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Reviewed by Will Harris
obody likes to suffer through a sophomore slump, but that was precisely the fate suffered by “Heroes” during its second season. Given all of the abuse that the show endured at the hands of its fans during Season Two, it was easy for viewers to hope that the show’s writers – led by executive producer Tim Kring – would return from the writer’s strike reinvigorated and ready to repair all of the mistakes that they’d made the previous year. When the decision was made by NBC to offer up the first half of the Season Three premiere for a public viewing at the 2008 Comic-Con in San Diego, the excitement was palpable, and when the reception was, if not rapturous, at least overwhelmingly positive, then it looked like all was forgiven.
Yeah, that lasted for, what, maybe an episode or two after the season premiere?
Even though “Heroes” reached a point during its third season where even some of its most religious viewers were giving up on the show, the third season was absolutely an improvement over its predecessor, in no small part because of the guest stars that were playing bad guys. The season kicked off in deliciously evil style with the “Villains” saga, not only finding a way to bring back the late Mr. Linderman (Malcolm McDowell) but, far more importantly, introducing us to the supposedly just as late patriarch of the Petrelli clan. As Papa Petrelli, Robert Forster absolutely stole the first half of Season Three, just as the second half of the season – subtitled “Fugitives” – was ruled by Zeljko Ivanek, playing a hunter of heroes. And, hey, as long as we’re talking about guest stars, the season was chock full of some familiar-faced good guys as well, with George Takei working his way back into the show as Kaito Nakamura, William Katt as a slimy reporter, Breckin Meyer and Seth Green as a couple of comic nerds, and Clint Howard in a brief appearance as a hero who quickly becomes a victim.
But enough about the guest stars. Let’s talk about the regular cast. Due to the return of Papa Petrelli, we gleaned quite a bit about Nathan and Peter this season, though we ultimately learned far more about their mother by the end of the “Fugitives” arc. Mohinder was a complete waste of time for the majority of both arcs, however, with his storyline paralleling David Cronebnerg’s “Fly” remake far too closely for comfort. We were introduced to a speedster named Daphne Millbrook (Brea Grant) whose connection to Parkman made for the season’s recurring romance. Claire was her typical wishy-washy self, only rarely breaking out of her predictable mold to do something interesting and unexpected, and…
Oh, let’s just quick wasting our time with the character recaps, shall we? We’ve already spent an entire season offering up weekly blogs about every single episode, so if that’s what you came here for, let’s save each other both some time and just steer you over to Premium Hollywood. In truth, the person who made “Heroes” worth watching during its third season was neither a cast member nor a guest star. It was Bryan Fuller, whose return to the fold during the second half of Season Three was widely trumpeted as a move that would save the series’ reputation. That return has since wrapped up, and he’s left the show once more, but during his time in the writers’ room, he managed to steer the show back on course. Fuller brought something back to “Heroes” that never should’ve left in the first place: a feeling that you were watching a comic book brought to life. If “Villains” wasn’t as tremendous a creative success as the season premiere left us feeling that it should’ve been (and, despite Robert Forster, it ultimately wasn’t), then Fuller’s contributions to “Fugitives” – in particular, “Cold Snap,” but his sensibilities were all over “1961” – were enough to wrap up “Heroes: Season Three” with the feeling that the next season might actually be something worth checking out. And you sure couldn’t say that at the end of Season Two.
Special Features: Even though “Heroes” may be losing fans in disconcertingly large numbers, it hasn’t stopped the producers from filling the Season Three set with a huge amount of bonus material for those who’ve opted to stick it out and remain with the series. In addition to many deleted scenes and audio commentaries from the cast and crew, there are several featurettes as well: “The Super Powers of ‘Heroes,’” “Completing the Scene,” “The Prop Box,” “Alternate Stories,” “Genetics of a Scene,” and “The Writers’ Forum.” There’s also a gallery of Tim Sale’s screen art, as well as a faux commercial for Pinehearst.