I finished this on DVD just yesterday, just about 20 hours ago, and I have some thoughts.
– If you were to make the case for hating this show, you’d start with how derivative it is. The political plot? Wholesale from the Manchurian Candidate (this becoming clear when evil mom puts her son’s coat on for him). The fake catastrophe that’ll unite the world? Ripped right from “The Architects of Fear” and Watchmen (and nowadays from 9/11 conspiracy theorists). The evil future world where heroes are tagged and imprisoned? See: Every X-Men story ever.
– Mohinder Suresh’s narration is not, perhaps, the worst framing device in history, but it’s not good either. After the second go-round I was giggling and imitating his incoherent Rod Serling-via-Charles Darwin tones. “Evolution is more than a process. It is more than destiny. It is a processtiny.” It doesn’t help that he doesn’t really understood evolution.
– This is a big problem: American TV seasons are too long. A 15-episode season of Heroes would have been about as long as a season of Doctor Who (with Christmas specials) and wouldn’t have gone down the same dead-end roads to fill time. No character suffered from this as much as Hiro, the obvious breakout character who, as a reward, was given ridiculous, stupid side-plots about gambling in Las Vegas and rescuing his friend from an evil showgirl. All that time wasted and yet when his father teaches him to swordfight Hiro becomes an expert in three hours, in one episode.
– Sylar. What a great concept for a villain, and what a hodgepodge of bad movie villain cliches. The heavy who keeps getting captured and escaping as the captors overlook something. The guy who’s completely invincible and can be anywhere until he decides to slowwwly walk toward Peter or he lets down his guard as Hiro stabs him.
– Dialogue. It often sucked.
That’s enough churl. Here’s the stuff I liked:
– Cliffhangers and twists. OK, Tim Kring, I surrender: You are the king of this stuff.
– Pay-offs. For the most part they actually paid off. The Niki/Jessica thing made no sense from a psychological perspective, but having Niki fuse the personalities when she was in combat with the shapeshifter who had made herself look like Niki–that was cool. Applause all round.
– The look, the special effects, the gore–All of this hit. Even telegraphed scenes like the murder of Charlie by Sylvar were turned into edge-of-your-chair, oh-now-I-have-to-pee stuff by the trickle of blood down her forehead.
– The Petrellis and Hiro, all terrific characters. The rest had their flaws but I definitely want to see them again.