Saturday, January 25, 2014

Show Review: Helix

Given my day job, two kids and the various demands of daily life, I typically find myself with only a few hours of spare time to devote to watching television. That's why 'New Show' season is typically a fairly hectic time of research, thinning the list of potential candidates and then PVR-ing a few to determine which make the final cut for long-term (read a season) viewing.  Every once in a while I'll drop some of these shows part way through the season.

One of the shows that caught my attention early on was a program that didn't even launch until this year: Helix (links to IMDB).  The commercials were suitably vague enough to pique my interest.  I knew it involved medical viruses, had some horror/suspense elements to it and took place in an Antarctic station.  The cast isn't a list of well known actors, which can sometimes make or break a show.  The production quality and complexity of plot lines are typically high on my list of requirements before I follow a prgram; this I found in Helix, in spades.

The idea of a medical based horror/suspense is certainly nothing new, and it brings with it many of the common tropes and ideas expected from a medical suspense-thriller/horror.  The concept was popularized long before the more recent Resident Evil computer games and cinematic interpretations, I Am Legend, 28 Days After, et al.  Helix has a production quality that matches anything on television.  Set in a sub-terranean base located in the Antarctic, the distant and remote locale a character in and of itself.  The music and background sounds are exceedingly similar to the Resident Evil score, which really adds to the eerie feeling to each episode.  

The driving force behind the complexity of the plot is the mystery behind the medical pathogen that is infecting the base.  A team from CDC is sent to deal with the outbreak, facing a series of complications, and personnel with their own counter-motivations.  Since there are so few of the viewing audience that have the medical and bio-chem expertise to really critique the science or techniques behind the show (which certainly includes me), the disparity of the science and that level of knowledge makes the pathogen akin to a sort of magic.  We see the effects, we understand there is a scientific reasoning behind the infection and are shown through the research the characters conduct just how it works, yet for all we know of the machinations of a pathogen and vectors, it may as well be magic.

I find the concept of the show as incredibly interesting, the production and the acting engaging.  The concept and execution behind the Resident Evil film (the first, none of those follow-ups) was one I thoroughly enjoyed; I Am Legend is another film I enjoyed.  Both of these films were based on heavy use of computer graphics and violence.  The television series Helix has the same medical background and conspiracy, yet after two episodes, the majority of the action and suspense seems to be based on the threat of the pathogen and the interaction of the incredibly frightened personnel of the base, and the hidden agendas that are bit-by-bit being revealed.  Thusfar, I find worth Helix to really be worth my investment of time.  I'm really looking forward to the following episodes.
Have you seen Helix?  If not, I recommend you give it a try.


No comments:

Post a Comment