So Heroes has returned, and the question for fans and non fans alike is did it live up to the enormous hype that NBC lavished on it over the down season. The answer so far seems to “maybe.” Heroes was predictably edged out by Dancing with the Stars, which was so expected that it doesn’t really count as a loss, but it failed to hold second place in distinction, instead sharing the spot with CBS’s comedy duo of Two and a Half Men and Rules of Engagement.
Failing to dominate the time slot, though, is not a huge loss for NBC. Heroes, for one thing, has become a bit of a branding phenomenon and is in the process of transitioning into an expectant global television market right now. It can withstand a few kicks in the pants on the home front before anyone has to worry.
Maybe the worst sign for the series was the toll of the much publicized Nissan product placement deal. In case you didn’t figure out for yourself, fewer commercials thanks to Nissan may have meant fewer commercial breaks, but it translated into more tacky product placement. Normally, there is no victim in such a maneuver, but this time the victim was the story itself.
Hot on the heels of telling Claire not to do anything remarkable, Noah (HRG) gives his daughter a brand new Nissan Rogue, which she of course name-drops in an excited scree. The only problem is, HRG and family are putting on the appearance of a struggling middle income family, fake names and all, eating cheeseburgers for supper on HRG’s meager copy-shop assistant manager wages. So, a frighteningly shiny new Nissan Rogue (starting at $19,250) fits into this picture how?
At least last year Hiro’s insistence on renting the Nissan was connected to the car appearing in the comic of his life. Hiro felt securing the vehicle was paramount to fulfilling his destiny. I, honestly, didn’t pick up on the product placement until I read about the deal somewhere else. Not because I’m naïve, but because it was integrated in a believable way that sort of rhymed with the wild lengths that Hiro would go to in order to assure his heroic mission comes off as planned.
This sad bit of product placement seems wedged into the story in a way that stocks no regard for the continuity. Frankly, I would have rather seen an extra commercial then have to worry about whether HRG is just stupid enough to think that playing poor and giving your daughter a $20,000 cross-over is not conspicuous.
Overall, the episode was a good reintroduction to the world of our heroes, and was a decent roll out to what the season 2 end game may, or may not, be. But fears that the heavily touted commercial deals may intrude on the story were, for a few moments, confirmed. How intrusive they continue to be is a wait and see proposition, and despite a softer than expected landing, it looks like Heroes core audience will be here to see that question through.
– Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)