Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Alphas (Continued)

Bad news.

Alphas, the show whose pilot I reviewed most recently, is not-- so far-- delivering. Alphas was always going to be a slow-burn show and I was optimistic that it would deliver a cool, low-tech take on the superability genre.

It hasn't quite made it.

One reason is the premise: there is an Alpha of the week, causing mayhem and the team must track them down to stop them on their often distructive path. Unfortuantely, this isn't enough. Ultimately, this is duller than the usual crime-of-the-week show because there is far less to impede an investigation. Superabilities speed up the search for a missing person, mind-control speeds up their interrogation.

To fill the 40 minutes, there is rather a lot of discussion. In every episode so far the group has rehashed a number of the same points about who they are, what they are doing etc. While this happens in real life fairly often, showing it in a 40-minute tv show slows it down and when the action is primarily occurring in a peripheral, non-threatening way, this is a problem. There's only so many speeches on the same topic the audience can listen to quietly.

Lastly, as sometimes happens once a pilot gets picked up, the environment and locations that I felt were interesting and leant an important air of reality to the show have been neatly swept up and disposed of. Now the office is well-decorated and in some kind of business park. The lives of the characters have been compressed into that solvent middle class nothingness that almost all American tv characters on the more mainstream channels seem to exist in. What a shame!

The only interesting thing is the clear moral ambiguity of the Alpha's goal. They capture and imprison dangerous Alphas and it is obvious that the facility where they go is on the wrong end of the experimental spectrum. And yet this is not the focus of the show and it will no doubt be a while before the character who is aware of the obvious issue actually gets around to even telling the others, let alone acting on his knowledge.

So Alphas is dry and dull, throwing us violence, action and intense emotional outbursts as if those somehow make up for the nondescriptness of the rest of the show and the sense of disconnectedness that is growing among what was initially a fairly promising ensemble.


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