It’s very difficult to describe this show. It’s not like Heroes, even though the main protagonists have superhuman abilities; it’s not like The Mentalist, even though Patrick Jayne is extremely intelligent and perceptive (and often mistaken for having superpowers, when all he has is a brain that he knows how to use to its fullest ability).
Essentially, Alphas is a concept entirely in and of itself. It’s not about superpowers, or crime, or even a mix of the two (although both are involved). What it is about is a subgroup of people with heightened abilities.
I’m discussing this show and the abilities of the characters with D as I type (and, while I remember, huge credit must go to Ryan Cartwright, who plays autistic savant Gary Bell) because I – as a person with neurological “disorders” (Are they? Are we sure about that? Really?) – can empathise with at least three of the main Alphas in the show (Gary, Rachel and Hicks). I wouldn’t call myself a savant, but I do have autism to a slightly lesser degree than Gary. Like Hicks, I am slightly hyperkinetic and even have the mood swings. Rachel is hypersensitive to an impossible degree, but I identify with her heightened sensitivity to sounds and smells.
I have to have my routine. Yesterday somebody on Freecycle wasted my time so I couldn’t plan my day or do everything I usually do, and I became irritated and anxious.
I always have to have at least a foot moving – at all times. When sat for long periods I will jog my leg up and down across my knee. It annoys people but I can’t stop it because then I’m uncomfortable.
I can detect scents and hear sounds that nobody else can. Some years ago I could detect a strong scent of stale onions on D and couldn’t go near him. Nobody else could smell it at all. I can detect sounds at frequencies that the human ear is supposedly unable to pick up (Hyperacusis) and normal sound, to me, can be unbearable. I have to have prior warning before D does anything loud around the house, and I can often hear high pitched whistling or buzzing that irritates me and that nobody else can pick up. This in spite of the fact that I am slightly deaf in one ear!
While discussing these things, and discussing Alphas (which has quickly become one of our favourite American shows since Leverage) D came up with a wonderful analogy to describe me and others who are different to the norm:
I am not a supermarket tomato. I am the wrong shape and size to fit in the box; I don’t fit in with the perception of what a supermarket tomato should be. I have “imperfections” that most factory packers would reject.
But I taste just as sweet as a supermarket tomato, if not sweeter with firmer flesh. And all the best chefs know it.