Heroes

2006 | United States

Popular cult sci-fi programme shown over four series between 2006 and 2010, Heroes was first aired in America on the NBC network and then in the UK on the Sci-Fi channel. When the BBC caught wind of how big the show could be, it bought the rights and aired the first season again on BBC2. It has since purchased lifetime rights to the programme. 

The show follows several individual people with different backgrounds, stories and relationships. The characters are diverse and range from a doctor who falls in love with the daughter of one of his patients, to a cheerleader who is trying to catch the eye of the star football player. All the characters discover they have different special abilities which start to take over their lives. As the show progresses through the first season, the characters' lives become entwined and we start to recognise the heroes from the villains. The heroes must try to stop the world from being destroyed by the leader of The Company, Sylar. At the same time, Sylar is trying to eliminate those with special abilities so that he can steal their powers.

The heroes have come across their powers in different ways. Some have been injected with a formula which has given them superhuman abilities, whereas others have always had their powers although they have not been aware of them. 

The show begins with a lunar eclipse which seems to unlock the powers inside these seemingly ordinary people. As the story unfolds over series one, we learn that a lot of the characters are actually related, and so some of their powers are genetic. The show is created in a way that is supposed to emulate a retro comic book style. This was never more evident than when the viewer was following the storyline of Hiro Nakamura. Hiro's storyline was literally played out in a comic book which he carried around with him while trying to discover the reason for his power. He regularly referred to his comic book to see what he should do next, or to prove to his friend that he was able to time-travel. His comic book was created by Isaac Mendez who was able to paint the future whilst under the influence of drugs. Other characters with special abilities included self-absorbed politician Nathan Petrelli, who could fly, policeman Matt Parkman, who could read people's minds and troubled single mother Niki Sanders who had multiple personalities with super-strength. 

Despite the hype over Heroes, the show only really remained popular for the first series. It is easy to see why. Part of the fun of the show was meeting the heroes and trying to work out what their powers were. Then there were the questions that arose as a result of these powers. Was it possible for Claire Bennett to ever die? Was her father a bad-guy or a good-guy? How high could Nathan fly? However, by series two, we had had most of the questions answered, and we had discovered what the heroes could do. 

Although new characters were brought in, the mystery surrounding the show had been lost. The show also suffered due to the WGA writer's strike which occurred part way through creating series two. The series was originally supposed to be split into three volumes. In the end it was just one volume. 

The second volume was dropped completely and the third volume was pushed back to series three. Although the end of series two was changed to allow for this, it meant a lot of the storyline became confusing and a lot of viewers just stopped watching. The show was eventually axed after series 4 due to low audience ratings. 

The ratings had dipped from 14.3m viewers at its peak in series one on NBC to 6.5m viewers in series four. Series one of the show won lots of television awards and was highly regarded by critics, so it is a shame that it was unable to live up to its own high standards in following series. However, die-hard Heroes fans are excited to hear that series five is currently being created by the original creator Tim Kring, and is due to show on our television screens in 2015. This should tie up some of the loose ends and unanswered questions left over from series four.

Published on December 21st, 2018. Written by Suzanna Hayes-Goldfinch (2014) for Television Heaven.

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