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Syfy's fine new tv show, Alphas
September 2, 2012 10:48 AM   Subscribe

The joy and X-Men like appeal of the tv show Alphas.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (58 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really love this show.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:59 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Welp, I've been looking for a reason to watch this and looks like I got one!

Meanwhile, this reminds me of how the Masters of the Universe movie was an undercover Fourth World movie.
posted by griphus at 11:05 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The show's not exactly new, being into its second season now.

The tropes it traffics in are all-but-stolen from Marvel and elsewhere, with just enough differences, I suppose, to avoid the lawyers. Still, you've seen all the drama points before...team of unique individuals doing "good", corralled by a knowing leader...overbearing and constant threat by the government overseers to shut-down the group and send them all to prison for the good of public safety...enigmatic evil unique individual up to no good.

But, it seems to work more often than not. So far, the show has avoided falling into a trap where the threat of the week is conveniently solved by the same montage of each member of the team using their powers together. Though, some powers are proving to be more one-dimensional than others. Overall, though, it's been one of the better things SyFy has dropped onto the airwaves.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:06 AM on September 2, 2012


I'm a big fan of Misfits and it's take on this sort of thing - has it made it over to the states at all yet?
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a big fan of Misfits and it's take on this sort of thing - has it made it over to the states at all yet?


It's on Hulu, up through the third series (the first one without Nathan, anyhow).
posted by mph at 11:17 AM on September 2, 2012


I watched the first episode in failing hope and barely managed to keep from turning it off before the end. The characters were unlikeable, shallowly imagined and except for the mentor guy poorly acted. The autistic or whatever kid with the EM powers was so stupidly concocted and preposterously rendered it made me want to crash a burnings school bus into the producer's house.

By contrast, Misfits had some lamenesses of conception but the characters, dialogue and the actors performing them were so massively good as to obliterate those objections.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:18 AM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I like the new guy's take on Multiple Man powers.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on September 2, 2012


If you ignore all of Heroes past series 1 it was a pretty good take on this kind of thing as well.
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on September 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


I just started watching Alphas recently and have been enjoying it. I can't say the plot idea is terribly original, but damn, I am compelled watching Dr. Rosen on this show, even if I keep thinking stuff like, "I'm pretty sure having your boss as your therapist is totally against some rules there." And there's some twists here and there, like Anna (so sad they killed her off--now that was a character you've never seen on TV before). And the actor playing Gary really pulls it off well, and I enjoy the perennial grumbling between him and Bill. Cameron's a personable guy, and you feel for Rachel. Nina scares me, but then again, she should. So, it's fun for me.

Couldn't watch Misfits, though, the dumb chav-viness of the kids hit my MUST TURN OFF THE STUPID button within five minutes.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:25 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Overall, though, it's been one of the better things SyFy has dropped onto the airwaves.

Someone noted that their fall lineup finally achieves their goal of being a channel completly free of all Sci Fi. All hail GhostWrestler!
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Couldn't watch Misfits, though, the dumb chav-viness of the kids hit my MUST TURN OFF THE STUPID button within five minutes.

Oh, man, that's the point of Misfits! They're just dumb kids, who make stupid mistakes, who get these powers. I haven't had a chance to watch Alphas, but Misfits is the best TV-take on superheroes yet.
posted by graventy at 11:31 AM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


They did the absolute best budget Days of Future Past type thing.
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on September 2, 2012


What graventy said. Also, I think it's deliberate that they start as these charmless, sad failures with utterly stereotyped natures, because in the course of the series they (with one exception) are basically transformed into real, rather more complete human beings by their experiences. (Though they still fuck up magnificently.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:37 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's also Chronicle, but the more I think about it the more I think it was more clever than good.
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2012


It made me want to crash a burnings school bus into the producer's house.

Could we do the scyfy headquarters instead?
posted by Chekhovian at 11:49 AM on September 2, 2012


Did you see the extended cut? It sits on the line between clever and good for me but I enjoyed myself. I sat there going "Good, this is a well-made, perfectly reasonable teenagers with superpower story, this is being clever enough with the material. I like the young actors and I never like that, plus hey, clever with the found footage thing. Good for you Chronicle."

although I have no desire to re-watch it so maybe that's the tipping into clever-not-good
posted by The Whelk at 11:49 AM on September 2, 2012


Oh, man, that's the point of Misfits! They're just dumb kids, who make stupid mistakes, who get these powers.

