Monday, September 24, 2007

A look Back at Heroes

The second season of Heroes starts tonight. While this became one of the best shows on TV last season, it got off to a rocky start. I'm hoping that they don't repeat that this year.

The show managed to ride the popularity of last year's X-Men release. The premise is pretty similar - people suddenly discover that they have super powers. In the X-Men they are mutants. In Heroes, they are "heroes".

The first few episodes were pretty grim and the characters were unlikeable. We had an arrogant politician, his bitchy mother, and his wimpy brother. There was an internet stripper who killed people in grisly ways. There was a junkie who painted disturbing visions of the future There was a serial killer who cut people's heads off and skooped out their brains. And there was a cheerleader who was apparently trying to kill herself and failing. The gore factor was the highest in any regular show I can remember. This reached a peak when Claire, the cheerleader, woke up in the morgue after an autopsy had cut open her chest (it was also the least convincing effect since the latex appliance didn't bent right when she sat up).

The main redeeming feature was Hiro - a Japanese office worker who discovered that he could affect time and space. After turning a clock back one second, he decided that he had a duty to help the world. Soon after, he traveled to New York's future and saw a major explosion. He quickly made it his mission to prevent the blast, dragging his co-worker along.

Ironically, Hiro has yet to accomplish any of his missions. He did not save the cheerleader, Peter did. He didn't stop the explosion, Nathan did. He hurt but didn't kill Sylar. He didn't even save a doomed waitress although he did make her last months more pleasant.

Several of the character's story threads never jelled. The telepathic cop started out as a major character but faded into the background. His main contribution was to show that making a loser telepathic doesn't change the fact that he's a loser. The same is true for Nikki and her family. One month she's hiding bodies, the next she's hunting her husband and child, then she's in jail, then she's a hired assassin, then she's trying to get her son back.

On the other hand, Peter became much more interesting as the show progressed. Besides Hiro, he is the only one who tries to help others with his gifts. Unlike Hiro, he did save the cheerleader.

The producers say that they listened to fan complaints and will address them in the new season. Story arcs will be shorter and fewer characters will be appearing per episode allowing more time for the characters who do appear. I hope that they got the right message. Lost claims to have heard viewer complaints about reruns but they got it wrong. We didn't want the show taken off the air except for new episodes, we just wanted more new episodes in a row.

We will see how Heroes does in season two.

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