Malik Yoba knows the pressure will be on Alphas, Syfy's upcoming show about a group of superheroes who aren't quite superheroes and who possess superpowers that aren't exactly superpowers.
"I think most people, even we as a cast, said, 'OK, we've had Heroes, we've had X-Men. We've seen this. What's going to make this different?'" Yoba said during an interview on March 22, during Syfy's upfront presentation for advertisers in New York City. "And, apparently, there's some chemistry, and the creative approach to it sort of gave it a different spin. We aren't heroes. We aren't mutants. We don't have superpowers. We have odd little behaviors that kind of collectively work as a unit and let us solve mysteries and crimes that the normal agencies can't solve."
Created by Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand) and Michael Karnow (Time Squad), with Ira Steven Behr (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) on board as executive producer/showrunner, Alphas will, according to Syfy's press notes, "center on a team of ordinary citizens whose brain anomalies imbue them with extraordinary mental and physical abilities." The team is led by Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn) and includes, among others, Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright), who can comprehend cell phone, radio and television signals the way most people listen to music; Nina Theroux (Laura Mennell), who can manipulate people's thoughts; and Rachel Mizrahi (Azita Ghanizada), who's able to accentuate her senses as required. Yoba—a New York actor whose credits range from New York Undercover and the Why Did I Get Married? films to Raines and the recent sci-fi series Defying Gravity—plays the Alpha team's field leader, Bill Harken.
"I can move things and people," Yoba said, revealing Harken's unique ability. "I can activate my fight-or-flight mechanism at will. Sometimes it comes in handy, but it comes at a price. Sometimes it's activated when I don't really want it to be. So that's gotten me into problems, and that's why my character has been placed into the care of David Strathairn's character."
Alphas will be Yoba's 11th series, and he's ready for one to really catch on with audiences and stick around for several years. A 90-minute pilot, directed by Lost veteran Jack Bender, is already in the can, and 11 more episodes will soon go into production in Toronto.
"I think Syfy is doing some really cool stuff, and, having now shot the pilot and gotten to know some of the players—the head of the network, the head of marketing—I think that they're really going to try to do some out-of-the-box thinking. You have to do that with where television is now, because people aren't just sitting down every day and watching shows. They're getting them online, mobilely. Syfy is approaching this with a lot of forward thinking, which is important."
Alphas will premiere in July.