Saturday, October 7, 2006


Broadcasting & Cable posted a story on the first of October about similarities between NBC's 'Heroes' and a book by Salman Rushdie called "Midnight's Children".

Published in 1981, it tells the story of 1,001 children all born at the exact same moment in India. "Every one of whom was, through some freak of biology, or perhaps owing to some preternatural power of the moment … endowed with features, talents or faculties which can only be described as miraculous … powers of transmutation, flight, prophecy and wizardry."

I can almost hear the voice of Mohinder Suresh providing the voice-over as he does in the TV show.

And speaking of Mohinder, he shares his last name of "Suresh" with the doctor who delivered the narrator at birth.

Here are some other similarities listed by B&C:

Nikki of 'Heroes' appears to have a Jekyll/Hyde relationship with her mirror image.

One of the characters in the book can step into and emerge from any reflective surface.

Hiro can teleport himself through Time and space without the need for a clunky TARDIS.

In the book, another character has "the gift of traveling in time."

I wouldn't be surprised if out of the 999 others, Rushdie came up with characters who could fly or be indestructible, read thoughts or paint pictures that come true. There are only so many variations really on super-powers; it's just a matter of what you do with them.

This week, Entertainment Weekly took a look at each of the characters on 'Heroes' and found a corresponding superhero to match, not only from the biggies of DC and Marvel, but also from Alan Moore's excellent "The Watchmen".

(They skipped over Mohinder Suresh, though, as he doesn't display any super-powers. But with the computer program he found this week that belonged to his late father, he can track down all of these super-powered characters. That's a lot like having your own personal Cerebro from "The X-Men" on your laptop.)

Tim Kring, who created 'Heroes' claims he's never even heard of Rushdie's book, and putting my own perspective into play, I can believe that. Whoever heard of Rushdie in a general sense before the Ayatollah placed that fatwa on him years back?

According to the article, Kring said "that one of the 'tragedies' of being a TV writer is having little time to be 'a leisure reader by any stretch of the imagination.'

I believe that. I sometimes have a hard enough time getting through the paper, and I'm just a TV blogger!

Not that someone might still seek to sue over the matter; if not Rushdie, then perhaps his publisher. Such claims have hardly stopped litigation over plagiarism in the past. But then some creators of classic comic book super-heroes might step up to sue Rushdie. It'd be a messy business which only 'Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law' could solve.

In the end, it doesn't matter in the overall Toobworld-view, in much the same way the facts about the solar system didn't matter to Sherlock Holmes because they didn't have any impact on his line of work.

Unofficially, televisiology is my line of work, and what matters is what is up on the screen. 'Heroes' is part of Toobworld; "Midnight's Children" is not.

At best, I could posit that Rushdie's book is the equivalent to 'Heroes' in the literary universe, in much the same way that the movie "An American President' is the Cineverse doppelganger of the TV show 'The West Wing'. Similar, but not the same thing.

And even if litigation came along that knocked 'Heroes' off the air, (highly unlikely considering it got the full season pickup, a great sign of support from NBC), it still wouldn't matter to Toobworld.

Once broadcast, the show becomes a permanent part of the TV Universe and not even cancellation can ever erase that. We might not be able to see them anymore on our TV screens, but those characters would continue to live their lives; making Toobworld a better place.

And better for us that it's the characters of 'Heroes' and not Peripheral Vision Man of 'Studio 60'!


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