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Helix
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, @yojoecrowe, © 2014

Format: TV
By:   Ronald D. Moore
Genre:   Supervirus sci-fi
Review Date:   January 19, 2014
RevSF Rating:   8/10 (What Is This?)

“Who took my damn monkey?” – Doreen

This show has dead monkeys, and lots of them. But that’s not the only reason to watch.

Helix is about a top-secret lab in the Arctic where a supervirus outbreak happens. The CDC sends a team to investigate, and they struggle with the infected, creepy scientists, the victims, each other, and the virus.

Every character is miserable and cold, so the dead of winter is a good time for this show to come on. You may need to watch the movie Frozen right after you seeHelix. On second thought, everyone on Frozen is cold and miserable too, but at least they sing.

Billy Campbell was awesome as the Rocketeer, and he’s grim and determined here as a CDC scientist. His brother is stationed at the lab, and his brother did it with Rocketeer's wife, which led to her being his ex-wife. So he puts his ex-wife on his team, because he is a professional.

Helix earns major credit with me for ironic use of a song: Dionne Warwick’s peppy “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?” plays over the first scene, a maniac going nut-bonkers on some poor victims.

Then a sweater-wearing creep steps into the shot and does everything but choke the guy with the Force. Then the show tries to be cagey about whether or not he’s a bad guy. Did that scene make it on the air by accident? Do they think our DVRs didn’t record that part?

The show is by Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald Moore. It features the same tension and stress in a sealed-off lab instead of a ragtag space fleet. It seems like a miniseries, but it’s ongoing. It takes place one day per episode, so technically the show could go awhile and keep the tension high, but if the cast is fighting a virus, and they have months or years to do it, then the crisis loses a little something.

The infected are the most fun part, because they are slobbering maniacs who show up, run fast and eat faces. Then they escape into ventilation ducts.

I assumed the show was a survival-horror deal where the cast gets their faces gobbled one by one. But the body count is low and the emotional torment is high. Everyone has turmoil, and they alternate between talking about their feelings and talking about science mumbo-jumbo.

The good guys are the CDC’s top scientists, but they catch the virus, too, because that leads to more turmoil.

My favorite character is Doreen, a sassy scientist who wears a backwards cap and don’t take crap from nobody, son. At some point, someone decided it was OK to say the “S” word that means poopy on a cable show, so dadgum it, Doreen and everyone else say it often. It’s appropriate when in the presence of face-eating maniacs, though.

I hope you like grossness, because Helix delivers. The infected spread it by open-mouth kissing, which is inappropriate in a government workplace. On Helix, black sputum flows like wine.


Do I have something on my face?


Watch the show and the sputum at the official site. And here's Miss Dionne Warwick with "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?."

 
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