‘Helix’ Series Premiere Mutates into Something Special for SyFy

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Helix 15 Minute Series Preview Helix Series Premiere Mutates into Something Special for SyFy

[This is a review of the Helix series premiere. It will contain SPOILERS.]

SyFy’s Helix dares to stand out in a landscape already filled to capacity with genre-based behemoths, like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Where those series tackle issues on a massive scale, Helix smartly stays small by giving its ensemble cast a tiny stage to showcase one of the best new series of 2014.  

Science fiction is quite possibly the most difficult of all genres to turn into a success; it is also the most fragile. Helix executive producer Ronald D. Moore achieved acclaim with his reimagining of Battlestar Galactica by disguising relevant topics such as terrorism, religion, and racism into a series about robots wanting to destroy their makers. Moore’s show was deeply layered, and was not just another space opera with strange looking creatures.

Unlike BattlestarHelix does not take place in outer space, but rather an isolated research facility somewhere in the Arctic. The primary strength of this series resides in its setting. The fact that these scientists are locked away in a frozen wasteland with a highly volatile virus is the perfect playground for creator Cameron Porsandeh to tell his story. When the team from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrive at the base, the mystery has already begun. Like any good mystery, some questions are best left unanswered, giving the viewer a reason to come back for more.

helix season 1 episode 1 jordan alan julia Helix Series Premiere Mutates into Something Special for SyFy

Aside from the virus that is causing havoc at the facility, the characters that inhabit this terrifying world are also intriguing. With the exception of Major Balleseros and head of security Daniel Aerov, everyone is a doctor. Even with their commonalities in terms of education, each character is unique in his/her own way. Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) may be straitlaced in appearance and tone, but there is little doubt that he will be the voice people turn to when things get ugly. The lovely Kyra Zagrosky plays Farragut’s ex-wife, Julia. To make matters worse, we learn early on that she had an affair with Alan’s brother (Dr. Peter Farragut), who also happens to be the infected individual running lose around the facility. Is that enough drama for everyone?

Dr. Hiroshi Hatake comes off as your run of the mill mad scientist, but as the two-hour premiere progresses, there is definitely more too his ambitions. The dynamic Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine) brings a quiet dominance to the screen. The Tokyo-born actor steals every scene he’s in, yet he does so without ever raising his voice. Sanada is never the loudest person in the room, yet he demands respect whenever he speaks. Next to location, it’s apparent that casting was at the top of the creative list, as Helix gives its viewers a diverse array of characters worth the time it will take to understand them better.

helix season 1 episode 1 peter Helix Series Premiere Mutates into Something Special for SyFy

Speaking of time, the concept of having each episode account for only 24-hours adds to the already tense atmosphere the show has created. With only a single day encapsulating an entire hour of television, each moment and every character interaction feels that much more important. Time is not on the side of the men and women trapped in this research facility.

Cameron Porsandeh and Ronald D. Moore have put together a unique blend of drama, suspense, and horror that have culminated into one of the more unique journeys into the science fiction genre since Battlestar. Helix has the potential to be a great show if it doesn’t collapse under the pressure of its own weight. The word “potential,” like “science fiction,” is both fragile and dangerous.

Are the characters and mysteries surrounding Helix enough to bring you back for a second viewing, or is this another failed attempt to reignite the world of sci-fi? Only time will tell.


Helix continues with ’274′ next Friday @10pm on SyFy. Watch the episode before it airs on Syfy’s official website.

Follow David Griffin on Twitter @griffinde
TAGS: Helix
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  1. Simply mediocre i.e not not any better than good and not bad. I won’t personally be watching it weekly but may wait until I hear it’s renewed and then get back on it. Reminds me of the Resident Evil franchise. So far it doesn’t interest me enough to watch it again next week…

    • It won’t get renewed if people don’t watch it i.e. You!

      • Fair enough point for any other show. It’s just that I’m bored of so many shows jumping on the mutant/zombie bandwagon nowadays.

