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Alpha’s omega?

December 30, 2012

To any SyFy channel execs out there: I really would like to see these guys get a third season.

In what I would describe as a bit of irony, it looks like Alphas may not be getting a third season.  The reason this is ironic is because Alphas is pretty much the only series on SyFy at the moment that most people would consider science fiction as opposed to fantasy.  For those unfamiliar with it, Alphas started a couple years back and followed SyFy’s successful Warehouse 13.  I love the show and, actually enjoy it more than Warehouse 13 these days.  This is largely because Warehouse 13 went the straight fantasy route after a first season that provided an interesting mix of both SF and fantasy.  I’ll own this as my problem more than W-13’s in that it’s pretty clear that the initial concept of the warehouse was going to inevitably take the show in that direction.  Having said all this, I still do watch and enjoy Warehouse 13.  So, why do I like Alphas more?  I have always been interested in the superhero sub-genre of genre literature, probably because I find the whole history of the superhero genre to be fascinating on some fundamental level.  While this certainly helped my appreciation of Alphas the show stands very much on its own merits.  The whole concept of powers in the show is well thought out in that the powers seem to always come with a cost.  For example, Bill Harkin has the ability to become superhumanly strong when his fight or flight reflex kicks in.  The problem is that the human body is not built for such extreme use and, as a result, every time Bill uses his gift he takes days, if not months, off his lifespan.  Similarly, Gary Bell can see every wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum but, the overwhelming input makes him borderline autistic.  This is a really interesting spin on super powers that I find completely believable.  On top of this, the characters are all real humans with real human desires and vulnerabilities.  Early in the second season there was an amazingly good episode that showed you from the perspective of the individual how wielding such power can totally overwhelm a person to the point of self-destruction.  It was a touching story that I felt put a very human face on the whole concept of absolute power corrupting absolutely.  This was one of the high points of the show that really makes it worth watching and, while Alphas does have its occasional stumbles as well, the overall quality of the stories more than makes up for it.

The lack of renewal notice for Alphas by SyFy is not surprising to me given that articles about the show always seem to bring up it’s ratings as being a problem.  Also, SyFy is the one cable channel whose behavior most parallels the broadcast networks in their handling of their properties.  Examples include deciding to end Farscape to replace it with the one season wonder Tremors, dumping The Dresden Files after one generally well recieved season and, effectively killing off Caprica half-way through its inagural season.  The irony here is that SyFy is pretty much the  opposite of a mainstream network.  The channel name alone indicates that you are going to get genre programming which is about as far removed from mass market tv as you can get.  On top of that, other generic cable channels like HBO, TNT and AMC all have their own highly rated genre series so, it’s not like SyFy even has a lock on their content specialty.  What I guess I’m saying here in a rather round about way is that I really don’t understand SyFy’s programing decisions.  Regardless, I’m still hoping that Alphas ultimately does make a third season.  Between the exceptional cast and reasonably solid writing I really think the show honestly deserves one.

From → News, Random Thoughts

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