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Heroes (TV)

Starring: A whole bunch of people getting their big break, with brief appearances by Malcolm McDowell, Captain Sulu and Christopher 'I-was-a-fool-to-quit-Dr-Who' Ecclestone.

Rated: TBC but I'm guessing it'll be a 12 on DVD release.

Story: A group of people leading disparate lives begin to discover that they have superhuman abilities. As they come to terms with these abilities, they learn that their lives are connected - they are all threatened by one of their own and by a conspiracy that seeks to bring a new order to the world. Their normal lives start to unravel. (No one wears spandex, though).

Comments: The first series of Heroes has just finished on Sci-Fi in the UK. It starts on terrestrial TV on BBC2 on Wednesday 25th July (2007) with a double episode. Set your videos/DVD-recorders/PVRs now!

This probably isn't the show you're expecting. It's different in both structure and style from how I imagined it having seen the trailers. It isn't about a group of heroes who get together and fight evil every week, emerging victorious just in time for the credits. It's about a number of individuals, mostly in different locations, who meander from one scrape to the next. They have special powers but they don't know what to do with them and they are keen to keep them secret. They very seldom do anything heroic. Episodes don't have self-contained plots which reach a conclusion - like 24 (only more so), the series is one continuous narrative.

There are more than half a dozen main characters, each with their own plot-thread, and so it takes several episodes just to introduce them all properly. Later episodes then focus on a subset of characters but this means it can be frustrating to watch the show at a rate of one or two episodes a week. Some episodes barely seem to advance the plot at all. Others leave a character in a cliff-hanger that's not returned to until the episode after next. Everything moves at a glacial pace, so the show is really about character development.

Fortunately, the characters are all likeable. It's shame, however, that some of their powers are so generic. Flying and fast healing? I think we might have seen those a few times before. Others, such as the ability to stop time, are more interesting and accompanied by excellent effects.

Heroes is a good show but it's never quite brilliant. It's always enjoyable to watch but never entirely satisfying. It always feels like it's going somewhere but never actually does. The build up to the finale goes on for weeks and then the conclusion is all played out in seven fairly confusing minutes. Gah! So close...

I'm still very keen to see season two, however. A little tinkering with the format, and it could be superb.

Conclusion: Worth checking out but you might want to watch it six episodes at a time. Consider waiting for the DVD.

Explosions: Yes.
Episode length: Too short.
Series length: Too long.
Episode pace: Moves like a greased weasel.
Series pace: Frequently loses sprints to tortoises.
Number of major characters: Hang on a minute, I'm going to need to use my fingers...
Spandex in patriotic colours: None.

Rating: 4/5.

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