Heroes 3.20 – Welcome Back, Bryan

Cue up the John Sebastian, people, ’cause it’s time to formally offer a hearty “welcome back” to Bryan Fuller. Tonight’s episode is the first time we’ve seen the man’s name in the writing credits since the glory days of “Heroes,” i.e. Season 1, and although his return comes at the expense of “Pushing Daisies,” you have to respect the guy for trying to do his part of save the series that he helped to make. And, yeah, I know, it’s not like he created the show, but given how many times Fuller’s “Company Man” has been held up as the series’ definitive episode, you can’t deny that his contributions helped make “Heroes” appointment television during the 2007 – 2008 TV season.

It was clear from the opening sequence, with Zeljko literally being handed a gift-wrapped Puppet Master, that we were finally going to get something we hadn’t seen in forever: a “Heroes” episode that actually felt like it was taken from a comic book. You wouldn’t think it’d be so hard to accomplish that in a show about people with superhuman abilities…and, apparently, it isn’t hard for Fuller, since he’s proven time and time again that he can manage it. Watching Zeljko turn the tables on Mohinder was awesome (“Why did you bring me here?” “I thought it’d be a whole lot easier than carrying you.”), and his typically tense conversations with HRG were typically solid, as was the HRG / Mama Petrelli chat at the beginning.

I don’t think there was anything that came out of Hiro’s mouth tonight that wasn’t genius, whether it was his addressing of Matt Parkman, Jr. (“Baby Matt Parkman, we will save you; if you understand, shake rattle once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no'”), his using a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode to rationalize how a de-aging process might’ve occurred and offering up a “Wrath of Khan” reference (“Life from lifelessness!”), or his asking Ando, “What are we saving the baby from? Lead-based toys?” I thought it was a great touch that, despite the TV being turned on and off repeatedly, Hiro and Ando still never once noticed that it was actually the baby’s daddy on the screen. The sequence where Hiro finally addressed having witnessed his mother’s death in the past and had an emotional bonding moment with Ando was unexpectedly effective (sometimes you forget that those guys can work together in drama as well as comedy), but then it was back to the comedy with the “E.T.” homage. And once the men in black busted in to take Li’l Parkman and Matt’s ex into custody…words fail me. Hiro’s powers are back! Thank you, Toddler Touch and Go! Except they’re not entirely, which means he can stop time again but still can’t teleport. Oh, well, so the kid’s not perfect. Anyone else do a spit take when Hiro rolled Ando out in a wheelbarrow?

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“Heroes” directors talk “Fugitives,” fans, and (Bryan) Fuller

The return of “Heroes” from its mid-season vacation is coming up fast…the show returns with its latest saga, “Fugitives,” on Monday, February 2…and the folks working behind the scenes are excited about it, even if some of the fans are less than thrilled with the way the show has been progressing in its third season.

“Part of the fun of being a fan is the grousing,” acknowledged Allan Arkush, who not only serves as one of the show’s directors but also as an executive producer. “That’s certainly one of the biggest functions of the internet: to be a place where you can get pissed off and show it. But I thought Tina Fey was pretty funny about it on the Golden Globes. I mean, I didn’t disagree with her point of view on it! It’s fine, but I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of the Season 2 DVDs, and people have been saying, ‘Well, when you look at them in a row, it’s a completely different experience, and now I see how the whole thing is threaded together!’”

Arkush doesn’t tend to read the negative press in that much detail, but he did take particular issue with Entertainment Weekly’s recent smackdown of the “Villains” episode.

“I thought it was way off mark,” he said. “They said something about how it was one of the worst episodes of the year of any show, and I thought, ‘That’s not true at all! This is actually a really good episode!’ It was the one where we went back and showed how Sylar met Elle and showed what Arthur Petrelli had done, and I thought it was fun to kind of go back and see how all of that happened and see parts of their lives that we hadn’t seen, but they said, ‘Oh, it’s a very contrived concept.’ I liked it. It was one of my favorite episodes of the year!”

It’s fair to say, however, that just about everyone – not just fans, but, indeed, Arkush as well – is excited about the return of Bryan Fuller to the “Heroes” family. (Granted, they’re probably not that thrilled that it took the cancellation of “Pushing Daisies” to get him back, but you take the good with the bad.)

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