    • Dooger, I agree with you, it is mediocre and actually getting worse. Note that theyre supposedly in the Arctic, yet whenever they’re outside in the blowing snow, no one seems cold, the “snow” theyre stepping in looks like its always been paved flat! The major’s uniform is worn incorrectly indoors, and whenever someone comes inside into the tunnel, there’s not one speck of snow or melted ice trailing anywhere behind them. I realize all the environmental scenery has been cgi’d in, but seriously! Also, why does this research facility have all this roaming security, yet its up to the visiting CDC doctors to go climbing around in the ventilation ducts looking for dangerous infected patients?? And just why is it that they have to calm down the scientists tha are RESEARCHING DANGEROUS PATHOGENS and explain to them just why it is they cant be evacuated until they lift the quarantine?? This is really poor writing.

  2. I saw commercials for it and I wasn’t interested until I read this review. I’ll check it out since SyFy is losing their minds and repeating the same two episodes all day today.

  3. I think they ratcheted up the paranoia a bit too much. No one trusted anyone for no reason and everyone wanted to escape and die rather than be treated. Apart from that it was interesting and it looks like it will escalate quite a bit.

    • *SPOILERS*
      I think they were trying to make it seem as though some of the doctors knew things about the crazy experiments going on at the facility. And as for the three people in isolation, they are infected, and so far we’ve found out that the infection messes with people’s brains, making them want to spread the virus at all cost, and I’m just guessing that that could happen at an unconscious level.

    • Look and feels yo much like LOST. I don’t want to take that long ride to no answers. Think. I will wait to the entire season is over to watch them back to back. 3 shows already and only one answers. The CDC is coming! I’ll wait to they finish. Lol

  4. Thank you Screenrant for reviewing, very much. Admittedly I had to find this online due to home construction but watch this live hopefully soon

  5. ScreenRant seems to be making a habit of publishing glowing reviews for new series (see Almost Human) and then starting complaining a few more episodes in. It’ll be interesting to see whether the trend continues with this show; I’ll make sure to check the premiere out anyway.

  6. The episode was okay. Same old syfy stuff and taking a page out of Resident Evil

  7. Reminded me of The Season of the Harvest books. Was interesting, will be watching it weekly.

  8. i watched it and it was fairly interesting, but the first thing i thought was that this is Resident Evil the TV series.

    • Hmm..zombie/monster hybrids? Vast underground city-like installation? T-virus? Evil corporate/gov’t conspiracy? Resident Evil from the CDC’s perspective. Maybe the ex-wife will morph into Alice and kill everyone.

  9. I thought the first episode was good and will keep watching. I just hope they end the show when needed and don’t drag it out. This show should only last 3 seasons tops.. Then end it on a high note and sell DVD’s. you know?.. eventually you have to solve the mystery or it’s not worth watching. So if the show gets canceled it’s like reading a murder mystery but not finishing it to see who done it? I hope this show lasts as long as it needs and not any longer.

  10. It be kind of nice if Sci-Fi could be little forward thinking as oppose recycling Resident Evil and Indie Cult crap films like Sharknado. Someone should really shaking things up over there studio or whatever. Come up with new or intellect like Star Trek in sense that it plays with plausible future technology. Make a show that entertaining but also make you conscious of matters around us in the world. Chinese espionage, creeping buildup of private military industry and militarization of space, Water Salinization. That includes a space elevator and plasma weaponry and scramjet technology. Just create something that isn’t zombies or Sharknado.

  11. It would be kind of nice if Sci-Fi could be little more forward thinking as oppose recycling Resident Evil and Indie Cult crap films like Sharknado. Someone should really shake things up over there at the studio or whatever. They should come up with something new or intellect like Star Trek in sense that it plays with plausible future technology. Make a show that entertaining but also make you conscious of matters around us in the world. Chinese espionage, creeping buildup of the private military industry and militarization of space, Water Salinization. That the show includes technology such as the space elevator and plasma weaponry and scramjet technology. Just create something that isn’t zombies or Sharknado.

  12. My first thoughts about the show were that it was a cross between “Resident Evil” and “The Thing”. Seems many had a similar Resident Evil vibe. I will be watching.

    • Yes, it is a bit like both, but worth watching, I would say.

  13. Definitely reminded me of resident evil…. But it was more procedural..and quite cool
    The story is there…i want to know more. And the ending was a little unexpected..
    I’d be tuning in again.. solid premier.

  14. Enough to warrant a second look.
    I agree with the reviewer that Hiroyuki Sanada is great but I have to remind myself this also applies to Giancarlo Esposito in Revolution and that show is a total pile of dog $&*%.

