Tag Archives: Heroes
Heroes Withered and Died, But Will Microsoft Resurrect It?
Heroes is one of those shows with which I have a love/hate relationship. On the one hand, the first season was a spectacular piece of genre fiction that successfully (well, mostly) wove together numerous plot threads, developed a fairly diverse cast of characters, and lead audiences to become intimately familiar with both a couple of memorable heroes and a very memorable villain. On the other hand, past the first season, the show wandered aimlessly, almost as if it had been bludgeoned half to death and could no longer navigate successfully. After limping across the finish line, I honestly never expected to hear another word about it–but according to TV Line, we may be getting more Heroes after all. Read on to get the lowdown and share your thoughts!
The Avengers Cements Joss Whedon as a Blockbuster Filmmaker
To say that I’ve been looking forward to The Avengers is perhaps the understatement of the evening. Well, maybe the second, with the first being the declaration that PF Chang’s lettuce taco thingies are effing awesome. But that’s another story, and I’m not nearly boring enough to sit around writing about food, so let’s get to the good stuff shall we? For those who haven’t seen it yet, fear not: I’ll stay spoiler-free.
If you, like Mr. Clay Cane of BET, believe that character development is irrelevant, you’ll be mildly disappointed, because The Avengers has a fair amount of it. If you’re one of those people, you’ll have the misfortune of being treated to characters who have a little more depth than the typical cardboard cutouts of, say, anything by Michael Bay, ever. But if you think that–oh, I dunno, people have rational (and irrational) reasons for the things they do and say, you’re in for a rare treat: a superhero film whose characters have a bit of complexity. Not a lot, mind you–this isn’t a deeply philosophical film by any means. It does, however, find the humanity within its spectacle, and that’s worth a look.
Batman Is Still A Fugitive Criminal 8 Years Later
So apparently, there’s a new poster going around showing Batman as a wanted fugitive. Following the events of the much lauded Batman film “The Dark Knight,” this is of course no surprise. What IS surprising, though, is that so many sites are calling this a piece of “viral marketing,” in spite of the fact that it really doesn’t fit the modis operandi of that technique.
Still, it’s interesting and good to see that consequences appear to be very much in effect in Batman’s latest outing, but it really does bring up a few questions, including how he’s managed to evade capture for 8 years (did he retire? Did he become more shadowy? What’s the story?).
The film’s July 20th release really can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, it looks like we’ll have to make do with that other superhero epic: Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, which has apparently made back most, if not all, of its production costs already thanks to huge overseas successes.
Oh, but Batman, why can’t you have opened first?!
Update: I noticed you seem to like Heroes quite a bit! Did you know that Microsoft and NBC are talking about reviving the series? Check out my post about the possibility of Heroes Season 5!
Heroes Died On Its Own Sword
I remember when I began watching the first season of Heroes, a little nervous of this seeming X-Men Lite show from the very beginning. But over the course of that first season I found that very shortly I could scarcely wait to watch the next episode as the mystery of the villanous Sylar and his role in destroying New York City unfolded. The show seemed to have everything it needed: an engrossing plot, a frighteningly powerful villain with a plan, a cute girl, comic relief, political tension, the mysterious Mr. Linderman, and of course, a character with the proper soul of a Hero, Peter. I’ve talked about Heroes before, of course, and like the show itself my hopes and thoughts for its future have fluctuated from the positive to the abysmal. So goes the nature of a show that nobody had a clear vision for, and as much as I sort of wish I was, I’m not remotely surprised that it’s now officially been cancelled by NBC.
So now the question is, why was Heroes cancelled? This is a topic that could go on forever, and I’ve already reviewed a few other blogs and media outlets dishing ever so briefly on the topic, so now I think it’s time I had a bit of say, myself.
1. Let’s start with the obvious: following the first season, the show failed to ever execute a cohesive, well-planned plot or villain again. Sylar, in season one, was a masterpiece of a television villain, played to near perfection by Zachary Quinto. Season 2 didn’t really have a villain at all, Season 3′s “Villains” arc suffered a similar fate (Arthur Petrelli was OK, but really just a crusty, much less intimidating retread of Sylar), and while Season 4′s Samuel character was an interesting character, he was a useless villain with an ability so lame that all anyone had to do was run away from him in order to take it away. And while it was clear early on that the writing team on the show really tried to make the final season much better, and to a large part they succeeded, there were simply too many other problems, which we’ll get to.
2. Character development. Perhaps only a little less annoying than its plot issues was the show’s character development, specifically because, there pretty much wasn’t any. By the end of the final season, Claire was still the same whiny, self-flagellating brat she’d been since season one, only by then it had gone from being the endearing mark of a character going through something new and scary, to that place where you’re just sick and tired of hearing her whine about being different. Come on, Claire, get over it and move on, already! The same was true of One-Note-Nathan, who like any living politician stereotype, wobbled endlessly between the side of good and the side of evil. By the time he died, I was glad to see him go, and a lot of other people were too. There are only so many times you can watch the same character flip-flop back and forth. Pick a damn side and let’s get on with it.
