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July 21, 2024 - @72.72 (what is this?)
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Author Topic: Heroes, the short-lived phenomenon (2006-2010)  (Read 396 times)
Dibs
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« on: April 02, 2024 @895.54 »

Not to remind people that NBC's Heroes exists, but I'm up to S4E2/3 (depending on your count of the first 'double episode') and it's all I can think about.
The general narrative around the show seems to be 'Oh, remember Heroes? Season One was so good, it had the world by a chokehold. Then it got unwatchable after the writer's strike... Gone too soon, sweet prince...'
I disagree with this sentiment -- season one was not good; it was incredibly busy (9 main storylines!), had several boring plotlines (for me it's Niki and her family, and Isaac and Simone), and its fair share of incomprehensibility. There's a Collider article from a few days ago which claimed it had a 'magic' that was never captured by later seasons which I find quite meaningless. Perhaps S2 put a downer on the whole thing (god knows it put me off watching for a year, but I got back to it eventually).
Now this isn't to say I am not addicted to the show, I very much am, and I find it incredibly fun to watch (most of the time). But I'm not sure it started that strongly, even if S1 did have some of the better episodes. In fact, so far I've overall had the most fun with Volume Four: "Fugitives" (i.e. the last half of S3). Maybe that reflects poorly on my taste...

Anyway, I'm curious to see if any of you have watched Heroes at all, over 15 years later! Maybe you were there when it was big! I know there were forums, though all their threads slipped through the Wayback Machine's grasp, maybe you saw tham around? If you fell off it, can you remember the final straw? Any favourite characters or arcs?

If you are planning on watching it, good luck! Take a shot every time someone says the word 'protect' in S3.

Here's some paraphernalia I found on my Wayback trawls while I'm on it:


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McMagnetic
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2024 @929.46 »

I remember this! I used to watch it with my mom!
Should I give it a re-watch ?
Is it even worth it?  :ohdear:
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Dibs
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2024 @736.41 »

I remember this! I used to watch it with my mom!
Should I give it a re-watch ?
Is it even worth it?  :ohdear:

I guess that depends on whether you enjoyed it the first time, or how old you were then! I'm rewatching the first season with my friend, watching them go 'oh ffs' at every Linderman twist, which is highly entertaining. So maybe if you're unsure, try watching it with someone else...
But generally I would recommend the revisit, if only to see the breadth of superhero media we now have access to! I feel like its currently-airing equivalent would be The Boys, but they're so obviously from such different eras of television -- Heroes embodies the American network event series of the times for better and for worse. As someone who's never watched that kind of thing (UK and not a regular TV-watcher), it's a hell of a ride, but if you grew up on that kinda thing maybe it'll have the same addictiveness by way of nostalgia...

Do check back in if you end up rewatching, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2024 @372.12 »

I remember that show ! Since I'm a comic-book person, everyone was talking about it in the comic-related circles. I barely remember the show tho. I'll probably give it a rewatch after I'm done with Stargate SG1, thanks for the reminder !
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Dibs
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2024 @530.29 »

As of last week, I have officially finished watching Heroes!
Yep, I definitely had the most fun with Volumes 4 (Fugitives) and 5 (Redemption), the widely condemned 'worst' of the show. But I've also been watching Heroes Unmasked, a BBC behind-the-scenes documentary which appears to be made (or at the very least has the same narrator as) the crew who made Doctor Who Confidential! It's pretty fascinating and has given me some insight into how the cast, crew, and audience were thinking, and why so many people hold S1 on a pedestal.

