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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, while teens are definitely going to want to watch this comic book-like fantasy drama, Heroes is iffy due to its significant graphic violence. A central character who's incapable of getting injured frequently suffers debilitating injuries (burning, falls, mutilation), only to walk away unscathed; there are some disturbingly gory murders (heads cut open, bodies impaled by knives and other sharp objects); and explosive images of potential Armageddon are frequent. The show also has some relatively mild sexual content and language to watch out for, but the violence is the big issue here.
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What's the story?
In HEROES, life suddenly changes for a far-flung group of seemingly ordinary people when they begin developing superpowers. New York nurse Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) has been having strange dreams about flying, a quirk that his politically ambitious brother, Nathan (Adrian Pasdar), wants nothing to do with. Las Vegas Web-cam girl Niki Sanders (Ali Larter) has begun to see her dangerous alter ego's reflection in mirrors, while Japanese office worker Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) has literally started turning back the clock. Cop Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) realizes that he can hear what other people are thinking, and jailbird D.L. Hawkins (Leonard Roberts) finds out that he can walk through walls. Texas cheerleader Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) has discovered that she's incapable of getting hurt, and artist Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera) is painting horrifying images that seem to show future events. Meanwhile, Indian genetics professor Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is picking up the pieces of his deceased father's research surrounding a global event that could change the course of all mankind.
Is it any good?
By merging the stories of these drastically different characters from all over the world into one gripping plotline, Heroes creates addictive television drama on a near-epic scale. One of the reasons it's so good is that the show's creators clearly understand the power of the cliffhanger, a device that's bound to propel it into "must see" territory for die-hard TV (and sci-fi/fantasy) junkies.
But as a programming choice for young kids, Heroes falls short of "super," due mostly to the flat-out graphic violence. Much of it is connected to Claire -- she comes away unscathed from some nasty injuries, including a hand down the disposal and a neck-breaking blow from a football player -- but plenty of other scenes depict bloody murders, sawed-open heads, Armageddon-like explosions, and more. Some of it is so gory that most adults will have to turn their heads And kids? Well, they'll likely have nightmares.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of the word "hero" and what it means in everyday life and to the characters on Heroes. Do people need to have super-human powers to be heroic? And is being drastically different from everyone else a curse or a blessing?
Since the ensemble cast includes a diverse mix of sexes, ethnicities, and personality types, families can also discuss cultural bias and sexism. Are male superheroes more powerful than females -- and why do we often assume that they are? Are Americans more heroic than people from other nations -- and why is it such a rarity to see a "foreign" superhero?
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