Helix is an American science fiction thriller television series that premiered on Syfy on January 10, 2014. The series follows a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who travel to a research facility in the Arctic to investigate a potential outbreak of disease. While there, they find themselves stuck in a life-or-death situation that could decide the future of mankind. The executive producers of Helix are Ronald D. Moore, Lynda Obst, Steven Maeda, and Cameron Porsandeh, with Maeda serving as day-to-day showrunner.
The first season consisted of 13 episodes. On March 28, 2014, it was announced that the show was renewed for a 13-episode second season, slated for a winter 2015 premiere.
Researchers investigate a viral outbreak at an arctic bioresearch station, only to discover that it has disastrous and wider implications for the entire world.
Proscribed genetic engineering research is being done, and the company running the research station seems more interested in containing knowledge of their activities than in resolving the outbreak. Attempts at quarantine result in mutiny and attempted escape, and communication with the outside is mysteriously cut off. It is unclear at first whether the goal is a bio-weapon or to transform humans in some way, and there are two variants of the virus.
The first is immediately fatal with no cure. Those infected with the second virus become dangerously violent zombie-like "Vectors", spreading the infection to others, with a small percentage eventually regaining some normality if treated, as it seems several characters have already been infected and cured. Those cured seem to have the ability to control the infected. The "outbreak" is revealed to have been a cover story for using Julia Walker as a test subject, and to deceive the CDC personnel into creating an anti-viral "cure" to the benefit of the Ilaria corporation's objectives.
The series pitch idea was developed by Cameron Porsandeh, who then submitted it to Sony Pictures, where Lynda Obst revised the idea along with Porsandeh. Sony then asked if there was a major science fiction television writer he would like attached as executive producer, and he suggested Ronald D. Moore, who joined the production team and pitched several new major concepts. The pilot script was written by Porsandeh, and while Moore pitched several key ideas he did not write the script itself.
As Porsandeh explained:
So I took a stab at it and we sent it over to Sony [Pictures Television] and Lynda Obst, she takes a real interest in science, she did Contact and really sort of prides herself on the subject, and she saw something in it. So I developed it over at Sony for probably about six months. Then they said "if you could work with anyone on this project, who would you want to do it with?" And I said, "Ron Moore" sort of like it's a fantasy, sort of like "who would you want to date if you could date anyone," and I threw his name out the way you would throw a movie star's name out. They sent it over to him and he was interested so he got on board. Then together we came up with an overarching mythology that would extend over the course of the entire series, then he and I together pitched it to Syfy.
Porsandeh stated that a major feature of the series is that each episode represents the events of a single day within the story: thus the entire thirteen episode first season takes place in under two weeks of in-universe time.
According to Porsandeh, Helix will not make use of flashback scenes to give details about character backstories, the way the science fiction series Lost did. Instead, a key point is that viral infection will at times make characters feverish and hallucinate (which is a real-life symptom of several infections). Thus certain characters will at times experience hallucinations, i.e. reliving particularly traumatic past events. The distinction Porsandeh pointed out is that a flashback is presented as objectively true, while the hallucination scenes in Helix are presented from the characters' feverish hallucinatory states, and thus their unreliable narration will contain several errors which do not match events as they actually occurred.