Alphas is an American science fiction dramatic television series created by Zak Penn and Michael Karnow. The series follows a group of people with superhuman abilities, known as "Alphas", as they work to prevent crimes committed by other Alphas.
The series is broadcast in the United States on the cable channel Syfy and is a co-production between BermanBraun and Universal Cable Productions. It premiered on July 11, 2011. After initial reports that the show was cancelled, on September 7, 2011, Alphas was renewed for a 13-episode second season, which premiered on Monday, July 23, 2012, at 10 pm ET. Alphas TV (www.alphastv.net) was a good site for more information on Alphas. On January 16, 2013, Syfy confirmed that there would be no third season, leaving the series to end with the second season cliffhanger.
Originally known as Section 8, Alphas was initially developed by Zak Penn and co-creator Michael Karnow in 2006. The series was then shopped around to various networks, with some interest from both NBC and ABC. In late 2007 ABC picked up the series with an initial six episode order. However, complications arising from the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike derailed the project. On August 5, 2009, after almost two further years of shopping the show around to the broadcast and cable networks, Syfy placed a pilot order. Zak Penn and Michael Karnow wrote the pilot, Jack Bender was attached to the project as the director, with Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun serving as executive producers.
Casting announcements began in August 2010, with David Strathairn and Ryan Cartwright first to be cast, Strathairn was cast as Dr. Lee Rosen, the overseer/team leader/prescribing doctor and all around mother hen to the team: an eccentric, absent-minded professor, and Cartwright as Gary Bell, a member of the team who has autism and whose ability allows him to "read" wireless transmissions passing through the ether. Next to join the series was Warren Christie as Cameron Hicks, a new recruit on the team with a history of psychological problems, drug abuse and an anti-authoritarian streak whose Alpha skill is hyperkinesis. Malik Yoba and Laura Mennell were next to be cast, with Yoba playing Bill Harken, a former FBI agent from working class roots. Harken's Alpha skill allows him to intentionally activate a "fight-or-flight mechanism" producing a power surge of adrenaline giving him increased strength, speed and immunity from pain, and Mennell cast as Nina Theroux. Seductive, intelligent, and confident, Nina has an Alpha ability that allows her to influence people into doing whatever she wishes. Azita Ghanizada was the last actor to be cast, playing Rachel Pirzad, who from an early age has been able to hyper-intensify her senses, one at a time – vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. The filming of the pilot episode took place in Toronto, Canada.
Alphas was ordered to series on December 8, 2010, by Syfy to air in the summer of 2011. The series is a co-production between BermanBraun and Universal Cable Productions. Along with the series pickup, Syfy also announced that veteran Sci-Fi producer Ira Steven Behr had been picked to serve as executive producer and showrunner.
The series follows five people, known as "Alphas", led by noted neurologist and psychologist Dr. Lee Rosen as they investigate criminal cases involving other suspected Alphas. Rosen and his team of Alphas operate under the auspices of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the criminal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. While investigating these crimes, it does not take the team too long to discover that a group known as "Red Flag", which was thought defeated and eliminated long ago, is using other Alphas to commit crimes. With the inclusion of Dr. Calder in the episode "Never Let Me Go", it was established that Alphas takes place in a shared universe with Eureka and Warehouse 13.
- David Strathairn as Dr. Lee Rosen
- Ryan Cartwright as Gary Bell
- Warren Christie as Cameron Hicks
- Azita Ghanizada as Rachel Pirzad
- Laura Mennell as Nina Theroux
- Malik Yoba as Bill Harken
- Erin Way as Kat (Season 2)
- Callum Keith Rennie as Don Wilson
- Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Nathan Clay
- Valerie Cruz as Kathy Sullivan
Alphas has received mixed to positive reviews. It earned a score of 63 on Metacritic. The New York Post said of the first episode: "Alphas is fun, sure, but it has a 'been there, done that' feel." TV Fanatic gave the show an average review saying, "Everything Alphas brought to the table has been done before." The New York Times gave the show a negative review: "It's neither here nor there: low on sci-fi mystery and intrigue and not yet convincing as ensemble drama. Right now it feels like the beta version."
Variety gave a positive review: "At first blush, though, give Alphas high marks for effort and ingenuity, demonstrating a TV show needn't provide major pyrotechnics or a reinvented wheel to lay the groundwork for solid summer entertainment where the characters, somewhat refreshingly, are only sort-of super."
The Los Angeles Times gave the pilot a positive review: "Alphas deftly balances all the building blocks of great genre—nonhuman abilities, twisty plot, cool special effects, smart dialogue and characters you want to spend more time with. And that's the most impressive superpower of all."
After eight episodes had aired, Maureen Ryan of AOL TV called it the summer's most promising new drama: "Not only has Alphas successfully avoided many of the pitfalls that have bedeviled other superhero-flavored projects, it's done a good job of balancing character-driven moments with taut, well-paced storytelling."