'Alphas' tries to broaden SyFy appeal

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David Strathairn plays Dr. Lee Rosen on

David Strathairn plays Dr. Lee Rosen on "Alphas." Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/Syfy

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WHEN | WHERE Premieres Monday night at 10 on Syfy

REASON TO WATCH Edgy, dark, fleshed-out humans battle baddies. And themselves.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT "Alphas" immediately proves its maturity in the form of David Strathairn, whose acclaimed roles include Edward R. Murrow ("Good Night and Good Luck") and J. Robert Oppenheimer ("Oppenheimer").

He's a doctor who treats "alphas," ordinary people with extraordinary abilities, quickly introduced as The Woman Whose Mind Can Make People Do Stuff (Laura Mennell), The Fed With Superhuman Strength (Malik Yoba), The Girl With Enhanced Senses (Azita Ghanizada) and The Autistic Guy Who Sees Wavelengths (Ryan Cartwright), a human phone/video interceptor.

But Strathairn also leads them into action, as a sort of ad hoc enforcement team, tracking other alphas like The Deadeye Sniper (Warren Christie). So, is this Good Doctor actually bad?

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MY SAY Syfy wants to broaden its fan base, and "Alphas" is one sharp tactic. Forget the smarts of tonight's premise, plotting and script. (Gotta love Strathairn's "Why do I feel I'm in a Beckett play when I talk to you?") Look how the pilot hooks female viewers both young and boomer with Yoba shirtless and Strathairn in a swimsuit!

The soul of the show, though, is its conflicted "heroes," truly tortured, in palpable ways, recalling the best, early days of NBC's ill-fated Monday comic book. There's no cartoonery here. Just adult adventure and angst.

BOTTOM LINE "Our minds are capable of so much more than you think." One suspects "Alphas" might be, too.



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