Thursday, November 09, 2006

Witz Reluctantly And Indecisively Pickz: Heroes -- An In Depth Review

No, it's not an X-Men rip-off. No, it's not about firefighters. And yes, that is the chick from Varsity Blues. NBC's attempt at an episodic series seems to have worked, as now millions of people are tuning in for the self-proclaimed television phenomenon "Heroes." The question is: should you be watching it?

Great question, casual television viewer! As an intelligent human being with massive TiVo capabilities, you want to know if this "Heroes" show is worth filling your digital and actual memory with.

"Heroes" is a show about ordinary people who are discovering that they have superpower potential. A disastrous future is looming, and fate appears to have aligned these characters to save the world. Now I know what you're thinking—you're thinking, "Yeah, save the cheerleader, save the world, what the hell's that all about," and you're absolutely right—the tagline has to go. It's stupid. It begs mockery. It's downright lame. But once you know the meaning behind it, you might just find yourself a bit more interested.

The "cheerleader" of reference is Claire, a high school cheerleader who has just discovered that due to accelerated cell regeneration, she can't quite seem to die. She's certainly tried; jumping off buildings, getting into car accidents, running into burning buildings-- but even when it means waking up in the middle of her own autopsy—she heals up. Oh, and also, she's hot. That's also kind of her schtick.

Herded by destiny to Claire's side are many more characters, each with their own new-found, or as of yet, undiscovered powers. There's Nathan Petrelli, a politician in the middle of a campaign who also has the ability to fly. His younger brother, Peter can fly too, but he hasn't mastered it yet, nor is he capable of escaping the fact that he looks a lot like Jason Schwartzman.

Niki Sanders has an alternate personality that she sees in the mirror. Yes, exactly like the Goosebumps book. When Niki is in danger, the personality takes over and tends to stick mostly to killing people or beating the hell out of anyone in the vicinity. I'm not entirely sure that this is considered a "superpower" and not "psychotic schizophrenia," but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Neither personality seems to have an affinity for whipped cream bikinis, but consider my fingers crossed. Recently, we've been introduced to her ex-husband who has the ability to move through solid matter (like Ghost Dad!!), and their son, Micah, whose superpowers have yet to be revealed. Micah has an aura about him that makes us think he's a very important child—the key to salvation—the Barack Obama of the "Heroes" universe, if you will.

Matt Parkman is a cop who can read minds, even if he doesn't want to—it's like "What Women Want" only apparently most women want to cheat on him or mock his physique.

Next up is Isaac Mendez, who looks like a rock star and therefore does a lot of heroin even though he's only a painter—but to be fair, he can paint the future, so he's got that going for him.

Seemingly everyone's favorite hero, however, is Asian comic book geek, Hiro Nakamura. He can stop time—not like your boss in a particularly horrendous business meeting, or like your teacher in advanced trigonometry—no, no, much better. Hiro can stop time like Zack Morris—call a "timeout" and then improve the world by saving people from explosions or cheating at roulette. I can't wait until he starts winking at the camera.

The foil to these superheroes is the mysterious "Syler" who appears to have superpowers himself, but also tends to use those powers to do things like cut out the brains of the victims he recently mutilated— a slightly different "super" direction. Oh yeah, and he's Claire's step-dad, so that family's a FOX reality show waiting to happen. "Who's Claire again?" You're asking. C'mon. Stay with me here. "Save the cheerleader, save the world," remember? Unfortunately, you might be lost, and the large cast is one of the main problems with "Heroes."

With so many characters and such an intricate story, very little actually seems to occur each episode. You can only move so many characters forward in an hour, and so each plotline feels like it moves an inch each week. While the characters are slowly approaching each other, you can't help but wish destiny had a little more of a grasp on weekly episodic structure.

Despite this shortcoming, the show exudes a Paul Allen-like sense of purpose, and while the overall pace may lag, each episode is packed with interesting stories, some actual conflict, and more flying/mind-reading/cell regenerating/alternate personality rampaging/time-stopping/future painting than any other show on television; and in the end, isn't that really all we can ask for?

Heroes airs Monday nights at 9pm on NBC.


Thomas J. Brown said...

Overall, I agree with you. My own thoughts: Claire is =not= hot and Peter doesn't look that much like Jason Schwartzman. Also, Peter's power seems to be more like (if you'll excuse the X-men comparison) Rogue's, insofar as he seems to be able to temporarily make use of other people's powers when he comes in contact with them. I think we'll see some interesting advancements from him in the future.

Witz said...

Multiple responses (they're not just a myth!):

I actually think Peter has the Rogue-power and can just do what OTHER people can do that he's near, but that was way too complicated to explain in one paragraph for people who haven't seen the show, so I said, "fly." Same reason I didn't bringup the payphone-- "The child seems to have the ability to avoid trivial fees!"

Claire might not be hot, but she's definitely SUPPOSED TO BE. She is the "cool girl" in a hot girl's body in high school, and I bet the younger viewers are into her. Peter is Jason Scwartzman minus 10 pounds of eyebrow hair. Admit it.

To be perfectly honest, i don't remember who we last believed Syler to be-- her dad, another dude, Jake Plummer, whoever-- he's a bad man, he's a bad man, he's a bad man. Mr. Claire is still a skeeze.

Big Ho-- All of your reasons for not wanting more Heroes each week is the exact reason I'm not sold on why I like Heroes-- I don't really like ANY of the characters. They're all pretty moderate and unimpressive and way too "bright eyed." I think it's mostly the casting, but also the lack of consistent contact since they get about 10 minutes an episode. The STORY is what is keeping me watching, and I don't get enough of THAT each episode.

I also don't like that the show treats a lot of obvious plot discoveries as if they were big surprises. I can't think of an example right now, but I'm sure I mean that.

Keep watchin, keep readin, and I'll talk to ya'all soon.


Thomas J. Brown said...

I'll concede on those points. -)