The recent Sony Pictures BD and DVD releases of the first season of the Syfy original series "HELIX" provides a second chance to see the first series in the current crop of shows based on viral (in both senses of the word) outbreaks. Having scfi god Ronald D. Moore of "Star Trek" series and the "Battlestar Galactica" reboot at the helm helps set this series apart from those that follow. Mercifully, this one is free of shaky hand-held cameras.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the spoiler-lite trailer for "HELIX" provides a good sense of the suspense and theme of the series.
Virtually all of the "HELIX" action occurs at an Arctic research center where related viruses on which the resident scientists are working get released; the more aggressive of these substances turn a large portion of the team into feral beings with a strong compulsion to spread the disease.
This outbreak prompts calling in a team from the Centers for Disease Control. Intrepid leader Dr. Alan Farragut, played by dreamy Billy Campbell of "The Rocketeer" and several prime-time dramas, heads up the group. Other members include his ex-wife Dr. Julia Walker and newbie Dr. Sarah Jordan.
The death of a team member early in the season is reminiscent of "Angel," which seems to have pioneered the "no major character is safe" principle in television.
Complications that fuel the drama throughout the season include discovering that Dr. Peter Faragut, who is Alan's brother and Julia's former lover, is among the infected. Other drama relates to station leader Dr. Hatake being evasive regarding the nature of the research.
The concurrent objectives include finding a cure for the virus, humanely contending with the feral scientists, and re-establishing contact with the outside world. Hidden (and not-so-hidden) agendas, shifting alliances, and just plain ole fashioned subterfuge and sabotage hinder all this.
Terrific "Galactica" elements include the drama between les freres Faragut and/or Julia, another family triangle, and a (possibly flawed) test that is designed to detect the virus in a manner similar to the Cylon detection method in "Galactica."
Other related (of course, pun intended) family drama occurs later in the season regarding heads initially rolling and later exploding. Of course, discussing that is getting ahead of things despite this being a no-brainer.
An additional "Trek" touch comes in the form of a bringing in Jeri Ryan of "Star Trek: Voyager" as a ruthless corporate executive who does her best to ensure that any resistance is futile. It seems that the phrase "fun will now commence" is beyond the mindset of this character.
The season finale wraps thing up nicely and (like the other 12 episodes) does not have a dull moment. Additionally, the cliffhanger both creates tremendous anticipation regarding the second season and greatly adds to the "Lost" vibe that comes in a close third to the "Trek" and "Galactica" elements.
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