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Heroes: Season 1 (review)

It’s ironic that in order to break new ground, this series — the surprise (or maybe not) NBC hit of last season — harkened back to the past. Echoing the chapter serials that thrilled movie audiences in the 1920s and ’30s, as well as the pulpy comic books of the 1940s and ’50, this astonishingly addictive series posits a sudden genetic transformation that imbues seemingly random humans with something close to cartoonish superpowers… and now they all seem to be connected to a series of horrifying events that, one of them who can see the future understands, could result in a mushroom cloud over New York, with disastrous consequences for the entire planet. Can they save the world by averting this disaster? And how does one sweet Texas cheerleader figure into it? The mantra “Save the cheerleader, save the world” became a byword last autumn for those in the know with this thrilling show, now Emmy nominated for Outstanding Drama Series and for Outstanding Supporting Actor, for the previously all-but-unknown Masi Oka, who steals the show; the chance to reappreciate the sneaky twistiness of his dual performance is an excellent reason to indulge in this set. That “save the cheerleading” thing also became a nagging, if delightful mystery: Just what the hell is going on here? With this DVD package — crammed with the kind of extras fans love, including the unaired 73-minute pilot, 50 deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, audio commentaries, and more — the uninitiated can, and should, discover what all the fuss is about, and the devoted can watch again, and suss out all the clues and hints sure to be vital for enjoyment of Season 2.

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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  • http://matterantimatter.blogspot.com/ Antimatter

    Heroes was fun and quite addictive, but at the same time mind bogglingly stupid, with logic and internal consistency thrown out the window on a regular basis. I look forward to being entertained by season 2 in the same way.

    Oh, and Masi Oka was without doubt the heart and soul of the show.

    Btw it appears that you can’t post comments on your site unless Javascript is enabled.

  • http://www.lastvisibledog.org/blog John

    I wanted to like Heroes, but I found it so derivative, so terribly written and, in regard to at least half the cast, so horrendously acted that I bailed out, tried again, and bailed out a second time. In the end, I suppose it had a clunky charm, but my own superpower may be that I am entirely impervious to them.

  • Brett

    God, I love this show.

    And I actually disagree about the “internal consistency” being thrown out the window part. I think it all makes sense if you’re paying attention.

  • MaryAnn

    Btw it appears that you can’t post comments on your site unless Javascript is enabled.

    Yes, that’s true — I use some antispam code that runs JS.

    And I actually disagree about the “internal consistency” being thrown out the
    window part. I think it all makes sense if you’re paying attention.

    Agreed.

  • http://www.phantasmictales.com Prankster

    I’m sorry, but no. This show has no internal logic whatsoever. It’s not about “paying attention”, it’s about the writers changing it as they go along. The crucial example: Hiro comes back from the future to warn of a fate that must be avoided. “Save the Cheerleader”, right? Yet, in his reality, Claire is still alive. So why go back five years to insist on something that, from his perspective, already happened, when the really crucial idea is to AVOID BLOWING UP NEW YORK?!? Why not just tell Peter, “Avoid getting close to Sylar, or you’ll become radioactive?”

    More basically, the big dream seqence Peter had that predicted the future ended up looking completely different from the season finale, which in my book is cheating. Half the characters sat around in the finale with nothing to do, which is sloppy storytelling in my book–there wasn’t even a “Heroes come together” moment. And the “fight” with Sylar was laughable. The two things fans were looking forward to all season, and they couldn’t be bothered to give them to us.

    This show is terrific at promising the moon–”Hiro evolves into a Blade-type badass! Hiro fights a dinosaur!” but it always cops out.

  • MBI

    There are problems and plot holes with the time traveling stuff. Those aren’t it. Hiro goes back in time to Save the Cheerleader even though the cheerleader is still alive in his world. The reason he does this is because he has fundamentally misunderstood the chain of events — the fate of the cheerleader, the cause of the explosion, pretty much all of it. Moreover, the ending was different from the vision because FutureHiro did, in fact, somehow alter history, although I couldn’t tell you why or how.

  • ibroketuesday

    First, let me say that I love this site and always look forward to new reviews. Great job, MaryAnn. :) Now, onto the obsessive and nerdy part of the comment!

    Be warned; this is full of spoilers.

    The crucial example: Hiro comes back from the future to warn of a fate that must be avoided. “Save the Cheerleader”, right? Yet, in his reality, Claire is still alive. So why go back five years to insist on something that, from his perspective, already happened, when the really crucial idea is to AVOID BLOWING UP NEW YORK?!?

