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Reviewed by Will Harris
obody likes to beat a dead horse, but in the case of “Heroes: Season Four” – which has since turned out to be the final season of the series – it’s hard to let the occasion of its release slip by without taking one last opportunity to bemoan how much potential “Heroes” had when it started and how little of that potential it subsequently realized beyond its first season.
I’ll be the first to admit that when “Heroes” returned for its fourth season, I was not amongst the viewers who tuned in. After watching and blogging the show for three consecutive seasons, I was provided with the opportunity to take a pass on doing a weekly blog for Season Four, and despite having more or less enjoyed the previous three seasons, it was amazing how quickly I abandoned the series. I maintained my TiVo season pass for a few episodes into Season Four, but I kept putting off watching them until I eventually realized that I simply no longer had any interest in the fates of Claire, Peter, Nathan, Hiro, Ando, and the rest of the “Heroes” gang.
Now, thanks to “Heroes: Season Four” hitting DVD, I’m finally able to see what I missed, and well, I stand by my decision: bailing out wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
I wanted to be excited by Season Four of the series, I really did. And when I first started watching, I must admit that I found myself quickly drawn into the storyline which revolved around the inscrutable Samuel and his mysterious carnival filled with super-powered individuals. I was also intrigued by the Sylar / Nathan storyline, wondering how long it would take before Sylar’s personality took over once more; I was legitimately fascinated with how Matt Parkman was being haunted by the echo of Sylar’s mind that was still housed within him; and Peter’s desire to save the world one patient at a time was also interesting. Less successful, however, was Claire’s ongoing attempt to carve out a life for herself in the world of college…and bisexuality. As for the Hiro’s-got-a-brain-tumor material, it would’ve been much better if they hadn’t once again fallen back on the tried and true plot device of time travel. Still, it did reward longtime viewers of the series by allowing Hiro to reunite briefly with his old flame, Charlie (Jayma Mays, now of “Glee”), even if their relationship didn’t exactly end up playing out in storybook fashion.
In its fourth season, “Heroes” suffered from much of the same shortcomings of previous years, with a tendency to drag out storylines far too long (Joseph and his carnival folk would’ve been great fodder for half a season, but stretching it to a full season was too much), and, perhaps more annoyingly, pursuing concepts bearing strong resemblances to previous premises. I touched upon it earlier, but seriously, enough with the time travel. And how many times do we have to endure Claire not listening to her father and having it backfire in her face? In a world where the limits are only those of the imaginations of its writers, you’d think that they wouldn’t have had to keep repeating themselves, but look at the penultimate episode of “Heroes” – “The Wall,” which flashes back to HRG’s days as a used car salesman, married to a woman who isn’t Sandra – and then think of the classic Season One episode, “Company Man.” That one felt thoroughly original. “The Wall” felt like a desperate attempt to recapture the same kind of magic…and it failed.
Alas, poor “Heroes.” Now you are gone, but you will not soon be forgotten. For years to come, critics and TV geeks will speak of you as a show that never quite lived up to its potential, and they will likely suggest that Season Four found you living longer than necessary. That ain’t necessarily so, though. Season Four isn’t awful. It just tends to serve as a reminder of what might’ve been – just like Season Two and Three did.
Special Features: As per usual, series creator Tim Kring and the gang have offered up a solid batch of extras for the fans, including audio commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, a design gallery, one of those “Anatomy of a Scene” featurettes, and a few other documentaries.