heroes is a new show on nbc that involves ordinary people discovering extraordinary abilities. it's a reality-based superhero show that borrows a little from lost, and a heck of a lot from the x-men. it borrows from lost in that it is a collection or regular people who are somehow drawn to each other and find themselves in an extraordinary situation. and it steals from the x-men in pretty much every other way, such as the idea that there are certain humans who hold within their genetic code the key to leaps and bounds in evolution (it is noted, however, the creator of the show does pay homage to who he's stealing from, by adding in a scene where two japanese men discuss an issue of the x-men).

the pilot episode begins by introducing several characters. you get a genetics professor, who travels from india to new york to uncover a secret theory that superheroes live among us. presumably, he is the professor x of the series. there is a young man who believes he can fly, and is desperate to do so in order to get out from under the shadow of his much more successful brother. there is a highschool student who seems indestructible, a stripper who's mirror image of herself seems to have a personality of its own, a japanese man who believes he can stop time and even teleport, and finally a drug-addicted artist who paints the future.

the show is actually really quite good, and i was a little surprised by it, because normally network television is as plain-jane as you can get, and they tend to ruin genre shows (e.g.: lost, which was already watered down, but diluted even more so in the second season by stretching the storyline longer with more episodes, thus effectively destroying any momentum or suspense in the process. i always felt that lost could truly be spectacular if it had 10 or 15 episodes a season, which would still preserve the suspense but add a sense of immediacy. but more episodes means more people watching, means more lucrative dollars).

i find genre shows tend to do better on specialty channels or cable, like the sci-fi channel which has fostered two of the best sci-fi shows in the past decade (battlestar galactica, farscape). on these cable channels, shows are able to really get great writing and stories on limited schedules. every episode seems to be great when you reduce the number of shows a season, instead of having too much "filler." still, network television has given us some great genre shows like buffy, angel, or quantum leap.

while some of the writing is a bit stilted and not quite smooth enough, the show does a really good job of portraying the wonder in discovering one's powers, with some of the characters reacting with horror rather than joy. it also does a great job of portraying the belief in all of us that we were meant for greater and better things, especially with the male nurse who believes he can fly, that it is his destiny. after all, we've all at one point or another believed we were meant for, or deserved greatness. that we were meant for a greater purpose in life than to just work, sleep and die. even if it was just daydreaming and fantasy, it's still a nice thought.

there is a tendancy to see genre television as just a science fiction show, or just a comic book show, etc. the truth is far from that. buffy was never just a show about vampires: it was about female empowerment and making one's way through life; battlestar galactica is not just a space opera: it's about humanity when faced with extinction, about human rights, about the human soul... and lost? well, the jury is still out on that one. i'm still waiting for that moment when everything just clicks. genre shows, when done correctly, have the ability to take important human issues, and make a commentary on it through the guise of science fiction or fantasy. hopefully heroes will continue that tradition.

at any rate, the show has a lot of potential, and i am eagerly awaiting the second episode. here are a few clips from the show. enjoy.