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Lords of Time #8: Doctor Who Vs Heroes

Guest contributor K-Ci Williams continues the series pitting Doctor Who against other time travel fiction.

doctor-who-heroes

“Every hero must learn his purpose. Then he’ll be tested and called to greatness.” – Hiro Nakamura

Time travel is an astonishing medium of conveying the wonders of the universe that stretch too far for our reaches; exploited across different types of media. The concept has also perplexed even the greatest minds, and continues to this day. Perhaps our own curiosity for the possibility of undoing past mistakes or to catch a glimpse of the future is what gives time travel the allure of brilliance that has kept it in our culture.

Essentially, the concept of time travel has survived because of how it is constantly rebranded across media: the fundamental foundations of the idea have been changed and altered, used in diverse ways. I must agree with my other fellow contributors, in saying that time travel is magical. The constant rejuvenation of the notion that an individual has the ability to travel faster than the speed of light is what has kept it going all of these years.

In celebration of the most successful time travel television show in current history, the Lords of Time concept is brought to a potentially familiar series, with the challenger being a television show that dabbles in time travel, futuristic artistry, cellular regeneration, levitation and telepathy: Heroes. The notion of meddling in history is heavily emphasised in Heroes, and the diversity in actors and special abilities bring forth this concept in a significant manner. The show’s premise is ingenious and intertwines the alluring stories of each troubled hero to the next as they struggle with the use of their granted abilities. Heroes has the attraction of very different characters with very different abilities, who unite to save the innocent and defeat evil, with witty and complex twists and turns that will have  you on the ride of your life for 77 episodes.

About the Challenger!

Country of Origin: United States

Heroes follows the separate lives of several humans who have developed extraordinary abilities. These abilities bind them; in one way or another they are connected. Each main character’s story is developed separately and as time passes they cross paths and we learn how their stories are interwoven. This is the story of ordinary people who discover extraordinary super powers after a solar eclipse reveals them, and how these abilities affect the characters’ daily lives.

The Lure!

Heroes is definitely worth viewing. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the show is the exploration of all of the abilities the characters are given. Heroes features a host of special humans, each with a different ability. Arguably, the whole main cast are interesting because of their diversity in ethnicity and power. Here are three of the most interesting characters and their abilities:

Hiro Nakamura – has the ability to manipulate time and space. Hiro lives in Japan. His family was killed in the Hiroshima bombing. This gives him the determination to strive for greatness and to achieve his life goal of becoming a hero to many. Hiro must prove to himself that he can save the lives of others and that the gift he has been given is to be used wisely and for the greater good.

Claire Bennet – has the ability of cellular regeneration. She struggles to keep her secret, well, a secret and  even films so called suicide attempts because she knows she can just pop her bones back in and the tissue will regenerate and even though it’s obvious – she is beautiful!

Sylar – His abilities include using his finger to create razor winds. He murders his victims by slicing open their forehead; sometimes taking the brain out as well.

Aside from the array of brilliantly written characters, the use of time travel and the allure of the special effects is what really drew me to Heroes. It’s important to me because it paved the way for Doctor Who, which has inevitably become my most treasured science fiction television series.

Dynamics and Differences!

Doctor Who is in many ways similar to Heroes, but the type of storytelling is not one of these similarities. The circumstances and vantage points from which each series is told separate the unique story structure of Heroes from Who. If Heroes was tonally anything near Who though, it would still fare legitimately well, considering most American audiences wouldn’t have heard as much about Doctor Who as they do now. Who follows the unearthly adventures of the Doctor; whereas Heroes features the earthly day to day struggles of the superiorly abled.

