HELIX Creator Brings Isolation, Mistrust to Viral Horror Drama
There are three important things that creator and producer Cameron Porsandeh wants people to know about Syfy’s Helix, outside of “you should watch it,” of course.
“It’s heavily serialized,” Porsandeh told Newsarama about the new series, heavily publicized as Ronald D. Moore’s return to the network. “Each episode is actually a day. We wanted it to have a relentless pace. The [first story of the] series is over after two weeks passes.
“The second most important thing is that it takes place in the Arctic Circle – we chose it because it’s the closest place to the moon on Earth.
“Third, I’m obsessed with love triangles. Years ago I got in an elevator with an ex girlfriend and her new boyfriend. It was the longest elevator ride ever; there’s this unique tension to that situation that’s hard to replicate – this is how we show that on a TV show.”
While Helix “starts out as a virus piece,” Porsandeh wants viewers to know that it, like all the best science fiction, is really “about what it is to be human.”
The basic premise of Helix sees a possible viral outbreak in a remote research facility in the Arctic. A team of scientists is recruited in to help evaluate, contain, and hopefully quell the virus, but is met with challenges from duplicitous team members to the aforementioned love triangle and something else looming in the background.
The location allows Porsandeh and company really dive into the theme of isolation. There’s the literal isolation that the whole group experiences due to the remoteness of the location, something Porsandeh brings with him from his previous job of working around the world with non-profits and real-life research teams. Having traveled to over 100 countries in ten years, he saw research facilities “that are very much off the radar,” and tribes that had never before been exposed to outside society.
But the deeper look at isolation comes with the individuals, and how they isolate themselves, creating a sense of mistrust that increases the tension of the show.
“Isolation is important. All of the people have secrets, things that they’re hiding.
“We’ll play with hallucinations, instead of flashbacks to show the isolation. That’s heavily influenced by what the character is going through at the moment.”
As for Ronald Moore’s involvement with the show, Porsandeh credits him as “instrumental in creating an overall mythology” for the series, and says it’s a dream come true working with him.
“When I pitched this to Sony, they asked me if I could work with anyone on this, who would I want to work with, and I said “Ron Moore” like I was a kid saying Santa Claus. They sent it to him, and he liked it!” Porsandeh recalled with a genuine sense of disbelief. “Battlestar Galactica is definitely one of my favorite shows and biggest influences, and now I’m working with that man.”
He also said that Syfy has been very supportive of the series, calling them “a bold partner willing to explore my whims,” and said they never tried to force any major changes to the vision of the creators.
While there will be shocks and sudden turns and plot twists, Porsandeh especially cautioned to not get too attached to any one character.
“People will die, and you should not be expecting them to die when they do.”
Syfy has released the first fifteen minutes of the pilot episode ahead of the Friday January 10, 2013 debut, and you can watch that below.