Saturday, July 30, 2011

TV review--"Alphas"

Alphas, airing on SyFy (that name seems dumber every time I write it.)
There is a unit of civilians and intelligence agents that secretly works for the government.  Where have we seen that before?  But wait...these people are super powered.  Oh we have?  Well, anyway...
"Alphas" are the term given to these otherwise normal people who have spontaneously developed these powers.  There's an FBI agent whose adrenalin kicks in to make him super fast and strong.  There's a guy who is "hyperkinetic," can "see" the trajectories of moving objects before they're even in motion.  There's a kid with Asperger syndrome who can see digital communication signals.  And of course there are the babes.  One is a "pusher" who can mentally manipulate people for short periods of time and the other can heighten her senses to extreme levels.  I've read where this latter character's ability was called synesthesia...leading me to believe that the writers need a definition for that word.  Wrangling all these people is a wise doctor played by David Straithairn, who was nominated for an Academy Award for playing Edward R. Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck and now does his best Professor Xavier for the small screen.
They fight crime.
A lesser writer would have stopped there but not Zak Penn, the show's creator and producer.  He wanted these characters to be as "real" as possible, complete with divorced families and psychological issues.  He even embraces one of the most cliche marketing tropes a show can have these days: it's grittier, it's edgier, complete with no shortage of gore and more cynicism than you can shake your hipster head at.  Really folks, no capes or boots here.  It's all "cutting edge."
I read an interview with Penn in last Sunday's Chicago Tribune.  In it, he said that he liked comic books but was never a fan of Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man.  I'm paraphrasing, but Penn said, "I could never figure out why they dressed up in costumes and did what they did.  Wouldn't someone in real life ask, 'what's in it for me?' "  I'm not sure how closely Mr. Penn was reading those comics mentioned, but each one of those characters has very clear motivations for their choices.  Additionally, these choices serve to make the characters more likable.  Which is more than I can say for the ones in Alphas.
All you end up with here is something that is very reminiscent of Heroes and not in a good way.  I'm talking about Heroes when it was really beginning to head downhill.  I really had to fight to sustain my interest through one episode.  Therefore, I will not be returning to it.

On the positive side...well, it's not as bad as Falling Skies, I suppose.

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  1. Exactly what I felt when watching!

  2. Glad I'm not alone!
    Thanks for reading and commenting, Beryl.