Hooked on “Heroes”?

November 1st, 2006 | Posted in General

I’ve mentioned here several times that I don’t watch much TV. Most of the time when MAD assigns me a TV parody I have never watched the show. I always need to get caught up by finding people with taped episodes, renting a previous season on DVD (if it’s not a new show) or setting the TIVO to find repeats. It’s important to get a grasp of the show, it’s characters, plots and idiosyncrasies in order to add that extra something to the art. Just doing caricatures of everybody would be a cop out.

That’s why I love the iTunes store. New TV shows get added every week it seems, and many popular new shows have the entire season’s catalogue of previous episodes ready to download and watch. Invaluable. As it happens, I have yet to be able to take advantage of iTunes in that capacity… but one of these days I’ll get assigned a show that’s in their library and it’s off to the races.

All that said, there is one new show this season on TV that is intriguing enough to get me to actually watch TV without it being work related (yet). It’s been raved about by some of my friends and colleagues, those who share my not-so-hidden comic book geek nature, enough that I had to get on board and see what the hoopla was about. That show is NBC’s “Heroes”.

First off, an explanation as to why it took me so long to start watching the show. I missed the season premiere. In fact, the show was in it’s third episode before I had heard enough to decide to tune and and check it out. Fortunately, I saw it was on iTunes. Therefore I could download the episodes I missed and be caught up by the time the next show aired. Except I couldn’t, because for some reason the pilot episode “Genesis” was missing from the iTunes store. No explanation… it started with episode two. Likewise NBC did not air the pilot again when it did a three episode “get caught up” marathon last week. Just episodes two through four. Sadly, I am too much of a continuity freak to start on episode two. If I’m going to get involved in a show like this, I need to start at the beginning. I figured there was some mitigating circumstances that would eventually get resolved and the pilot would be back on iTunes. After all, there were people like me with $1.99 burning a hole in their pockets, and Apple isn’t known for it’s lack of desire to relieve consumers of their money if the opportunity is there.

Of course I was right. The pilot is back on iTunes and I was able to download it the other day and finally watch it. The story behind the pilot’s absence from both iTunes and reruns on TV was also revealed. In the pilot, there is a scene where a girl sticks her hand into a garbage disposal, and brings it out all mangled. Fear not, she is one of the “heroes” with Wolverine-like regenerative powers and her hand is all better in seconds. Looks pretty gross at first, however. Apparently the name brand of the disposal, the “InSinkErator” was visible in the scene. Emerson, the maker of the InSinkErator took exception to that, and filed a lawsuit on Oct. 2nd claiming that NBC used Emerson’s trademark without the company’s consent and that the show “implies an incorrect and dangerous design for a food waste disposer.” The company added in its complaint that NBC’s depiction of the InSinkErator “casts the disposer in an unsavory light, irreparably tarnishing the product.”.

Let’s see… if you shove your hand into a running garbage disposal it will get mangled. Check. Got it. Thanks for pointing that out. I won’t be buying any InSinkErators, that’s for sure. The other day I saw a TV episode where a guy jumped in front of a speeding car and got killed. That car was a Ford. I won’t be buying any Fords either, that’s for sure. Somebody might get killed. I’m surprised Ford didn’t sue the network that aired that show! Ahhhh… litigation. It seems NBC removed the tiny model name from the flange of the disposal, so we can now safely enjoy the episode of “Heroes” knowing that putting our hands down ANY running garbage disposal is probably not a good idea, and not just the InSinkErator. Whew… thank’s Mr. Lawyer.

Anyway, I finally was able to watch the pilot. The program does show promise. It looks like a cross between “Lost” and “Unbreakable”. I haven’t seen any shows past the pilot, but I have several downloaded onto my trusty iPod and will watch them on my flights to and from L.A. this weekend. Next week I will post a review of what I think about it. It would be unfair to do that after only one episode… shows like this one need to unfold a bit before the jury is in. Still, here are some initial observations…

I understand about the need for mystery surrounding the geneticist who is missing and his son who is looking for him. It felt to me that we jumped into it a little too fast, though. Maybe we needed just a small primer about this man and his work so we had some interest in him. As it stands I could care less what happened to him, I just want to see the results of his work. As a result his son’s efforts to find him have little interest and meaning for me. It happens so fast we have no time to get interested in it. In the space of two minutes we find out his dad is missing, he did some work that left him on the “outs” from mainstream research and then sonny boy is in NYC driving a cab looking for him. It seems obvious dad must be the connection between these people who all have different abilities, and I’m sure we’ll find out how at some point, but as spread out as they are its tough to see where that connection could be. This early most of the fun is seeing their powers start to be discovered and the extent of them explored. I hope they stick with that angle for a while and leave the conspiracy to simmer in the background.

