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Midseason TV: Helix and Bitten

Emily and Mandy C. check out the first episodes of Syfy’s Helix and Bitten. SPOILER ALERT: Science can be scary and werewolves like to be naked.

Midseason TV: Helix and Bitten

Welcome back to our series on midseason TV (a continuation of our fall TV series). We’re here to help you determine what’s worthy of coveted DVR space, what’s OK to watch On Demand, or what’s so bad you’ll need to retcon yourself in order to forget it.

(Warning! Possible spoilers ahead.)

Helix

Premiered: Jan. 10 on Syfy (Watch online.)

Elevator Pitch

A studio executive and his assistant sit in a fancy, $7-for-a-latte coffee bar. The exec takes a sip of his beverage and finishes up a story. “Can you believe that?” he says, more as a statement than a question. His assistant plasters a sincere look onto her face and nods, earnestly. “Unbelieveable.”

“Anyway,” he continues. “What did you do last night, Laura? Please tell me it was something interesting. No more of your ‘I got home at midnight, fed my cats and fell asleep while watching Jimmy Fallon’ crap.”

Laura grips her coffee cup a bit too tight and some of the liquid sloshes out the top. The exec yells, “Watch it! This is a $600 suit. Go get a napkin and clean yourself up.” Laura, who didn’t actually spill anywhere near the exec, grits her teeth and heads to the counter.

Behind her, a woman sneezes. Laura grabs a napkin and turns, only to see the woman, clad in a white puffy coat, staggering toward her like a Walking Dead zombie, black goo leaking from her ear. Horrified, Laura drops her coffee and turns to run—

The exec shoots up in bed, fully awake. “Best idea I’ve had all year!” He reaches for his phone and hits redial. The person on the other end of the line groans a hello. “Laura? Meet me at the office in 30 minutes. We’ve got some brainstorming to do.”

Familiar Faces

Hiroyuki Sanada as Hiroshi Hataki

Billy Campbell as Alan Farragut

Mark Ghanimé as Sergio Balleseros

Faces That Might Become Familiar (If You Keep Watching)

Meegwun Fairbrother as Daniel Aerov

Jordan Hayes as Sarah Jordan

Kyra Zagorsky as Julia Walker

Catherine Lemieux as Doreen Boyle

Neil Napier as Dr. Peter Farragut

Redeeming Qualities

Emily: I felt like I was plodding along watching the pilot, waiting for something exciting/interesting to happen, and then Billy Campbell started watching his brother's video. As soon as he told Sarah (and us) that his brother's hand sign meant "Run like hell," the show took off at a sprint and never looked back. The concept of the show doesn't feel extremely original, but that doesn't mean it can't draw you in and throw some unexpected twists and turns along the way. For instance, all the frozen monkeys. Did not see that coming!

Mandy: I, odd as it sounds, loved the title sequence and the scene in which Peter walks through the hall with a dismembered hand. The jolly music juxtaposed with the gruesome opening scenes and zombie!Peter is the kind of snark I love about many Syfy shows. Also, I see what you did there, Syfy, with Doreen’s “This is gonna be the most fraked-up family reunion ever.” (For those of you who aren’t Battlestar Galactica fans: “Frak” is a curse word from the show. Ron Moore, the executive producer of BSG, is also an executive producer of Helix.) I actually just really enjoyed Doreen in general. What a sasspot.

It's Not Me, It's You

Emily: Again, the concept isn't the most original and there are no stand out characters as of yet. But on the flip side, there is no one that I hate, so there's a plus. I'd like to see the relationships become a little more dynamic. With so much good TV, you can't just rely on the plot anymore, you've got to actually care about the people the plot is happening to.

Mandy: The idea of being stuck in the arctic in general, much less with a nasty unknown disease, gives me the heebie jeebies. (I’m really not a cold weather person.) The fact that the show falls into the horror genre also isn’t that appealing to me; I’m assuming that there will be a lot of jumpy moments in episodes to come and I prefer to be entertained by my TV shows, not frightened by them.

Let's Do This Again

Emily: If the speed of the show stays where it left us at the end of the pilot, I will probably stick around purely for the thrill of the ride. I'm going to need more layers from the characters, though. It's hard to care who is good and who is bad and who is safe and who is a goner when you aren't attached to anyone.

