Sunday, January 5, 2014

Helix Syfy Original Television Series Premiere Review

Helix is the new Syfy original television series and one of it's most anticipated yet. Executive Produced by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), Stephen Maeda (LOST) who is also showrunner, and Lynda Obst (Contact), this 13 episode drama series stars Billy Campbell (The Killing) and Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine), Kyra Zagorsky (Supernatural), and Neil Napier (Riddick) as a part of larger ensemble sci-fi mystery thriller set in a high tech research facility in the Arctic known as Arctic Biosystems. 

When an elite team of scientists from the Center for Disease Control  arrives at Arctic Biosystems they soon discover from some that their presence is not wanted. The uninflected scientists that run the facility claim to have it all under control and they are willing to show force if need be because this station exists in an area so inhospitable that it is not governed under any one nations' laws and no joint nation regulation whatsoever. The station is literally it's own near autonomous sovereign country with a staff of hundreds all in danger from secrets both the CDC scientists and the TV series viewer will gradually discover over the course of the series. Soon after the team discovers the virus is just the tip of the iceberg, it evolves and the chilling secrets behind it begin to unravel.

While I have read Ronald D. Moore's original screenplay draft for the Universal Studios prequel to The Thing directed by John Carpenter and released in 1982, the draft I read did not differ all that much from the final theatrically released film, but after watching Helix I wonder to myself what would the prequel have been like if Ron Moore was in charge because one can't help but be reminded of The Thing because of the arctic setting and the connection between Moore and the prequel. Helix will also call to mind a few other franchises and films I might as well make clear now so we can move beyond it. The sentient black oil from The X-Files and even the secret arctic base in The X-Files: Fight The Future all came to mind along with the weaponized version of the mutating black goo, which causes life forms it comes into contact to turn into aggressive and viscous creatures as seen in Prometheus and finally The Andromeda Strain as directed by Robert Wise with it's tense feeling and claustrophobic sets also being perhaps a source of inspiration for Helix. 

Yet beyond that I could not tell you what the origins of Helix is, whether or not it is extraterrestrial, sentient, or anything outside from the obvious, if this thing existed you would not want to be anywhere near it and if one could, it might be better to just mini nuke it out that research facility all together,

The acting from the cast ranges from believable to acceptable given what is there for the cast to work with. One wonders if this is a limited series or a recurring season because if it is not a limited series then one runs into the problem Twin Peaks suffered from, which was a soap opera built around a murder mystery will only hold it's audience so long until the network forces a revelation before the audience gives up on it if they feel their chain is being yanked too hard. 

I screened the first three episodes and enjoyed the creepy vibe that at times reminded me of a Stephen King novel, but a lot on the longevity of this series will depend upon what the writers have in mind to astound us and whether or not they can keep creating enough false trails so that when a nugget of truth is finally revealed, we will be hungry for more.

As it is Helix shows a promising start. Helix will debut with limited commercial interruption on Friday, January 10, 2014, at 10PM (ET/PT) with two back to back episodes and then follow in that regular timeslot thereafter for each episode unless something in scheduling is changed. Always check with you cable, satellite, or fiber optic video service to confirm.

(C) Copyright 2014 By Mark Rivera.
All Rights Reserved.