Helix

 
(i)

 

Medical horror is too scary for tweens, sensitive teens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

CDC officials take their important jobs seriously and treat human lives with respect. But the overall tone is dark and foreboding.

Positive role models

Most characters are complicated and their motives unclear and twisty -- as well as just plain evil. Dr. Farragut is perhaps the most heroic character, but even he makes mistakes and has limitations. The cast boasts racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.

Violence

Horror-style violence with a lot of creepy imagery: cut-off limbs; black, bulging veins; pools of inky blood. Characters we've grown to know and like die suddenly.

Sex

The characters have a complicated adulterous backstory, and there are references to sex.

Language

Characters are under stress and may speak roughly to each other; there's a very small amount of cursing.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Helix is a tense horror/sci-fi series that's both too scary and too complex for kids. Expect a lot of nightmarish visuals: dead bodies lying in pools of black blood, blood spurting from eyeballs and heads, hacked-off limbs. Characters we've grown to know and like are under constant menace and are sometimes quickly attacked and killed or infected. There are needles, bulging veins, animals kept in cages and experimented upon, and a lot of medical imagery, such as gory autopsies. The overall atmosphere is dark and mysterious, and characters have complicated motivations and backstories. There are references to sex and adultery. Older or sophisticated teens may enjoy the twisty horror with parents, but this is too much for tweens and grade-schoolers.

What's the story?

In the intense sci-fi series HELIX, something's wrong at the mysterious Arctic Biosystems lab: A virus has gone rogue, moving swiftly from animal to human and then causing people to attack each other. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell), a heroic researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flies in with a troop of scientists with the goal of checking the spread. But it may already be too late: Alan's estranged brother, Peter (Neil Napier), is Patient Zero, infected and seeking victims among his Arctic Biosystems lab colleagues, all of whom are under the guidance of the enigmatic Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada), who's not exactly hoping to stamp the virus out. Or is he? Matters are complicated by Farragut's team's twisty backstories: Along for the ride is Farragut's ex-wife, Julia (Kyra Zagorsky), whose affair with Peter was the reason for the brothers' falling-out, and Farragut's sultry, yearning assistant, Dr. Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes). The virus is spreading, and it's anyone's guess who will survive.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Helix has the scary-medical thing down pat: There's a lot of gleaming stainless-steel surfaces, giant needles, and sickly green lighting, not to mention bulging black veins, off-kilter madmen in lab coats, and ominous animal cages with something shadowy lurking in them. Which is to say, genre fans will catch a breath of many a similarly themed "infection" movie in Helix's goings-on. Say, the monster-guy is crawling through air ducts, just like in Aliens! Say, didn't it remind you of 28 Days Later when that monkey attacked the doctor's face?

That's not to say that Helix isn't good or scary. It just carries with it the DNA of other horror outings. But it also has similarities to another late, great, and much-beloved sci-fi/horror show, Lost, which scored by putting relatable, likable characters into weird circumstances. Since Helix is executive-produced by a former Lost writer, the similarities are not exactly unexpected, but this may be enough to make tuning in worth it for fans.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the real Centers for Disease Control and the work it does. How does the CDC keep people safe? Which epidemics, such as bird flu, has it identified in the past, and how has it helped quell epidemics?

  • Compare the atmosphere of Helix to other shows worked on by the same creative team, such as Battlestar Galactica and Lost. How are these shows alike? How are they different?

  • Horror/sci-fi movies and shows about some type of zombie-like infection are common: Witness movies such as 28 Days Later and World War Z or TV shows such as The Walking Dead. Is Helix a show about zombies? Why, or why not?

TV details

Cast:Billy Campbell, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jeri Ryan
Network:Syfy
Genre:Drama
TV rating:NR

This review of Helix was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written by710studio January 15, 2014
 

Great Sci-Fi, Not For the Kiddies

"Helix" is a sci-fi thriller that has all the makings of a great show - well rounded characters, engaging story lines, and that creep-factor that I have been craving since the end of "Fringe". Being a sci-fi thriller, "Helix" is not intended for children. A lot of action, character relationships, and a conspiracy cover-up will mostly go over the heads of small children and come off as simply over-the-top scary. Parents be warned that there is also a lot of language including "sh*t", bullsh*t" and lesser curse words. In all, "Helix" marks a triumphant return of the action sci-fi thriller. This fan of sci-fi hopes that it enjoys a long, successful run.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byGirlNextDoor February 2, 2014
 

Incredibly Entertaining!

Although violent at times, the overall show is brilliant. The way suspense is built up throughout the episode and eventually leads to the climax is one of the best aspects of Helix.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byanneperson January 18, 2014
 

Could use more positive science

Not for the squeamish!! My mom and I watched the first 2 episodes, and while I was fine, my mom almost threw up. I am really interested in epidemiology, and it seemed like Pilot was written by someone much more knowledgeable about the topic than the screenwriter of Vector. Pilot was more scientific, and Vector was more horror. Also, there seems to be a "Don't screw with nature" message to Helix, which is disappointing.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex

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