Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alphas: 1.1 "Pilot"

Series summary (from Netflix): A team of individuals gifted with extraordinary neurological abilities is tasked with solving a series of high-profile crimes. Among them are an autistic man whose mind works as fast as a computer and an FBI agent with super strength.

I'm watching this because: It's sci-fi, and Netflix recommended it. Really, I clicked on it on a whim.

Recap: The show begins in a supermarket. A worker (who looked incredibly familiar but I didn't identify until I imdb'd him and learned he was in the incredibly implausible Hallmark movie The Most Wonderful Time of the Year) receives a text message listing a time and a place. From then on, the message "Time to kill" is everywhere he turns. And at the appointed time, he picks up a rifle and pulls the trigger.

Next we meet Dr. Rosen (the fabulous David Strathairn), who is in charge of a group of Alphas. Alphas' brains have evolved beyond those of normal humans, giving them special abilities. Rosen is not an Alpha (as least as far as we know), but his goal is to help them harness their abilities.

Then we meet the Alphas: Nina, a woman who can compel people to do her bidding by making eye contact when she speaks; Bill (Malik Yoba, who I will always know as Yul Brenner on Cool Runnings), a man with super-human strength; Rachel, a woman with synesthesia; and Gary (Ryan Cartwright, the dearly departed Vincent Nigel-Murray from Bones), a young autistic man who can read all waves on the electromagnetic field.

The Alphas are assembled to investigate the inexplicable murder of a suspect in a police interrogation room. Rosen learns the murder is the work of Red Flag, an extremist Alpha group, and soon the Alphas learn the murderer's identity: Cameron Hicks, the grocery store worker.

By combining their abilities, they are able to capture Cameron, and they discover he's an Alpha who has been brainwashed. Cameron joins up with them to catch Red Flag's operative, but the operative escapes. Eventually, Rosen realizes the entire operation has been a setup to take out the Alphas, and they finally catch the operative.

In the end, Cameron is invited to join the Alphas ... thus setting up the series.

Reactions: From the opening shot (of a cart wheeling down a grocery store aisle), I was hooked. Alphas is sci-fi done the way I like it—set in the present in our world with people who are special (but not too special).

I didn't even realize that Ryan Cartwright was playing Gary at first—he was that immersed in the role. The other actors fully embody their roles, as well. The casting of this show is spot on.

My guess is that Cameron will become one of the most important characters, and I'd love to see him find love with Rachel.

The next Dawson's? Quite possibly. I still have plenty of other pilots to watch, though.

Watch it on Netflix.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Post That Inspired This Blog

This was originally published on my other blog, Christian Chick's Thoughts, on August 26, 2012.

