Heroes is the latest serial to come over from the US trailing awards in its wake, and has been relentlessly plugged by the BBC in advance of the 1st 2 episodes on BBC2 last night. It starts promisingly enough, and confirms the sci-fi/fantasy genre as TV's preferred medium for exploring spiritual issues....
"Where does it come from, this quest... this need to solve life's mysteries when the simplest of questions can never be answered?
Why are we here?
What is the soul?
Why do we dream?
Perhaps we'd be better off not looking at all: not delving, not yearning.
But that's not human nature, not the human heart. That is not why we are here.
Yet still we struggle to make a difference, to change the world, to dream of hope, never knowing for certain who we will meet along the way...who among the world of strangers will hold our hand... touch our hearts...and share the pain of trying."
And immediately we are into a multilayered drama which seems to be asking spiritual questions, woven around a kaleidoscope of characters who all seem to be discovering supernatural powers around the time of a solar eclipse. What links them, and how they might be able to come together to stop a nuclear explosion in New York (predicted by one of the number who foretells the future with his paintings), seems to be the initial set-up. There's stuff about destiny, value, gifts and calling etc. Unfortunately they couldn't resist throwing in a serial killer storyline, and as its a TV drama the killer has to go about his business in a more gruesome and bizarre way than the serial killer in the last TV series. So I won't be watching any more, which I have mixed feelings about - I'd like to watch it, but I'd also like to watch TV that doesn't leave me feeling polluted.
In the meantime, it's fun to work out how many other shows Heroes borrow from to make it's own cake: mysterious symbols (Lost), humans evolving into having super-powers (X-men), shadowy suited men trying to thwart the heroes (X-files, Matrix), the heroes having a mysterious destiny that they still have to discover (Matrix), a race against time (24), the mass cast with multiple back stories (Lost), and so on.
The good news is that, since it's already been shown in the USA, if you want to know what happens without having to look at dismembered bodies just go to http://www.tv.com/heroes/show/17552/summary.html
and there's a blow by blow account of every episode.