the next episode =)
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ITA I was surprised it was a good show!!!!
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Seriously, I do.
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"even when Tim Surette likes television, it's obvious that Tim Surette hates television." <--- LOVE IT!
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even when Tim Surette likes television, it's obvious that Tim Surette hates television.

but at least it's more interesting than Seth Abromvotoofosafasdfadfasfafadfsaitch's liberal ranting.
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So after heaing all about the alphas
I sat down to watch it last night maybe it's just me but I was not impressed
Maybe somewhere down the line it will get better but like many shows that have replaced better shows they die out after the first season.
oh well we will have to wait and see i suppose
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You say its like Heroes plus CSI-- I can agree with that-- but the show will play out MOSTLY like Fringe. A flavor-of-the-week supervillian (alphavillian?) that will be connected to a larger underlying threat, which can be used to build its mythology.
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I couldn't watch it all the way through, : /
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I wasn't impressed by the pilot episode. If it doesn't do better in future episodes, I am sure my interest will be limited to a glancing looks.
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Hope is stays, but then there is no singing or dancing! Or ranting east coasters!!!!
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Ok, I admit that SyFy has cancelled some rather good shows over the years like Flash Gordon and The Dresden Files, but I think that this may go for a while as the network seems to have faith in it, especially in the era of Eureka, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, and Haven. Also, at least they are no where near as bad as Fox when it comes to cancelling good shows. As for the show itself, I enjoyed that it focused as much on the relationships as it does on the powers and that each one seems to have a downside. I also liked how Nina seems indifferent to everyone else but not to Gary who she seems to be rather protective of like a sister. This may be because he is the one person immune to her power.
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why get into it? just gonna get canceled. I don't watch anything on Syfy anymore. I get interested they cancel it.
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I enjoyed the pilot, and look forward to the next few weeks. Hopefully it keeps me interest.
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The pilot did have some plot holes. But, as a first episode, it was well done. I liked that the characters have flaws, and yet, while they bicker amongst themselves, it isn't mean spirited. It has a lot of potential. I'll watch at least another 3 episodes to give it a chance.
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Real people using (almost) real superpowers. This is loads better than 'Heroes', 'No Ordingary Family' or even '4400.'



No angst, no "greater good" debates, etc. As long as they keep it realistic and keep the characters' relationships, foibles and annoyances intact, this can be a great show.



