Monday, July 17, 2006

Scoops On Heroes - NBC's New Superhero-Based Prime Time Drama

If you thought my Spider-Man 3 spoilers were comprehensive, you haven't seen anything yet...

This weekend, Comicon kicks off and anything and everything even moderately comic-book related will be hawked at a deafening volume. One of these anythings and everythings is NBCs new drama series for the autumn, Heroes. If you'd like to know more - much, much more - then keep reading, but be warned, almost everything I say could be called a spoiler, and there's a lot of it.

Stop reading now if you want to tune in to the first episode unspoiled, otherwise, get comfortable and keep scrolling down. You've got a good session ahead of you.

The show starts with some white text on black. Here it is, in it's entirety:

In recent days, a seemingly random group of individuals has emerged with what can only be described as “special” abilities.

Although unaware of it now, these individuals will not only save the world, but change it forever. This transformation from ordinary to extraordinary will not occur overnight. Evry story has a beginning.

Volume one of their epic tale begins here…

And then, we're off.

Planet Earth rises up fromt he bottom of the screen, turning rather too quickly. In the centre of the screen, it falls into an eclipse, and then the viewpoint hurtles backwards. We pull out of a man's eye. We keep pulling back, the camera spinning around. Pretty soon we see he is stood on the top of a very tall building in New York City.

Spreading his arms, he steps forward, drops in slow motion. He falls and falls and falls. As he is gets very close to the ground, we see a man is stood below, right in his path, looking straight up to him. Just before they collide...

The falling man snaps awake. It was just a dream.

Now, there's a lot of characters introduced in this episode and you might have more trouble keeping track of their names than it could ever be worth, so I am going to refer to each character as a type, or by one of their characteristics. This chap, who dreamt of falling, is going to be called flyboy.

In the scene that follows, we see that flyboy is a nurse, taking care of an elderly and infirm man. He speaks to the man's daughter - from here on out known simply as daughter.

And then into the next scene, which is set in Madras, India. The caption tells us that this scene took place "3 days ago."

A man is lecturing a class. He talks about how man may indeed have been made in god's image but that, so far, we haven't shown that we are worthy of it. He also tells the class that current research showssmall mutations in the human genome are "taking place at an accelerated rate". He makes a weird leap here, going on to suggest that levitation, teleportation and tissue regeneration are all "possibilities" - this scene is riddled with bad science. Nonsense.

As the lecturer wraps up, there are references to his father being fired for telling classes about these mutations, these superhuman possibilities.

The lecturer receives news that his Dad has died. His Dad was in New York, working as a Taxi Cab driver. We learn that Dad thought he was being pursued, that somebody after his research was recently getting very close to him. Already we know that Dad was right.

Over at Dad's place, the lecturer looks through files labelled things like "Genesis", "Human Flight Potential", "Rapid Cellular Regeneration" and "Teleportation". Again, the same bunch of powers, almost as though the show is curbing our expectations, keeping our sense of what the titular Heroes might be capable of in check.

A map on the wall is covered in a number of criss-crossing strings. Suddenly, there's a reveal - somebody else is there. He speaks on a mobile phone. The son flees, but not before removing a pin on the globe that had marked out NYC. I would guess this is to suggest he has broken the trail.

Now, a rather sleazy scene. We're in Las Vegas, Nevada. A woman is cavorting as a webcam performer. At first glance, I thought she looked like Debra Kara Unger, but younger - which is harsh. Nobody should look like here at that age. And then I recognised her as Ali Larter.

In this scene, Ali's character notices her reflection in the mirror - and that it isn't quite in synch with her.

She speaks to her kid, who seems to be some kind of child genius. When he says he is working on the computer he doesn't mean clickety-clacking on the keyboard - there's wires and tools and all that jazz. The child genius mentions that there is going to be an eclipse this day.

There's a ring on the doorbell, and this signifies trouble. They flee - just getting the car fired up as the front door is knocked down by a big thuggish man. In future, I'll call her mirrormom - the mirror stuff becomes more significant, in case you couldn't guess.

And we're in Odessa, Texas. New scene. Video camera footage shows a young girl in a cheerleader uniform jumping from about 70 or 80 feet up, right at the ground. When she hits, she hits hard. The cameraman comes running to her. She's certainly mangled on the ground, but she simply stands up, resets her joints and broken bones and, barely out of breath, addresses the video camera. This was "attempt number six" - she's clearly got something of the Wolverine about her.

A fly-by camera move takes us around a New York skyline, but we soon find out this is just another dream of flyboy fromt he first scene. Having woken up, he enters an office where he meets up with the guy he almost squashed in the first scene. It's his brother, and he's running for congress - so I shall call him congressguy, to keep it simple.

Adrian Pasdar plays congressguy. If you remember his movie career, then you're doing better than most. It's a shame, he's never been horrible in anything.

