There was something special about Heroes season 1. Maybe it's that the show was unburdened by expectations and past missteps, maybe it's that the ideas felt fresh and exciting, or maybe it's simply that the writing was witty and even, dare I say it, intelligent. Back then, it was unadulterated, unabashed pop-entertainment, but the quality was high and "guilty pleasure" never really seemed appropriate. Generations did not even qualify for that honor, re-treading many of season 1's stories, making a whole slew of new mistakes, and being generally subpar at everything in the process. The premiere of Villains is certainly a few steps above that -- the characters are once again united by a single interweaving plot, as they were in season 1, which is sure to make the story interesting. There's already been plenty of excitement and certain visions we've seen suggest that lots of explosive conflict lies ahead. But for its good looks, its soapy heart, and its able form, the show seems to be missing a soul.
In the two-hour Villains premiere moments of true greatness are not only nowhere in sight, they would be wholly inappropriate given the content of the episodes. Cheap, efficient dialogue moves scenes along at a brisk pace and only Hiro and Ando seem to walk away unscathed as usual. They've lost little of the charm -- and seem to have gained some due to the reunion after Generations split them up. None of the cast get to work for their keep in the Villains premiere, through no fault of their own: neither the writing nor the directing offers any of them opportunities to shine or test themselves. Those that can regularly be counted on glide by with the simple material they are given, and those that cannot are not exceptionally embarassed. Even the score is mediocre, though, to be fair, there is little material worthy of scoring on the screen.
Villains seems bent on fixing Generation's missteps such as splitting up key characters and separating their stories into uninvolved filler. The problem is that Genesis made many similar mistakes, but it was forgiven because of the show's unique identity. And now in pursuit of its former glory it loses track of the qualities that made it stand out. More than ever Heroes seems solid in its footing as a pulp show, and the relative successes over Generations only accentuate this change. It is an efficient show - and that is saying much after Generations - and for that, next week it will retain a viewer, but for now that is all that can be said.