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TV Review: Heroes – Series Premiere

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At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss Heroes (premiering tonight on NBC, 9 PMET) as a watered-down version of X-Men. To do so, however, would be a huge mistake. While it does tread on familiar comic book-inspired territory, Heroes painstakingly avoids splashiness, instead painting its characters in subtle tones of normalcy shaded by the extraordinary.

The creation of Tim King (Crossing Jordan), the pilot episode zigzags across the globe, introducing us to a disparate group of characters, from an indestructable Texas cheerleader to a Japanese office drone with the ability to displace time and space to a male nurse who believes he can fly to a Vegas stripper haunted by a separate personality within herself to a drug addict artist who paints visions of the future. Their stories are told in separate vignettes, loosely connected by an Indian researcher's quest to redeem his dead father's reputation. All of it has something to do with a solar eclipse, which has awakened the protagonists' latent abilities, as well as signaling dire events for all earth.

On paper, it all sounds more than a little hokey, but Heroes transcends any cliches by cloaking it all in ambiguity. The characters in the pilot episode are three-dimensional people — a devoted single mom with a questionable past, a male nurse whose dreams of flying symbolize his relationship with his politician brother, a high school student who can do no wrong, and so on — whose lives are taking an unexpected and unwelcome turn.

The pilot episode focuses on the characters' individual stories and inner turmoils, rather than their unusual abilities. It's a teaser, to be certain, but it beckons us to return to find out how the mysteries presented here develop. If Heroes can maintain the focus of the pilot episode, focusing on the characters and their relationship to their environment, NBC may have a sleeper hit on its hands. This is a show that promises social insights presented in allegorical style.

Here's hoping that it doesn't deteriorate into comic book cliches.

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About Ray Ellis

  • I really liked how this first episode went. Hiro would have to be my favorite of the crew just for his enthusiasm. Ali Larter’s character is the one that I want to know more about. Much more. I did like how they used mainly unknown actors for the show. It makes the unreal aspects of it more real and easier to accept.

  • Erk! I choke no the mere mention of MutantX as comparaison with the sublime first episode of Heroes

  • Actually, the Mutant X ad was a bit of a dark joke on my part, illustrating how stupid you can get with the mutant thing. “Heroes” is obviously light years beyond that. I only hope it doesn’t fall prey to the cliches.

  • Baronius

    Ray, you nailed both Heroes and Jericho. These two pilots should be shown back-to-back in film class. “Students, you’ve just seen the right way to introduce and develop characters, integrate sci-fi adventure and human story-telling, build a story with plot twists, and avoid cliches. For the second half of class, we’re going to watch Jericho.”

  • I loved the first episode. Hated the second. why the hell were there so many commercials? Couldn’t even get into the story because of them?

  • OK, so Heroes was a series I was determined not to like coz I’m not dumb and I’ve learnt my lesson with Lost but much as I hate to admit it, I’m hooked. The characters are well imagined, the actors are great… if only the actual writing itself could take a leap out of its general blah-ness, I might even love it.

  • Ken

    I’ve been waiting for TV to come back around and start to tell entertaining stories…I am so happy that NBC has taken a chance with Heroes. The recent onslaught of reality shows with only one end in mind – that everything is about competition – has really taken away from the value of telling stories. These characters are compelling and likeable. Congrats Tim Kring! I liked Crossing Jordan however I LOVE this series. Teach me, tease me, thrill me but don’t kill me! I can’t wait to see where this story arc will go…

  • Heather

    Love the show, but they take advantage with all the commercials.

  • rolls

    was wondering how many episodes there are in series 1. if episode 18 was the last in series 1 then i was disappointed with the series 1 ending.

  • suraj

    i love the series and hope the other seasons come out soon…plz do make them