Here’s one to watch: Syfy Channel is prepping its new original drama Alphas for a premiere this July. The announcement headlined the cable channel’s 2011 development slate, which was unveiled to the media at an upfront presentation this week in New York.
The new series stars David Strathairn as Dr. Leigh Rosen, who leads a team of people with supernatural abilities who work together to solve crimes. The premise sounds a bit like Heroes meets Mutant X. Here is the network’s description:
Alphas follows a team of ordinary citizens whose brain anomalies imbue them with extraordinary mental and physical abilities. Taking the law into their own hands, the unlikely team, led by Dr. Leigh Rosen (Emmy Award-winner and Oscar nominee David Strathairn) investigates cases that suggest other Alpha activity to uncover what the CIA, FBI and Pentagon have not been able, or willing, to solve. These gifted individuals must balance their quirky personalities and disparate backgrounds with their not always visible powers as they work to solve crimes, stop the ticking time bomb and catch the enemy.
Also among the cast is Laura Mennell, who had guest roles on both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. She played Mary in SG-1‘s “Demons,” and later turned up in the Pegasus Galaxy as Sanir in “The Brotherhood.”
The 30-year-old Canadian beauty plays Nina Theroux on Alphas. “Seductive, intelligent and confident, Nina’s Alpha ability allows her to influence people into doing whatever she wishes,” according to Syfy — “but her power can sometimes spin out of control. Her skill also comes with a personal drawback in that she can never be sure if anyone’s feelings for her are real. Nina was the first team member enlisted by Dr. Rosen to whom she remains extremely loyal.”
“Strathairn plays the unconventional, eccentric Alphas team leader Dr. Lee (sic) Rosen. Though he comes across as somewhat of an absent-minded professor at times, he is also a cunning and manipulative power-player willing to bend the rules in pursuit of his objectives and in support of his Team.”
Malik Yoba (Defying Gravity), Warren Christie (October Road), Ryan Cartwright (Bones, Mad Men), and Azita Ghanizada also co-star. Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica) is another familiar genre face who will guest star in the pilot episode.
In a new interview at Syfy news site Blastr, Yoba talked about how the new show is setting itself apart from other recent shows and films. “We aren’t heroes. We aren’t mutants. We don’t have superpowers,” he said. “We have odd little behaviors that kind of collectively work as a unit and let us solve mysteries and crimes that the normal agencies can’t solve.”
Alphas also has an impressive pedigree behind the camera, with Zak Penn (writer of feature films such as X-Men:The Last Stand, The Incredible Hulk, and The Avengers) and Michael Karnow (Time Squad) as creators. Penn executive produces along with showrunner Ira Steven Behr (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), plus Gail Berman (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel), Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein for BermanBraun (The Cape, Accidentally on Purpose).
LOST‘s Jack Bender directed the pilot.
The first season of Alphas is filming in Toronto, and will be comprised of the 90-minute pilot plus 11 regular episodes. Check out Syfy.com for the first (short) teaser!
NEXT: Syfy’s development slate is 71 percent reality shows