Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So what is up with the SyFy Channel?

Why do they bother to generate new shows if all they are going to do is cancel them once they find their legs and have a nice tight cast with good chemistry.

Exhibit 1.
FarScape - Sadly, I missed the train on this one the 1st time around, but thanks to the wonder of Netflix, I'm all caught up now. I thought the 1st season was hit or miss. Decent, but slow to develop.. Very good characterization but shallow on action and an overall sense of purpose. Once Scorpius was introduced that complaint went away in a big damn hurry.. You want action - This show is a Big Boy roller-coaster with huge drops, speed and fast turns even when you know they are coming ... they get ya. This was an explosion of creativity. Cancelled far too soon.

Exhibit 2.
Eureka - What a great little show. Charming, simple.. Well acted characters that draw you in and give you a reason to care about them. Its Mayberry on nanite steroids. (I live in NC so a positive reference to the Andy Griffith show is serious Bid'ness, make no mistake.) Unlike shows of the 50s 60's and 70's where each show is stand-alone in nature. These days TV shows are more often than not sequential; meaning that you need to know what went before so that "now" makes sense. Its essentially a serial and I'm fine with that. While they are still airing episodes and working to finish the series, it will not be renewed. This saddens me. Its the only SciFi show my wife can tolerate.

Alternate Proposal or -
Maybe as a weigh station for shows on the cancellation block in the future networks can make webisodes (a'la The Guild) to see what the interest level actually is among the fans. If a site sets X amount of traction via being streamed on the web... then perhaps it can be saved.. since we now build on stories in a serial format, it would be quite possible to continue that as part of the ongoing plot should it be brought back to prime-time.

What speaks loudest? Volume? big mouths?
Shit no - No big wallets. How about a telethon to save a show? Proceeds could go to a charity as a BIG PR win for the network or it could be a tip for the cast and crew to continue.

So with all of the above in mind.
I am extremely hesitant to even consider recommending SyFy's "Alphas".
But it is that good and intriguing even if it is derivative.

Alphas Summary:
If you have ever read an X-men comic, then you get the basic idea. But its more BSG than Stan Lee. Edgy. No alliterative code names,  just people who do interesting stuff. The Big picture and the groups place in it has yet to be defined. I await that development eagerly.

Dr. Lee Rosen played by David Strathairn
Rosen is more reminiscent of a Robert Young type from Father knows best. While decidedly not Professor X, Rosen would relate and build trust and friendships by a fishing trip or some other deeply personal connection. He has a frail control over the group. It may better to say he is an influencer that appeals to their inner nature. For now they look to him as a kindly uncle or surrogate father. Should the other characters have doubts about the direction they could easily overpower him and go their own way.

Bill Harken played by Malik Yoba
This one doesn't fit for me. If you could push a car you could push a lineman or be an un-tackle-able fullback. While every group needs a "Strongman" we have not see ONE superhero get their origin from a sports notice. This seems absurd. Every Sunday when we watch football we see freakish people do freakish things. Gimme 1 sports star please. The Bill character is mature, experienced, professional and conflicted about his Alpha situation. Evidently it was a late in life surprise and hes learning how to cope.

Cameron Hicks played by Warren Christie
So far this is Bullseye. Only instead of a murdering psychopath, this guy is more of a tortured soul (a'la Wolverine) trying to find his way in life and finally makes the right kind of friends to challenge him to be a better man. His military training gives him advantage.

Nina Theroux played by Laura Mennell
This character Reminds me of Garth Ennis' Preacher. The Preacher and Nina Both have the influence of "the Spoken word. When they chose to use it that is. In Nina's case she is a manipulator. Maybe its her "look" but she strikes me as a kept woman who has was gotten what she wants and at times has danced on the edge... and that edge brought her to Rosen. She is basically good and is striving to be better but has a tragic past she is running from, based on her previous actions and abusing her gift. I'd be curious to see how it works on someone who is deaf, or speaks another language. It would be also interesting to see if she can do this on a crowd as opposed to 1:1 interaction making her a foolproof interrogator.

Gary Bell played by Ryan Cartwright
Easily the most original and flawed character of the group. The actor is very good. I believe he is autistic. I think this character could be the most powerful, but his flaw keeps him in check and human. I'll be curious to see if Rosen can help him progress and become even higher functioning as he better copes with his gifts. Its entirely possible Gary autism is induced BY his gift as a governor or regulator type of coping mechanism. If this is removed even temporarily and for short bursts it would make for some interesting stories

Rachel Pirzad played by Azita Ghanizada
She is Daredevil, but without the radar thing and martial arts stuff. They use her as a human blood hound right now but this can be pushed A LOT farther than it currently is... I hope they don't write her into a box and let her grow and develop her powers to detect lies, act as lookout and all sorts of other goodies.


  1. FarScape was a good one, and definitely cancelled way too soon. I'm really bummed that Eureka is being cancelled -- we love that one! It is also one that we can watch as a family without too many scenes that we parents have to explain.

    Alphas is great fun too -- sure hope they don't ditch it. I like the relationships they are building between the characters -- like Gary and Bill.

  2. Excellent points about Alphas. Strathairn keeps me enthralled because he can - with great effectiveness - avoid stepping into the strong charismatic leader role and instead maintains that almost weak, almost high-school counselor level of leadership that the group could easily take or leave. I really enjoy that about the show, and you hit it on the head.

    Also the whole group dynamic is (intentionally) so bad that it is captivating...like a bizarre community therapy group rather than a super secret action team. They aren't all best buddies, they openly dislike the things the others do, and it is a wonderful change from so many show where everyone is best buddies and share the same dreams, etc. Gary would drive a saint to the edge but you want to hear everything he says.

    I hope it lasts. I want to see if this odd group can maintain their originality. I certainly hope they do not fall into the sci-fi cliches that have doomed so many other shows.

    Sad to see Eureka go...it's just fun.