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Worth it just to see David Strathairn in a lead role.

DVD Review: Alphas – Season One

Much like there are confused teenage girls and bored, desperate housewives who periodically get into a heated argument over whether or not Robert Pattinson is a better actor over Taylor Lautner, there are those of us in this world who hold high opinions of certain (real) performers — and feel that they can liven up even the most dreadful of affairs with their presence alone. Who can forget how a latter-day Orson Welles was able to make Paul Masson wine almost sound tolerable? And then there are contemporary artists, such as one of my personal favorites, the great David Strathairn. Much like most straight men willingly admit they would have sex with George Clooney, I would gladly do the same with David. But I digress.

Strathairn’s wonderful tenor and authoritative presence always seem to improve a show. That episode of House he guest-starred in? Yeah, he nailed it, folks. And yet, whenever David seems to land a top-billing role, everything seems to just sort of pass us by in a completely unwarranted “Meh, whatever” fashion. Let’s take the short-lived SyFy series, Alphas for example. It wasn’t an entirely dreadful item. In fact, it started out with a fairly good vibe, with the venerable Mr. Strathairn cast as the head of a clandestine group of individuals who possessed exceptional brain abnormalities; anomalies which, as such, have endowed them with superhuman mental and/or physical strengths. You know, the kind that the representatives of good ol’ Uncle Sam would just-a-hankerin’ to exploit!

As you can expect, the US Government does just that. Quite admirably, at that. Though he’s a neurologist and psychiatrist by trait, Dr. Lee Rosen (Strathairn) also gets enlisted to diagnose and battle any other “Alphas” (as they’re called) who tend to pop up in order to wreck havoc across the nation on a weekly basis (hey, it is a weekly series, after all!). Aiding Strathairn in Alphas: Season One are his crack-shot crew of crackpots: Ryan Cartwright as a highly autistic computer-brain savant capable of reading wavelengths; Warren Christie, the show’s “pretty boy” — an ex-Marine possessing hyperkinesis; Azita Ghanizada as a synesthesic lass; Laura Mennell, the manipulative mental “pusher”; and Malik Yoba as a former FBI agent with extreme (though temporary) and exhausting physical prowess.

And thus, the stage is set for Alphas: Season One, which premiered during what is normally a network summer on SyFy in July, 2011. Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings us the full 11-episode season (if one can call it that) — wherein David and his crew battle a lot of bad Alphas — on DVD in a three-disc set with several special features. Several behind-the-scenes featurettes are included here, as is an extended version of the series’ premiere episode. A number of deleted scenes also accompanies this debut season of a series that was, sadly for fans of David Strathairn, canceled earlier this year. And yet the Twilight franchise is still alive and well. Go figure.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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