Monday, October 02, 2006

Premiere Episode Review

Premiere broadcast on 9/25/06. Series broadcasts Mondays at 9:00PM Eastern/8:00 PM Central on NBC and is rebroadcast the following Friday on the Sci-Fi Channel at 7:00PM Eastern/6:00PM Central

The wish fulfillment angle of the Harry Potter books and films is pretty obvious. An orphaned boy forced to live with his abusive aunt and uncle finds out that he's not the unwanted nobody he always thought himself to be, but in fact a wizard, and one with a special destiny at that. What child doesn't want to believe he's special, that there's more to him than it seems?

Heroes follows a similar path with the difference here being that the desire to be special doesn't end after adolescence but carries on into adulthood. Using some of the basic concepts of super hero comics (particularly X-Men) and presenting it in the formula of contemporary TV drama (with Lost being a particularly obvious inspiration) Heroes tells the tale of a handful of individuals who have developed super powers. No radioactive spiders or cosmic storms at work here. Much like the abilities of the characters in X-Men, the powers granted to the cast of Heroes are a natural result of evolution.

This first episode shows the "awakening" of handful of characters whose paths cross briefly, if at all. Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia, formerly of Gilmore Girls) is a nurse with recurring dreams of flight, an ability that he believes he can manifest in reality. Niki Sanders (Ali Larter from Final Destination 2 and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) a single mother, Vegas stripper, and internet porn entrepreneur seems to have a dual personality, with her darker half demonstrating superhuman strength. Hiro Makamura (Masi Oka) is a Japanese office worker and comic book geek who can teleport by using his ability to bend time and space. His first name can't be a coincidence. Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) is a troubled high school cheerleader who can survive seemingly any form of physical trauma. I suspect we will learn that she discovered her ability during a suicide attempt. A heroin-addicted artist named Isaac has the ability to paint images of the future when he is high. It's one of these paintings, shown chillingly at the episode's climax, that apparently defines the long-term direction of the series.

What I suspect will eventually bring all these characters together is Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) an university professor from India who intends to resume the research his father had been conducting before his murder. Many of the characters seem to represent comic book archetypes. Peter is noble and selfless, Claire is the angst-ridden teen, Hiro is the fanboy, and Niki's alternate personality is a form of secret identity. Several interesting sub-plots are weaved into the story, including Peter's Machiavellian brother who is running for congress, and the fact that Niki owes a lot of money to some very dangerous people. The characters even have what I suspect will become an arch nemesis, though little has been revealed about him so far.

One of the great ironies of television is that you can't really judge a series based on its pilot episode, even though the purpose of a pilot is to see if the concept warrants a series to begin with. While the premiere episode of Heroes didn't wow me as much as I had hoped, it did grab me nonetheless. I felt more should have happened, but it looks like future episodes have some interesting things in store. I liked what I saw enough to ignore the idea that a solar eclipse could occur simultaneously in New York and Tokyo.

1 comment:

phantom said...

I wasn't thrilled with the firt week's, but I was much more into the second episode.

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