Heroes came out in the fall of 2006, and I wasn’t sure what to think of the it before it started airing. I’d gotten tired of superhero movies… but that was before Ironman came out in 2008. Heroes wasn’t yet another retelling of a superhero story that was decades old, it was new. Sure, there were a few predictable powers, flying, reading minds, invisibility, stuff like that. But it had entirely new superpowers as well, at least, new to me. Some of them were pretty cool, some horrifying, and some pretty lame, at least as they were originally used.
I was really impressed by the way Heroes treated the powers. In the past, shows usually focused on how they could be used, not on the bad side effects of the power. For example, the woman who’s hearing was so acute that she had to blast music she didn’t like in order to block out everything else. And a man who emits lethal radiation whenever he’s upset. The poor guy accidentally killed his wife! And you would think that a cop who can read minds would be extremely effective and successful, but instead he became a suspect, because he couldn’t explain how he knew important details of crimes.
Among the cool powers, ranging from interesting to freaking cool, one of my favorites was being able to have everyone see you as you want to be seen, including alterations in mass. (That’s the freaking cool part, in my opinion) Another woman could make people believe whatever she wanted, but depending upon how that one is used, if could belong in the horrifying category. Claire’s ability to heal from any would is pretty cool. And Micah’s abilities with electronics was one I’d love to have, although it could be used poorly. And of course, Hiro’s ability to travel through time and space is fantastically cool, although a bit reminiscent of Dr. Who. I like that he isn’t very good at it, and mostly only manages to gain information from it.
In the horrifying category, I have to name Sylar’s ability to take things apart to mimic them. On the surface it sounds innocuous, but the way he used it, clearly horrifying. Nuclear guy fits here as well. Jessica’s split personality with the non-active one caught in mirrors is awful, especially given that she does not have control of it. The Hatian’s power to remove people’s memories doesn’t sound all that bad on the surface, but becomes tragic. A later character may have the worst power, to trap people within their minds, and to remove a person’s powers entirely. Or maybe Isaac, who could paint the future. Sure, it sounds cool, but he eventually painted his own death…
The best example of a lame power, at least the way it was originally used, is the guy who could melt anything into a puddle. I’m sure there were others, but that one really stands out in my memory.
Those of you who watched Heroes will have noticed by now that I’m focusing primarily on the first season and ignoring the reboot entirely, and there’s good reason for that. It was a new idea and was centered around a rather large and diverse cast of characters. There was a clear goal, it was fast paced, and always left viewers wanting more. There was also some decent character development in the first season. The second season was slower paced and didn’t seem focused. That was partially due to the changing cast. I recently learned that the original intention of the show was to have an entirely new cast every season, or chapter. The popularity of the original cast caused them to alter that plan somewhat, but for me, the show started losing cohesion. Focusing primarily on new characters wipes out the ability to develop existing characters. Then the writers guild strike struck mid season, killing the momentum of the series. I never managed to feel a connection to many of the newer characters, in in all honesty, all I remember of the last season was that it was very confusing.
So for those who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the first season, moderately the second season, but beyond that… I’d say watch them if you really want to, but don’t feel bad if you decide to give them a miss. Of course, my opinion may be biased by the fact that my life got very busy while the last seasons were airing, so I’d love to hear other people’s opinions. I never went back to the reboot, so I don’t know how Heroes Reborn sizes up against the original, though I haven’t heard anything good.