Alphas first appeared on the Syfy channel but is available on DVD in the UK. It sounded promising (I must have read a favourable review somewhere to put it on my list) so I gave it a try.
The series has a familiar theme: a psychologist is trying to help a group of people who have different supernormal abilities. One can conjure up great strength under stress, another can persuade people to do whatever she wants, a third can see electronic radiation enabling him to watch TV programmes without a TV and track phone calls visually, a fourth can focus her individual senses to an intense level of detail. The psychologist calls them "Alphas". These abilities attract official attention, particularly since there are many "wild Alphas" around posing various threats to society, and the Alpha team is the only way of countering them. But the existence of the team is itself under threat from suspicious authorities, who would like to see all Alphas locked securely away.
So we're in X-Men territory with a dash of Fringe and even Warehouse 13. There really isn't anything new in the situation but in that respect it's no different, for example, from the countless similar series in the detective genre; whether they succeed or fail depends on the characters and the writing. So far, while this one isn't outstanding it is good enough to for me to see the whole of the first series. Whether I will go on to watch the next one is an open question. I have found that all of the episodes tend to blur in the mind, none being especially memorable, so it's the development of the characters and their relationships which carry the series.
Gotham is unusual in at least one respect – it is a US series appearing on UK TV only a couple of weeks after its first release. Effectively a prequel to the Batman franchise, this starts with Bruce Wayne as a young boy who witnesses the murder of his parents, but the focus is very much on detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his efforts to track down the killer.
It is something of an oddity as, on the face of it, it is a straightforward murder mystery without any of the fantastic elements of Batman. Even though Catwoman (Catgirl?) lurks around the edges of the first episode and moves more centre-stage thereafter, she is no more than an agile young thief. On the other hand, the plot is not handled with the realism of a modern detective story; there is something stylised about it, a clear reflection of the comic-book origins. As a result, the characters are oversimplified to the point of caricature. The first couple of episodes were watchable enough despite this but, as with Alphas, they didn't entirely grab my attention so I'll have to see how it goes.