I held out for as long as I could but the peer pressure was just too great. When your brother and one of your best friends practically beg you to do it, how can you say no?
I watched Heroesthis weekend.
That’s right, all of it. All 23 episodes. I practically didn’t get up from my couch for two days straight.
And it was worth every minute.
Mixing the X-Men with Dark City, Marvel with The Matrix, even Harry Potter and 9/11 with Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” Heroes is a phenomenally ambitious story (especially given the scope of its single season thus far) with a long narrative arc. Powered by a massive, surprisingly complex mythology, Heroes gathers a large ensemble of characters to tell a story that literally transcends time and space.
Einstein postulated that we only use the merest fraction of our brain’s potential. What would the human animal be capable of were it able to harness its full potential? What will the next step in human evolution look like? Could it include the sort of abilities presently regarded as supernatural and relegated to the realm of superhero fantasy?
Heroes tries to answer those questions in an undeniably exciting and entertaining frenzy of plot twists, doppelgangers, and breathless cliffhangers.
How will saving Claire Bennet, a high school cheerleader from Odessa, Texas, save the world? (If there was a more effective marketing juggernaut than “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” this year, I don’t know about it). And who is Noah Bennet — a loving father and paper maker or a cog in a shadowy governmental organization intent on tracking down every last person with special abilities?
Is Peter Petrelli mad or does he really possess a sponge-like ability to leach powers from those around him? And if he has the power, what about his morally-ambivalent brother running for powerful political office?
While Isaac Mendez falls into a trance and paints the future, can the charming Hiro Nakamura, a computer programmer from Tokyo (I love the subtitles!) with the ability to manipulate the space-time continuum, stop his dire predictions of a firebombed New York City from coming true?
And who or what is the malevolent Sylar: a victim of genetics Professor Mohinder Suresh’s father’s research or a serial killer who hunts super-powered individuals to steal their abilities?
Every last cast member in Heroes is terrific, creating an ensemble in which — for a show submerged in traditionally black and white comic book lore — we are never quite sure who is good and who is bad. Heroes integrates industry giants like Maclom McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) with Hollywood’s up-and-coming like Brick’s minxy Nora Zehetner to comfortable mainstays like J.J. Abrams alum, Greg Grunberg. Still, the fan favorite guest star award would have to go to George Takei (Star Trek’s Sulu), just one nod of a series obviously in love with Star Trek and not ashamed to admit it…nearly every episode. Not that all these great cast members hang around all that long. As in Lost, these characters have a habit of coming to sudden (and surprisingly gory) ends. Saving the world is dangerous business.
Heroes is the sort of ultimate wish fulfillment, fun television you can (and do) cheer out loud for. It has the unique ability to stimulate both mind and heart. Not necessarily intellectually profound, it is, instead, that rare creature that is as viscerally enjoyable as it is though-provoking.