Thursday, October 28, 2010

TV show review: "Heroes" Season One

For the last two weeks or so, I have watched "Heroes". It is a science fiction TV show that started in 2006 and had four seasons. It was quite popular, especially first season. A number of my friends watched it and few tried to talk me into watching it. I don't know what I was doing it at that time, but I was probably busy with reading books. Or I was just starting to watch anime. Anyway, most of those friends who watched it, stopped because the show got too "soapy". Recently the show ended, so I decided to give it a try. I don't have to wait for new episodes, and I have some time free while waiting for "Towers of Midnight". So, this is my review of the first season.

"Heroes" is a story about regular men and women finding out they have special abilities, like super-heroes (thus the name, of course). Explanation for this phenomenon is genetics: they are all carriers of a special gene that allows them these special powers. Everyone has only one and unique ability (there are one or two exceptions) and most of them don't understand it at first. Our heroes are at first scattered around the world (well, America mostly) and they are quite different people. Hiro is a young man, working in big company in Japan; he can bend time and space. Isaac is a heroin addict and a comic artist, living in New York; he can paint the future. Claire is a teenage girl, a blonde cheerleader from Texas; she can heal. There are a fifteen or so main characters, most of them special people, plus some people connected to them.

Focus of the show, at first at least, is on special powers and how normal people adopt to being not-normal. Most of them don't take it good: they are scared and confused. Most of them have personal issues and realizing that ability to hear people's thoughts can bring them unexpected problem (although it looks like a great feat at beginning). Later in show, bigger, season-size plot start to reveal. Not to spoil too much, it involves a bomb, the Company (organization that keeps track of "gifted" people) and a secret plot. Pace is slow, but not boring. One episode focus on one group of people, then second on another, then back again. Also, there is a recap of last episode(s) at the beginning of each, so it's not hard to follow (even if you skip it for days).

As I said, this is a SF show, but science in here is very light. There are some big words (evolution, Darwin, Human Genome Project...) thrown in to give it some credential, but this is a show for general population. If you know a bit about biology, you can notice weak spots (or even false explanations) with ease. I am not especially picky about these things and I don't insist for science to be real (in shows, I mean). If I want to study about biology or learn new things, I will read science articles (or Wikipedia, which is a good starting point, never mind the risks). I am more of "relax and enjoy the world" person.

Show IS interesting. First part particularly, when characters are learning about their abilities and everything is a surprise. Later, things got a bit too far-fetched. Not too much, but enough to spoil the fun a bit. First, "everything and everyone is connected" thing. I can buy this in fantasy books that include Fate, Pattern or Great Design, but in SF, this is not acceptable. This especially comes to focus when hidden kinship relations and "older generation" start to show. As I said, this is acceptable in fantasy and shounen anime, but if you fight for audience of intelligent SF-fans, then it is not.

Second... I know that it is easy to act as general after the battle is done, but some of the choices our heroes do are plain stupid. I don't expect people to be Yagami Lights or Quick Bens and pull Xanatos Gambits from behind ear, but if you have the ability (stopping time, for example) you should use it and use it smart. There are lots examples and this bothered me. Also, more innovations would be welcomed. I know that every possible ability has been used at least once, but it is still possible to rearrange it originally.

Also, I am starting to see what people meant when said "soapy". It is not too evident in first season, but I have watched few episodes of second season and it is starting to show that writers now have money instead of originality on their mind. I wouldn't like to see this becoming "Passions" meets "X-Men" show.

But, in the end, I like "Heroes". It is far from a hard SF show that will inspire kids to become scientist when they grow up, but it is a nice, funny and interesting TV show for general population. If you want a funny action SF show that doesn't require much thinking and you are looking just for fun, then go for it. Especially now when, all episodes are out.

I have finished first season and currently I am watching second season. After I finish it, I will probably take a break from it and start with WoT reread.

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