IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

With ‘Heroes,’ NBC finds its own epic drama

A man throws himself from a 15-story building in downtown Manhattan. He survives the fall (as he was sure he would) thanks to a timely display of human levitation.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A man throws himself from a 15-story building in downtown Manhattan. He survives the fall (as he was sure he would) thanks to a timely display of human levitation.

After school in a small Texas town, a teenager still in her cheerleader's uniform takes a fall of her own, then dashes into a burning building. Within moments, her broken bones and sizzled flesh repair themselves, confirming her fearful suspicions.

A nerdy Tokyo office worker convinced he's meant for better things is training his mind for higher functions. One grand day he teleports himself to bustling Times Square.

What do these people have in common?

For starters, they're characters on the new mystic thriller "Heroes," which premieres at 9 p.m. EDT Monday on NBC.

But they're not the only ones. A drama that rightly bills itself as epic, "Heroes" is loaded with seemingly ordinary people from all over who bear out the theory of a genetics professor in India. His Human Genome Project declares that minute variations in genetic code are exhibiting themselves more and more — and turning more lives upside down.

A Las Vegas stripper and single mother discovers that her reflected image in mirrors has startling secrets to share. An artist is haunted by the realization that he can paint the future.

The professor was working on a systematic formula for identifying these "special" people. But then he is murdered by villains who are out to use his research for their own evil purposes. Now they are after his defiant scientist-son. Who are they, and what's at the root of their sinister mission? Will it put the people who display these eerie gifts in danger — and mobilize them to fight back?

The first episode of this fascinating series sets forth its trippy premise and introduces a number of its newly empowered (the huge ensemble includes Adrian Pasdar, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Milo Ventimiglia, Ali Larter, Santiago Cabrera, Masi Oka and more).

What happens next, and how the paths of these chosen might cross, are questions left hanging by the premiere. And they're delicious ones to ponder.

"Heroes" is, on the one hand, a meditation on unsuspecting humans who, to their delight or horror, are vaulted to extraordinary levels of potential. How will they cope with it? How will they make use of it? Is this some sort of legion of superheroes in the making?

At the same time, their process of self-discovery appears to be unfolding in an apocalyptic context. Something bad seems to be on the horizon. Are they meant to be a global rescuing force?

There seems plenty in just the first hour to snag a viewer's interest — and start the questions flowing. And at least one dandy twist will whet the appetite of conspiracy theorists in the audience.

The expansive vision and population of "Heroes" offers boundless promise for what may lie ahead. It's a show whose freeform, existential mysteries could trigger scores of fan sites.

Something fresh and skillfully executed, "Heroes" is like nothing else on TV. Unless it's an obsessed-upon ABC hit about a large group of people likewise trying to make sense of their world under pressure. With "Heroes," could NBC have found its "Lost"?