So, there’s this Indian genetics professor and he finds out that his dad – also a genetics professor – has found that some people have special powers, which means they must have, like, evolved or something! Happily, they seem to have advanced in cool ways like invincibility and invisibility – rather than sprouting gills or three thumbs or shedding vertebrae and tapping into the species-regulating – but TV-unfriendly – potential of auto-fellatio.
Heroes is pure comic-book. Not like, say, Sin City, where the mood and look of a specific story style has been cast into motion. Creator Tim Kring is more interested in taking the tricks that make comic-books so distinctive and seeing if they directly translate into telly: carefully structured serialisation, comedy-contrived cliff-hangers, archetypal characters, little boxes/captions that reveal date, place and context. That is, he’s reclaiming all the little comic-book steals that TV and movies have been pinching for years.
It works because Kring is savvy enough to mix the pseudo-philosophical babble with pricey-looking eruptions of chases and fights and explosions. But then there’s that portentous voice-over, grafted on to lend the pretend-science an unnecessary dash of existential heft. It means your ability to enjoy Heroes depends on how well you can blot out the blether and just go with its line-up of cheerful caricatures (clappy-happy Japanese fella, bubblegum blonde cheerleader, loft-dwelling tortured artist...).
Heroes is a bit like M Night Shyamalan’s best film, Unbreakable: an effort to sneak a serious story about mortality and self-empowerment through to the masses. Kudos, then, to Kring for turning something easily – lazily – dismissed as geeky into compulsive event TV using JJ Abrams’ Lost formula: crank up the implied mystery, scatter the place with cryptic symbols and let the internet fanboys – and reviewers – do the promotion for you...