NBC suck spongy hairy manballs and everybody knows it. ABC have Lost, Fox have 24, HBO have The Sopranos but NBC always lacked that true dramatic heavyweight big hitter. Small wonder that the network’s audience share of shrunk by 30% between 2004-6. NBC needed something to salvage their credibility. Then, a hero appeared on the horizon – several as it happens. Tim Kring‘s comic book homage Heroes gave NBC its biggest drama premiere audience for five years. Just who was that masked man?
"NBC suck spongy hairy manballs and everybody knows it. Small wonder that the network’s audience share of shrunk by 30% between 2004-6."
Kring, who created Crossing Jordan and Strange World, has tackled the heroes theme before in his short-lived Eighties drama Misfits of Science but he’s stepped up a few weight divisions with this.
Around about a dozen ordinary men and women begin developing extraordinary powers. For 16 year-old cheerleader Clare Bennet (Hayden Panettiere),
it is tissue regeneration, for congressional candidate Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar), it is flight (something I bet that other conflicted politician Lord Archer wishes he possessed) , for Tokyo programmer Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), it is the ability to bend the space-time continuum,.
“Kring has tackled the Heroes theme before but he’s stepped up a few weight divisions with this.”
Over time they come to realise that they each have a role to play in saving mankind from some horrible disaster as foretold in the prophetic dreams of Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia last seen stonewalling his way through Rocky Balboa), and paintings of comic book artist Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera). Hiro’s hilarious buddy relationship with his colleague Ando as he comes to terms with his gift through faltering English and subtitled Japanese is the show’s major attraction.
"Sylar scoops out the heroes’ brains and absorbs their power in attempts to become a kind of hero supergroup. Like Emerson, Lake and Palmer but with mutilation."
Clare’s adoptive father Mr Bennet (Jack Coleman) is part of a shadowy organisation who track, abduct and experiment on the superhumans. Bennet is not the only normal person with an interest in the freaks. Professor Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), comes to New York to investigate his father’s death and continue his work on the genetic blueprints of the heroes. Mohinder’s father was murdered by Sylar, (Zachary Quinto) the black sheep of the superhero family, who murders the other gifted ones, scoops out their brains and absorbs their power in an attempt to become a kind of hero supergroup. Like Emerson, Lake and Palmer but with mutilation.
“Unlike Lost, there’s practically nobody you hate. There are no Charlies or Ana-Lucias.”
Heroes works well because of its classic comic-book storytelling. The nobody who saved the world, the man who learned to fly, the crippling sense of destiny – they’re all here. Like Lost, it skilfully reveals the connections between the ensemble cast – we flash back and forward in time, through time warps and prophetic dreams. It’s pacy and the big moments are executed with a deft hand and an obvious love of the comic book’s narrative flair. And unlike Lost, there’s practically nobody you hate. There are no Charlies or Ana-Lucias – just a mob of well-crafted, well-rounded characters who you want to believe in.
And if Christopher Eccleston playing an invisible man doesn’t tempt you…
The best thing about it: Hiro, tubby time-bending Everyman.
The worst thing about it: A baffling and hurtful dearth of plot-relevant cheerleader routines.
The verdict on Heroes: Saving the world (and NBC).
Marks out of 10: 8