A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
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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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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?