I lost most of my Saturday last week to nbc.com, which as a "public service" provides free, full-content access to some of their programming.
One of them, a drama called "Heroes," ate my Saturday.
It's an interesting premise, but not revolutionary in fiction: some ordinary humans are, or soon will no longer be, merely ordinary. The X-Men is just one example. The 4400 is another. Smallville uses kryptonite to impact not just Clark Kent, but half the town. There is a bit of each in this, with a touch of Highlander thrown in as well.
In Heroes, a brilliant but controversial Indian geneticist pursues a theory that mankind is on the cusp of the next stage of evolution, and that there may already be those whose DNA is over the hump and giving them powers the rest of us can imagine. He also believes he can track the places where those with these abilities will appear, so he leaves his teaching post to become a New York Cabbie - where, in the 8 million stories of the naked city, he manages to find the needles in the haystack.
And dies. (Hey, he's a New York cabbie.) His son, also a geneticist, follows him to NYC to find answers re his father's death, and to pursue - or run away from - his father's work.
(super)Naturally, there's something to Dad's theories. All over the world, there are people who in recent weeks have discovered some surprising abilities. Some are pretty cool; others, horrifying. Some have the ability whether they want it or not; others cannot call upon theirs at will, and some have to indulge in self-destructive behavior to see their abilities manifest themselves.
All eventually find their lives complicated by this. Flying would be cool, but if you're running for Congress, you don't want that to get out. Reading minds would be great in police work, but if you can't control it, public places are overwhelming. Being unkillable would seem sweet, but if you're in high school where everyone THINKS they're indestructible already, you're going to be even more stupid by nature.
Some abilities are inexplicable. One becomes a human radiation factory when his emotions get out of control. One has no powers of his own, but shares the powers of whoever he's near. This can be life-saving or cataclysmic, depending on who you stand next to.
At least one character has the ability to accrue the genetic quirks of others (in a rather grisly way) and so goes on a nationwide killing spree.
And where there is a Superman, there is a Lex Luthor, or a shadowy organization to stop, or control, those with extraordinary abilities.
There have been 11 episodes so far. It moves too bloody slow. I should have waited until after the season was over, like many 24 watchers do. I inhaled all 11 episodes at once, and then yelled at my monitor because of where it left me.
But...it's a good pain. For all its faults, it's interesting, and I bonded with a few of the characters.
so...if you have some time to kill in this holiday season, head over to nbc.com and click Video. It's free, the commercial interruptions aren't bad, and the video quality is fine.
Just steer clear of Conan O'Brien. His online content makes his TV show look tame, and that's saying something.