The Project: Helix (a new Syfy series from Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald Moore)
The Panel: Mark Stern (Syfy’s President of Original Content), Executive Producer Steven Madea (Lost), Cameron Porsandeh (writer), Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), moderated by EW’s own Geoff Boucher
Footage screened: The audience was treated to a very brief teaser for the series, which will begin production next week in Montreal. A sterile white laboratory is stained by some sort of black goo. As the camera pans up to show a “sterilization” room, you begin to hear an automated voice repeating “complete. complete. complete.” Only the sliding door to the sterilization room isn’t able to close, because a dead scientist’s leg is blocking it. Inside the room, we see another scientist in a hazmat suit dying on the floor, and coughing up the black goo that we saw at the beginning. In the air duct off to the side, there may be something lurking. And…cut to black!
Snap judgement: The Helix panel was scheduled right after Syfy’s Defiance, and though there were quite a few Defiance fans present, many folks attended just to ensure a good spot for the highly anticipated new show about a mysterious outbreak that threatens mankind. The panelists seem appropriately excited and confident about Season 1, especially because they know at the outset that they have 13 episodes to work with.
The Big Revelations: It had been previously reported that The Killing’s Billy Campbell would lead the cast as Dr. Alan Farragut, but the EP’s did announce some casting news that we were assured only came about “5 minutes earlier.” Hiroyuki Sanada (Revenge), Kyra Zagorsky (has appeared on Falling Skies and Supernatural), and Mark Ghanimé (Emily Owens M.D.) will fill out the cast in key roles. As for what the show is about, the panel continued to tease. “There’s an outbreak of something in the first episode,” says Ron Moore. Focusing on a group of CDC scientists, they head to the Arctic to check out what could possibly be the source. Moore adds: “They realize the deeper that they go, the research they’re involved in has the potential to either save humanity or destroy it.” Porsandeh said, “it is a season long mystery.” Mark Stern said that it could be similar to American Horror Story in that each (hopeful) season will be a distinct chapter. “You know it’s got a real track and will go beyond the first few episodes,” said Stern. Also, Madea says that the black goo is decidedly not the black oil from The X-Files. Moore added with a laugh that it might be related to the black goo from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Most incisive audience questions: Think it’s hard to ask a question about a show that hasn’t even aired? Or begun shooting? Not when you have a panel of some of the most prolific minds behind sic-fi television. One potential fan asked earnestly whether or not the show will be all doom and gloom. Without hesitation, Mark Stern said, “of course! It’s a Ron Moore show.”