As network TV lines up for an all-out assault of superpower TV shows in next year, SyFy doesn’t intend to be left out in the cold on cable. Screen Rant reported that the channel picked up a pilot for Alphas over a year ago, and since then SyFy has ordered an additional 11 episodes and filled out the cast. Here’s an extended look at the upcoming series.
Alphas, formerly titled Section 8, follows a covert government team filled with superheroes of the mental/psychic variety. The team (which will hold on to the Section 8 moniker) operates under the CIA to find and neutralize other ‘Alphas’.
Writer Zak Penn should be comfortable in the genre after working on the second and third X-Men sequels, Elektra, The Incredible Hulk reboot and the forthcoming Avengers. Other crew members include writer Michael Karnow and director Jack Bender, formerly director/producer of Lost.
io9 recently got an extended look at the pilot’s script, which gives us a better understanding of the core characters and feel of the show. The team’s leader Bill Harken, an ex-military type frustrated at his “green” civilian subordinates, is played by Malik Yoba, (Defying Gravity). The other team members have no tactical training and can’t carry weapons – beyond their innate abilities, of course. Laura Mennell (Watchmen‘s Janey Slater) plays Nina Theroux, a telepath who can influence the actions of others a la Professor X in X-Men. The two leads have some serious history that will play throughout the series, beginning with the pilot.
A psychiatrist named Leigh Rosen oversees the emotional and mental state of the team and has manipulative abilities. He’s played by David Strathairn of The Bourne Ultamatum. Ryan Cartwright, who’s had recurring roles on Mad Men and Bones, plays Gary Bell, an extremely obsessive-compulsive with extra-sensory perception. The character’s unstable mental state (think of him as Monk with superpowers) will present almost as many problems to Section 8 as his abilities will solve. The team is rounded out with Rachel Myer, (Azita Ghanizada) a lab tech with hyperactive standard senses. The lot of them report to CIA boss Don Wilson, played by Callum Keith Rennie, a SyFy veteran formerly of Battlestar Galactica.
The pilot follows Section 8 as they investigate a former military man under suspicion of murder. The team realizes that he’s been using Alpha mind powers to grant himself deadly accuracy as he assassinates targets. Naturally, all is not as it appears.
Unfortunately, one of the few things we don’t know is exactly when the pilot and the series will show up on SyFy’s schedule. Filming on Alphas begins early next year, with a debut tentatively planned for summer.