Flyboy seems to think, for no good reason, that congresguy is going to not only be sympathetic but somehow understand his dreams - but he's wrong. Congressguy shows no empathy. The phone goes, and they learnt hat their mother has just been arrested, for shoplifting.

Back to the cheerleader and her cameraman. She's worried about her powers, calls herself "a freakshow". She explains that she has stabbed herself in the chest - multiple times - and put a great steel rod through her neck, but all to no permanent end. Hayden Panetierre plays the cheerleader, and by now, if you;re anything like me, you'll have just about recognised her from Malcom in the Middle, where she played Jessica, or even maybe Raising Helen. She was also the voice of Dot in A Bug's Life.

Fire-engines drive past in one direction, and in the other, a funny big vehicle - tanker of some kind, or a military vehicle? - with a tarp on it. The cheerleader looks, sees figures in black under the tarp as it flaps in the wind, seems very concerned.

And we're now off to Tokyo. A youngish officemonkey watches the hands of the clock intently. He's concentrating - can you guess what he's trying to do? The gaps between the ticks and tocks seem to change, then the clock stops, and even ticks back one second. Officemonkey is overjoyed. He tells a colleague that he has just succeeeded in breaking the time space continuum. For some reason, they think his powers make him comparable to Mr. Spock - lord only knows why.

Somebody in this Tokyo office is logging on to the webcam site of our mirrormom, which essays the transition back to...

Odessa. Mirrormom is sitting in a school office, haggling over the future of her genius child's tuition at the school. We learn that she paid 25,000 to get the kid a place, a donation that was effectively a bribe, but since then, she has been late with some actual fee payments. She demands her donation back but is told she can't have it. She takes genius child away.

On the way out, she notes her reflection in a fish tank. The mirror version looks and acts very differently - tougher, more callous maybe, less caring. Some would say "Bad Ass", but I don't know if I'm one of them or not.

Congressguy goes to meet his mother who, we can immediately see, is rather well-to-do, so she certainly isn't stealing for financial reasons. Apparently, she "stole to feel alive again."

In this scene, flyboy is characterised as being selfless, congressguy as selfish. We are probably seeing a Clark and Lex style conflict in the making here.

Flyboy tells his mom that when congressguy was hurt in an accident, he somehow knew it - as though they have a psychic bond.

Are you still following this?

Okay. The child genius is being dropped off by mirrormom. We find out that the kid saw her looking at the reflection, but not that the reflection was looking back. Very possibly, then, this element of mirrormom's "specialness" is all in her head.

We find out that mirrormom is in deep with the mob, owing money - which I had guessed, and you probably had too. She tells the babysitter that she is seeing things and "feeling that someone is watching me, someone I can't see".

Off to Japan again. Officemonkey is doing exercises on a roof-top. He notices the impending eclipse.

The fire-engines we saw earlier, in Texas, are putting out what appears to be the collision or destruction of vehicles carrying flammable materials. The cameraman kid films his cheerleader chum running into the flames, where she finds and rescues a man. She's on fire - at least her clothing is - but she's not burning. A fireman rips her costume to note that there's not a mark on her.

She runs away.

The lecturer from India has now arrived in Brooklyn. He is being let into his father's appartment. He agress to take it over. There's another map on the wall.

The genius kid is on the baysitter's phone, obviously planning to run away. He's speaking to a train or coach station about getting a ticket. The babysitter comes in tot ell him she's off to get cigarettes, so we know he's about to have his chance to run.

New York. Congressguy offers his brother a job. He wants his nice buy bro to reflect well on him in the polls. Flyboy declines.

In the street, flyboy notices the daughter - remember her? - getting into a cab. Silly pseudo-ambient music and slow-mo signify something in these shots, but it really isn't clear what. He's in love with her? They have a psychic bond?

Flyboy calls his own cab - and lo and behold, it is being driven by the lecturer, taking after his Dad in this regard as well, obviously. The lecturer, true to form, lectures him - on the upcoming eclipse, and on the small scale of a single human life. Flyboy responds, quite ridiculously, with some chat about "having a feeling" and about "being special". They talk about natural selection, the whole scene feels contrived and the coincidences start to feel overhwelming.

A montage of our variosu characters unfolds, set to Wide Awake, It's Morning by Bright Eyes.

The eclipse is beginning right over the head of our officemonkey clockstopper.

Mirrormom is atching the eclipse through a tube... but who else is that in the room? That shadowy figure?

Why - it's the thuggish bloke that knocked her door down. He has a cohort with him, another pleasant looking fellow, munching on cookies.

They give her the hard talk, telling her she is 50,000 in debt - though it was only 30,000 as far as she knew. They offer her a lewd proposition - that she cavort for them, like she would on the the webcast. She starts stripping as they make some off-colour comments.

And then, of course, she gets a look at herself in the mirror. She takes a punch from of the guys but with a loud "Screw you", decides to fight back.

