I guess I hit the target when I blogged the other day that the best new TV series this year is “Heroes” (sci-fi/mystery) and “Jericho” (action/mystery), with “Vanished” (occult/mystery) biting the bullet mostly because it’s killed by “Heroes” at the same day/time rather than because it’s not good.
While it’s not an indication of actual viewership, you can get a good idea on primetime success by the number of comments on their respective IMDb forums. “Heroes” fills up the first comment page every 1 hour, with “Jericho” needing about 1 day, and with “Vanished” usually needing about 3 days. The rest of the new series (e.g. “Smith”, “Six Degrees”, “The Unit” etc) filling up that page only within 5 days! Apparently “Kidnapped” does pretty well too (just 2 days to fill up the front page of comments), although I only watched the first episode only, and in a hurry, so I can’t offer a concrete review of it.
By far, “Heroes” is the most popular of all so far. It’s the story about some every-day people who find themselves having supernatural powers. But there is a deeper story behind their powers, why they only now finding out about them, about a government conspiracy, and the real bad guys who want to destroy the world etc. The thing is, “Heroes” might not actually be the “best” in terms of acting and direction, but it’s extremely popular because all these Superman, Spiderman and Hulk fans have to fill up their needs somehow until the new superhero movies come out. Make no mistake though, “Heroes” does not encompass people wearing silly costumes and the like. It’s mostly a mystery show, a lot like “Lost” in that respect. It has a “bigger” story around it that will be built on each episode.
“Jericho” is about the story of a young man who decides to go back to his hometown after a number of years away, but when he comes back his town witnesses a big nuclear explosion in the horizon. They don’t have electricity, they don’t have a way to communicate with others in other cities and they are in total chaos regarding if this was an isolated incident or a full scale world nuclear war. My guess is that the isolated Jericho town is put into test by the government in order to observe the people there under such a stressing situation. I think that the guy who claims that he is an ex-cop and that he just happened to stop by at the town is an “agent” of a sort who reports back with his findings. However, this is just a guess, as there have been only 2 episodes of Jericho so far. Again, Jericho is a lot like “Lost” in terms of the mystery involved. There you have a few people isolated and in distress trying to find out what has happened.
Finally, “Vanished”. From one side it is a “being-done-before” kind of FBI show (which is what makes it the less interesting of the 3 series presented here), but on the other side the fact that it only tries to find the solution about a single case (a senator’s wife disappearance) and the fact that the Masons and the occult have a role to play, it makes it pretty interesting and intriguing. The action is fast paced and a lot of things are happening in the 44 minutes of each episode. I think that “Vanished” is doomed because of “Heroes” though. Same day, same time, different network. “Vanished” should have moved to 9 PM Tuesday (right after the very popular “House”) and have the show playing at that time (called “Standoff”) moved to Vanished’s slot on Mondays. Update: Nice going Fox! Tonight they killed off the main character!
“Standoff” sucks. Like we care about two special-force negotiators who play the cat and mouse with their boss and with their own relationship. There is no “deeper” mystery or plot to explore. There you are having individual non-connected episodes and only have their silly on-off relationship to keep things glued together. Boooo.