Tuesday, May 22, 2007

On Heroes

The city is smothered in smoke today, and even inside my eyes are watering. Perfect time, I think, to write a little bit about this season of Heroes, which ended last night.

I saw a version of the pilot months in advance--it generated enough buzz around our house to turn heads. I waited, in anticipation, for the season to start, hoping against hope that what seemed like a fairly complicated show, with a definite geek bias, could survive on network TV.

The premiere aired on NBC differed slightly from the pilot, mostly dropping difficult or unwieldy plot threads (Isaac cutting off his hand), and it was for the best. Even so, the story was slow to start--hanging on in those first few weeks was a bit difficult, but the premise pretty much guaranteed that things would kick into gear eventualy.

And when it did, boy, was it crazy. No other show made us shriek with excitment in quite the same way. Frequently, the only thing to be said at the end of an episode was, "WTF?!?" (Hiro and the dinosaur painting, remember?) Heroes plowed through enough plot to keep most writers churning out scripts for seasons. The show tossed about a thousand balls in the air, and out of that thousand, managed to only drop one or two (Hana "Wireless" Gitelman). The plotlines were all distinct, easy to remember from one week to the next, and the insane numbers of characters never got confusing. How do you have a show with 20 main characters and not confuse the average TV viewer? It's a feat, to be sure.

Maybe in retrospect (or in a marathon DVD viewing), the various plot twists and turns won't make as much sense. I know the constant bitching about saving the world and destiny and responsibility have the potential to be redundant and annoying--they were to a certain extent even when watching weekly.

But I can only speak for myself, and I know that the first season of Heroes is going to be forever burned into my brain as one of the TV events of a lifetime. I'll be referencing the show in conversation years from now, I'm sure, the same way we reference the Avengers and old issues of X-Men while watching it now.

That geek bias gives a story deep roots to pull from, and Heroes made the most of it, without doubt.

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