Heroes proves itself a worthy opponent to Doctor Who through its unique treatment of time travel. The notion is not the main concept of the show as has been developed in modern Who, but despite not taking centre stage, it does remain integral to the plot. Hiro Nakamura has the ability to freeze time as well as travel through it. I liken his time travel abilities to the use of Doctor Who’s Vortex Manipulator, because only his body teleports with him when he travels through time and space. However, the use of the Vortex Manipulator is much more sophisticated and opportune with only coordinates required for pin-point precision for the wearer to materialise. At times, Hiro has little control over the destination (similar to Quantum Leap). In this respect, he and the Doctor belong to the same club.

The importance of time travel is a concept that is integrated differently between the two series. In Doctor Who, time can differ depending on the event that has occurred at that point in time. There are fixed points, and some are in flux. The Doctor understands the rules of time travel: Do not interfere with fixed points. Hiro Nakamura knows this as well. In Heroes, time is expressed significantly as something you must never meddle with. However, when Hiro is thrown into another point in time and space, where he knows of its historical significance, he must never interfere. Without spoiling anything for potential viewers, Hiro notices that circumstances do not align with what he knows to be history’s intended course, so he must be the one to interfere so that history remains constant.

Like most successful time travel shows, Heroes utilizes the genre in a very interesting way. We follow the adventures of Hiro as he travels through time, but eventually he ends up meeting his future self. Now, we’ve seen this many times in Doctor Who, most notable in The Three Doctors and The Day of the Doctor. In the former, the Time Lords give as much power as they can to the Doctors in order to have them next to one another. The sheer power needed to keep the paradox at bay is colossal, but this isn’t such a big deal in Heroes. Present and Future Hiro meet and occupy the same space without any problems. However, instances of visiting Future Hiro in an early episode and then revisiting him later on to tell the full story is something that Steven Moffat has used a lot in his Doctor Who writing. In The Big Bang, the Doctor dematerialises and then reappears when speaking to Rory. In this example, we only learn why later on when the second half of the story transpires. It’s all good fun – really – I promise!

The combination of the Doctor and his companions is something that has developed Doctor Who in its fifty year history; the sheer number of allies of the Doctor has given cause for inevitable changes alongside the regenerative Time Lord. The relationship between a hero and his companion is explored in a new light in Heroes. Hiro has his sidekick, Ando Masahashi. Their bond is tested throughout the series, but there is no doubt that both are loyal to each other, as the Doctor and his companions are.

Additionally, a major difference in space travel is what separates the type of stories told in Doctor Who from Heroes. In the former, the Doctor can travel anywhere in time and space which allows an array of stories to be told under various circumstances. In Heroes, the plots are earthbound, hence making the space travel of Hiro Nakamura only on our home planet, isolating the story potential to Earth.

Interestingly, Heroes incorporates the concept of cellular regeneration. It’s a completely different kind of regeneration than Doctor Who, because instead of changing her face, Claire Bennet – aka Invincible Girl – heals the cells in her body to regain her beauty. It’s a strange notion, and there is definitely a contrast in the two types.

Overall, Heroes is an amazing series which actually led me to Doctor Who. If I had never seen Heroes, I wouldn’t have been exposed to science fiction and amazed by the allure of time travel. Then, I never would have had the courage to go out and find Doctor Who. No matter which wins, Who or Heroes, I am content that both are amazing.

Score!

  • Plot – 4.5/5
  • Characters – 4.5/5
  • Character Development – 4/5
  • Tearjerkers – 2/5
  • Timey-Wimey Ball – 4/5
  • Plot Point – 3.5/5

 Based on these criteria, Heroes scored 22.5 out of a possible 30. This means that the rankings look like this now:

  1. Steins;Gate25/30
  2. Back to the Future / Life on Mars24/30
  3. Heroes22.5/30
  4. Future Diary 22/30
  5. Quantum Leap -- 20/30
  6. Shadow of Destiny19.5/30
  7. The Time Machine16.5/30

Join us next time when we rake up another challenger. Clue for next article: 6:00AM.

Step back in time...

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57 comments
The Oncoming Jellybaby
The Oncoming Jellybaby

Does anyone remember Voyagers? A time traveller with a companion, a Voyager Council and an evil Voyager. Sound familiar?

