20/01/2014 16:30 | By Lorna Cooper, editor, MSN TV

Helix: Channel 5 invests in US sci-fi drama

Channel 5 takes a step away from cop dramas with Helix, a US sci-fi series from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica).

The cast of Helix (© The cast of Helix. Image. Channel 5)

Helix tells the story of a team of scientists from America's Centers for Disease Control who investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle.

It's sci-fi so, of course, said struggle may hold the key to mankind's salvation or total annihilation.

However, the lethal threat is just the tip of the iceberg and as the virus evolves, the chilling truth begins to unravel. In other words, it will all unfold over the course of the first season. Or the entire series. Or not. That's how shows of this type tend to work these days.

From Ronald D. Moore (the man who gave us the excellent Battlestar Galactica,) Steven Maeda (of Lost and The X-Files fame) with Lynda Obst (Sleepless in Seattle) and Brad Turner (24) as executive producers, there's no denying Helix's pedigree.

"There's no denying Helix's pedigree."

Let's just hope Channel 5 sticks with it as the broadcaster has dropped several serial drama US imports (such as Once Upon

A Time and Justified) which do not fall into the category of TV procedural (NCIS and CSI, for example).

The 13-episode series premiered to generally positive reviews in the US. The Hollywood Reporter said: "The first two hours go at a brisk, thrilling pace." Over at TV Guide, the feedback was also encouraging: "Helix creates an intense atmosphere of dread and fear." A dissenting voice came from the San Francisco Chronicle: "The script gets bogged down in soap opera suds from time to time."

However, on the whole, Helix would appear to be a show worth your time. Here's a quick outline of the main protagonists.

Dr Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell of The Rocketeer fame)

As a top pathologist at the CDC, he is first and foremost a man of science, having dedicated his life to understanding, controlling and containing viruses and infectious diseases. An affair between his wife (played by Julia Walker) and his brother (Peter Farragut) has left Alan closed off emotionally.

Dr Hiroshi Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada from Lost)

Brimming with confidence, menace, hypnotic charm and brilliance, he is the true mastermind behind Arctic BioSystems.

Dr Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky from Falling Skies)

A strong independent cellular biologist, she's a smart, no-nonsense kind of woman. Dr Walker was doing ground-breaking research with virus vectors at the CDC when her affair with Peter imploded her entire world.

Dr Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes, seen in Nikita)

An ambitious and calculated virologist, she is also quite naïve at times. A control freak at heart, Jordan excels at being able to construct highly controlled experiments and is quickly becoming one of the greatest viral pathologists of her time.

Major Sergio Balleseros (Mark Ghanimé from Emily Owens M.D.)

A military engineer with a dark secret, he had a childhood surrounded by death while growing up in Brazil. It led to an adulthood mired in black ops and clandestine missions.

Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother)

Hatake's right-hand man and adopted son, he is taciturn and guarded at times. He is also the very definition of a follower.

Dr Doreen Boyle (Catherine Lemieux)

An accomplished veterinary pathologist, she has seen and heard just about everything. She can be a bit abrasive at times, but that's just part of her personality.

Dr Peter Farragut (Neil Napier)

Alan's brother is charming and charismatic, but flawed. Jealousy has been his ultimate downfall, particularly of his brother's success.

Helix airs on Channel 5 from Monday 20 January at 10pm

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