In an era dominated by superhero flicks and shows comes Alphas, an original Syfy show about a small investigative agency that employs individuals with superpowers and is guided by a wise, old doctor. It sounds a little familiar, right? Perhaps, one could even say it sounds a bit like X-Men. People who have superpowers? Check. These people form a group and use their powers for good? Check. This group is led by a wise, old man? Check again. So what is up with the similarities? Well it may be that the two concepts are so similar because they share a writer, Zac Penn (The Avengers, X-Men: The Last Stand). But don’t look at it as an aging concept, oft-tried and oft-failed. This show takes a tiring concept, making something so abnormal seem so…well, normal. And that is relatively new for the superhero genre.
Although the plots for Alphas and X-Men share a basic concept, Alphas takes that concept and runs with it in a different direction than with X-Men. The “alphas,” as they are called in the show, are individuals with the power to stretch the capabilities of the human mind and give themselves superhuman abilities. They aren’t well-known in society. Moreover, because they aren’t well-known, they have no need to hide or be ostracized by “normal” people, unlike in X-Men. The wise, old man leading them is a neurologist and a psychiatrist, and although he is the leader of the alphas in his investigative agency, he is not intended to be their mentor. He simply leads the group and provides help when needed.
In this new series, five individuals with superhuman abilities are joined together by an aging doctor, Lee Rosen. The team of alphas operates within the Defense Criminal Investigation Service of the U.S. Department of Defense. One member of the group has the ability to make himself stronger by increasing his adrenaline levels. Another member has the ability to make people do what she wants by manipulating them. The third member can heighten whichever sense she wants while tuning out every other sense. The fourth member can control electromagnetic signals on all wavelengths, so he can access computer and television and radio (etc) with his mind. And the fifth member has unbelievable motor skills. They all work together to fight crime, so to speak.
Most superhero movies and shows can get boring. It’s the same concept over and over again, with relatively little advancement towards a great plot. Whereas superhero shows like Heroes or Smallville work towards developing a decent plot, the same cannot be said for superhero movies.Although there aren’t too many superhero shows out now, and not all of them are so original or fresh, there are many superhero movies. That may be because many writers and directors and the like see the concept of superheroes to be a win for the bank. Well, that may be true. Still, it seems that all the work to make superhero movies and shows nowadays is placed in creating an amazing visual experience, by way of special effects and CGI, and not in creating an amazing overall experience for the viewer. This shallow representation of the superhero genre is in and of itself overused and boring.
This new show, Alphas, is unlike its fellow movies and shows. Although it doesn’t have all the glitz and glamour of a big-budget film or the feel of a more “traditional” show, it has substance. The characters are realistic, and act in more realistic situations. They don’t wear tight or revealing (and ridiculous) spandex outfits. They don’t fight unrealistic villains (e.g., villains whose DNA structures have changed so that they mutate into an evil mega-villain with a big head made of sand). While it’s good to have fantastical plots, of which there are many, it’s also good to have plots grounded in reality, which is what Alphas offers its viewers. The characters are extraordinary, and the plot isn’t true-to-life, but that doesn’t detract from the reality created for the viewers watching the show. The reason for this is that the concept isn’t as far-fetched as some concepts out there, and is firmly based off of our true reality and not some Marvel or DC Universe.