Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TV: Heroes

Few television series are as episodic as "Heroes," an hourlong sci-fi/superhero drama created for NBC by Tim Kring. Every episode starts with a short summary of the episode before it, meaning that the chains of continuity run through the entire plot. This is a series where it's almost impossible to jump in unless you watch the whole thing from the beginning:

The premise is pretty simple - seemingly ordinary people across the world are beginning to exhibit strange powers. There's an apocalypse coming that will level Manhattan, and possibly the world, and some of the people are banding together to try to stop it.

I'm about halfway through the first season, and I like the show, but I can see how a lot of people wouldn't. First, the plot relies very heavily on coincidences - people and events are related in a haphazard, random fashion (including one eye-roller that's almost as unfair to the viewer as the end of "The Empire Strikes Back"). Second, the juggling between four or five different sets of characters means that each episode advances the overall plot at a glacial pace. Finally, the whole series is continuity, which means the tone and content of each episode don't really vary (the same problem affects shows like "24").

On the plus side, the acting is pretty decent considering the subject matter. There's some great comic moments from Hiro Nakamura (played by Masi Oka), for instance, with some of them bordering on parody (Oka is a manga fan and a digital effects artist, so the inner nerdiness on display is quite genuine). The rest of the ensemble does a good job, too.


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