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 Killing, The 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.
AIRED ON 3/28/2014
Season 1 : Episode 13