We may need to start reading more of the Dallas Morning News.
Check out the praise this newspaper has for Heroes - as well as its first season DVD - and another show we love, Friday Night Lights...
To watch an episode of FNL or Heroes is to want to watch another, and another. And while there are always the Internet and on- demand services, DVDs remain the ultimate expression of this power-viewing style of consumption. Both collections were made with a keen understanding of this, although, as with the shows themselves, they take opposing approaches.
It includes oodles of audio commentaries, how-they-did-it documentaries and treasures such as creator Tim Kring's cut of the "unaired pilot."
FNL's DVD, meanwhile, like the show itself, is all artful restraint and understatement. Packaging is minimal: a few snapshot-style cast-in-character photographs culminating in an inner-jacket, multipanel portrait of stadium lights against the wide Texas sky.
Each approach, as with almost everything with these shows, is just right. Heroes - with its coils of characters and subplots, its intersecting conspiracy theories - benefits from the bag-of-tricks approach. It's fun to have more stuff to pore over; it's great to hear Kring and company talk about all the minute choices, all the incidental details about this scene or that storytelling twist.
It all feeds the fantasy.
Likewise, you don't really want to see or hear a lot about the making of FNL. This show is like a great magic trick, or even better, a beautiful dream – you don't really want to know how they did it; you don't want to be jostled awake. You just want to be caught up and carried away.Watching these two shows, what breaks through aren't the differences but the similarities. FNL is small-town Texas and football; Heroes is multinational and destiny. But under those two very different facades beats the same human heart. Both are all about the emotional lives and complex relationships of their characters. Both have recurrent images and symbols to create a visual language to instantly put you "in" the story.
Both have mantras that emerged in the first season to sum up the essential spirit. With Heroes, it was "Save the cheerleader, save the world." On FNL, it was "Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose."
Watch either, watch both. This is television at its best, following the trail blazed by the brilliant shows – The Sopranos, The Wire, Arrested Development –that came before, and going even further into a future in which television shows are a new kind of novel, taking the viewer deeper and deeper into the hearts and minds of its characters.
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