Mandy: On the surface, the main plot of Helix seems both interesting and frightening; I want to know what’s going on, but it all seemed a little too realistic. I’m intrigued, but I’m not completely enthralled—yet. There’s so much going on here: secrets, strange advancements in science and questionable morality. Give me one other person to root for other than Doreen and I might be in it for the long haul.


Bitten

Premiered: Jan. 13 on Syfy (Watch online.)

Elevator Pitch

Werewolves are totally hot right now, right? I mean, Teen Wolf is all over Tumblr. The lycanthropes have totally taken the title of most popular paranormal creature from the vampires. But there’s only so much sex and gore MTV can show, since they’re still trying to market themselves to teenagers. Syfy, on the other hand, has more of an adult audience, and—not being one of the main networks—can amp up the “adult” themes to near HBO levels. And paranormal creature + sexy times = huge ratings. (Or so Syfy hopes, that is.)

Familiar Faces

Laura Vandervoort as Elena Michaels

Natalie Brown as Diane McAdams

Greg Bryk as Jeremy Danvers

Genelle Williams as Rachel Sutton

Steve Lund as Nick Sorrentino

Sherry Miller as Olivia McAdams

Paulino Nunes as Antonio Sorrentino

James McGowan as James William

Faces That Might Become Familiar (If You Keep Watching)

Paul Greene as Phillip McAdams

Marc Bendavid as Scott Brandon

Greyston Holt as Clayton Danvers

Michael Xavier as Logan Jonsen

Fiona Highet as Sheriff Karen Morgan

Rogan Christopher as Deputy Paul O’Neil

Redeeming Qualities

Emily: This show totally feels like it could be partnered with Witches of East End on Lifetime, and that is a good thing. It's super soap-y, as in all of the actors feel like they're starring in a soap opera, and they're all connected in what seem to be very dramatic relationships. But even with the simple borderline cheesy dialogue, I don't feel like I'm being spoonfed a new werewolf-lore. (You should all know by now how much I hate to be spoonfed information.) I ended the pilot with a lot of questions on this wolf pack, how they came together, how being a werewolf works in this world, yet, not confused or unable to enjoy what was happening. And that's the way I like it. There's also a fair amount of sexiness here. Not vampire or witches sexiness, but enough heat to keep me warm at night.

Mandy: If a large amount of nakedness is a quality you look for in a show, there’s certainly that in spades. There are also a whole lot of hot, young actors who occasionally turn into wolves in pretty much every scene. (As you can tell, I’m very meh about this show.)

It's Not Me, It's You

Emily: The show isn't going to change anyone's life. It's not extremely witty or clever or complicated, but does every show need to be? I like the girl that plays Elena, but I don't really care who she ends up with or even if the pack catches the murderous mutt. Plus, in what world can a coyote really do damage to a werewolf? That seems very weak to me.

Mandy: Why is it that shows that rely on a lot of CGI don’t spend more money on it? It might just be low quality because this is the first episode, but the wolves in this episode were Twilight or Grimm levels of bad. The plot of the pilot also didn’t grab me like I would have hoped—is the show just going to be about Elena battling her inner demons wolf? And people being naked? (The “This season on Bitten ...” teasers make it seem like there’s more interesting things to come, but I would have liked to see this hinted at, at least, in the pilot.)

Let's Do This Again

Emily: Yes, I think we will. The show didn't feel like watching homework, which I hate to admit some shows from this fall are starting to stack up on my DVR because I don't care as much as I want to. It's fun, it's supernatural, and it's easy to watch. I liked it (typed with a simple shrug of the shoulders). So while it may stack up a little on my DVR, I can see myself marathoning it every few episodes with a bottle of wine and some chocolate chip cookies.

Mandy: Although the episode certainly started with a bang—I’ll be here all night, folks—I’m not entirely sure that’s enough to keep my interest going. I wanted to like the show, because, all joking aside, I do love paranormal themes. But I’m not a huge fan of nudity for nudity’s sake, and this show seems to be full of it. I might give it another episode or two in the hopes that the plotlines become more interesting, but only when there’s nothing else on.


What did you think about these shows? Let us know in the comments!

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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