Helix is a new original series on Syfy from the king of all Syfy originals Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica). Billy Campbell stars as Dr. Alan Farragut of the Center for Disease Control. He and his crack team are called to the middle of snowy nowhere to investigate a viral outbreak that turns humans into manic monsters. What Farragut doesn’t realize is that there people with a stake in stopping him from learning the whole truth about the outbreak and that, of course, is what makes this more than just a remake of The Andromeda Strain.
The series has me both intrigued and confused which leads me to my 7 random thoughts about Helix.
1. The title card cracks me up.
Instead of opening credits, Helix uses a brief title card like Supernatural. But instead of smacking us with a monstrous sound, it’s accompanied by this poppy-60’s piece of elevator music that is as far from the series as you can get. And I love it. It generally shows up after something horrifying so it’s even more incongruous and wonderful. For that reason alone, you must watch this show.
2. Javier Grillo-Marxuach
For Christmas, I got Middleman: The Complete Series on DVD. I adore that show. It was created by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and wins the award for the most pop culture references ever in a TV series. It’s also quirky and off-kilter. One night after watching Middleman, I turned on Helix and saw that Javier Grillo-Marxuach is one of the Executive Producers. That might account for the weird title card music. . . and the monkeys. He’s got a thing for monkeys. Which leads me to. . .
3. The Monkey Field
This story involves scientists messing around with viruses and DNA and genetics in a lab. This means monkeys but the team can’t find any monkeys when they arrive to investigate. They’re told that the lab didn’t use monkeys for testing. But guess what. . . they did and the monkeys didn’t like it one bit. Fast forward to the end of the pilot episode, Major Balleseros goes out into the snow to make a private, nefarious (seemingly) phone call. He starts to walk back to camp, the wind shifts, he turns and sees this:
A whole field of frozen, horrified, half-buried monkeys. Who thinks up these things?
4. You’ll Never Walk Alone
In the later stages of infection, the infectees get paranoid and extremely strong. They’re also overwhelmed by the desire to make more of their kind which involves spewing black goo from their mouth into the victim’s mouth. They know this and they know that there are several infected people running loose in the building so what do they do. . . they send the CDC girls off to do their work by themselves. I know it sounds like I’m being sexist, but this is the show. The ONE male doctor walks around with a security team at his side. The three women doctors all go off on their own at various points. That’s beyond stupid. And I don’t like when shows do stupid things for the sake of advancing the plot.
“There’s a serial killer loose in your neighborhood. Lock your doors and stay inside.” “Oh, shoot, I forgot to take out the trash, I’ll just do that before the serial killer gets here. . . ”
5. Whose Side Are They On?
Dr. Hiroshi Hatake.
Head of Security Aerov
I thought they were all in this together. Now, I’m not sure.
6. Catherine Lemieux as Dr. Doreen Boyle
I could have played that part. I don’t mean that as a dig, I mean she reminds me of me and it’s nice to see that on TV. She’s also wacky which was a little annoying at first but I like where she’s coming from. Forget those cute, skinny girls, give Catherine more screen time.
7. An (Unintentional?) Homage to The Thing From Another World
The Thing from Another World (1951) is one of my all-time favorite movies. Helix reminds me of both the original and the John Carpenter remake. It’s set in a remote, snowy corner of the Arctic which is important because it’s one of the few places in the world where you can legitimately strand a group of people without easy access to help. It has that same claustrophobic feel and both deal with consequences of man’s experimentation. And like the people in Carpenter’s version, the characters in Helix don’t know who they can trust which makes the situation ten times worse.
I can’t figure out how they’re going to stretch this story out for 13 episodes or more but I’m in it for the long haul. If you need to catch up, check Syfy for repeats or watch the episodes online.
If you’ve been watching, visit the special Helix “Access Granted” site to read documents, view security footage and investigate untapped corners of Arctic Biosystems. Just remember to wear gloves and keep your face shield in place. . . do that and you should be fine. . . I think.
Watch Helix Fridays at 10 on Syfy.