Hot on the heels of 24, Lost and the C.S.I. phenomenon comes Heroes, the latest American TV series to sweep the world, dominating TV ratings wherever it lands. Superheroes, in general, are pretty big business in 2007. Their stock has risen hand-in-hand with the advance of detailed, believable, computer-generated imagery. Suddenly, Superman really can fly, Spiderman really can swing, and Batman is no longer the pantomime dame. So, there is no better time to unleash a TV series featuring a ragtag collection of new superheroes than now.
The real genius of the story is Heroes creator and executive producer, Tim Kring. He’s managed to capture all the things that make great viewing whilst avoiding the usual pitfalls that kill off most series in their infancy. The first few episodes are a series’ make-or-break moments. Introduce the action too quickly and the show will burn out, usually through it's lack of character depth. Start out too slow and it’s a yawn-fest. To achieve this he has given us imagery that burns bright. Comic-book art and camera-work; clever snapshots of what’s to come; characters that intrigue, each with their own rich, dark and complicated history; entwined plot lines introduced from different perspectives.
The heartbeat of these first few episodes has been Kring’s masterstroke. He’s admitted that Hiro Nakamura was the final character he created and yet with Hiro he’s introduced the one missing, but essential, element to the storyline - humour. Played by the brilliant Masi Oka, Hiro, is the last piece in the jigsaw. He is the one with the most awesome power and yet the one who embraces his talent with a childlike joy. It’s in such contrast to the bitterness and recrimination with which the other heroes deal with their powers. They feel like freak shows and have a tendency to bury themselves with their fears.
Revealing as little as possible, Hiro wields the power to bend the space-time continuum and discovers a terrible future lies in store for humanity. It is in Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) that Hiro confides this horrific reality. Peter is the one other character who seeks the truth no matter what, bringing to mind character elements of both Spiderman’s Parker and Matrix’s Neo, and as the cast begin to find one another the series really lifts off.
It seems inconceivable that from this point Heroes can fail. So much is reminiscent of successful sci-fi entertainment past. Star Trek, Firefly, Donnie Darko, Spiderman, Matrix, Battlestar Galactica. This along with all the referencing to modern life keeps the viewer riveted, constantly guessing then reassessing. If you’re not already involved then Heroes comes highly recommended. If you’re way ahead of me I trust it’s everything you wanted it to be and hopefully more.