As some of you probably know by now, ALPHAS, the terrific television series that blended science fiction and superheroes, has been cancelled. This is very sad news indeed as I was a huge fan of the series. For those who didn’t watch the show, Alphas was about a group of individuals with superhuman abilities who were led by a Doctor who not only helped them understand their abilities, but also helped them to cope with the psychological damage that these abilities sometimes caused as well as making them understand that they had a responsibility to use their powers for good.
Sounds like a comic book, right? Heroic people with powers fighting bad guys. However, there were no costumes or capes in Alphas and even the word “superhero” was not really part of the shows lexicon. From the first episode, Alphas developed it's own identity. Some have compared the show to Marvel Comics “X-Men” and that’s certainly a fair comparison if a simplistic one. A team of humans who, due to a mutation in their genetics, are granted extraordinary abilities and are led by a father figure who promotes peaceful use of those abilities. Sounds a lot like X-Men. It also had a lot in common with the DC Comics series “Doom Patrol”. Doom Patrol was about individuals who gained their abilities through some tragic accident that ruined their lives and made them very bitter. The leader of Doom Patrol was a scientific genius who wasn’t quite as kindly as X-Men leader Charles Xavier. Doom Patrol leader Niles Caulder often had to manipulate his contentious team into doing the right thing and sometimes into doing things that suited Caulder’s own agenda. Alphas team leader Lee Rosen was much like Charles Xavier and, for better or worse, not entirely dissimilar to Niles Caulder.
|David Strathairn as Dr. Lee Rosen|
|Warren Christie as Hicks|
|Azita Ghanizada as Rachel|
|Malik Yoba as Bill Harken|
|Ryan Cartwright as Gary Bell|
|Laura Mennell as Nina Theroux|
|Mahershala Ali as Agent Clay(left) and Strathairn|
One of the best things about Alphas was it’s diversity. This was probably one of the more gender and racially diverse shows not just in the genre but on television(at least based on my television viewing). Malik Yoba who plays team member Bill is African American as is the team handler and government agent Nathan Clay (Mahershala Ali). Azita Ghanizada who plays Rachel is Afghan American. There are also some strong, complex female characters in Nina, Rachel, newest team member Kat (Erin Way), Dr. Rosen’s daughter Danielle (Kathleen Munroe), the tech savvy Skylar Adams (played by Firefly’s Summer Glau) and liaison agent Kathy Sullivan (Valerie Cruz). You also have characters with diagnosed mental conditions represented in Gary as well as in the character of Anna Levy (Liane Balaban). Anna was one of the most fascinating characters to be seen in the shows very short run.
|Liane Balaban as autistic mastermind Anna|
|John Pyper-Ferguson as Stanton Parish|
|Pint sized Kat(Erin Way) teaches Bill a few tricks|
Episodes like Rosetta, that highlighted characters with disabilities along with interesting, racially diverse men and women, was one of the great things about Alphas. It was a great strength of the show not just for the obvious benefits of seeing the point of view of people of different gender and ethnicity but for narrative ones as well. The show also taught valuable lessons about teamwork, responsibility, lessons about right and wrong, lessons about loss, forgiveness and overcoming obstacles of the body and mind and heart and, most importantly, lessons about trusting others(a running theme of the show). Alphas seemed to find that perfect balance of comic book heroics, science fiction and just good old fashioned adventure. The writing was smart, witty and the stories were always tense, exciting, suspenseful, humorous and often poignant. I could go on and on about why Alphas was far superior to a show like Heroes but Corrina Lawson over at Wired has already done a terrific job of that. I will miss Alphas very, very much. I hope that somehow we’ll be given some closure with a two hour movie finale to wrap up the storyline ala Farscape (another show that was criminally cut short in it’s prime) but I have low expectations that this will happen.
|Cheers to the talented cast of Alphas!|