April 18, 2008

Heroes, Volume Two

The eagerly awaited return of Heroes to BBC HD (Thursday April 24, 9pm and 10.30pm) leaves me with mixed feelings. Having resisted the urge to (illegally) download the truncated second season in less than full-HD glory, I’ve skimmed the reviews and it appears that it’s not been universally well received. Several posters on this blog suggest I ignore the reviews. Hmmm. What’s a guy to do?

I guess the odd thing for me here is that the first season didn’t exactly bowl me over, so a sub-standard second season is hardly quickening the pulse. As a guy who spent most of his childhood thrilling at the output of Jack Kirby, Stan Lee et al, this was, on paper, a sure-fire dead-centre hit for Nialli, but in reality I found the first season full of exciting potential that was rarely delivered. Great must-watch-again-NOW! episodes could probably be counted on one hand. I found that storylines would take an age to progress as Kring threw simply too many characters at us and mixed up too many plot threads in each episode. It could have taken a leaf from Lost's book - focus on a handful of characters each week, not the whole cast.

Only when the storytelling simplified (Company Man ep. 17 and Five Years Gone ep.20 being the best examples) did Heroes, for me, become compulsive TV. Even as things headed towards the end of season climax I couldn’t help but feel it was not quite firing on all cylinders. Remember the big confrontation between Peter and Sylah that we experienced from the OTHER side of a closed door? I felt pretty cheated by that, and it was fairly typical of writing that fired things up then left me feeling strangely empty.

But that’s not to say season one didn’t have its moments, and I guess that’s what I’ll be tuning in for more next week. Remember seeing Nathan fly for the first time? Pretty cool. Sylah was revealed brilliantly as a villain with true menace. Hiro’s time travelling was always fun. And Christopher Ecclestone – has there ever been a better bit of blow-me-away acting in a TV series? Awesome.

So I’ll be there. I’ve resisted the downloads, I’ll ignore the reviews and will absorb the whole of season two in luscious HD for the next ten weeks or so. It may not be Battlestar Galactica, but it's still a pretty darn fun way to spend an evening. Save the Cheerleader…

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