    Um… I think you’ve misunderstood something. The future that Future Hiro arrived from when he came to Peter was one in which Claire was not alive, and in which Sylar exploded. Like he told Present Hiro in Five Years Gone, Sylar took Claire’s power, regenerated when Hiro stabbed him, and blew up. By coming to Peter in the subway car, Hiro changed the future, and went back to a DIFFERENT future, the one we saw in the flashforward episode, where Claire was alive and Peter exploded. Present Hiro changed that reality from happening by going back to the past and telling Nathan about it.

    Essentially, there are three timelines:
    Timeline 1 is as I described above; no one is aware of the “save the cheerleader, save the world” prophecy, Sylar kills Claire, regenerates, explodes. Hiro pieces together the strings, figures out the cheerleader has to be saved, and warns Peter. This brings us to Timeline 2, which is a lot of what we actually saw in the show, the large difference being Nathan, who doesn’t fly away with Peter and probably doesn’t tell Niki and DL where Linderman is. Peter explodes in the city, and this is the future we saw in Five Years Gone. However, Hiro travels through time and brings the story to Timeline 3, which is the show from 5YG onward.

    More basically, the big dream seqence Peter had that predicted the future ended up looking completely different from the season finale, which in my book is cheating.

    And in my book, it’s the basic difference between dreaming about a mutable future, and actually experiencing it.

    This isn’t to say that the show hasn’t made mistakes – characters know things they can’t, Claire went from being 17 to being 15, Shanti died when Mohinder was two and before he was born, and Claire found out she was adopted when she was really little and when she was a preteen. Also, you’re right about the Sylar fight being anticlimactic (NOT the way to blow your end of season budget!). However, the larger problems you attribute to Heroes aren’t actually problems.

  • http://www.phantasmictales.com Prankster

    I’ll have to watch it again, I guess, a thought I dread, but I could have sworn the FutureHiro Peter talks to in the present mentions that he’d been back in the present warning Peter to Save The Cheerleader. Shouldn’t FutureHiro have noticed he’s not in his own timeline when he returned home?

    But more importantly, if Claire’s alive in Timeline 2, why didn’t Nathan swoop in and save the day in this timeline? What changed? Once Claire’s life is saved, we get an alternate future where Sylar is taken out (but not, annoyingly, killed) and the crucial piece of the puzzle is Nathan. But nothing anyone from the future does directly influences Nathan–he just happens to decide to save everyone in the finale, whereas in Timeline 2, he didn’t. Why not?

    And for crying out loud, why didn’t Peter fly away by himself instead of letting his brother commit suicide? (Possibly. I guess Pete and Nate could show up good as new this season, which will of course completely invalidate the sacrifice.)

    With this show you end up with lots of plot holes that you can usually explain away if you try hard enough, but the writers don’t bother to come up with explanations themselves. It’s very sloppy.

  • ibroketuesday

    I could have sworn the FutureHiro Peter talks to in the present mentions that he’d been back in the present warning Peter to Save The Cheerleader.

    I’m not sure I understand. Future Hiro was there to warn Peter to save the cheerleader, yes.

    Shouldn’t FutureHiro have noticed he’s not in his own timeline when he returned home?

    He did notice. He’s the Hiro Present Hiro and Ando met in Five Years Gone. He remembers a world where Sylar and exploded and Claire is dead, which looks a lot like the reality (Timeline 2) he’s found himself in, but isn’t. He did figure out that it had changed, even though he didn’t know the specifics of how, when he got confirmation from Future Bennet that Claire was still alive.

    But more importantly, if Claire’s alive in Timeline 2, why didn’t Nathan swoop in and save the day in this timeline? What changed?

    Hiro changed it. He went back into the past and told Nathan that he’d seen a bad future. At that point, Nathan believed that letting the bomb go off would lead to a better future, so that encounter was pretty crucial.

    And for crying out loud, why didn’t Peter fly away by himself instead of letting his brother commit suicide?

    Peter was too focused on not exploding to fly. He actually said “I can’t do anything.”

    With this show you end up with lots of plot holes that you can usually explain away if you try hard enough, but the writers don’t bother to come up with explanations themselves. It’s very sloppy.

    On the contrary, I believe the writers have been pretty good with keeping a consistent and logical storyline (I personally disagree with their theories of how time travel works, but whatever, it works internally, with the exception of the saving Charlie time travel bit). All the facts you need are there in the show, in the dialogue – you don’t even have to rewatch, just read the transcripts. Maybe the writers could have made it a little clearer, because you do have to look closely to realize that what at first appears to be a plothole actually makes perfect sense, but then, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be forced to think about what you’re watching.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/jurgan6 Jurgan

    It took me a while, but it seems that future Hiro came back the first time to get Peter to save Claire, and that was key. But Claire being alive wouldn’t be enough to stop things on its own. What happened in the finale was twofold: One, present Hiro stopped Sylar (although he really should have stayed dead, but maybe they’ll do something interesting with him next season), and, two, Claire and Hiro together convinced Nathan to stop the bomb. I think Claire was the bigger influence in convincing Nathan, but the key point is that when Hiro went forward in Five Years Gone, he hadn’t beaten Sylar yet. Now Peter said he was the one who blew up, but maybe that was also because he couldn’t beat Sylar in time. And, yes, without Hiro’s influence, Claire may not have been enough to convince Nathan. Oh, and Peter was losing control when he was about to blow. If he’d tried to fly, he might have lost it completely.

