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Heroes – Trust and Blood – Ramblings of a Constipated TV Critic About Microwaves and Cheerleaders
WARNING: This week’s Heroes rap up makes references to bowel movements that are non-graphic in nature, but may still be disturbing to some readers.
I would characterize Heroes: Fugitives so far as demonstrating about the level of scripting prowess I would expect from a high school or college amateur film maker. The show is working on kind of a general concept level with lots of ideas and actions but not much substance. Again, I’m in the position with Monday night’s episode Trust and Blood where it just kind of sits there on the screen. In 60 minutes we go from point A to point B to point C, but again very little character development or drama is happening in between beyond a cautiously intriguing storyline developing around Sylar and the newly introduced Microwave Boy character.
Of course, every time a new character is introduced into the show these days I have expect them to either simply drop and forget about them without explanation or kill them within two episodes without developing them at all. However, the pairing of Sylar with Microwave Boy has some interesting possibilities that any cynical Heroes fan right now will assume will probably be completely mishandled and squandered. Microwave Boy! He can melt your Star Wars action figures, stop your pacemaker or warm up your Hot Pocket from 20 yards away!
Overall, I guess I’m less pessimistic about the show than I was in the midst of the mess that was Villains, the first half of Season 3, but I’m increasingly of the opinion that we’re not going to really be able to judge this show as creatively dead or characterize it with even a slight pulse until we can put the era of the current and recently shit-canned creative team well behind us. The show really doesn’t just need different writers, it needs an entirely new vision. Dare I say that even Tim Kring is a major part of the problem now.
And so because I have this outlandishly bizarre sexual fetish for bullet point lists, let my offer this week’s current State of Heroes summary.
o Nice Idea, How About a Plot to Go With It? Okay, let’s take the good and the bad. I kind of like the general idea of where they’re going with Fugitives. Concept: take the main characters, scatter them and let’s have the bad guys hunt them down for the rest of the season. Problem is, apart from outlandishly poor dialogue like Peter making simplistic statements about how they need to stop Nathan, it’s almost as if they filmed a concept rather than trying to build any real story around it. You can’t simply say that “everyone’s on the run let’s try to catch them” for 10 or 12 episodes. Are they going to build any real story into this mess or is it just going to be “We have to stop Nathan before he catches us” week after a week for a while?
o A Probably Unfair Comparison to Demonstrate Why Heroes Currently Fails. Yes, I know that Heroes is NOT the X-Men series, but there is a key comparison that you can make between the two pieces to demonstrate the problems with the show currently. Hardcore and casual fans of the X-Men should notice how in those comics and movies that the cultural implications and problems created by the fact that we have genetically enhanced humans is simply the setting in which the story takes place, or basically, it’s The Premise. However, with Heroes it’s all about the concept: what do we do with these powers, what do we do about these powers, what do we do about the people with the powers…etc. Herein lies the difference between something that works really well, like X-Men vs. the current state of Heroes. X-Men realized that the premise and the plot were two different things. X-Men told stories that were made unique and interesting by the premise. Heroes takes the premise and simply pounds you over the head with it again and again with no story. That’s why X-Men fans care about Logan and Jean Grey and the Professor, because they’re developed characters involved in interesting stories. Heroes is simply a bunch of powers and stereotypes with character names attached to them and not much else.
o Heroes! In Two Vibrant Colors: Black AND White! While the first season of Heroes was all about moral grey areas, it seems like the writers currently don’t understand how to make this work at all. Rather than exploring these “moral grey areas” with the characters anymore they are trying to get the same effect in a couple of cheap ways: either by changing characters from good to bad over a short period of time or almost instantly, or simply trying to conceal a character’s true motives from week to week. This whole cut rate string along is just getting tiresome and the show is littered with examples. Nathan Petrelli is an outstanding demonstration of this. The first season was a conscience struggle all year with Nathan. He was torn over what was right and what was wrong and it all paid off with his act of seeming self sacrifice in the season finale. Since then it’s been “good” Nathan fighting for the cause along side Peter, or a sudden complete 180 degree turn back to bad Nathan that is motivated by political ambition. The list of characters currently being given the shaft in this manner is considerable: Nathan, Noah Bennett, Sylar and to a lesser extent you can even argue that Mohinder, Peter and Ando are all just being poorly written and realized.
o From Disgust to Apathy. I’m finding that my apathy for the show and characters is growing. I only continue to write about it because I still hold out some hope that the show is fixable, but even I was surprised by how much I was totally unmoved in almost any meaningful way by the apparent dusting of Daphne this week. I don’t dislike the character at all, but they’ve just failed the character on virtually every emotional level. I’ll be honest, I had nipped off to the little boys room to powder my nose for a moment (mercifully telling my wife that she didn’t need to pause the DVR first) and I actually missed the shooting and had to go back and rewatch it. YES, I WAS DROPPING A DUECE WHEN DAPHNE WAS KILLED…and my response was a blisteringly firm “eh…” It’s a two-pronged apathy really. First, we’re over halfway through the year and they really haven’t developed her in any way beyond superficially, so seeing her get wasted (or hearing her get wasted while having a bowel movement) just seemed like yet another “use ’em and forget ’em” routine. The other reason that it had virtually no impact is that death continues to seem almost completely meaningless in this show. The only character developed beyond an episode or two that has died and really STAYED DEAD is Isaac Mendez at the end of season one (along with the Peter/Isaac’s love triangle chic). And here we are, a season and a half later with them having dusted Issac, the guy that paints the future, yet the show continues to have to introduce other characters that can do it. It seems that the “painting the future” concept continues to be the easiest “out” for the writers to make a half-assed attempt to generate any drama and the cheapest sleaziest way to advance the plot. I touched upon it last week briefly, but now we’ve got Matt Parkman now filling the Isaac Mendez role? I guess they’ve completely given up on Parkman as he was being developed up until now. One of the only characters that they seem to convey any consistent set of morals, standards or behaviors with and they now seem to have redefine his abilities and place in the story.
