Alphas on right wavelength
AS its second season gets under way on pay-TV channel SyFy, Alphas has become one of the most enjoyable (if underrated) shows out there, a quirky tale of strangely gifted crimefighters that works equally well as a story of slightly damaged people transcending their limitations and embracing their flaws.
The Alphas of the title each have unique abilities that set them apart, for better or worse, from the rest of the human race. So while they may possess incredible strength, unerring aim or the power to persuade, they can also be fearful of harming their loved one or unable to form lasting connections with others.
Under the guidance of sympathetic shrink Dr Lee Rosen (David Strathairn), they are overcoming their issues– and tangling with the odd rogue alpha as well.
Shaping up as the show’s breakout character is Gary, played by UK actor Ryan Cartwright. While he’s gifted with the ability to ‘‘see’’ and understand electromagnetic wavelengths – such as radio waves – Gary’s autism has kept him separate from the world for much of his life. Being an integral part of Dr Rosen’s team, however, has broadened his horizons. But as the new season of Alphas begins, Gary’s faith in Dr Rosen and his fellow alphas is shaken to the core.
Cartwright, whose credits include Bones and Mad Men, says assuming an American accent to play the character was the easy part. Before filming his first scenes on Alphas, he took more than a month to research what he viewed as the nature and characteristics of Gary’s autism to make his portrayal authentic.
‘‘It is still something that is not that well understood,’’ Cartwright says. ‘‘And there are many different aspects to Gary, so I needed to figure out the specifics. It was just fascinating researching autism and general neuroscience.’’
The character came into his own during Alphas’ first season, and Cartwright relished playing that progression.
‘‘As you can see in the first few episodes, he is kind of petulant,’’ he says. ‘‘This is the first group of people . . . that haven’t treated him as a second-class citizen. They realise he has these abilities and for the first time he is proud.The selfconfidence is in full bloom.’’
The team’s efforts to thwart the plans of extremist alpha group Red Flag sometimes comes at a cost, and Cartwright points out season two of Alphas will see Gary’s loyalties divided.
‘‘I have found he has become a lot more isolated and on his own,’’ he says.
‘‘He doesn’t really trust Dr Rosen or anyone. He probably loves them in his heart but doesn’t trust them. He sees that everyone has their own motives. They are going against what he believes is the purest belief of the alphas from Dr Rosen’s original message. So he is more isolated but also more confident as well.’’
Fridays, 8.30pm, SF Channel.
The cast of includes Ryan Cartwright (far left).