DVD Review: ‘Heroes’ Season 1

I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams. – Rosemary Harris, Spider-Man II

If you couldn’t tell, one of my favorite subgenres of the action genre is the superhero. The superhero has something that no other kind of subgenre has — these guys have to stay away from all the fame and glory. There is a lot more going on in a superhero movie than most action movies, and because of that, it becomes a much more difficult challenge. That is why I defend most superhero films. Batman Forever, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, The Hulk, and The Punisher just go to show you a few comic book movies that I love. A year ago came an extraordinary television show, one that doesn’t only show us the difficulties of being a superhero, but the difficulties of hiding that you are a superhero. I remember watching the pilot episode of Heroes back when it aired for the first time in September of 2006, and just at the end of the episode, I knew that this show would be the next favorite show of mine. Because since Lost got weirder, My Name is Earl got stupider, and a lot more people wouldn’t leave this third season of The Office alone, I took refuge at Heroes. It was one of the best choices I had ever made in my life.

Heroes tells the story of nine individuals who all find out that they have extraordinary powers. Peter Petrelli is a former hospice nurse, who always wanted to be able to fly, but instead, his brother, Congressional candidate Nathan, can fly. But Peter has a different power -– he has the ability to absorb people’s powers when they are close to him. He is in love with Simone, an art dealer that falls in love with Isaac Mendez. Mendez has what I like to call “the Towelie ability,” where he puffs or snorts and he can do his power. Mendez’s power just happens to be drawing paintings of the future, and illustrates a comic book that just happens to feature another character, Hiro, on the cover. Hiro is convinced that he has the power to stop time and transport himself from place to place, in the future or in the past. You know, like Star Trek. His friend Ando just happens to be subscribed to Nikki’s stripping website. Nikki lives in Las Vegas and just happens to be in trouble with the mob. When Nikki kills everyone that is out to get her, she notices that she has an alternate personality named Jessica that has superhuman strength. Her son, Micah, just happens to be a technopath, and her ex-husband, D.L., has the power to alter his physical tangibility. In L.A., Matt Parkman is a police officer that finds out he can hear people’s thoughts. And then in Texas, there is a cheerleader named Claire, who just happens to be indestructible. Her adoptive dad, who we only know by Mr. Bennett, runs a paper factory that just may have a secret of its own. And then, there is Mohinder Suresh, who comes from India to New York to find out that his dad has been murdered by a mysterious man hidden behind the shadows that goes by the name Sylar, who carries multiple superhero abilities.

Even though this just happens to be a confusing show when you try and tell the premise of it, it really isn’t a confusing show. The characters are very recognizable each time we meet them, and they are never once confusing us. Unlike Lost that gives us a “twist” in every episode that never really works, Heroes gives us a twist in every episode, but it actually DOES work, and after every episode, we are literally forced to put on the next episode, because we really do care about these characters. If a tragedy happens to one of them, we could bawl our eyes out. It is really hard to not care about some of these guys (and girls). There are times in the series that really stand out after watching it. The show is really bloody, and it is only another reason to watch it. There is a new mystery added after every episode, a mystery that we could all understand what is happening (unlike Lost, where I’m still wondering what the fuck is the DHARMA Initiative (it’s like what Dwight Schrute said in his blog entry — DHARMA Initiative would make a cool band name). And also unlike Lost, the plot focus never does leave us. Even after the multiple storylines, we still stick to that one basic storyline. I didn’t say what that storyline was, did I? It would be best that I didn’t say what that storyline was. It comes in par with the other storylines. The characters all have their own problems to face: Claire is on a search to find her biological mother and father (which turned out to be the greatest twist of all time, if I might add), Nikki tries to lose her alter-ego, and Hiro and Ando try and find this mysterious sword that makes Hiro look like a “SUUUUUUPERRRRR HEEEEEROOOOOOO.” But Kring and his guys never do shift focus from the main storyline, which so many shows happen to do, and it paces terrifically.

And within the 930 words that I’ve typed so far in this review, I still haven’t told you about the characters that I really enjoyed. The first one is Hiro, played by Masi Oka. See, if you watch this show, you really shouldn’t have to think if someone asked you who is your favorite character, and you answer Hiro. What makes Hiro so much more different than the other characters is that he actually WANTS to have these superpowers. He dreams about having superpowers like Superman, and being able to be like Scotty from Star Trek. This guy is nothing more than a fanboy. He has so much enthusiasm in having these superpowers that it is hard not to think that he’s just a little kid in a 25-year-old body. Hiro makes his way from Tokyo to New York to Las Vegas, where he gets himself and his friend Ando in trouble by stopping time and switching each others cards up in poker so they can win the big bucks. This just happens to be one of their many sub-plots, and one of the many reasons why Hiro is one of my favorite characters. The guy is just so enthusiastic about having these powers and doesn’t worry about why he has them, while it is the complete opposite with the other superheroes.

And then there is the main focus of the show, the cheerleader. Claire just happens to be one of those ordinary school girls, and like all ordinary school girls, they hold a secret. It just happens to be that Claire doesn’t have an ordinary secret, and the only one that knows about this secret is her best friend Zack (which you have to feel bad for the guy. Everyone calls him gay and he actually seems like a Quentin Tarantino at heart). She can’t go to her father about it, because her father won’t “understand,” and she can’t go to her mother about it, because it could ruin the family life. See, Claire is adopted, and later on in the show, we learn that Claire and her biological mom supposedly died in a fire. But, she didn’t really die, and Claire tracks her down. Claire just happens to have as much heart in her powers as Hiro, but she is a totally different character. She uses her power to defend herself against people. In one of the very early episodes, she is being attacked (or raped, whatever one floats your boat) by the star quarterback at a bonfire. She gets payback by destroying his car and his entire life. Because she is indestructible and uses her powers wisely, she is every definition of a superhero, and a perfect role model for children.

And these villains, unlike a lot of villains in comic book films (Doctor Doom, Venom, Kingpin), are actually villainous. The main villain is Sylar, a man who acquires superhero abilities after he”¦ well, we don’t know. He just has the powers to do so much that can possibly (insert the main storyline plot here). We don’t even get to meet the character of Sylar until halfway through the season, so basically, his character is just a mystery while we see him going around doing what he does. We also have what I like to call “conspiracies,” which are people who you may think are villains, but are more so to do good than bad. See, Claire’s adoptive father, Mr. Bennett, runs Primatech Paper, but really, it’s a place to study superhuman behaviors. We don’t know that until halfway through the season also, so whenever we see him kidnap people with these powers, we think he is doing something bad to them, but really, he is trying to understand these humans and their powers. And that’s all the Heroes is really. We are trying to understand how these people came to be, while they are fighting their crime and putting a stop to (insert the main storyline). This season of Heroes is more than an origin. It’s an introduction to what will happen in future seasons. Think of this season of Heroes like the first Spider-Man. We meet the character of Spider-Man, and find out how he got these powers while he is trying to save himself. That’s all these guys and girls are doing. You can tell how much is really based off of comic book material, and it stays very true to the comics that inspired it.

Heroes is better than a TV show. Wait, no. It’s MORE than a TV show. Heroes is more of an escape than anything else. We escape our actual lives, and we imagine what we would be as a superhero. It makes our experience for Heroes better. We need more shows like Heroes. After the end of the season, I realized that we just can’t do without a show like this. I need more. WE NEED MORE.

**** out of ****

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