Heroes: Season 3 

2008-2009

How the mighty have fallen. After a near-genius debut, NBC's "Heroes" plummeted creatively with a second season seemingly intent on destroying everything that was good about the show. Hearing fan complaints (and seeing the massive ratings freefall), creator Tim Kring pledged the third time would be the charm.

He was right "¦ for a while. Season three opens with the same kind of sharp characterization and exciting plotting that captured millions of viewers' imagination in the first place. But after a few episodes, the enthusiasm wanes as the show slumps back into his old habits: stories become incomprehensible, dialogue is meaningless, and emotions are nearly nonexistent.

Worse, none of these superpowered heroes "? or villains "? is fallible. A show like this should challenge your expectations, but when one person dies, only to be resurrected one way or another, its story lines cease to have any real stakes.

It's good-looking nonsense, but nonsense all the same, virtually requiring a flowchart to keep track of all that's going on, even if the only movement is in circles. Midway through the 25 episodes, a new arc is presented in which HRG (Jack Coleman) corrals all the heroes as if they were terrorists, but the plane they're in crashes, rendering them fugitives. This attempt at hitting reset works, but only for about two episodes. Then it's back to business as snooze-ual.

I hate to see "Heroes" suffer, but it's squandered all its considerable year-one goodwill. At least they try to make up for it with voluminous extras, the best of which may be a gallery of the talented Tim Sale' s artwork.

"?Rod Lott

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