In Tokyo again, there is much chat about the power to stop time between the officemonkey and his chum. The officemonkey assumes that he will be able to bend space too, time and space being relative and all. Hence teleportation.

The daughter, who we last saw getting in the cab, arrives at the home of some kind of boho artist type. he's smearing black paint over his canvasses - apparently, he doesn't remember painting them and thinks they are evil.

One such painting, now three weeks old, appears to have prdicted a suicide bombing in Israel that very day. Another painting echoes the shot at the start of this scene where the daughter first entered the room.

Apparently, the artist has been using a lot of drugs. He has decided to go cold turkey. After she leaves, he chains himself, plops down and waits.

A club in Tokyo. Courtesy of officemonkey, we are given a lesson in the true nature of space and time - apparently learned from X-Men 143 in which Kitty Pryde time travels. There's some of the obligitary talk about morality, and about not using one's powers for personal gain, yet, however, the officemonkey does pledge to teleport himself into the ladies' loos.

It doesn't seem to work, but the scene does end with a noise that suggests something dramatic, though it isn't clear what, is taking place.

The babysitter is calling mirrormom. She is leaving a message that the genius child has absconded with 300 dollars. Mirrormom wakes up to the message.

At first we might assume she has been beaten up by the two thugs, but in fact, they are the ones who have been beaten up. It was all recorded on camera, as per her webcam smut, but before she can watch it, she catches a glimpse of her reflection in a broken mirror. The other self is smeared in blood and looks pretty happy with herself. The mirror smashes further and this scene too ends with another portentious sound effect.

I'm starting to think they've used this sound motif each time a character's powers "come into full effect".

New York. Flyboy is getting out of the lecturer's cab. Another passenger gets in, his face obscured, never clearly shown. Clearly, he's not up to any good here. This obvious villain knows the Driver's name - though he makes out he has just read it on his ID. He soon lets on that he knows the murdered researcher father though, so the lecturer makes a pretty bold move...

...he swerves, legs it from the car, runs away.

The cheerleader at the dinner table. Her dad is away but coming home that night. Asked if she did anything special that day, the cheerleader offers "I walked through fire and I didn't get burned", but the conversation that follows doesn't take her assertion literally.

Back in Tokyo, officemonkey is being forcibly removed from the ladies' bathroom. He alleges that he space-hopped in there, but isn't believed. 30 seconds of banal chatter and one more Star Trek reference later, he heads off to "be special".

New York. At home, the daughter of the elderly and infirm man is looking for morphine to give to the propehetic artist.

Texas. The cheerleader and her mother are talking, and it is a sub-Buffy kind of talk. During the conversation, the cheerleader plunges her hand into the waste disposal. There's mess and blood, but no lasting damage, even if the dog does get a tasty treat.

Then there's a bombshell, of sorts - the cheerleader knows she is adopted, and would like to know who her real parents are. The big blaze is on the TV news. Her dad arrives home, and unless you are blind, deaf AND stupid, you'll recognise him as the villain from the back of the lecturer's cab.

So - let's speculate - did he kill her parents? Does he even know she has powers? Does she have powers because of his research? Or is he, in fact, a good guy?

On the Tokyo underground, the officemonkey appears to screw up the flow of time rather royally, then teleports suddenly to the middle of Times Square.

Flyboy is brought to the home of the junkie artist, him being a nurse and all. The artist seems to be missing at first, but then they find him in such a state they call 911. Flyboy now notices, from right across the room, a painting of somebody flying, perhaps in a cape, perhaps with weird wings, it wasn't sufficiently clear. Flyboy recognises himself in the picture.

Another painting depicts an apocalyptic New York, about which the artist, near-dead as he apparently is, says - not once, but twice - "We have to stop it".

White out. New York City, and back to the roof top of the first scene, of flyboy's first dream. This time, flyboy doesn't jump. Not yet, anyway.

Down below, his congressguy brother gets out of a cab. A mobile phone falls out fo the sky, smashes at his feet. We see immediately that flyboy is about to live out his dream.

He spreads his arms, steps forward.

Even slower than before, we see him come whistling down off of the building top.

Suddenly, his brother, congress guy, flies in and grabs him. His brother can fly, see? Ahhh!

We now learn than congressguy didn't know he could fly, and doesn't know how he did.

End of epsiode.

NBC will be showing Heroes will be going out at 9pm on Mondays this autumn. You may well have judged from this rundown o(f pretty much everything that goes on) whether or not you want to watch it, but I implore you to tune in for yourself.

When all is said and done, I think this show was actually pretty damn poor. But I don't want to make your mind up for you. Give this one episode a shot - but I'd recommend against going out of your way at Comicon to catch it. There must be something better you can be doing at the same time?

Has anybody else out there seen this pilot? If so, please chip in with a comment below.

Images from the show are coming soon, and when I get them, I'll update this post throughout.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Sounds like UNBREAKABLE: The Series.

Which wouldn't be the dumbest idea going, I suppose.