The characters seems interesting and I am sure we’ll get to care about them and their stories as time goes on. The writers didn’t give us much of a chance to ease into it, did they? We are instantly thrust into the relationships of each, which for the most part are strained and tense. That’s a tough thing to ask of your viewers… instant empathy without a chance to get to understand anyone. The most fleshed out of the characters at this point is the comic relief guy… the japanese comic book nerd who apparently can teleport. We get enough of a glimpse at his persona and essence that we can see how his discovery will initially affect him… he’s going to embrace it for what it is.

One thing I disliked about the pilot, and I hope it doesn’t become a distraction, is what looks like a lot of coincidental run ins and interaction between characters. This is the “Lost” effect… where characters have to cross paths for no apparent reason and in the face of overwhelming odds. One example: the geneticist’s son picks up the guy who is dreaming about flying as a cab fare… what are the odds of that? A little of this kind of thing is okay, but unless there is a real reason for the constant coincidences they are useless and annoying. They work in “Lost” because there is some essential force that has been binding and gathering for some time between all the flight 815 survivors and that is part of the mystery, but here it seems like an obvious gimmick. I can understand the mysterious guy in the glasses ending up being the father of Cheerleadergirl, because since he is involved somehow it makes sense he’d be close to somebody with powers… but easy coincidence meetings and interactions is too “Dickensian” and will quickly wear thin.

I’m looking forward to seeing further episodes.??ᬨ‚Ć I’m definitely not “hooked”, but it seems promising… at least until someone puts on tights and a cape…


  1. mengblom says:

    I’ve been watching since the series premiere, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I like that stuff actually happens in each episode, though I suspect that may be coming to an end soon now that NBC knows they’ve got a hit on their hands…which means it’s time to “throw in the anchor” and stretch this thing out past the breaking point. That’s a common criticism I hear about “Lost” (I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never watched it), and I hope it doesn’t happent to Heroes. Here’s to a nice, quick pace all the way through.

    “Maybe we needed just a small primer about this man and his work so we had some interest in him.”

    Mohinder’s dad is interesting, in that nothing is really known about the man…which has gotten me thinking lately that he may actually be the mysterious “Sylar” who’s been on the killing spree. Yeah, the dad’s dead, but having read comic books for most of my life, nobody REALLY dies…so maybe his death is an elaborate hoax on his part in order to “disappear”, then start eliminating mutants (or whatever the hell they’re called in this reality).

    I don’t know, I’m probably totally wrong on that…but it’s a sign of a good show if it gets you thinking about it after watching it. I look forward to the rest of the season.

  2. Tom says:

    LA LA LA!!!! (me with fingers in my ears trying hard not to listen) LA LA LA!!! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

    DANG! I was trying so hard not to read any spoilers!

    As I wrote recently about LOST, I think you are right about the show’s creators hitting the brakes with major plot advancements in order to draw out the season(s). You have to be concerned about that kind of thing happening. It’s sort of the anti-“jumping the shark”.

    I’m looking forward to getting caught up this weekend with the show!

  3. Matt. says:

    I’m downloading these episodes now because you guys make them sound promising.

  4. Keelan says:

    This show just keeps getting better, Tom. I was hooked but wary after the first episode. Now, I’m just hooked. It is WAYYYY better than LOST these days. Looking forward to seeing what you think about subsequent episodes…

  5. JWB says:

    Glad to hear you’re jumping on board the Heroes train. Should make the LA plane ride go quickly. Hope I didn’t spoil the second episode by telling you of the silver age Marvel refrence. When I saw the first show, I was imagining your take on the characters for the MAD parody(even more now that Heroes was the first Fall show to get picked up for a full season). I’m really enjoying it because the plot is really advancing with each new episode( as opposed to Lost and The Nine). If you’re looking for a new comedy to try, check out NBC’s 30 Rock(not Studio 60). Enjoy the show and LA!


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