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The International Writers Magazine: Two Views of Heroes from Ruby and Calvin

Heroes: A Cultural Phenomenon
Calvin Hussey

In an entertainment industry constantly inundated with this millenniums obsession with super hero culture it’s becoming almost impossible for a truly original idea to stand out in a crowd crammed with Dark Knights, Web-slingers and Caped Crusaders. However, against all odds, one such idea has grown into a major success story and is currently taking over television screens worldwide.
So what is this new program travelling faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive to the top of the nation’s T.V ratings? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Jack Bauer in a cape and ill-fitting spandex? No…It’s Heroes.

Heroes is the latest science fiction drama series to be imported over from the United States. Created by Tim Kring, the show focuses on a diverse group of people, located all around the world, who discover that they each possess unique superhuman gifts.

Amongst the large cast of characters we have; a male nurse, Peter Petrelli, who, after dreaming he can fly, discovers he can do so much more, a Japanese office worker, Hiro, who discovers he can manipulate the space-time continuum, and a teenage cheerleader who discovers that she is seemingly invincible. These characters are just to name a few of what seems to be an ever expanding cast of heroes who, although often situated miles apart, have storylines that ingeniously interlink them into what will likely make for an immensely climactic finale.
The series was first aired in the U.K on February 19th, 2007 on Sci Fi UK and received an audience of 579,000 on its premiere night. The word of its opening success rapidly spread like wild fire and on July 25th, 2007 it was aired on terrestrial television by BBC Two where it received an astounding audience of 4.3 million. So with these figures in mind the key question at hand is; what is it about Heroes that appeals to such a mass audience?

Well firstly, as I have briefly mentioned already, a key secret to the phenomenal success of the program is its large and diverse cast of characters. Characters vary in age, race, class and nationality, each with their own set of unique traits, motives, emotions and most importantly their own fascinating special abilities.
Due to the diverse selection of characters on offer Heroes quite literally has something for people of all ages, races and of every social status to relate to. Each character has a great level of depth and their own involving storylines that ingeniously weave into the fabric of the overall narrative. The effect of this diversity is not only down to the programs creative and talented writers but also down to the incredible cast of actors that feature on the show. Not one actor is badly cast in their role, regardless of their time and experience in the industry, no performance is weak in comparison to its counterparts and only further compliments the involving narrative of the show.

Secondly, I feel the programs writing credibility deserves a separate mention of its own. Each episode further strengthens the narrative, developing each characters back story and adds new intrigue to the developing plot. Every single episode finishes on a new twist or cliff hanger that leaves the audience captivated and eagerly awaiting more.

Finally, the show features an astonishing level of special effects that far surpasses anything currently shown on national and international network television. Due to the excessive and constantly growing level of cast members this is a spectacular feat for a program of any genre or budget and, in conjunction with some spectacular cinematography all around, makes Heroes a visual treat that leaves its audience salivating with glee.

Ever since its worldwide premiere Heroes has continued to grow both in popularity and industry notoriety. Now with its second series well underway, a third in pre-production, and a spin-off mini-series titled "Heroes: Origins" expected to air in the U.S around April 2008, it seems that Heroes is rapidly becoming a cultural phenonemon that will remain strong for years to come…and so far there’s not a single cape in site!

© Calvin Hussey November 2007

And more about HEROES here from Ruby Harrison
Some people are born to be extraordinary…
From its dramatic opening of a total eclipse plunging the world into darkness to its characters realisation of their modern day super powers, Heroes has captured the imagination of millions.

The excellent, although unrealistically gorgeous cast, play a genetics professor who discovers his father’s secret theories about superpowers are real, an artist that can paint the future through his drug addiction, an indestructible cheerleader, a fugitive that cannot be captured and a young Japanese man who can stop time. And this to name but a few of the fantastically realised, although highly unbelievable characters creator Tim Kring has come up with. Their eventual goal? Preventing a catastrophe and ultimately saving mankind.
A disparate group of people become first aware of their abilities, and then drawn to a secret organisation, ‘The Company,’ designed to control super powered people and into a race to stop an explosion from destroying New York City. What is interesting is how each characters life is entwined and in some way linked to the other superheroes and also the differing ways in which their powers affect their personal lives. Although at some points it is necessary to suspend disbelief at these connections, it does well to remind yourself the series is based around cartoon comic books. The second season shows the characters after their climatic meeting at Kirby Plaza in New York and also introduces some new super heroes such as Maya, who produces a lethal illness, and Alejandro, whose power is the antidote.
It’s clever stuff and a winning formula for sure.

Rivalling the phenomena of the Heroes themselves is the hugely positive response the series has had. When premiering in the US it was the nights most watched program among adults aged 18-49, attracting 14.3 million viewers. It has also been met with critical acclaim by the American film institute, which named Heroes one of the 10 best TV programs of the year.

The shows huge popularity has spawned a spin-off, Heroes: Origins, and as well as this the NBC has taken a multimedia approach to the series. A comic book on the website which has hidden links to character blogs, some even on Myspace, with fans being able to add their favourite characters as friends. There are also websites designed especially for deciphering the many hidden clues and symbolism within the episodes.

But what is the reason this show, above others, has had such a positive response? For many it is the intriguing mysteries the script involves, the good acting, or simply the attractive cheerleader, but others say their interest runs deeper than that. It could be said that heroes inspires us to think of the possibilities of the human being, of ourselves. That perhaps if we simply tried a little bit harder the potential we have to excel could be realised. Heroes could also be said to remind us to think and care for others as humanity is so important, and such a big part of what heroes is all about.
Perhaps people also watch it for something else; hope that something similar will happen in real life. Are we all wishing for heroes to come and save us?

© Ruby Harrison November 2007
shl60531 at

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