    I thought this show was great. There were a couple things that bugged me, but they’re mostly quibbles. I’m not clear why Hiro couldn’t save Charlie. The time travel is maddeningly vague at times. Hopefully it’s more clear next season, with Hiro in the past. I was also kind of annoyed that Linderman et. al’s big plot was lifted directly from Watchmen. I understand much of the show is homages to comics, but I didn’t think something so major would be ripped off directly. And, yes, the end fight with Sylar was an anti-climax. They could have done more with it, I suppose, but I didn’t hate it. I just finished season one two days ago, and just in time for season 2!

  • MBI

    There’s no such thing as a time travel story that makes sense (yes, including Back to the Future), so seriously, my advice is to ignore it.

    Also, Hiro couldn’t save Charlie because Charlie was already terminally ill.

    Personally, what I like is how klutzy Claire is. Girl can’t walk two steps without injuring herself.

  • http://www.phantasmictales.com Prankster

    Well, OK, how about Linderman’s big plan? How does that make sense? He wants to blow up New York to somehow make the mutants (I refuse to call them “Heroes” until they start acting like it) acceptable to society–but he has no one to blame the destruction of the city on. So in “Five Years Gone”, we see the city destroyed, and the mutants are being hunted and despised. Good plan, Linderman!

    And before you chime in with “Well, the plan was to get Nathan in the white house, and that went bad because Sylar took his place,” I still don’t see how having a mutant blow up New York was going to endear people to them no matter how hard President Petrelli tried. It was a stupid plan that was ripped off “Watchmen” but without the crucial scapegoat element.

  • MBI

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Linderman even once saying that he was trying to make the world safer for the mutants. He seems to be trying to look for the whole planet, united under his wise, all-knowing rule.

    But now that I think about it, didn’t Linderman try to have Petrelli killed at one point? Why the hell did he do that?

  • Ryan

    The show doesn’t have perfect internal consistency, few shows that involve time travel can manage that. However, the writers do a pretty good job; most of these questions are the result of casual watching rather than casual writing. (Which is fine, there is nothing to say that you must watch every TV show like a detective…if you want to rest the brain-cells, Bionic Woman or Chuck will take care of you admirably.) Anyway, Heroes is brilliant for engendering dramatic setups that reveal characters and create heroes and villains who play off each other. Those who expect ‘X-Men’ type action pieces are probably going to be disappointed more often that not. TV shows just don’t have that kind of budget. (eg: Polar Bears in Lost)

    Season two had me worried, but it has started off pretty well. I could use a little more solid plot (Sylar, Nathan, Hiro) and a little less Suresh and Claire (who beside the power to regenerate also appears to have the power to relive last seasons storyline…) Also, they could cut the South American twins out of the show entirely and I wouldn’t mind at all…hopefully that is leading up to something.

    Best TV of the season so far:

    1. Heroes
    2. The Office
    3. Stargate Atlantis (FINALLY it’s starting to click)
    4. House
    The rest of the best all have a high cheese factor:
    5. Chuck
    6. Flash Gordan (mostly because it’s unintentionally hilarious)
    7. Bionic Woman (Would be SO much better if they hired a writer or two…Starbuck is great.)
    8. Dirty Sexy Money (I thought this was going to be junk, but it’s actually got an interesting premise)
    9. Law and Order SVU (procedurals are procedurals, this one has the best acting)
    10. Venture Brothers (Adult Swim love)

  • http://www.clayj.com Clayj

    There’s no such thing as a time travel story that makes sense (yes, including Back to the Future), so seriously, my advice is to ignore it.

    Not even Twelve Monkeys? To me, that’s the best depiction of how time-travel “etiquette” in a traditional “one timeline” Universe would work… the folks from the future are under strict orders not to try to change the past, but only to gather information to help the future folks find a cure for the plague. When Bruce Willis tries to change things, he learns (the hard way) that history is immutable and that things will always play out as they have.

    As far as Heroes goes, I think the first season was top-notch. Second season’s getting off to a slow start, setting up dominoes to be knocked down later on.