Warning: Spoiler Alert
It was the perfect show, at the right time for this guy, when NBC debuted their Sci-Fi/Fantasy epic “Heroes,” in September of 2006. The only other network series, that I followed at the time, the ABC series “LOST,” was a weekly staple on my DVR, the NBC series achieved that status during its first episode. Series creator Tim Kring, borrowed from a ton of sources to create his own unique, intelligent and addictive product, a cult show for the masses. The series premise intrigued, it’s execution well done, the writing sharp and an excellent cast, of up and coming stars and off-beat veterans from the past.
Kring invented a world, in which suddenly a group of ordinary people from around the planet, developed extraordinary abilities. Throughout that first season, they discovered one another and saved the globe from losing a large portion of our population, a scenario that a cartel of shady businessman wanted to occur.
The series was also instrumental in changing our Television viewing habits. One could watch the episodes on NBC.com, starting at 5:30 am EST the next morning, when ever the viewer wanted to, it also benefitted greatly by the spread of DVR’s in American households. The show’s website, made the most of the series comic-book roots, by featuring their own weekly graphic-novel, that veered slightly from what we saw in the episodes. Fans that read the comics, benefitted by getting a little more knowledge and insight than those who chose not to. They took advantage of the burgeoning social networking sites, making “Save The Cheerleader,” a rally cry for the fans.
Heroes, also either started or greatly boosted the careers of a slew of actors; Zachary Quinto, Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter, Masi Oka, Milo Ventimiglia, Adrian Pasdar, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Greg Grunberg. The veterans all had backgrounds in cult films, George Takei, Richard Roundtree, Robert Forster and Malcolm McDowell. Add in Jack Coleman as HRG and Jimmy Jean-Louis as the mysterious and powerful Haitian and the chemistry was perfect.
At first glance the plot might seem simplistic, however Kring’s cleverness didn’t make the characters black and white, both the heroes and the villains had various shades of gray. Characters that seemed destined to follow the path of evil, suddenly swerved and did the right thing. A trip to the future showed the series two most optimistic characters, become embittered and angry. However, Kring made it clear that the future we visited was one of an infinite number of futures that await us.
Humans are creatures of free will and deciding to take the right fork in the road instead of the left, will give you a different adventure, than if you’d gone the other way. We make these decisions, billions of times daily and what ever path you choose, will factor in where you find yourself, down the road. Hence, we saw quite a few variations of the future during the time the show aired, they were more like warning signs, cautioning those who traveled that this could indeed be their fate.
Had the original version of Heroes, been a one-season miniseries, it would rank high on the list of special television events. Although fans became ecstatic when they found out the show got renewed, the three remaining seasons had some moments of greatness, but it never consumed fans, as the first season did. Season two came during the Hollywood writers strike and it adversely effected the season and the show never really recovered. However, that first season was amongst the best science fiction series ever broadcast on the small screen, which made the downward plunge all the more frustrating.
A scientist from India, Mohinder Suresh travels to the United States to bring home the body of his father, murdered while doing research on a much ridiculed subject. Mohinder’s father believed that there existed people that had superpowers, or to use the terminology from the CW series “The Flash,” meta-humans. These people weren’t changed by a freakish accident however, the formerly dormant abilities came to life, freaking out most who one day realized they had super-human powers.
The people existed all over the planet, each with their own unique power, most of them wanted to use their new-found abilities to help humanity, but there were others that took joy in using those abilities to hurt others. Chief among them was Gabriel Gray, who adopted the name “Sylar” and could steal other’s powers by killing them. In another brilliant move, we never saw Sylar for the first few episodes, so fans got to imagine what the character looked like.
A Japanese tech guy Hiro Nakamura, working for his father’s corporation’s obsessed with comic-books, sci-fi movies and video games. One day standing in the middle of Tokyo, he tries to teleport himself to New York City, he concentrates as hard as he can on Manhattan, closes his eyes and he’s standing in Times Square. What he doesn’t realize is his trip projected him a few months into the future as well.
