No Heroics (TV, 2008)
A review of the short-lived British superhero comedy show. From Death Ray 16.
Writer: Drew Pearce
Director: Ben Gregor
Starring: Patrick Baladi, Nicholas Burns, Claire Keelan, James Lance, Rebekah Staton
No Heroics has split opinion at Death Ray‘s Fortress of Imponderable Thought. Some of us find its superhero-flavoured jibes at modern life jolly, others are unimpressed with its endless stream of cock jokes.
Much of No Heroics takes place in a pub, where minor “capes” Time Bomb (Lance), She Force (Staton), Electroclash (Keelan) and The Hotness (Burns) hang out. A fifth lead, Excelsior (Baladi), provides an arrogant counterpoint with a Superman-level suite of powers, and a talent for bedding anyone.
Even if you don’t find the show’s focus on sexual inadequacy funny, many jokes make clever use of superheroes in the real world. Like The Hotness being forced to get a bus to do a drugs bust, or She Force and Electroclash attending a fan meeting. This second instance is part of the show’s mockery of celebrity culture – these heroes are more concerned with ratings than heroics. Though, like the show’s other targets, it does not belabour the point. Well, apart from the cock jokes.
If you can get past lines like: “What a terrible waste of good snatch,” you’ll enjoy an overweight insectoid complain to his therapy group that kids call him Praying Mantits, beer called Shazamstel, and She-Force hopelessly try to snag a date.
A driving force to the series is the will they/won’t they relationship between ex-lovers The Hotness and Electroclash, which, despite being a tiresome obligation for modern sitcoms, is well handled. But our favourite is Lance’s Timebomb, a gay Spaniard who can see 60 seconds into the future. Ultra-violent in a weary sort of way, Timebomb is a world away from your usual stereotypes, though he still gets all the best lines.
If it lives to another series, No Heroics could do for superheroes what Red Dwarf did for SF, if for a slightly older, though no more mature, audience.