Shadestryke
Shadestryke

Heroes is one of my favourite series - other than Doctor Who of course! 




How strange is it that this particular series should be reviewed this week, the same week as the announcement that Heroes is returning? Is there something you're not telling us, Gustaff?






OnTheFieldsOfTrenzalore
OnTheFieldsOfTrenzalore

Hiro's family didn't die in Hiroshima - his father is in a lot of series 1. His older sister is also alive. Also, Sylar's ability is Intuitive Aptitude - basically he knows how things work... and then he goes on to do a lot of terrible deeds in the series... sorry, but I just feel like clarifying - I love the series a lot. xD Other than that, cool article! :D Similarly, my favourite series before Doctor Who was Heroes :)


DawnTime
DawnTime

Strange I did watch some of this series and liked it but can I remember most of it NO.  Is it still going.?

Polyphase
Polyphase

Never heard of this one either, Oh it's american. :(

Mattdream
Mattdream

What? Heroes has tons of tearjerkers!

AlessandroArsuffi
AlessandroArsuffi

I really loved Heroes. Hiro Nakamura's been a great character and, news of the day, I just received the information that it'll return in 2015 with the title "Heroes Reborn" as a sequel to the original series. Sounds another parallel with Doctor Who, huh?

Anyway: the clue for your next article is even easier than the former one. Still, your choice is brilliant, You may have mentioned the titular mammalian species. You may have named the main actor. On the contrary, you went with the most relevant element in the plot: a specific and repetitive time. Good job!

Gerard Morvan
Gerard Morvan

Good article, as usual. Now, let's go for the classics : The Time Tunnel.

DasManiac
DasManiac

Hope The Terminator is going to be featured at some point.

twoheartsonemind
twoheartsonemind

Here's hoping that Warehouse 13 and Misfits get reviewed.

Warehouse 13 seems to always get overlooked, but it is a fantastic show and it's use of time travel is pretty interesting.

TheCapaldiMasterplan
TheCapaldiMasterplan

On a related note: so glad Heroes has essentially been revived. Hopefully they're allowed to actually do what they want this time and have each series begin with a brand new cast of characters, as opposed to being forced to keep the same group.


Kylephantom4
Kylephantom4

Just to clarify to the people talking about heroes reborn being reboot, its not, its a revival, which means its continuing the story, its actually considered to be a 5th season

YourSpacialHatness
YourSpacialHatness

Life On Mars actually got 24 (if you count up the individual scores)...

spotshouse
spotshouse

Lots of Star Trek had time travel all the way back to the original series. The 1996 First Contact was all about changing the future.

Wibbly-Wobbly is John Reese
Wibbly-Wobbly is John Reese

Hm, but Gustaff. Whenever I see Heroes mentioned, someone (or many) always complain that Season 1 was amazing but the rest were terrible.

Disolus
Disolus

I tried to get into heroes years ago, ironically it was the news that Christopher Eccleston was going to be in it that drew me to the series. But I dunno, I never made it to Eccleston's debut, the show just didn't hold my attention.

spotshouse
spotshouse

Just for the sake of accuracy, Hiro's family was not killed in Hiroshima. 

Timhogan
Timhogan

Very fitting that this was posted today, the same day that NBC announces "Heroes Reborn" 13-episode miniseries for 2015.  Such a great show, I admit it definitely wasn't as good at the end as the beginning, but I can't wait to see more.

PimpMyTARDIS
PimpMyTARDIS

I do miss Heroes greatly. I wouldn't have minded if they'd cancelled it and let them round it off with a final season rather than cancelling it abruptly before they could build on season 4's cliffhanger.

I got the complete box set for Christmas last year and watched over them all again, feeling like a punch in the face getting to the end of series 4 with nothing to follow

Xaven
Xaven

I've been meaning to get around to watching the show for years. My sister was a fan of it and kept recommending it to me, but I never found the time. Thanks for reminding me about it. I'll have to take a look.

