In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, NBC
In the UK: "Simulcast", which apparently means some time within the next month or so
So Heroes is back.
Do I hear a hoo anyone?
No? Why's that then? Ah, you got hacked off with it. Too many odd character flips and complicated storylines that made no sense? Sounds about right.
But wait. Sit up and pay attention at the back. This is an all new Heroes. A refreshed Heroes. A Heroes that's going back to basics.
Promising a clean break with the overly complicated past storylines that estranged its audience (this being the third such clean break promised), Heroes is trying to recapture the glory days of season one with this, its fourth "volume".
With Nathan gone bad after the last volume, his new plan as junior senator for New York is to cosy up to the US President (Michael Dorn - Worf off Star Trek) and make him go Guantánamo on his fellow super-powered friends, who are all just trying to live normal lives now.
And that means - in case you missed all the advertising - if the heroes are to survive, they've all got to work together. The question is does this all add up to new and improved Heroes or is it well and truly time to call it a day?
Back on track
On the strength of this first episode, it does seem like they're significantly back on track - it had a very season one feel to it, but with slightly better pacing.
Peter (what is his new ability, everyone?) is working as a paramedic; Mohinder's a taxi driver again; Matt and Daphne are shacked up together and trying to earn a crust as a bodyguard and a cycle courier; Claire's looking to go to college - or at least that's what Grammy Petrelli wants for her; weakest link Hiro's back in Japan busily trying to be Norman Tuttle to Ando's Jesse Mach; and Tracy's back shagging the governor of New York and looking slinky in an LBD. As for Sylar - did you really believe he was dead? - he's trying to find his real daddy. Everyone else? I'm not telling.
But up pops the ever-wonderful Zeljko Ivanek and his well-briefed and padded SWAT team taskforce and before you know it, almost everyone's trussed up and stuck on a plane to God knows where.
Now obviously that's all a bit of a game changer, so who knows what the rest of the season is going to be like. Season three started off very nicely but fell apart severely in the middle, only clawing its way back to sense and sensibility for its last few episodes. So it could easily go pear-shaped very soon.
But the writing in the episode felt a whole lot better. Yes, there were the usual Heroes-esque annoyances - slips of logic, coincidences of Lost-ian proportions, female characters not having much to do, Peter's perpetual whining, Claire's perpetual over-emoting, Hayden's increasingly ridiculous wigs - but for the most part, these were at a serious low for the season and were back down to season one levels. The characters are once again starting to feel like real people who simply happen to have powers, rather than powers in search of some character to go with them.
Indeed, there also seems to have been a general rethink about how to balance out the cast. The hyper-powered Peter seems to have been tamed somewhat, leaving Sylar as the scary-arsed Titan of the group. Parkman seems to have a new talent and the formerly useless Mohinder seems to have a point at last. Even the delightfully and impressively steely Tracy seems to have something to do, although judging by both this episode and the promo for the next episode, it's to spend significant amounts of her screen time in her undies or less. While on one level, that's not at all terrible, at another, it would be nice to give her something a bit heavier and plot-relevant to deal with - and I'm hoping that some Nathan/Zeljko scenes to help her with that might be in her future (fingers crossed).
As always, we're going to be needing explanations for a whole load of things in this episode for them to make the slightest bit of sense, but I'm more optimistic than before that we'll get them. For once, a Heroes reboot might have worked.
Here's a promo for next week's episode and the rest of the season, followed by an entirely gratuitous picture of God's gift to men, Ali Larter (whatever we were doing, for once, we must have been doing it right). What? Like I was going to turn down that opportunity.
- April 29, 2009: Season finale: Heroes 3x25 - An Invisible Thread
A review of the finale of Heroes, season four, and volume four