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Heroes Watch: Invisible Touch

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Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman; Adrian Pasdar as Grizzly Adams. NBC Photo: Trae Patton

The great advantage of Heroes story-arc structure–setting up a new storyline, e.g., Save the Cheerleader, every half-season or so–is that it allows the show to reinvent itself with a new Big Bad every few months. The disadvantage is that the show has to reinvent itself with a new Big Bad every few months. Some threats or goals are just more compelling than others; that was even a problem sometimes on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although the characters and overall story on that show were so compelling that it didn’t especially bother me.

All of which is to say: Second season of Heroes is not really doing it for me yet. I’m not going to make any premature judgments, and at this point I’m going to keep faith that the show just needs some time to build. But so far nothing I’m seeing this season is as compelling as the prophesied smithereening of New York City. (Granted, I’m biased, since I live in Brooklyn.) Deadly Black Oil Eye Juice? Not yet. “Someone is trying to kill heroes”? Someone is always trying to kill heroes. It’s in the first line of the job description.

Right now, we’re in a funny place where the more interesting characters have less compelling challenges, and the less interesting characters–you get the point. Love seeing Hiro gallavanting around feudal Japan. (“Takezo Kensei is the greatest swordsman the world has ever seen.” “Why does he keep saying his own name?”) The “battle of the twelve swords” was genius, and it’s ironic that in this expensive show the coolest character’s superpower is one that probably requires the smallest special-effects investment. But so far the fix-history story seems like a tangent–though again, I’m hoping for now that it will add up to something bigger. Likewise, I always enjoy seeing Claire and Noah, but Claire Story 2.0 is pretty much Claire Story 1.0 with dad in a funnier shirt, no? She’s in high school, mutilating herself–was anyone else expecting her to feed her toe to Mr. Muggles?–and trying to conceal her identity, and there’s a boy involved. BTDT. Then again, at least there are lizards.

And then Peter. Ah, Peter. I mean, I certainly appreciate the work that Milo Ventimiglia has apparently been doing with the free weights during the off-season. But so far I mainly appreciate his tangling with the Fake Irish–whose accents seem to veer from Scottish to Southern to, I don’t know, Welsh?–as comic relief. Again, hoping hard that this will go somewhere good. But I would have loved to be in the writers’ room when someone said, “And it turns out he’s got… wait for it… amnesia! Huh? Huh?”

I’m most intrigued so far by what seems to be the main Big Bad storyline, namely, whoever or whatever is trying to assassinate the elder heroes. And it was certainly a kick seeing Angela Petrelli getting attacked by something invisible. The drawback is that it’s focusing the action on deadweight Nathan and–no offense to Greg Grunberg, whom I love–Parkman. Hopefully, Mr. Invisible will move on to other targets before long.

Two episodes is too early to judge a serial show like Heroes, of course. I’m just… concerned. Or maybe I’m just crabby. What do you say? Does Heroes need a shot of serum?

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