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Helix - Premiere - Screener Preview and Conference Call

From the minds of The X-Files and Battlestar Galactica, Syfy Network’s new series Helix is a nail biter. And I mean that literally. A couple of my nails were a bit shorter by the end of watching an advance preview of the two-hour premiere.

The show, created by Cameron Porsandeh, includes some big names in its credits, including Executive Producer Ronald Moore, best known for the SyFy’s hit remake of Battestar Galactica, and Executive Producer Steve Maeda, from LOST, Lie To Me, and The X-Files. I had the opportunity to view the advance preview, as well as sit in on a conference call with Maeda and star Kyra Zagorsky, who plays Dr. Julia Walker, this week. Highlights from that call are included at the end of this write up. Look for a full transcript of the interview to be posted soon on this site.

Screener Preview

We follow a group of scientists we meet at the CDC to the barren wildness of the Arctic north, where three members of a isolated research outpost have become infected with a what is thought to be a highly contagious and unprecedented virus that turns people into something not quite human. One of those patients is Peter (Neil Napier), the brother of the lead scientist from the CDC, Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell, The Killing).  The virus, of course, doesn't stay contained for very long, and the hunt gets underway for one of the infected moving through the ducts of the outpost.

X-Files fans, you’ll be pleased to see the return of black blood that resembles the iconic black goo from the X-Files series.  Helix seems to borrow from many of the sci-fi classics, including a callback to Battlestar Galatica with “fracked up” in the dialogue. And in true X-Files fashion, there are conflicting groups, with conspiracies behind the mysteries (such as what’s with the monkeys), and half-truths and downright lies being told. In fact, early on we’re told by the infected Peter that “everyone lies.” Also like the X-Files, the show mixes medical science with the unexplainable to create a terrifying trail of clues that just lead to more questions.

While the series felt a little more like X-Files than Battlestar Galactica to me, there’s an element of isolation to the outpost more similar to a battlestar than the FBI headquarters. We also see the start of a romantic quad – the bane of many fans from both Battlestar Galactica and LOST – but the tone of Helix is more intrique and suspense, rather than romantic drama, so I wouldn’t expect long played out storylines around who a character will “choose.”

With a promising story, a good cast, and strong pacing, I’m excited about the show. Check it out for yourself in the premiere – first airing at 10 pm ET on Friday, Jan. 10, on the SyFy Network, and then replaying throughout most of the day on Saturday. I will be writing reviews, so check back after it airs to discuss monkeys.

Conference Call Highlights

- “No zombies” was the mantra around the set. The infected are intelligent beings, and are “not mindless eating machines.”
- The series films in Montreal and was pretty much all studio shot.
- While the arctic setting was selected to create a feel of isolation and a claustrophobic environment, like a battleship, we will see other guest stars throughout the series (including Jeri Ryan). The base has 106 scientists from 35 countries and 15 support staff, and we’ll meet more of community as we go along.
- Maeda: “Everyone’s got an agenda. Everyone’s got secrets. Every character.”
- Everyone’s darkness comes out.
- The idea to have fun with the music, and the playful tone to it, was Ron Moore’s.
- Kyra’s character becomes pretty central to the story.
- The show starts as an outbreak story, but becomes a mystery, and gets deeply into the science fiction.
- Each episode is a day in the story, which allows the viewers to spend some time with the people and let the relationships play out. The characters were loaded up with backstory to allow things to spill out over the 13 episodes in the season.

Below is the full transcript

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