I could watch “Heroes” for just one day

Delighted to be in a mediocre seriesEntertainment Weekly just ran an article about Rosario Dawson in which Kevin Smith calls her a “hot geek.”.

Which to me is like saying “compassionate conservative;” it just doesn’t exist. The terms are mutually exclusive. For those of us who were nerds back when being a nerd meant something (mostly it meant rejection and shame), this whole new movement, what with your X-Men and Spider-man movies being big-ticket productions and movies about hobbits winning Oscars, is a disturbing trend.

Only the most naive of nerds would see this as welcome, fulfilling some life-long fantasy that someone who looks like Rosario Dawson would walk into his gaming session in the back of the comic book store and confess her love for him in perfect Klingon. The cold hard reality is that when someone who looks like Rosario Dawson can speak Klingon, then there’s even less need in the universe for someone who looks like you.

So sorry, Mr. Smith. You’ll still be welcomed into the Dragon Con with open, sweaty arms, but your friend will have to stay outside. We have a cosmic order to maintain. Open the gates too wide, and you get stuff like “Heroes”.

For all I know, “Heroes” was a true labor of love by a dedicated, hard-core comic book fan who’s wanted to do a story like this ever since he was a teenager. It sure doesn’t come across like it, though. Watching it, you don’t get an image of a dedicated artist passionate about telling a story, but a group of NBC execs passionate about cashing in on the success of the X-Men movies and “Lost” and too unoriginal to do anything other than copy the format of every other “disparate people brought together by supernatural circumstances” package series.

The whole thing has a junior-varsity, C-list vibe to it. Even starting with the opening text crawl, a completely unnecessary prologue that threatens this is just the “first volume” in an “epic story.” Then the pompous, overblown, and completely unoriginal title credit: “Chapter One: Genesis.” They’re getting the comic book feel down, but unfortunately it’s an Image comic book.

And it just goes on like that. It’s not horribly inept or offensive, just completely unoriginal, unsubtle, and ham-handed. You’ve got two-dimensional characters in stock situations doing uninteresting things. Everybody talks in exposition. The mysterious, intriguing villain is neither mysterious nor intriguing. The performances are mostly competent but completely unremarkable (which is a feat, considering all the awful, clumsy exposition-heavy dialogue the actors have to deliver). It’s all Generic Television Superhero Product.

For me it was all summed up by one scene: our Japanese character, who’s named Hiro, because you see that’s clever, is having a conversation about being a loser with his salaryman friend in a karaoke bar, because you see they’re in Japan, and on stage are two guys doing the “I Want it That Way” bit. It was a dull, pointless conversation between stereotypical characters in a totally stereotypical situation, with an obvious and clumsy and already-outdated and not very clever topical pop culture reference.

There was one moment at the very end of the pilot that had a halfway-intriguing twist and almost made me curious as to what happens next. I read on that NBC site, in an interview with the creator of the series, that the idea for that came from his friend Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of “Lost.” Reading that just made me kind of sad for the guy, that his one original idea he has to admit came from somebody else.

I don’t think I have enough pity to keep watching the show past a second episode, though. If I want to watch a series about people with strange new powers in a real-life setting, I’ll watch “The 4400” or “Smallville.” If I want to watch a series about a bunch of disparate people brought together by unnatural circumstances, I’ll keep watching “Lost.” Or maybe I’ll just read a real comic book.