By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
Syfy, while not usually known for scientifically accurate productions (Sharknado, anyone?), has taken on a production that looks at the science behind just how dangerous it is to mess with human genetics.
Set at a science base in the Arctic, Helix follows the story of a team of doctors from the Center for Disease Control who race against time to find a cure for a disease that’s turning the infected people at the base into decaying zombies with superhuman strength and speed. The team eventually discovers the virus is the result of experiments in human genetics. Each episode follows a day in the life at the base, covering almost two weeks of the virus’s impact in the season’s 13 episodes.
While the show may appear like a horror movie at first, it quickly shifts into a science-procedural storyline that focusses on the doctors explaining their procedures and preparing tests for the virus and possible cures. This is a show that clearly has a lot of thought and scientific knowledge put into it.
Produced by Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D Moore, the show has a distinct emphasis on human relationships and how the characters interact with each other after the discovery of the disease: some put on a brave front, others break down, and some go to great lengths to keep the virus a secret by turning into killers overnight.
Helix stars Billy Campbell (from Syfy’s The 4400) as Alan Farragut, the lead doctor; Hiroyuki Sanada (from The Wolverine) as Hiroshi Hatake, the scientist in charge of the base; and Montreal native Jordan Hayes (from House at the End of the Street) as Sarah Jordan, a 26-year-old scientist with a secret. One of the best parts of the show is Catherine Lemieux’s character, the plain-looking scientist Doreen Boyle, who shows that not all scientists have to be pretty on TV—especially since real-life scientists usually aren’t tall, skinny ladies with perfect hair.
But don’t get too attached to any favourite characters. To mirror what would really happen if a deadly unknown disease broke out, Helix doesn’t show any consideration to its main characters and any of them could die in any episode. To avoid spoilers on who lives and dies, try to steer clear of websites like the show’s Wikipedia page or IMDB listing, which show how many episodes an actor stars in.
The one downside to the show is it has a few too many clichés, such as Farragut’s brother being the infected patient and the reason he has to go on the mission, or the love triangles between Farragut, his ex-wife, his brother, his assistant, and Hatake. However, the one cliché the show’s creator, Cameron Porsandeh, promised wouldn’t happen was using flashbacks to tell the character’s backstories. Instead the show makes use of the hallucinations that the disease causes to make characters reveal their pasts.
Helix airs Fridays on Showcase in Canada. Episode five airs on January 31, which means the stakes are getting higher, the body count is rising, and some really intense action is just about to start.