A Los Angeles police officer Matt Parkman, working with the FBI to try to find a little girl whose parents were murdered, suddenly hears her pleas for help and gets shocked when the two female agents don’t hear the cries. It turns out, Parkman’s suddenly developed the power to read minds and he locates the girl, causing the Federal Agents to get suspicious of him.
A video-sex operator Niki Sanders, not only has abilities, her husband D.L. serving a stint in prison and their son Micah have powers as well. Niki, goes through a Jekyll and Hyde transformation, as the soul of her murdered sister Jessica takes over her body during times of stress. Jessica has super-strength and has no qualms about using it to kill.
D.L. has the power to walk through walls, reach inside people’s body’s and being able to allow bullets to pass through him without harm. Their son Micah can make machines obey his commands, from a toy monkey to a complex computer system.
The cheerleader Claire Bennett, lives in Texas and she’s discovered that she’s become invulnerable. She and her friend, a nerdy-teen with a video camera record examples of Claire walking away unscathed, from situations that should’ve killed her.
Then there’s the Petrelli family, older brother Nathan running for a Congressional seat and his younger brother Peter, a paramedic who believes he’s destined for greatness. Their mother Angela’s a refined member of high-society, but she gives off the air of hiding something. Peter believes he can fly and one night he and Nathan are alone in the city, when Peter jumps off a building, knowing deep-down his flying power would kick in. It didn’t and if it wasn’t for his brother who actually can fly, he’d have slammed to the street below. However, after Peter touches Nathan, he absorbs his ability, an act that reoccurs every time he touches someone with abilities.
There’s a man without abilities, observing them all, as he’s had a long history of dealing with meta-humans, his sidekick a man known as The Haitian, can erase people’s memories. The man dubbed HRG by the fans (horned-rimmed glasses) for his distinctive eyewear, works for someplace that’s referred to as The Company, a compound that studies these people and eliminates the evil ones. His name’s Noah Bennett and yes, he’s the father of the cheerleader.
While dealing with their new realities, they also become aware of each other and the good-guys team up to stop Sylar, first in his effort to kill Claire and steal her abilities and in the final episode of the season to stop him from causing a cataclysmic event, that would kill millions of people. However, it turned out that it wasn’t Sylar that would cause that event, it was Peter Petrelli, whose given Claire a pistol and directions to the one part of his body that’s vulnerable, so she can put him down before he explodes, taking millions with him.
Nathan would eliminate the need for Claire to kill Peter as he flew his brother to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, where the explosion dissipated harmlessly. We end the season without knowing the fate of the Petrelli brothers, but the rest of the meta-humans walk away, realizing that they just averted a crisis of catastrophic proportions.
Looking back with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, that should’ve been where the story ended, but NBC wouldn’t allow those ratings to disappear. So they brought it back for three more seasons, with the plots getting more convoluted with each episode, including completely revamping the back story that was established. Once a series strays from it’s “Bible,” it loses all credibility, especially in a show that’s made for sci-fi fans.
We saw Sylar go warm and fuzzy and Peter going evil. The final season’s something I wish I could remove from my memory, ending with Peter and Sylar watch Claire her abilities to the press and Sylar sounding like a New-Age Hippie says “It’s A Brave New World.”
Although I would’ve dropped the series if it got renewed for a fifth season, both Jason Jones and me got extremely excited when NBC announced back in February, that they’d bring back the show as a 15-episode miniseries in the Summer of 2015. We both experienced the same first thought, that they needed to bring back HRG, even if the rest of the cast’s entirely new. A few months ago the announcement came down, that Jack Coleman, who portrayed HRG/Noah Bennett’s been resigned for the miniseries. It’s doubtful we’ll see Zachary Quinto or any other regulars from the original series, but that just gives another cast the chance to make their own names.
I’m extremely excited for the upcoming miniseries as Tim Kring proved during that first season, that he can spin an epic tale as well as many creative types that are more household names than him. If it’s meant to return just for the upcoming summer, I’m fine with that, the only thing that matters is Kring recaptures the magic he had in the first season of the original show.
Heroes Reborn Will Air This Summer on NBC.