Wednesday, 28 December 2011


It was the season finale last night, on 5*. Alphas takes place in a world where certain humans have undergone mutations which enable them to have certain abilities (ultra-acute senses, the ability to manipulate data without needing hardware and so on). Naturally, some of them are good, and some are evil. So, it’s a bit like X-Men or Heroes (the creator was one of the writers of X-Men 2, the best of the three films, I think).

I did miss the first episode (must admit I’m hardly an avid viewer of 5*) but saw the rest. I rather liked the series. My favourite episode was the penultimate one, which involved the non-Alpha team leader Dr. Rosen and the Alphas being accused of harbouring (unwittingly) a double agent.

It did take me a little while to get into it. The first two (well, episodes 2 and 3) didn’t grab me right away, but unlike the exercise in hopeless masochism which was the viewing of Outcasts I am glad I kept watching.

There wasn’t a single antagonist throughout the series, but there was a collective one: the terrorist Alpha organisation Red Flag. I thought that the treatment of terrorism (given the psychological aftermath of 9/11) was well-balanced, with the ‘good guys’ often in disagreement about whether hard or soft power was the way to combat terrorism and Red Flag itself portrayed as a violent but not unthinking group.

The basic formula behind Alphas is tried and tested (as above, X-Men and Heroes have done similar things) which does create a problem: how do you make powers that aren’t identical to other shows and how do you add some originality?

Alphas does a reasonably good job of not copying and pasting powers. Yes, there’s a chap who’s very strong, but if he weren’t there it would be a glaring omission. Gary, an autistic chap, and his ability to manipulate wireless communications is perhaps the most original and interesting. Generally, the power level is less than X-Men, and far less than the sometimes over the top Heroes. The series is about people (rather flawed people, as Dr. Rosen doubles as their therapist as well as boss) with powers, rather than cool powers who happen to have people attached. Sometimes the episodes were not as engaging as they could have been and some more special effects would’ve been nice.

I intend to watch the next series, assuming it gets made and filters through to freeview. I think Alphas has room for improvement but is pretty good.


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