Pilot (P)Review: "Heroes"

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A little spoilery, but not much.

You know how "Lost" spawned all these other series that tried to kinda get the same vibe going on? Large casts, sci-fi elements, big complicated arcs? You know how every single one of them, last year, failed?

This year, there's another one. "Heroes." And this pilot blows the ones from last year clean out of the water. The idea here is that certain people around the globe are developing super-powers. Some have likened it to the X-Men. That is an incredibly off base comparison.

Right from the first, you know you're in for something big. A text scroll that ends with..."This is Volume One of their epic tale." This gets me a little concerned. Coming out of the gate and promising some gigantic arc that you plow right into can lead to heartbreak when it gets totally "Reunion"-ed (last year's years program that followed 1985 graduates one year at a time to their 20th reunion and the solving of a murder that only made it about halfway to the goal). You know, though, you can't hit hard eight if you never throw the dice.

width="230" height="127" alt="" border="0" align=" ">Hayden Panettiere in "Heroes"

Writer Tim Kring has built a solid pilot that runs a little long (thus, I expect when it airs you might want to make sure your TiVo is ready to run past the hour). There's a lot of characters to balance, and while it's a little bit uneven on giving each character their due, it's not egregious or anything and it just makes me want to see more of the series. Especially Claire, Hayden Panettiere's weary cheerleader (which she totally nails from her impatient finger snapping to her matter-of-fact manner) and Masi Oka's time and space bending salaryman geek.

Oka's appropriately named Hiro is very much the comedic relief. His fellow wage slave humors his pal's insane-sounding claims that he can screw with time and space with challenges like teleporting into the ladies' room at a local club. He is also the voice of wonder. Clearly a fan of sci-fi with many allusions to "Star Trek," Hiro waxes iconic on the responsibility of a super-hero. One might not be entirely surprised if he took to wearing a cape. It wouldn't last, but he might try it.

width="230" height="127" alt="" border="0" align=" ">Masi Oka in "Heroes"

Yeah, bending of time and space. You get a nice array of powers going on. You get some basics, like invulnerability and flight, and some interesting ones...like the guy that paints scenes that have yet to happen (and just might only be able to do it when he's hopped up on smack). And Ali Larter's Niki has a power that isn't entirely clear yet.

Like "Lost," "Heroes" features a lot of character's crossing paths without actually being a regular part of each others lives. Clearly, there is something big at work here bringing people together. Questions are raised, but not on the massive scale of "Lost." Keeping itself from getting too bogged down in it's own puzzles will be the key to the success of this series, I think. A balance between whatever large arc may be going on and each episode having a clear identity is what I want to see. A focus character in the A-plot and arc winding through the B-plot and an occasional switch up (likely during sweeps).

width="230" height="127" alt="" border="0" align=" ">Ali Larter in "Heroes"

See how I keep mentioning "Lost" there? So what does it say that former Lost producer Jeph Loeb is over at "Heroes" now. Not only does he have that experience in this peculiar modern TV genre that has emerged, he's also done "Smallville" and as a renowned writer of comics, the big guns, "Superman and Batman." He knows super-powers inside out and can bring his experience to bear on this exploration of super-powers in something much closer to the real world than you get from an X-Men flick or an episode of "Smallville." Loeb's longtime comic's partner Tim Sale provides the on-screen artwork of the prophetic painter. Should one be able to track down the pilot script, one would find it illustrated by Sale (highly unusual for screenplays and teleplays).

width="230" height="127" alt="" border="0" align=" ">Sendhil Ramamurthy in "Heroes"

Kring, of course, created "Crossing Jordan, which has stood the test of several seasons now and is generally a well-written crime and personal relationships show. Loeb, as outlined above, is on board. Also on this program is Bryan Fuller. He's one of the people behind such quirky programs as "Wonderfalls," "Dead Like Me" and "Amazing Screw-On Head ." He even did some decent "Trek."

This pilot deserves your attention, without a doubt, and given the people signed on to this thing after the pilot was shot, you can't not go for a few more episodes just to see how stuff shakes out. I don't see it as a break-out hit, but it does look good.

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