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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Syfy’s new show ‘Helix’ thrills viewers and critics alike

Published: January 24, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

A good thriller consists of a few important elements: provocative characters, an interesting and unpredictable plot, a touch of humor and, of course, unexpected scenes to jolt your adrenal glands. Syfy’s new show, “Helix,” encomposses all of those components and far more. “Helix,” which follows the Atlanta CDC to Arctic Biosystems, an Arctic research facility, was released on Jan. 10 of this year.

The show begins in an unknown destination with a computerized voice stating, “contamination,” repeatedly, while two men in HAZMAT suits walk into a room with several battered and dead men on the floor. One is still alive, and when a man in a HAZMAT suit gives him water, the injured man’s throat begins to bulge and twist in sinister ways. We then meet Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell), the director of the CDC’s outbreak field team who is training a new batch of field workers with sass, humor, history and the brutal truth of how scary the world of epidemiology can be.

When it is revealed that Alan’s brother, Peter (Neil Napier), a researcher at Arctic Biosystems, has been infected with a mysterious retroviral disease, Peter promptly flies out to investigate the disease outbreak that has stricken him as well as a few other employees. Peter and his team are perplexed and scared by what they see at this facility, and it soon becomes obvious that a project was being covered up that could have transmitted the disease to other workers. Other notable characters are Dr. Julia Walker (Dr. Farragut’s ex-wife and co-worker, played by Kyra Zagorsky), Dr. Sarah Jordan (Dr. Farragut’s assistant and possible crush, played by Jordan Hayes) and Dr. Doreen Boyle (a sarcastic and brilliant veterinarian pathologist, played by Catherine Lemieux).

Although the episodes are only 40 minutes long, they are packed with activity, insight into the characters’ lives and a surprise attack or maimed body. Although there are some graphic and potentially upsetting parts of the show, it is not scary per se and should be suitable for most viewers (with the exception of those who fear blood or other bodily substances). According to the creator of “Helix,” Cameron Porsandeh, each episode is supposed to be a day long, and the season will consist of 13 episodes, covering just under two weeks of scintillating events.

This show, although centered around science, epidemiology and pathology, has something for everyone. There is an imminent romance in the works already predicted by a character. While the characters are constantly working in a specific field of work, humor is employed in most scenes. Even viewers with a limited to nonexistent background or interest in science will be sucked into the show thanks to its fascinating plot and surprising events. It is easy to fall in love with some characters, to become interested in the field workers’ discoveries and to become ensnared in the mysterious Arctic Biosystems.