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TV Wasteland: Syfy's Alphas Bet
The new show tries to break the hex on TV superheroes
By Rob Vaux
July 10, 2011
© Mania/Robert Trate
Syfy has chosen this week to unleash its tsunami of summer shows: Warehouse 13, Eureka, and Haven all return with new seasons… and the rookie Alphas tagging along for the ride. Frankly speaking, it looks like a dud. Its concept is borrowed from Heroes, The Cape and about a dozen other failed superhero shows, as a band of people with extraordinary abilities try to save the world from those who would enslave it. Or something. At this stage, television is suffering from serious comic book fatigue, and while Alphas boasts the stalwart David Strathairn as the team’s mentor/leader, that’s not nearly enough to lend it any sense of freshness or originality.
Syfy seemingly agrees by stacking the deck in the show’s favor. It opens Monday night at 10:00, with Eureka and Warehouse 13 serving as lead-ins. Will the ploy work? Hard to say. On the one hand, it will presumably leave a loyal audience based ready to keep watching. On the other hand, its late run time means that folks may head to bed if they don’t like what they see… or worse, use their DVRs to watch the lead-ins whenever they damn well please. Still, Syfy has created unlikely hits from worse material (see Haven, premiering this Friday night), and Alphas may benefit from whatever tangential Midas touch they can produce. You can see for yourself this Monday… and if you don’t like it, there’s plenty of other options. Let’s have a look at them below.
Eureka (Syfy, 8:00 PM EDT)
Technically, this is still season 4, which went on hiatus in December. In any case, the premiere of the second half of the season kicks off with SARAH and Andy’s wedding, at which I’m sure nothing at all unusual will take place.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Syfy’s ball of summer fun returns with Artie (Saul Rubinek) still gone and a rock star’s artifact guitar making all kinds of trouble in Jersey City. Nice to see this show back.
Alphas (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Closing Syfy’s mighty Monday night line-up is this new show about people with incredible powers dedicated to solving impossible crimes. See the top of the article for more.
Teen Wolf (MTV, 10:00 PM EDT)
The whole cast gets stuck at school overnight, with a ravenous werewolf trying to get in. I hate when that happens.
Kill Bill, Volumes 1 and 2 (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
AMC airs the whole enchilada… five hours of Uma Thurman butchering various underworld heavies like hogs. Yowza.
The Book of Eli (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EDT)
Wait, he’s what?! And he still manages to… okay, it’s Denzel Washington, so I’ll buy it.
Machete (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
I’m not buying this one for a minute. Shame on you, Robert Rodriguez.
Hancock (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
AKA “Super-Dickery: The Move.”
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
Who knew we’d ever refer to the Raul Julia Street Fighter as “the good one?”
Total Recall (Syfy, 6:30 PM EDT)
Syfy has been hitting this one up a lot lately. Cynical exploitation of a recent scandal? Or just plain laziness? You be the judge.
The Fifth Element (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
It’s still love. That is all.
Ghost Hunters International (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
A new season begins with the investigation into a haunted cocoa plantation in Trinidad.
Tremors (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EDT)
This fantastic little B-movie gem about giant worms menacing a Nevada town has aged like fine wine. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward anchor a stellar cast, who keep their tongue in their cheek at all times.
Knowing (Showtime, 7:00 PM EDT)
Actually, you’re better off not Knowing. Bwa! Get it? Because it’s called Knowing and it’s not very… yeah, I’ll just show myself out.
Burn Notice (USA, 9:00 PM EDT
Barry’s brother takes the fall for a computer crime he didn’t commit. It’s up to the gang to clear his name and find the real culprit.
Dawn of the Dead (Syfy, 6:30 PM EDT)
I like Zack Snyder, but how nervous do you think the Warners execs are now that they’ve handed him the Superman franchise?
The Bourne Ultimatum (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
The triumphant finale to the Bourne trilogy is pretty awesome… but again highlights the fundamental wrongness of Syfy’s name.
Crank (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
It’s so wrong… and yet it feels so right…
Torchwood: Miracle Day (Starz, 10:00 PM EDT)
The Torchwood team is back… but where do they go from here? Apparently straight to the terrorist watch list after an incident onboard an airplane.
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
The inexplicable Syfy hit returns for a second season, with a second Audrey Parker arriving in town and bringing the Biblical plagues with her. Sure hope they can up their game this season, because last season did not impress.
Devil (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EDT)
Shyamalan still isn’t off the hook… even when he isn’t directing one of his own films.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (Cinemax, 9:20 PM EDT)
Watch this now, because when it fades from the cable replay cycle, you’ll likely never see it again.
Monster (Sundance, 10:00 PM EDT)
Check out Charlize Theron in the role that rightfully won her an Oscar: real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
Outcasts (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
A legend – long considered dead – appears in Forthaven and presumably sets the obituary columnists into a fit of revisions.
The Core (Syfy, 6:00 PM EDT)
It’s still silly, but Hilary Swank’s Oscars apparently require a lot of upkeep. Hope she enjoyed the check.
Super Eruption (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Can anyone tell me, exactly, where Syfy’s obsession with weather-based mayhem started?
True Blood (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
Alcide is back, finally giving Sookie a morally acceptable romantic option. Pity he’s there to help look for Eric…
Falling Skies (TNT, 10:00 PM EDT)
Does any really believe that Pope is gone? Me neither. In any case, the aliens may be getting ready to attack, and the resistance needs to decide if they want to send their kids away or not.
Iron Man (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
We can only hope The Avengers is half as cool as this outing is.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Syfy, 8:00 PM EDT)
Easily the weakest of the Pirates franchise, this would-be conclusion is drawn out to a staggering three-and-a-half hours, thanks to copious commercials. You may want to turn the TV off and jam coat hangers in your ear instead.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (IFC, 9:00 PM EDT)
Thankfully, IFC has a tried and true back-up to save you from Excess of Sparrow.