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Heroes: Complete Season 1 - Review

Heroes: Season 1

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

ALL hail Heroes, the latest TV sensation to emerge from the US. Tim Kring’s take on the superhero format provided some of the most enthralling and exciting viewing of the past 12 months.

Season one – now available as a complete box set on DVD – was intelligently written, emotionally involving, frequently exhilarating and geared towards a more adult audience (for a change).

It took the basic superhero format and placed a contemporary spin on things, toying with notions of patriotism and social tolerance that hold plenty of resonance for everyday issues.

The plot was relatively simple, although intricately layered.

A seemingly unrelated group of people suddenly discover they have differing superpowers – ranging from being indestructible to having the ability to bend time.

Early episodes examined how they attempted to come to terms with these powers – to understand and embrace them as all good superheroes should.

But once they realise that their powers are needed for much more important reasons – concerned with the impending destruction of New York – they must learn to work together to prevent an unthinkable disaster.

Leading the battle from the front is Masi Oka’s engaging Hiro Nakamura, a Japanese super-geek who persuades his best friend Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee) to go with him to America to help save the day.

But also involved are the likes of Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) and his sceptical politician brother, Nathan (Adrian Pasdar), cheerleader Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), police officer Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) and Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), a drug-addicted artist with the ability to paint the future.

Standing in their way are the likes of the mysterious Mr Bennet (Jack Coleman), who seems to be hunting them down for his own ends while serving as protector to his step-daughter, Claire, and a killer named Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who has the ability to absorb the heroes’ powers by eating their brains.

Over the course of the ensuing 23 episodes, loyalties are divided, double crosses are revealed and the various story arcs of each character become intrinsically linked.

To reveal too much more would be doing the series a disservice, except to say that the twists are numerous and for the most part ingenious. Come the final few episodes, you can’t fail to be impressed.

The most impressive thing about this first season, however, was the way in which Kring confidently juggled elements of savvy comic book reference with so many contemporary concerns and pop culture nods without feeling preachy or tacky.

He also dropped in some memorable cameos from the likes of Christopher Ecclestone, as The Invisible Man, George Takei, as Hiro’s father, and Malcolm McDowell, as the evil Mr Linderman.

Each of the regular cast members grew in confidence as the season developed so that by the time the series reached its emotional conclusion you genuinely cared about everyone concerned. And you can expect to see a lot more of them over the coming months as they branch out into movies (Quinto, in particular, looks destined for big things following his casting as Spock in the new Star Trek movie).

If word from America is to be believed, then season two has dipped in quality, prompting Kring to issue an apology. But he has promised to get things back on track and you wouldn’t bet against him based on the sustained excellence of the opening 23 episodes.

So, if you’ve missed out thus far, or just wish to revisit some truly great television, this first season box set makes the perfect Christmas gift.

Certificate: 15
UK release date: December 10, 2007