MikeGreenhalgh
MikeGreenhalgh

Out of curiosity, are you going to review misfits? if you haven't seen it, it's well worth a watch, and it's all on 4OD

Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

I saw some promos for Heroes when it first came out and thought it was worth a watch, but never actually got around to watching it. I have a friend who watched it and he said it was good, at least to begin with. I think after reading this I might finally get around to checking it out. Good job, as great a read as ever. I'm surprised you've found so many things to compare Doctor Who to, but you're doing a great job of it. Keep up the good work

Kylephantom4
Kylephantom4

Im on the 3rd season, volume 4, and so far its absolutely brilliant, one of the best shows ive ever watched, well written and thought out

itai33
itai33

How about homestuck for a future article? The time travel there is fantasticly done

Gustaff
Gustaff

Good job k-ci. Time travel as a Super power check

Jawsey
Jawsey

Heroes was a great series, and I'm glad the writer seems to have largely reviewed/compared it on the basis of the first season, at the peak of it's powers. Moments like the third season we all try to forget... Missed a big one though, that Ecclestone had a key role for several episodes! (Note; just heard today the series has been rebooted for 2015 by NBC, which is great news)










The Grey Ghost
The Grey Ghost

Also in its favour, Christopher Eccleston was in it briefly

Captain Grumpy
Captain Grumpy

Why does it say life of mars scored 25? i think the TARDIS placed this in this article and made this wibbly wobbly.

The Finn
The Finn

An interesting article. However, there seems to be a little calculation/other mistake in the scores...

KCi Williams is Moffat
KCi Williams is Moffat

Actually, I wrote this article :p and no I have no idea that the day my article was published later spawned the announcement that it would be revived for a series. However, it was by chance, as I wrote this back in December :D

KCi Williams is Moffat
KCi Williams is Moffat

I also know that his ability is that, but the main aim was to get people interested in the show, so I thought pitching his most disgraceful 'talent' it would get people really interested, as the visuals of him slicing peoples heads sort of became motifs in a way :)

Timhogan
Timhogan

@Wibbly-Wobbly Strawberry Jelly  It's sad but true.  Heroes did something that a lot of shows like that do, there was way too much build up hype and power in the first season.  Too much stuff happened that by the time the second season came around there wasn't much left to tell that could be as awesome as the first season.  So they tried to recapture that magic and failed pretty badly.  The writers strike was around that time too, so the second season didn't really get polished and then the third season was a bit rushed.  As much as I liked the characters, it would of been more beneficial to them to stick to their original plan to make each season "stand alone arcs" which would of introduced new characters each year.  Would of made it easier to do fresh stories, instead they stuck with the same characters and it just turned into a mess.  That's why I'm hoping this new mini-series they announced is a clean slate, new characters in the same world.

Gustaff
Gustaff

I didnt write the article. K-ci williams did. I also have no idea the reboot news would be today or anything else mentioned. I merely co-ordinated the series. Im just glad people are enjoying the series and have more time travel to watch.

VERITASERUMUK
VERITASERUMUK

@PimpMyTARDIS  I also used to enjoy Heroes. It annoyed me that they cancelled the show and yet left it on a cliffhanger. They could have at least done a mini series or a movie to end the show. Season 1 was amazing.

Disolus
Disolus

And it had time travel!

Gustaff
Gustaff

Ive sent dwtv a message. Itll be sortes out soon. Ignore It for now

PimpMyTARDIS
PimpMyTARDIS

It depends how available it is to me. I don't know if the BBC will broadcast it again or whether it'll be available on Netflix or something

PimpMyTARDIS
PimpMyTARDIS

I also enjoyed season 3 particularly the second half

spotshouse
spotshouse

@ThatGuywiththeBowTie  Zachary Quinto, George Takei, Malcolm McDowell, Nichelle Nichols, Dominic Keating, Michael Dorn. There's more but I can't think of them.