Much was made of the apology from Heroes creator Tim Kring for the troubles with the early episodes of season two – although I tried to avoid the discussions because I didn’t want the show spoiled – so I thought I’d talk about my reactions to the first five episodes that have been shown on BBC2 here in the UK.
The show does suffer from what Kring admits – slowness. In a classic case of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, it was decided that because people liked the slow build of season one, they’d want exactly the same thing again. Alan Moore said something along the lines of: you don’t give people what they want, you give them what they don’t know they need. Trying to guess what the audience wants is a fool’s game. In this case, trying to replicate the mechanics of the first season simply won’t work – the story has been done, you can’t go back. And, even if you do the first storyline again (have a group of people come together who don’t know each other to fight a threat that will kill millions of people), you should at least set up what the threat is, something that hasn’t happened in the first five episodes …
As season 2 starts, our heroes our displaced. Matt Parkman survives getting shot in the chest at the end of season 1 (although DL Hawkins wasn’t so lucky), and he and Suresh are looking after Molly. The Bennets are in California, hiding themselves away in case The Company finds them. Hiro is in 17th-century Japan (and his father is killed, as the start of this season’s mystery – don’t worry, they get another member of the original Star Trek cast, Nichelle Nichols, to be in the series: she’s Micah’s grandmother), Sylar survives being stabbed in the chest with a samurai sword with ‘eight surgeries’, and Peter (looking pumped – Milo Ventimiglia worked out during the break) is suffering the worst: he’s stuck in an embarrassing version of Ireland. He has amnesia – shame he will remember this part, with the bad Irish accents (all different; the girl sounds like she’s doing a Northern Irish accent, even though Cork is on the other side of the island and a different country) and the fantasy blarney (Irish people don’t live in huge loft apartments where there’s enough room to have a bed and a kitchen and massive windows and a huge space to paint on canvas).
The other strand of the mystery of this season is The Company, which Suresh and Bennet are planning to bring down. Suresh is brought into the Company by the character of Bob, played by the ever-watchable Stephen Tobolowsky. The only thing is, all I can think of when I see him (especially after the turning the spoon into gold scene) is the character of Tom Jones from X-Factor vol.1 #41 and other comics, a mutant who can turn other metals into gold, a character created in a Marvel competition if memory serves. This makes me laugh.
Apart from the awfulness of the Oirishness, there are other things that don’t work so well. The Herrera twins from Honduras, with their plague/cure symmetry (although they always seem to manage to split them apart every episode with an implausible plot device in order to show the killing and curing), are quite dull, their story has gone on too long without anything happening, and it was downright silly having them meet Sylar in the middle of nowhere. Micah’s cousin, Monica, with her muscle mimicry (this was after the Echo character created by David Mack in Daredevil, wasn’t it?) is just a little naff for some reason – it may sound cool but it seems ridiculous on screen. And some of the scenes with her have been painful – not her fault, but the fault of the creator. Kring writes some of the most appalling dialogue and bad scenes in the entire show, and his episodes klunk along in an embarrassing fashion. Then there is the ropey CGI when they show Noah Bennet and the Haitian walking in Russia when it is plainly obvious that they are in a sound studio in California in front of a green screen.
When the positives and negatives are combined, the show just about breaks even. It’s enough to keep me interested but not enough to get me excited, in the way the first season did. There is huge potential in the show and I’m still delighted that a show that is effectively comic books in television form is doing so well, but I just want them to do a decent job and deliver the goods. Here’s hoping the rest of season 2 is worth the wait.