They have these talents and their unconventional lives and they accept it. The moment they start questioning the "right" to use their gifts, etc. I'm turing the show off.
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Alpha was really good, I thought it was very well done and will definately be watching more of it.
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Alpha was the best, I do not watch the others.
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This was cool, and Tim is right on the money. The acting makes this show really good, with a chance of being special. It comes across as a more serious and realistic Warehouse 13 in that the goofy premise is alleviated by great cast chemistry. If these guys aren't ad-libbing, they have good writers. The tone of their banter reminded me a lot of Iron Man's, and that's a good thing.
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4400 still rules them all
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Major step up from the goofy "No Ordinary Family", but I can see this falling into some of the same pitfalls, and I sure as hell hope we don't see the Deux Ex Machina of Heroes in which the hero with the EXACT super power needed for the day suddenly emerged (usually to save Peter). Already within one episode, as with the two aforementioned shows, new powers suddenly came forth, but I do agree with Tim Surette that at least this time around, and only in the pilot, they've got some believability and banter that seems quite natural when they bounce it off each other -- oh, and the flaws, yes. Gary was the most convincing in that respect so far.
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I guess my tastes are similar to Tim's: I've been slightly disappointed in Falling Skies (only slightly, because I didn't have high hopes for it to begin with) and I quite enjoyed the pilot of Alphas. I'm typically not a fan of sci-fi or the SyFy channel, but I thought I'd give this one a shot. I, too, liked the interaction between the characters -- they certainly seemed more real, and in comparison to Falling Skies, they weren't as corny. I also like the fact that they have weaknesses and flaws in their powers. I thought it was interesting that they killed the Ghost in the end. I thought he might be the villain for the season, or at least most of the season, but judging by his death, I'm assuming Alphas may be taking the mostly "one bad guy per episode" route.
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Surprise, surprise, TV.com raising up the profile for a pilot, how many episodes until you start slagging it off and saying how crap it is? How long's a piece of string? Or how long's an advertising cheque I guess? ...
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"...that first bad guy who was a creepy combination of a mind-controlling super freak and Adrian Monk." I thought that, too. It was odd how Monk-like he was, minus the killing people with freaky powers part. I guess The Ghost went psycho since he didn't have a cute, blonde assistant to help him deal with his OCD.
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I totally agree with you Tim. I loved the premiere. The characters in this show have definite flaws that come with their "enhanced abilities, and Alphas has no fear of showing them. Their flaws and ordinary lives are definite show strengths to me. I also love the idea of Alphas possessing enhanced abilities rather than mutant powers, or even superpowers. The fact that their powers come with flaws, like Bill having a near heart attack after pumping enormous amounts of adrenaline for 5 minutes, shows that they have to really adjust to when to use their abilities, unlike other shows like Mutant X, X-men, or Heroes who can use their powers without consequences to their bodies. The banter between Bill and Gary had me rolling! I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the season.
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I couldn't sit past the opening 5 min of the show, seriously...Just awfully, awfully terrible
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i dont get the hate for this show.i will say u can tell if u like or dont like a show from the first ep and then there are the ppl who have to wait and see how the story moves along before they say they like it or dont like it.for me no matter how this show moves forward i will be watching.the first ep was amazing..the characters are all likeable,they each have differnt powers that are explain nicely,the show is explain very well,the characters have chemistry with one another,and i like the sci-fi elemnt of it.i just dont knw why ppl hate this.maybe ppl dont knw when something is really good on and its in their face...if your not into sci-fi stuff then i can see you not liking it but if u do like sci-fi stuff whats the problem..@opalemeraldcat said everything i didnt get to say.i agree 100%.
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Actually was worst.
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I agree with your assessment. I was really reluctant to start another superhero show, particularly the pilot in which everyone tragically discovers their crazy powers and spends a lot of time staring at themselves in the mirror and saying I'm crazy. (The therapist lightly mocked this point of typical angsty introspection, I liked it.) However, the characters, as your said, are as ready to go and familiar with their powers and the concept as you are; the banter and over-lapping conversations were realistic and fun, and I do like their personalities: I want Gary to be my friend, Nina, well okay I didn't like her but I appreciate her presence, Rachel I found a relieving innocent but experienced person, Adrenaline Guy (forgot his name) was nicely flawed, Hicks was okay, the doctor had a fantastic introduction to his character. so... yeah, I'll be tuning in.
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I liked it. The characters felt real. David Strathairn's performance was right on the spot. The others have potential. Let' s see what happens...
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i think it sucked,sat through 20 mins of it and was bored off my ass,and deleted it,definately wont watch it again
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Recorded the pilot just to see if the show had any potential and after it was over, I set my DVR to record the series. Hopefully, this show will do what Heroes couldn't and SyFy won't cancel it like they do everything else. Fingers crossed!
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I liked it!
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too many awkward characters, if they could even it out this show would have potential.
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I thought it's going to be bad i thought right, it has some kind of slow pace you feel you're watching a once good series failing right from the pilot i don't know who picked that up.
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saw it and it's like watching retards...no offense to anyone.
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I would like to see Nina dressed as a cheerleader. :)
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Alphas is shot here in Toronto and I am looking forward to watch it soon :)
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Alphas is not a bad second generation of Mutant-X with a government tie-in. " I never once cringed at any acting, so it must have been good." WOW Tim, I'll bet that makes the actors feel so much better now!! LOL A formidable villian?? Like uh maybe RED FLAG???? Are you napping during these shows Tim??? A dying Ghost tells Hicks "you're on the wrong side of this." C'mon Tim, pay attention!!
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I guess I should check this one! ;)
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I wasn't really comparing them. Just that the whole "super power" concept was done better on Misfits. Tim made it a point to discuss the chemistry of the characters in Alphas, which is a fine observation, but Misfits is just much better across the board. And it has heart. I just watched Alphas, though. It's not terrible. In fact, it's better than most other shows, which...I guess isn't saying much.
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Come on, you can't really compare Misfits with this show. Misfits is an incredible awesome, intelligent and funny series. Alphas is a decent show which you can watch if you have nothing else do, and thats perfectley fine, but it is nowhere near the league misfits is in.
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I also thought of Misfits while reading the review. Although in the case of Misfits they're more super-villains than super-heroes.
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How can you be so impressed about this show, but give Suits such a cold welcome!
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i had no idea what is was going to be about but i liked it alot
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i admit i also thought it would suuuuuck, but it was pretty good. i kept thinking of Abed everytime Gary would use his hands and points places though lol my only complaint is.. Rachel? how they turn something as real as synethesia into a super power and also describe it wrong. synethesia ISN'T being able to enhance your senses, it's when your senses run together. you can't see better, the only thing they got right about it is when she's seeing stuff and it's different colors and stuff. look it up lol
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Well, obviously Tim and I have complete opposite tastes in television. I LOVE Falling Skies, looking forward to each new episode every Sunday night. He seems to think it's bad and getting worse. On the other hand, I watched the pilot for Alphas and FELL ASLEEP. I had to rewind and watch it again when I woke up. He found personality, and I found completely unlikeable, irritating characters that I wouldn't care one iota if they made it through the next episode alive. The only character that was the least bit interesting was Hicks, because of he's unsure of whether he's on the right team. The rest of them are so cocky and so full of themselves. I found them all very grating and boring. This Heroes wanabee show will definitely be removed from my DVR list.
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I was very impressed with the pilot. A very good hour of television. And one of the kids from the original cast of Skins is on this show, playing the autistic one, he does really good job, and seems destined for the big screen.

EDIT: Oh man i got these two poeple mixed up: Ryan Cartwright and Joe Dempsie... they look alot alike damn
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Thats good to hear that it was pretty good. I was considering checking it out, I'll have to start watching.
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This was really good. I shall be watching it next week.
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