This review contains spoilers.
2.1 Wake Up Call
I’ve missed Alphas, even if the show can be wildly inconsistent. When it’s good, it delivers interesting stories, cute character interaction and greater story arcs. And, the key reason I review it is the excellent David Strathairn who I’ve found endlessly watchable since he played the blind Irwin ‘Whistler’ Emery in 1992’s Sneakers.
But I can’t deny that the season opener fell a little flat on this TV critic, as the writers set about undoing all the chaos they’d created with the previous season finale, when Dr Rosen revealed the existence of Alphas to the public.
It started well enough with Rosen held in a mental institute by government forces unknown, while his various Alphas did their own thing or were locked up at Bingham. But dark forces in the form of Magneto clone, Stanton Parish are at work, and they’ll soon alter the landscape.
What surprised me to a degree was that the show has returned seemingly untouched. All the characters are back, played by the same actors, looking almost identical to when we last saw them. OK, so Warren Christie (Hicks) has more facial hair, but it’s like the show never went out of production.
That suggests the production team behind the show didn’t want a major tonal shift, or to ditch characters in favour of new ones, or at least not from the outset on the second season.
So what was wrong with Wake Up Call? It’s hard to exactly define it, but what began to annoy me to a degree was that the ‘government’, who are really the Alphas’ bigger problem than Stanton Parish are now entirely faceless. There is no identifiable character who is working against them, it’s just an amorphous bureaucracy.As if to underline this, Nathan Cley, who was their federal minder after his boss was killed in season one had a complete personality transformation, and now wants to befriend the Alphas! Really?
From early in this story it looked like all the pieces would be back in their respective boxes by the end, and that was exactly what happened. They also didn’t develop much in the way of new story threads to run. We’ve got the one they inherited from last season with the immortal Stanton Parish, and they started a new minor one with the Alphas losing their powers. Beyond that it’s the same bickering and self doubt stuff that marred some of the more entertaining stories from before.
It made me think quite hard about what I really want from this show, and what it is more likely to deliver. With a whole new season to work with I’d like to see the characters become more three dimensional, and the morality issues that gave season one some grit come to the fore. I’d also prefer they didn’t follow the narrative path worn by X-Men, in terms of making Dr Rosen a symbolic Professor X.
Am I optimistic? Yes, surprisingly. Because I saw the ComicCon reel, and there looks like some interesting stuff coming up, including the return of Summer Glau.
Next week the Alphas encounter their equivalent of The Flash, but with the downside that moving quickly causes premature aging. Until then.
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