I know, I just...couldn't take it. I wanted to bitchslap everyone, and there's no way I can keep watching a show where I don't like anyone on it because they are like fingernails on a chalkboard level of irritating...plus dumb. Argh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:54 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, that's the point of Misfits! They're just dumb kids, who make stupid mistakes, who get these powers.
And they're so pretty when they're dumb. Also, they have sex. And in one case, time-paradox sex.
posted by PapaLobo at 11:55 AM on September 2, 2012


Someone noted that their fall lineup finally achieves their goal of being a channel completly free of all Sci Fi

The MTV disease.
posted by griphus at 12:10 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


The "man who controls milk" episode of misfits is utterly joyful BTW. Way to subvert those tropes. I'd say more, but do not wish to spoil it.
posted by zoo at 12:31 PM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Alphas is a more plausible version of Heroes. All of the powers seem to be just extreme extensions of normal human skills, without any magic or outright violations of laws of physics.
The autistic character, Gary, is well written and acted, IMO.
posted by rocket88 at 12:48 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Haven't seen Alphas but it makes me think of how awesome Push was. I'd love to see a sequel (It'll never happen) or tv show (there was some talk a few years ago, but it probably won't happen).
posted by shucksitsjeremy at 1:15 PM on September 2, 2012


As a Brave New World reference, it sounds a little icky. Then again, so do most superhero stories.
posted by Nomyte at 1:16 PM on September 2, 2012


The "man who controls milk" ... do not wish to spoil it.

I see what you did there.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:23 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


how awesome Push was

You mean how "Meh" it was? Because seriously, no subtlety, just two telekinetic guys force punching each other as hard as they can. Lame.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:26 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


So many probation officers...
posted by Artw at 1:27 PM on September 2, 2012


What I saw of the first season was okay, but so far the second season has been pretty underwhelming.
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on September 2, 2012


I have been wondering if I should look into Alphas, and this thread leaves me still wondering.
I saw some clips leading into series two and it looked awful.

How does it compare to Warehouse 13 (yay!) or Eureka (meh).
posted by Mezentian at 4:00 PM on September 2, 2012


I love, love this show.
posted by gen at 4:41 PM on September 2, 2012


W13? It has to be better than that. Hell, if They put on a little scifi puppet show with used paper napkins, it would be better than that.
posted by smidgen at 4:45 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Misfits was fantastic until the Irish kid left the show. He was really the only reason I liked it. Alphas is pretty good but the acting is spotty and the Gary character, while above average for the cast... that isn't saying much. The writing feels a little bit like they don't quite know where they're going; not Lost bad or anything but they keep teasing the Civil War dude as the big baddie without him actually doing anything for more than 5 minutes per episode.
posted by axiom at 4:47 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Rosen's daughter's motivations make no sense to me, particularly after the last episode.
posted by axiom at 4:52 PM on September 2, 2012


Misfits is funny, disturbing, and ridiculous. For several episodes the main conflict and resolution revolves around killing people and hiding the bodies.
posted by wobh at 4:53 PM on September 2, 2012


The first season is up on Netflix, which is where I discovered it. It takes several episodes to find its feet, but once that happens, the ride is enjoyable, because it swerves in unexpected and intriguing ways. The characters grow on you, particularly the relationship between Gary and Bill, along with Dr. Rosen's relationship with, well, everyone.

Most superhero stories invariably concern themselves with huge themes on a grand scale. Alphas is more intimate, dealing with the personal side effects of the mutants have, how they use their powers and how that power affects their personal relationships and views of the world. I watched the second episode of the second season today and it dealt with a guy who could move at superhuman speeds. But that power was causing his body to quickly age, he was only 22 but looked 40. In his rush to find a cure, he was hunting and kidnapping certain doctors. The good guys are called in and it became a race to either help the super fast guy or kill him, just to prevent him from harming others. The resolution to the story just opened more questions about what was right to do and whether that episodes "bad guy" was truly evil.

It's hard to say whether the show is more plot driven or character driven and that's one of the aspects I enjoy about it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:57 PM on September 2, 2012


For those of you joining us late, Alphas is either good or bad, while Misfits, by way contrast, is either quite good or quite bad.
posted by shothotbot at 6:10 PM on September 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


I just finished the first season. I always hate it when they make the tech dude socially inept.Of course if they made the tech dude socially awesome penguin people would say it was unrealistic so they can't win.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:46 PM on September 2, 2012


I also appreciate that they made the superpowers somewhat tenable. It boils down to a guy who is very very athletc, a woman with incredibly good senses, a guy who can release enough adrenaline to become amazingly strong in bursts. and a kid who can "see" other parts of the EM spectrum and a woman who is very attractive. So far no magic superpowers as on Heros.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:54 PM on September 2, 2012


Anyone else watching Teen Wolf? The first 8 or so episodes of the first season are great. Really smart writing and very likable characters (and then it becomes a Buffy clone, but oh well).

This is on topic because Lycanthropy is basically a superpower on that show, though originally one with drawbacks, like mania. And the top wolves in the pack are even called Alpha wolves.
posted by subdee at 7:56 PM on September 2, 2012


Anyone else watching Teen Wolf?

