Friday, March 29, 2013

TV Show Review: Heroes - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Acting, special effects, gripping stories
Cons: Disappointing season finale
The Bottom Line:
With sudden powers
Responsible for safe world
Addictive season

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World

I'm not quite sure how long humans have had a fascination with superheroes, but it is certainly a part of our modern American culture. Just look at how many block buster movies are being made about them. And, to be honest, many action heroes would fall into that camp as well. NBC tapped into that interest with season one of Heroes, which debuted in the fall of 2006. It had received lots of pre-season buzz, and with how quickly it caught on with audiences, the buzz was obviously well deserved.

This is an ensemble drama with lots of different characters and storylines to follow. As the series opens, ordinary humans begin to discover they have super powers. There's Claire (Hayden Panettiere), a Texas cheerleader who can heal herself from any injury, even death. In Los Angeles, cop Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) begins to hear the thoughts of everyone around him. Niki Sanders (Ali Larter), Las Vegas stripper and single mom, has a Jekyll and Hyde like problem. In Japan, cubical worker Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) discovers he can stop time and teleport. Convinced he has these powers for a reason, he sets out with his best friend Ando (James Kyson Lee) on a quest.

But things are really heating up in New York. Senatorial candidate Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) is trying to keep his ability to fly under wraps so he can win his election. Meanwhile, his brother Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) seems to be able to absorb any power he is near. And artist Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera) can paint the future, but only when he is spaced out on drugs. And his latest picture is of a nuclear bomb going off in New York City....

Even this description just begins to scratch the surface. There are conspiracies aplenty and a nasty villain that must be stopped. Other characters come and go as well, adding to the show.

Because the show features so many characters, not every character is in every episode. Even some of the main characters are missing for weeks at a time. The producers keep talking about wanting to imitate real life, and this does just that. After all, most people have some breaks in their life between exciting things happening.

For the majority of the season, these stories are running parallel. Something will happen to bring two characters into contact, then they'll go back to their own lives. It's only at the end that everyone comes together for a final battle.

Unfortunately, that climatic battle was disappointing. The hints and promises given about it all season seemed to be ignored in favor of twists and turns. And several of them seemed to be out of left field. Maybe seeing where they go with the upcoming season will better explain it to me. But for me, it was the most disappointing episode of the series. Disappointing enough to lower the star rating. It did set things up nicely for the new season, however.

Now don't let the fact that there are parallel storylines turn you off to the show. Each story is engrossing in its own right. The show is very much plot driven, but we get just enough character development to care about the outcomes. I was hooked within a couple episodes and couldn't wait to see what each week would bring for every character.

Keep in mind the show is dark. I had one friend stop watching because of how violent it was. This is a show for adults and not kids.

The actors really come through and bring their characters to life. There really is no weak link. I especially love Ali Larter who nails both halves of her character perfectly each week. The fan favorite, and with good reason, is Masi Oka. He is an absolute delight as the lovable Hiro, bringing the right amount of earnestness, geekiness, and lovability to the part. He really is the heart of the show.

And I can't leave out the special effects. The show isn't effects heavy, but every episode calls for something. And when those special effects are called for, they are outstanding. They are big screen worthy.

Of course, the set is filled with extras. The show is in wide screen and surround sound and looks and sound outstanding. In the way of extras, we get 50 deleted scenes, the original unaired pilot, an audio commentary on the unaired pilot and then more on the second half of the series, and featurettes on the special effects and stunts among others.

Despite the weak finale, the first season of Heroes was truly addicting.

To be continued….

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