The other night, I finished watching Dawson's Creek. I watched the pilot episode in May, right before my gallbladder surgery. In the week following surgery, I watched all of seasons one, two, and three. The final three seasons I watched at a more reasonable rate—about one season per month. Now that I've finished, I have a few things to say about the series! (This is more for me than for you, so you won't hurt my feelings if you click away now—especially if you've never seen Dawson's Creek!)
  1. For a show called Dawson's Creek, I cared surprisingly little for good old Dawson Leery. In fact, I rejoiced whenever Dawson didn't appear in an episode, which happened surprisingly often in season six. Really, Dawson's Creek turned into the Joey Potter show, and that was fine by me. Even when Joey was making boneheaded decisions (like leaving Pacey for Eddie), I was captivated by the life and times of Miss Potter.
  2. As I watched the first few seasons, all the Tom Cruise references made me snicker, knowing that Joey's portrayer was actually married to the man. Then the news of the Cruise-Holmes divorce hit, and any Tom Cruise reference after that wasn't quite so humorous. Also, I found it interesting that two Cruise exes appeared in the same episode, though they never shared a scene: Mimi Rogers (ex-Mrs. Cruise #1) played Jen's mom in a season six episode.
  3. Is it just me, or does Capeside have the longest, most convoluted school year on record? Season one: sophomore year. Season two: sophomore year. Season one clearly begins at the beginning of their sophomore year and ends either at Christmas or summer break, as Joey is contemplating a semester abroad and would have to leave in a couple of days. Then in season two, they have homecoming. I've never heard of a spring homecoming, though I suppose it's possible ... but would the guys be wearing their football jerseys if that were the case? 
  4. Holy dropped story lines, Batman! Does anyone remember Eve? Anyone? In season three, she was the bad girl Dawson met on the bus from Philly (where Gail lived momentarily) who turned out to possibly be Jen's half-sister. She disappeared and was never mentioned again until the end of season six, when the writers did acknowledge that they dropped the ball. Jen mentioned her, and when someone asked who she was, Jack's reply made me smile because it was so true: "Long story. Ambiguous ending." And then there's Gail's new husband. The whole reason everyone goes back to Capeside in the finale is for her wedding, but after the actual wedding, Gail's husband is never seen again—not at the house, not at the hospital, not at the funeral. Even though he didn't know Jen, you'd think he would have been there to support his wife. Also, this doesn't constitute a dropped story line per se, but I wish they would have told us what happened to C.J. (Jensen Ackles of Days of Our Lives and Supernatural), Jen's season six boyfriend, as he was supposedly the love of Jen's life. 
  5. Boy, did the writers know how to do death! I did the ugly cry twice during Dawson's Creek. The first time was the episode after Mitch's car accident. I cried off and on through the entire episode as characters remembered how Mitch impacted their lives. And then there was Jen. I actually knew she would die because, for some unknown reason, I watched the finale when it aired, even though I'd never before seen a single episode. I had no idea, though, that Jen would end up being one of my favorite characters—especially since I loathed her through the first few seasons! Michelle Williams knocked that last episode out of the park, and I found myself wondering why on earth she didn't at least get nominated for an Emmy for that performance. I also found myself crying. A lot. And I was glad no one else was there to witness my farewell to Jen Lindley/Dawson's Creek meltdown!
  6. Pacey & Joey. In season one, I was pulling for Dawson and Joey. That was before Dawson got all annoying and Pacey got sweet. Once Dawson's went down the Pacey-Joey road, there was no turning back ... at least for me. The writers seemed to have another opinion, as they "forgot" about the Pacey-Joey magic for all of season five and the first half of season six. Fortunately, they found their way back to Pacey and Joey in the end! In my favorite episode of the entire series, season six's "Castaways," none of the other main characters appeared, only Pacey and Joey. Not only did it feature a return to the wonderful Pacey-Joey banter of yore, but it also marked the end of the hideous growth on Joshua Jackson's face—the ill-advised goatee. If you have Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can watch the episode free.
  7. I have never liked Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait." Never. But I was still disappointed when I started watching Dawson's and realized that Paula Cole's tune had been replaced by Jann Arden's "Run Like Mad." That song ended up growing on me, and I could definitely sing the whole thing for you, but I felt sheer joy when I heard the strains of the original theme on the series finale! And without knowing the original theme, one of the funniest moments of the finale would make no sense: Sam (the Joey character on Dawson's show The Creek) comes into Colby (the Dawson character)'s room and says, "I can't take it anymore, Colby. I don't want to wait for my life to be over. I want to know right now. What will it be?" Love it!
  8. Some people (like Blendy) didn't like the finale. loved it! I thought it stayed true to the characters in a way that had been missing for quite some time—and the return to greatness may have had something to do with the fact that creator Kevin Williamson wrote it. I thought it was the perfect combination of humor and sadness, and it left me feeling satisfied ... what more could you want from a finale? (Blendy's beef with the finale is that we didn't see Joey pick Pacey. But we see the aftermath of that choice, plus Williamson totally telegraphed that she would make that choice, and that's good enough for me!)
If you've seen Dawson's Creek, I'd love to know your thoughts!  
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