This week on Heroes: Claire (Hayden Panettiere) continues to marvel at the same powers of regeneration she’s always had! Hiro (Masi Oka) does cute things in feudal Japan! And after a journey of approximately 42 million miles from one vague part of Central America to another vague part of Central America, our new, haplessly murderous hero Maya (The Sopranos’ Dania Ramirez) is still blubbering for her twin brother (Shalim Ortiz) and bleeding black goo from her eyes! Wait, which week is this? Every week.
NBC’s once-inventive series is in a creative sinkhole. Frenetic but bizarrely repetitive, the drama bores from myriad worldwide locales that all look like the backlot of M*A*S*H. Season 2 sees previous standout heroes — unkillable Claire, time-freezing Hiro — gone solo in their own painful, stagnant story lines. Claire is living undercover in California, her now saintlike dad (Jack Coleman) repeatedly warning her not to be interesting. Mission accomplished! Claire’s been saddled with a laser-eyed beau (Rocket Science’s Nicholas D’Agosto) who also has powers — he can fly, with the aid of mediocre special effects. (The writers think we should be dazzled by this ”flying” business, forgetting that people took to the air repeatedly last season.) In an even more labored plot, Hiro has landed in 17th-century Japan, where he finds his idol, the samurai Kensei (Alias’ David Anders), and falls in love with an anachronistically spunky heroine (a must in the time-travel genre). That’s right, Hiro — the most neutered TV character since Screech — is remaining in feudal Japan to ogle a babe. Stripped of any genuine mission, he now has little to do but smile like an adorable, gassy baby. It’s increasingly unbearable.
Which is a good phrase to describe Heroes itself. With its larger mythology shunted to the side (no, a mysterious recurring symbol doth not a uniting backstory make), Heroes feels less like Heroes than a horrid combination of T.J. Hooker and Charlie’s Angels: Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) commits holdups in Ireland; another extraneous new hero, New Orleanian Monica (The Nine’s Dana Davis) is roundhouse-kicking robbers; serial-killing Sylar (Zachary Quinto) has gone fugitive with the weeping twins. What happened to…saving the planet? Like the endangered Earth that’s oft alluded to, Heroes is degrading at a remarkable pace: The dialogue has gone from comic-book cool to Dick-and-Jane obvious, the stylistic angles have turned flat, entire scenes are devoted to Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and Parkman (Greg Grunberg) bickering around their shared apartment like maiden aunts. It’s a sad day for superheroes when you find yourself actually rooting for the end of the world. C-
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