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Snap judgment: 'Heroes'

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18554__heroes_lSomeone help me! I’m mutating into a sci-fi geek — and to my knowledge, there’s no known cure. Early symptoms included an unexpected pang of anticipation surrounding the X-Men trilogy, followed by a full-blown fever for Battlestar Galactica. Now, even more troubling, I’m finding myself addicted to NBC’s Heroes after just one inhalation. (For those of you who missed the premiere, by the way, it’ll repeat on NBC tonight at 8 p.m., and is streaming at NBC.com.)

Call me clueless — wait, a lot of Lost fans already did that this morning — but I was totally caught off guard when it turned out that Nathan (the formidable Adrian Pasdar) , not Peter (Milo Ventimiglia), was the sibling with the gift of flight. (Side note: Anyone else still bitter that Pasdar’s brilliant late ’90s series, Profit, never became the breakout hit it deserved to be?) What’s more, while I’m still not sure that Niki’s mirror-image vengeance-lady qualifies as an appealing superpower, the all-too-human drama of her life as a struggling single mother more than made up for it. (Who knew Ali Larter was this good an actress?) Best of all, though, Hayden Garnier Fructis Panettiere’s regenerating teenager, Claire (pictured), left me gasping at every turn. That scene of her sticking her hand in the garbage disposal was perhaps the most rivetingly grotesque moment I’ve experienced in prime time this year. I spy a major star in the making.

addCredit(“Heroes: Dean Hendler”)

All that, and I haven’t even gotten to Masi Oka’s teleporting Japanese businessman (talk about a quick study!) or the dashing Sendhil Ramamurthy’s academic ringleader, but with a premiere this nifty, it won’t be long before poor Scott/Cyclops is crying into his wraparound glasses wishing he were half as cool.

What did you think of Heroes? Have you checked out its groovy website, complete with a live-blog of the premiere from series creator Tim Kring, an online comic, and more? And what to make of the spoiler-ific opening moments, which indeed promise that these characters will eventually save the world?