For a 2006 audience (first iPhone just came out, Iron Man is still two years away, superhero media is generally of the shlocky or hyper-edgy variety and not mainstream, TV is yet to made the jump to 1080p and in the US especially, 'network' TV is king), the Heroes finds its identity as a true crossover hit. Crossover in the demographic sense; it is designed so that everyone in the audience has a character aimed at them. Jessica, DL, and Micah provide family and mafia drama, Hiro and Ando are the fun comic-book nerds with an eye on a grand hero's journey, Peter is the OP everyman goody-two-shoes you can project onto, so on, so forth. If you don't like watching a scientist investigate his father's work and murder, maybe you will enjoy Claire's quest to understand herself or Sylar's mysterious and gory plight for power. Everyone is happy.
To a general audience, the appeal of Heroes can be summarised as escapism from a realistic baseline. Every character is behaving like a normal person would when thrust into this wild new world of superpowers. They still have normal problems and a lot of time is dedicated to the drama part of 'superhero drama', taking its cues from one of the most widely appealing superheroes: Spider-Man. In Unmasked, Jack Coleman (Noah Bennet) said, 'In the best tradition of Spider-Man or something, you have somebody with this ability but the ability is as much a curse as it is a blessing. It alienates you.' This serves to make pretty much everyone relatable and believable.

Now, as a retrospective viewer, I am not the audience of 2006. I've watched most of the MCU, a few DC films, read a few comics. I'm writing a story that could be summarised as 'Star Trek Voyager with a cadet crew and superpowers'. By 2024, we've seen a whole range of superhero narratives (TV, films, video games) make it to the mainstream -- deconstructing, subverting, parodying, playing to drama or to galactic threats. Superheroes are not niche.
Additionally, by watching 13-14 years after the show was cancelled and not being afraid of spoilers, I went in with a decent idea of what to expect. Plots get wilder, strange turns are taken, writing gets 'worse' (which could mean any number of things) and then it ends abruptly, teasing a never-to-be-produced season 5. This induces the same effect that we are currently seeing in Doctor Who, what I will call the 'Chibnall effect'. It goes like this: while Chibnall is still showrunner and nothing is known about the future of the show beyond him, or even within his run, every bad episode, strange characterisation, or misunderstanding of the show itself, is a death knell. Sure enough, it was almost cancelled before COVID allowed them to squeeze in Flux and RTD was brought back in with a good track record for resurrecting the show. Heroes was cancelled outright. Watching this happen as it's airing is highly frustrating -- a good thing twisting itself into something can't not be shut down.
However, if you watch Chibnall's run now that the future of Doctor Who is not in the balance, even if the episodes aren't well done, they aren't 'give up on Doctor Who' bad. Now that Heroes is over, it is much easier to sit back and relax into the twisting of the premise -- because you expect it and know it will happen. Besides, Heroes managed to keep up a decent quality standard in my book...

And so, used to origin stories and safe in the knowledge that the show is long dead, I find the last chunk of the show to be the best. I came to Heroes in the first place because as network television it has a lot of hours to burn, and I wanted to see what plots would come up once the origin stories were over and done with.
Meanwhile, the audience (and the original plan for the show!) put a lot of weight into these early phases of the superpower plotlines; they're the relatable part, the interesting bit, right? So you have a show with 12 main characters moving at a snail's pace, a second season with enough new characters to compensate for the ones killed off in S1, and no lessons learnt about things like 'how to structure a focused story'.
By the time you get to volumes 4 and 5, most of the unnecessary characters and their plots have been resolved and dropped, improving the pacing tremendously, and our main cast are far beyond merely discovering their powers. We finally get the superpower show I came for! By this point the 2009-10 audience are a bit sick of certain things, like Sylar never dying and having a flip-flopping alignment, but I am enjoying it as much as anything.

It's strange how things age with time! A show so thoroughly 2000s in nature holds up very well even in a superhero-saturated culture like today, and parts that were the death knell back then are now the primary appeal to viewers like me.


I remember that show ! Since I'm a comic-book person, everyone was talking about it in the comic-related circles. I barely remember the show tho. I'll probably give it a rewatch after I'm done with Stargate SG1, thanks for the reminder !

Hell yeah! Heroes is great at injecting comics into its visual style. It has a lot of big wide shots followed by conversations mostly close in on characters' faces, and they find iconic imagery in as many sets and moments as they can! Know what you're in for, and you can have a very good time with it.  :ozwomp:

EDIT: My Heroes drinking game, for the brave of heart, is drink every time someone says 'protect'. No further triggers necessary, you're welcome.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2024 @531.96 by Dibs » Logged

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