  15. Another show set in the superficial world where only beautiful people exist. 6/10 for me. The pacing was bad and the structure felt disjointed, one minute they’re looking for the escaped lunatic carrying a deadly virus and the next minute they’re having a relaxed conversation. They also failed to display the setting properly, it’s a huge research center and they keep remind us of that with ariel shots yet we only see 2 or 3 rooms the whole time. You want me to believe that it’s hard to find the escapee? Then show me just how easy it is to lose someone in a place like that.

    p.s. The security at that place sucks ass!!

  16. It was alright with some interesting elements, but the contrieved writing necessary for such a show was already very much apparent in the two-parter, reaching Prometheus levels. Examples:

    - You are looking for the source of an unknown and highly lethal pathogen. What do you do? Yup, you try to grab the monkey that they tried to hide from you with your bare hands and without any protective gear or capturing tools whatsoever.

    - You are investigating an unknown and highly lethal pathogen that could mutate anytime and go airborne. What do you do? Yeah, you just take off your biohazard gear without following any kind of proper protocol.

    - You learn that the main focus of the research of the infected was mutagenics, meaning that the pathogen could indeed mutate into an airborne variant any second. Do you inform the others about that fact so they put back on their suits? Of course not.

    - Someone who is infected with a highly lethal pathogen and who already has attacked and infected several people is running loose on the base. What do you do? Yup… you perfom an autopsy with your back to the door and with earbuds playing loud music, reducing your situational awareness to an absolute minimum. Of course you also do that all by yourself without anybody else standing guard. The same applies for taking a shower…

    - You are in a facility that is all about researching pathogens, yet you have to explain those who work there why there are not being evacuated and how a quarantine works. Expositional dialog to spoonfeed mentally challenged members of the audience is fine, but at least the context for that dialog should make some sort of sense and not make the supposedly high level staff look mentally challenged as well. But then again all characters on this show seem to be mentally challenged in one way or another (see above), so it doesn’t really matter anymore, I suppose.

    I could go on…

    • Oh yeah, I almost forgot: when you build a base that is about researching pathogens, be sure not to forget airducts that interconnect and traverse the whole basem, including labs. Isolated air supplies are for pussies.

      • It did go through the usual steps of why would anyone do that for the sake of moving the story along, but in the back of my head I have to remember what I see on a daily basis. I work in a hospital/medical school where they have research facilities and some of the researchers, while they might be book smart, cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. As for lab protocol from what I have seen that is a myth. They keep the labs looking like a Kindergarten art class and have to be reminded daily about locking doors and security. And don’t get me started on the dangerous and faulty building design in brand new building.

        So in short the most disturbing thing about this show for me is how close I am to actually seeing something this stupid happen.

        • Now that’s disturbing! 0_o

    • Lol lol lol. So right. Lol

  17. Helix is definately smart and slick albeit derivative (you’ll see similarities between this and films like “Aliens,” and Carpenter’s “The Thing.”) I enjoyed the premiere and plan to keep watching but worry that it won’t catch on and get cancelled. I hope this finds an audience like “Continuum” did. There aren’t a heckuva of a lot of hardcore Sci-fi fans out there. I’ve don’t consider Star Wars or Star Trek Sci-fi but rather space operas (as in soap opera) that could have been easily been transformed into westerns by keeping the same plot/theme while changing the sets and costumes. Doubt that fanboys will gravitate to Helix…no corvettes named Lola or tie ins to super hero comic book franchises. Caprica was intelligent and interesting but didn’t have the requisite amount of explosions. monsters etc to appeal to the nerds and it went away too soon.

    • @blkczch…
      “Caprica was intelligent and interesting but didn’t have the requisite amount of explosions. monsters etc to appeal to the nerds and it went away too soon.”
      ‘YES’. Thadtzs ‘WHY’ I Hesitate TO:Watch ‘Any’ New Show Offering on the SyFy ‘Channel’.


  18. A little disappointed.

    It has slick production value and the actors seem to know what they’re doing.

    But the first two episodes were very procedural and the editing was atrocious. From a science point of view incredibly silly with how lax safety and security measures were and how unprofessional the scientists were.

    As long as they wrap up the story in 13 episodes it might be worth watching but for now it’s more of a save on the DVR and watch it on a rainy day type of show.