DON'T SAY THAT OUT LOUD

THE GIFS!

THEY'RE

COMING


posted by The Whelk at 7:59 PM on September 2, 2012


It appears we agree that Misfits is the Brit parallel of Alphas - I've seen both and there's a common edginess in both. However I doubt if Alphas would ever have one of its characters change gender and get him/herself pregnant, leading to a moral dilemma.

Of course, both of these programs are broadcast at a ludicrous timeslot here to a niche audience.
posted by arzakh at 8:52 PM on September 2, 2012


However I doubt if Alphas would ever have one of its characters change gender and get him/herself pregnant, leading to a moral dilemma zombie apocalypse.
posted by Artw at 9:28 PM on September 2, 2012


This talk of gender changing zombie apocalypse makes me think I should watch Misfits again. I stopped after season 2 disappointed me.
posted by squinty at 9:35 PM on September 2, 2012


Teen Wolf

no, but I know a lot of people are watching teen wofl.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:00 PM on September 2, 2012


Misfits was fantastic until the Irish kid left the show. He was really the only reason I liked it.

He was my favourite, too, so I thought I'd be less interested from then on, but his replacement is pretty much the same fanny-obsessed goofball, so, hey.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 PM on September 2, 2012


I think he's the only one returning for Season 4.
posted by Artw at 11:32 PM on September 2, 2012


I'm pretty convinced the creators came up with the characters by starting with the D&D character creation system and going, "okay, somebody with 18 Strength... somebody with 18 Dex... 18 Charisma, check"
posted by Naberius at 8:56 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Misfits is engaging because the characters go from losers to losers with superpowers, and their growth as characters continues on the kind of trajectory you'd expect for asbo kids united by a common secret, with or without superpowers.

Alphas feels like it has a lot of potential as a concept with an execution that's just barely holding my interest enough to keep watching it. This is markedly better than every other syfy exclusive show except maybe BG, but still leaves me expecting to be disappointed. I do like that Rosen has to walk a moral tightrope between competing immoralities, but I feel like there should be more moments that show the cost of that.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:29 AM on September 3, 2012


how awesome Push was

You mean how "Meh" it was? Because seriously, no subtlety, just two telekinetic guys force punching each other as hard as they can. Lame.

Push had some interesting world-building in terms of how the powers work, wrapped up in a story that squandered the full potential of that. The telekinetics were standard-issue, but I loved the idea that mind-control works by replacing your memories with ones that justify what the Pusher wants you to do. (But again, squandered by, for example, having a baddie make a guy commit suicide for no real reason other than to show he's some sort of comic-book baddie.)
posted by RobotHero at 3:25 PM on September 3, 2012


"I'm pretty sure having your boss as your therapist is totally against some rules there."

Doctor Rosen has broken every rule in the book (except have sex with a patient), and yet he's somehow still the most moral person on the show. That's his unacknowledged Alpha power: the projection of a perpetually sustained field of moral rectitude.

Seriously though, there's no one else who seems even slightly capable of dealing with the challenges Alphas represent. On one side there's Parish who wants to refight the civil war (and who has not yet given any indication what place "normals" might hold in the post war aftermath) - and on the other side is the US government, who just want to treat Alphas like terrorists, lock them all away in prison and forget that anything weird ever happened. Rosen's the only authority figure on the show who has any interest in helping Alpha's with their problems, and even he's morally compromised by the need to treat his patients as employees.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:49 PM on September 3, 2012


This is all wrong. Clearly the best superhero tv series of the last decade was "The Cape", clearly.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:31 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a big fan of x-men so i'm sure i'll like this. Too bad we don't have this in Australia
posted by cusack01 at 5:24 AM on September 4, 2012


This is all wrong. Clearly the best superhero tv series of the last decade was "The Cape", clearly.

Six seasons and a movie!

(Wait, that was a real show???)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:23 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've managed to work my way throught most of the first season in the past few days, and I've been really enjoying it. Thanks for hipping me to this show, BB!
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 5:03 PM on September 5, 2012


This show really reminds me of Shadow Unit.
posted by yonega at 5:54 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just finished the first season thanks to this thread. Thankfully I stuck to my rule of not judging a show by its pilot. I was afraid it would just be a "villain of the week" procedural, which would be massively wasting the premise. Thankfully it's more than that.
posted by Danila at 11:44 AM on September 29, 2012


Seriously people you need to be watching Person of Interest right now
posted by homunculus at 1:26 PM on September 29, 2012


I really like Person of Interest. It's got one of those premises that's right on the border between science fiction and real life.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:11 PM on September 29, 2012


I can totally see that POI is going to be one of those "It's great, if only you can get through the first series" shows.

Last Resort will be just the opposite.
posted by Mezentian at 1:31 AM on September 30, 2012


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