o “What became of your lamb, Clarice?” or Can they please make this cheerleading, teenage bitch interesting? Or at least have her lead a cheer or something? I see a lot of varying opinions on Claire, the Cheerleader. Some fans see her as the least interesting Hero. Personally, I see her as one of the the most interesting but mis-used character in the series. I loved the character in the first season of the show. She didn’t want her powers, didn’t want to have any involvement in any of this crap, yet she was the pivot point on which the story arc turned and she was pulled unwillingly into the mix. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Great tag line. Since then, Claire has just been kind of tossed around like an old bag of moldy tangerines. Hayden Panettiere may not have Emmy caliber acting chops in the role of Claire, but she has she has enough range to make this character work if the writers give her anything to work with. They seemed to tease the character in the direction of being duty-driven to help her friends and somehow use her powers to help them. She’s also torn between loving and caring for her dad, Noah Bennett (as opposed to biological Dad, Nathan) and hating and not understanding him. That’s okay, how can Claire understand her father when the team writing the show can’t seem to? Fortunately for the character of Claire, the extant of “The Good Claire/Evil Claire” game the show has played has limited it to the glimpses of the alternative future 2-dimensional, cardboard cutout Claire “She Must Be the Evil Version Because She Has Black Hair” Bennett that goes around trying to inexplicably shoot and kill a Peter Petrelli that seemingly can’t be shot and killed…stop me before I get a headache from all this, please. Alright, before I ramble on any further about this, my point is that they haven’t completely polluted the character of Claire yet. The show seems to continually gravitate toward isolating her from the story as things get too deep and bring her back in at key points. Somewhere buried in Claire is a ray of light that they show can be saved.
SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, SAVE THE SHOW
I’m convinced that this is one possible course of getting Heroes back on course. Fix this character. And of course, Hayden is a 19 year old hottie, but that goes without saying, so the more Hayden Panettiere in short skirts the better.
o Who Am I to Judge? I’m not in the business of trying to tell the professional writers how to do their job. Could I write it better? Officially, my answer is no. However, I’m not being paid a hefty salary to write a television program that large numbers of people enjoy. The writers of Heroes ARE being paid to write a show that people like me enjoy. And judging by how people are flipping away from the show in large numbers this season as shown by the plummeting ratings, the writers that are getting paid to write a show that is watched and enjoyed by a wide range of viewers are failing. It’s one thing to have a quality, well-written show that has trouble finding or never finding it’s audience: Cheers and Seinfeld are examples of initially dismally rated shows that initially went on to acclaim). InHeroes case, though it’s like a gigantic red SUCK flag when you have a highly rated and acclaimed show that loses a large chunk of its built in fan base and its acclaim virtually overnight. I will grant that it has only been a couple of months since the lead writers got the sack, so we’re still not getting any fresh takes on the material yet.
o This Week’s Spin Off Idea: Heroes: English Lessons! I’m actually not proposing this as a spin off, but as a season 4 story arc. It seems that the Heroes concept is to break each season into two story arcs. This year it was Heroes: Villains and Heroes: Fugitives. Since the writer’s strike cut Season 2 in half, there was only one arc. So my proposal for the story arc for the first half of season 4 is Heroes: English Lessons!
The first 12 episodes should be devoted to chronicling in detail the saga of Hiro and Ando taking a 12-week continuing education course in English. Each episode would be one 45-minute classroom scene. This may seem rather dull on it’s surface, but don’t think it could be much less dramatic than what we’ve seen in season 3 so far. At the conclusion of this story arc, Hiro and Ando would both be very sufficient if not fluent English speakers. The reason for this story arc is simple: I’d like to be able to look away from the screen for a moment to pick a zit or pull the underwear out of my crack without having to glue my eyes to the screen to read a 7 minute scene with subtitles. One act of mercy in the show the past couple of weeks is that they’ve separated the Japanese Laurel and Hardy duo forcing them to try to speak English in their scenes.
In the pilot episode of Heroes: English Lessons!, Hiro freezes time so he can sneak off to the restroom without having to raise his hand to ask to be excused from class.
That’s it for now. I give the current installment of Heroes a resounding “bleh.” I know those that continue to be apologists for the show probably stumble on my weekly blog occasionally and think that I just simply hate this show. I can tell you that this could not be further from the truth.
On second thought, that about sums it up. Right now I do hate this show. But it was a very short time ago that I loved this show, and I am sticking through it in hopes that the Titanic can reverse course out of this iceberg.
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