  19. I personally loved Helix it is worth it , in most shows you don’t see the laboratory aspect or a person’s feelings play into the show you usually just see one half, I like Helix because unlike star wars or star trek it’s showing what I believe the Sci-fi genre is about and this show may make me a hard-core sci-fi fan also Helix reminds me of “Bones” a little. Additionally I think it sets itself apart from the vampires, werewolves, brain eaters , etc that we see playing over continuously

  20. I don’t think the critics of Helix, after only three episodes, fully appreciate what’s going to happen to this series from Ron Moore. I’ve been a big fan of Moore’s work since Deep Space Nine and then the Battlestar remake. I can guarantee he has a really, really big picture for the plot and characters ahead. Expect the over-arching and stark themes of politics, conspiracy, and even Biblical elements soon. I think Moore learned his lessons from the failed Caprica series. He will keep things moving at fast pace once the plot threads are set in the next few episodes. We’re in for a RIDE! Trust me. I can’t wait….

  21. I’m sorry, what show are you people watching? This was the most boring show I’ve seen in years. The pacing was plodding for a Sci-Fi show, much less for Horror! Every single character in the show is mentally challenged. Below is an example of the absolute stupidest moment in any show I’ve seen in years. If you care about this show, and you shouldn’t, this will spoil some of the episode.


    The heavy lady and her military assistant are looking for monkeys. Mind you, there has been a break out of a nasty disease. So, they break into the monkey room, and after walking around for a few boring minutes, they start to hear something. So, with a killer disease on the loose, they investigate. They find a monkey that does not appear to be sick, at first (who cares, all animals are to be treated as if they are sick in this situation). So, SHE TALKS TO IT! Then, the sick monkey does what sick monkeys do, and attacks. Her military partner saves her, and she is miraculously unharmed (what? the monkey didn’t even bite her once?) Everything about this encounter is impossible. This is only one example, this show is full of stupid moments like this.

    ** End Spoiler**

    If you read that, you know that you don’t have to suspend disbelief to watch this trash, you have to completely turn of all cognitive thought. This show is best viewed in a vegetative state.

  22. I’m enjoying it. I think it has a lot of potential and I’m willing to stick with it for the first season to see if it lives up to that potential. I found lots of references, winks and nods to science fiction classics including The Thing, Andromada Strain, Alien, X Files and 28 Days and I personally enjoy that. There have been things that didn’t sit right with me but they have not been deal breakers by any means.

  23. Is it cancelled already? ;) I watched it and it was really boring and predictable. Not worth my time. I liked Caprica, BSG, Blood and Chrome, StarGate, even V (Visotors) much more. But good shows get cancelled and bad ones are created.

  24. Terrible writing and acting. Where did they find some of the actors – out of a Tim Hortons commercial? To even mention Game of Thrones and Walking Dead with Helix – come on – please learn how to write in future David Griffin.

  25. While the basic idea of having people in an exotic, closed environment is good, the realisation is awful. There can be no good SF series that relies on characters, and if this is the future of SF series, then SF should have no future on TV.

    Let’s just start it with the basics: there’s a base on Antarctica, built at enormous cost to avoid any government supervision, there’s an outbreak and the scientists there deal with it by a) inviting the government and b) hiding just about anything that they know is behind the outbreak, of which they have to know infinitely more than any outsiders? There are missing children traced to the base on Antarctica and lunatics living in wilderness over there? Finally, the Dr. Evil syndrome where the evil forces show they have no grasp on economics by investing billions in a venture that would bring them peanuts.

    • So very true, Me Myself & I. Its so ridiculously written, one cannot imagine how it got on air. Syfy has made one silly bomb after another. Its amateur hour there.

  26. Just got halfway through season one on channel 5, it’s dropped right down the schedule and already it’s taking a “mid-season break”, due to return later in the year on 5*. Sounds like its gonna get dropped. It is pretty dire though, so I won’t care much if I miss the final reveal.

  27. i hope this doesn’t go on and on and on like ‘Lost.’ yawn!

  28. I thought it was really good. Exciting, great dialogue, most of the characters are on point. But being from northern Minnesota, they depict -50* very poorly. Lol. You definitely wouldn’t be driving a snowmobile with only a wool hat and goggles. Lol. But other than that it’s acaptavating series!!