"Heroes": I'm Not Quite Buying It

I started out this season with reasonably high hopes for "Heroes." Granted, I tend to expect good things from most TV shows or movies, which is on the whole a better way to live; hoping for the best beats expecting the worst every time out. That moment when the lights do down and the curtains part and the trumpets blare: That's a good moment, maybe the best one there is, full of the possibility of a story so good it may not even exist.I had hopes for "Heroes" because I'm both a geek and a nerd. (A nerd is someone whose intellect has at one point proven a barrier to social interaction; a geek is someone with an unhealthy focus on or obsession over any given band/TV show/created work. The two groups often overlap, but are, indeed, separate groups.) Pop culture in recent years has given rise to a kind of Everygeek, which only means that producers have figured out that there are ungodly amounts of cash to be made from geeks: The X-Men, Spider-Man, and The Lord of the Rings franchises have too many execs looking at the legions of pasty-faces kids you ignored in high school and seeing big, sweaty dollar signs. And the premise of "Heroes" is aimed squarely at the Everygeek's eager little heart: Normal people wake up one day and realize they have superpowers. It seems like a surefire winner. But, for a variety of reasons, it's not. The dialogue oscillates between horrible exposition and overly ominous warnings about power, bad guys, etc., and it's often painful to hear. There are also the voice-overs, apparently meant to bring an air of gravitas to the series, but the aimless speechifying only makes the show dumber. The same thing happened with "Desperate Housewives," and "Sex and the City" before that: A lead character offering sporadic narration meant to tie together the larger themes explored by the show. It doesn't matter that the voice-overs are senseless, or that they gleefully defy logical flow in favor of such pseudo-meaningful statements as "The world is large" that meander through a few more pointless sentences before petering out. But the biggest problem is the fact that it's a show aimed at geeks but packaged and sold by soulless TV executives who only care about stories inasmuch as they boost the bottom line. The creator of "Heroes," Tim Kring, seems to be a decent and fairly talented guy, but "Heroes" plays like a story without an emotional center that's trying to coast by on its looks. It feels too forced, as if someone tried to make an overly comic-book show without actually caring about the heart of the tale. The show even has an online graphic novel on NBC.com, which both makes perfect sense and is completely stupid. It makes sense because Kring so clearly wants the show to be a comic book, right down to the chapter titles and stylized captions and endless "To be continued..." title cards. But it's dumb because it's pandering to its own supposed origins instead of trying to live up to them, or even surpass them. "Heroes" has all the right moves, but it still feels fake.