Why I watched the Heroes pilot (again)

Heroes is a great example of a show that started strong, but got lost along the way. The pilot, though, remains a fine piece of work.

I rewatched the Heroes pilot at the weekend. The show, when it debuted in 2006, quickly became a hit for NBC but declined after what I consider to be an okay second season and a dreadful third, followed by a so-so fourth. I didn’t watch the whole thing, I admit – most shows, I weather through to the end, but in Heroes’ case, it simply no longer became worthy of my spare time.

One of the amazing things about Heroes was the cross-generational appeal of its premise – my entire family was watching the show, at some point or another. In the pilot, I see why this was the case; it really is just ordinary people with extraordinary powers, with the overall impression that all these small stories are building up to something spectacular.

In my opinion, in never really did. Peter slapping Sylar about, before exploding in the sky? Not really what I was looking for when I started watching the show. Nevertheless, watching the pilot tells you right away why NBC greenlit it. The show was just great fun, well-cast and actually a little arty in the way it was directed. At that point, little did I know that a secret government company known as The Company (genius! Prison Break had one as well) would rise to prominence, and that the character Sylar would flip-flop between good and evil until it just got boring.

Anyway, now I’m moaning – and I shouldn’t be, because watching the Heroes pilot was the best thing I did last weekend. Now I ask myself how far I should venture into the show before pretending the rest of it never happened. I think the height of Heroes fever for me was the jump into the future at episode 20, so perhaps that’s where I’ll call it a day. In any case, the Heroes pilot is a rare demonstration of a show flying out of the gate and knowing what it is from day one; if they’d maintained that momentum throughout its run, maybe the show wouldn’t have come to an end when it did.