Monday, January 08, 2007


Heroes Canon & Time Travel

In the context of fiction, the canon of a fictional universe comprises those stories, histories, etc. that are considered to be genuine, and those events, characters, settings, etc. that are considered to have inarguable existence within the fictional universe. Usually items that are considered canon come from the original source of the fictional universe while non-canon material comes from adaptations or unofficial items.

In the case of Heroes many of the changes that occurred early on appeared only in the un-broadcast version of the original pilot, "In His Own Image" (Isaac's cutting his own hand off for heroin, the engineer (Ted), terrorists, Micah and the greyhound bus, etc.) This version was aired at Comic-Con '06 in San Diego last summer. A very small select group of people viewed this showing. To my knowledge it has never aired during the normal Heroes time-slot on NBC (though I do believe that the Sci-Fi channel aired it at least once.) The changes that were made were due to editing and story progression and were determined by the creators of the show. The decision to make these changes and air "Genesis" instead of the original pilot means that the creators wished to bring to the masses the version which aired on Monday, September 25th, 2006 and not the trial version which aired in San Diego. The changes negate the earlier version's entry as canon. But that also does not mean that they cannot take artistic liberties and make any changes they deem necessary as they go. I agree that much of the canon is not written in stone and for good reason, the possibility to make this a much better show by making slight changes is left open. Much like the backdoor left open to a computer system the writers have given themselves room to navigate when writing the series. I think it a very smart move…

Because NBC publishes the somewhat weekly graphic novels and Hiro’s own blog on their main page they should both be considered canon. One, grey area though is the gallery of photographs. These images, while appearing on the NBC main Heroes site, are subject to different criteria. These images are still photographs taken on set during filming of the show. There is heavy editing to the show, however, which means some photo images do not depict scenes that actually appeared in the show. This poses a problem as far as canon is concerned. Which images apply and which don’t? My own thoughts are that if a place, character or action occurred on the show then it should be allowed as canon (i.e. Sylar’s apartment, the world map (Sylar’s, Chandra’s and Mohinder’s), the Burnt Toast CafĂ©, etc.) For example, Sylar’s apartment was given a great deal of camera time but quick glimpses of the entire space did not show every detail. Photographs from the set of Sylar’s apartment, which are highly detailed, should be allowed as canon. On the reverse, there was a scene in the basement of the police department when Sylar was trying to kidnap Molly Walker that depicted a frozen policeman on the floor. This scene never aired so the policeman and the action should not be considered canon.

Time Travel

There seems to be two very different camps to the time travel issue in Heroes. Some believe that the past cannot be changed and that some force would prevent Hiro from doing so. If he traveled back in time it is because he was predestined to do so. Others believe that Hiro can change the past and in doing so will create a fork in the timeline. We must all be aware by now how very difficult this subject is to write out and to write about. There is so much continuity to check and so many previous "public" or "published" rules that it becomes confusing to follow. That time travel, since it is not real, has NO rules seems to escape many people. Oh, the hard scientists, to be sure, will be the first to establish that there ARE many rules to time travel but they are totally irrelevant in the landscape or language of a fictional story. While we cannot ignore physics we certainly can push them to the side of the road. This is, after all, fiction. Can you go back in time and kill your grandfather? Of course you can! And still live to tell about it. If you write fiction anything becomes possible. Making it sound plausible and smart and creative is the difficult part. Tim Kring has been masterful, creative and plausible in his portrayal of time/space manipulation. So far, I see no trouble in how Heroes has presented time travel to us. It is intelligent and thought provoking but not disruptive or confusing in any way. How it is treated later in the series may change my opinion but I don’t see how at this point.

P.S. Episode 12, which is scheduled to air January 22nd, 2007 is entitled “GODSEND”.


1 comment:

stafex said...