When it first premiered seemingly seven or eight decades ago, I eagerly tuned in to “Heroes” thinking the premise sounded astonishingly brilliant. And I watched it for the first full year, ending up with more of a luke-warm feel about the whole thing rather than that shiny enthusiasm I’d initially cultivated. Then the second year totally lost me and I bailed on it completely. Last night, I thought I’d give it another chance – and it was good – but it just couldn’t sustain my interest. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what soured me on a show that had me in its superhero-y grasp so tightly in those first few months. Here’s what I think:
Characters versus plot
When it comes to character-driven shows versus plot-driven shows, I am by far a bigger fan of character than plot. Original, three-dimensional characters are why shows like “Buffy,” “West Wing” and “Battlestar” earn my unmitigated devotion. Those are the shows I’ll watch again and again. Which is not to say that plot-driven shows like “24” are not without merit. Those shows are addictive and fun but in the end, they’re also disposable. Shows that achieve a careful balance of the two, like “Lost,” are few and far between. I think “Heroes” tried to achieve one of those balancing acts. The trouble is, as good as the characters looked on paper, they were never fleshed out enough to really take hold and in the end, they simply seemed to exist to service the plot. I didn’t care what happened to any of them, really, and when your plot hangs on who lives and who dies and who’s a bad guy and who’s a good guy, well, it helps to have your audience invested enough in those characters for those revelations to actually matter and hit home.
An exclusive club
Speaking of plots, “Heroes” has always been so densely structured that if I accidentally sneezed and missed a line of dialogue, I would get completely scared that I’d missed a major point that would be imperative for me to know six months down the line. There are certain shows that just lock you out if you miss an episode or two. Like with “BSG” or “Lost,” I would never tell someone, “Oh yeah, there’s this great show. You should tune in this week.” That person would be frustrated out of their mind and would turn the channel immediately. With some shows, you just can’t climb back on board in the middle of the ride and with “Heroes,” I got tired of trying.
Marketed to death
During the second season, it almost didn’t matter that I wasn’t watching the show because NBC flogged their “Heroes” marketing horse to death seemingly ever single night of the year. “Heroes” comic books and photo shoots and I’m assuming some sort of underpants tie-in – the show was everywhere and I was constantly being told how awesome it was and how it was “event television” and I would die a shameful death if I didn’t hang on every word written about this incredible show. Except it wasn’t incredible. It was average. Consequently, I had a really tough time jumping on a band wagon filled with mediocre. If acclaim isn’t earned, it’s just hype. And I’ve got enough of that in an election year.
Anyway, I feel bad about not liking “Heroes.” In a way, I feel like it lessens my nerdy street cred, but I have to be honest. I just don’t feel the “Heroes” love.
What do you think of the show?