3. Meaningless deaths. In the first season, we got some real deaths, and they were pretty damn sad. Charlie, Isaac, Simone, all were reasonably well developed (less so in Charlie’s case, but she was developed very well in a short space) and that worked out. Unfortunately, nobody ever died and stayed dead again after that. Charlie ended up being brought back during the fourth season, which really served no greater purpose than to ruin the original story’s sadness; Nathan, even after being killed in season 3′s finale, kept right on coming back to life via Sylar in season 4; Nikki, the show’s most annoying character from the very first episode, came back as a clone. Time after time, characters were shot, beaten, maimed and blown to smithereens, only to somehow return again. If there are no real death stakes, what’s the point of killing the character at all?
4. Stakes and consequences. The stakes rarely got any bigger on Heroes, either in the sense of devastating plots or in the sense of transformational character events. No, Arthur draining off Peter’s powers does not count. What characters needed were life-altering events like you’d find on better shows such as Angel or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was unilaterally a superior Superhero show to Heroes. There, we watched the writers do horrific things to established, recurring characters, killing off some, utterly reshaping the character of others. No character on Heroes ever faced stakes where they would have no choice but to cut down the person they love the most in order to save the world. No character on Heroes ever fell in love only to have that loved one brutally murdered before their eyes. And when Heroes characters died and returned, there was no price to pay, no shift in the balance of the world’s power, no consequences. When Buffy died while saving the world and was (months later) resurrected, there were consequences first for her character, which was fundamentally transformed by the trauma of death and bliss of Heaven, and later for an entire season as her return had triggered a shift in the balance of the world’s power that ultimately lead to the deaths of several of her allies and goodness knows how many additional innocents. Heroes never played with stakes like that.
5. Lack of advance planning. Heroes creator Tim Kring has said publicly that they do not plan the series very far in advance, preferring to write by the seat of their pants so as to always introduce new story possibilities. I suppose as theories go, that’s all well and good, but it’s still no excuse for not establishing an overall framework for where your story will go. How can you possibly write a series that says something if you don’t have anything in mind you want to say? And therein lay perhaps the root of Heroes’ problems: it doesn’t really have a message. Buffy was about female empowerment; Angel was about the neverending battle between good and evil; Star Trek was about an optimistic view of the future and humankind’s ability to succeed in it; Veronica Mars was about both female empowerment and the ability to understand and deal with the world logically even when it wasn’t very logical; Battlestar Galactica (new version) was about how humankind is a screwed-up mess with no true direction, just a fantasy.
What is Heroes about? I have no idea, and really, neither do its creators. And that was ultimately its biggest failure, and the most prominent reason why not only did it fail, but it earned its failure.
Heroes, as I recently discussed here, has made it a habit this season of making me eat my hat. I’ve been shocked to observe that, following a very mediocre intro episode that got the season off to a battered limp, every single episode subsequent has been very good. This week’s was no different. The show caught me off guard on three separate occasions, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want to know, you’re hereby advised to avert your eyes.
The first surprise I found involved Blank-Sylar, who quite unexpectedly reverted to the form of Nathan-complete with Nathan abilities and memories intact-who promptly realized he was standing in Freakshow, USA and flew away. Subsequent to Nathan getting his ass shot to death a few episodes back, and the recent news that Adrian Pasdar had been canned from the show without even being told by the producers until he read it in the script, I really didn’t expect to see him back. Of course, I should have accepted by now that Heroes only rarely kills off characters for really-reals, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. In any case, I was.
The next surprise was really a two-fer, and came when the ever-annoying Matt Parkman, whom I believe should have been killed off a long time ago, finally manned up, stopped whining, and acted like a Hero instead of a crybaby. If you’ve seen the episode, you know by now that Parkman manipulated Sylar-now in control of Parkman’s body-to write a murder note on a napkin at a diner, which resulted in his being surrounded by cops. Shockingly, Parkman then forced Sylar to act like he was pulling a gun, which of course lead to his being shot repeatedly, apparently falling to both their deaths. Sylar hit the ground with a soggy thud, and Parkman disappeared. In a perfect world, this is the way these two characters-both long past their usefulness-meet their ignominious ends.
In any case, the episode went off extremely well, and the final few minutes were practically dripping with a sense of foreboding about the future. A major conflict appears to be brewing, and as I realize we’re 8 episodes into the season, I’m actually a little shocked that there’s no sign of it involving some character travelling to the future only to uncover some horrific event that they have to stop. Bravo to Heroes for breaking out of a very weak plot trend!
Unfortunately there’s also some worry that comes from having now watched the trailer for next week’s episode. There are SPOILERS after the jump, so if you don’t want to know and you haven’t seen the trailer, stop here and enjoy life!
I’m just going to admit it right now: I am lazy and forgetful about certain things. One of those things involves giveaways, and this is one that I meant to do waaaaaay back during E3 of this year. Sadly, I suck, and I tucked these snazzy little cards into a backpack pocket and promptly forgot about them. However, you’re in luck: they’re still valid!
So what I’ve got are three copies of Battlefield 1943, which is a digital download. I have two copies for Playstation 3 and one copy for Xbox 360. The way this will work is simple: In the comments, tell us what your three favorite nerdy shows are and a sentence or two about why you watch them. We’ll sift through the comments and choose from those who make their case with the most…I dunno, I want to say “elegance,” but on the other hand, maybe “humor” would be a better criterion. In any case, get commenting and we’ll select the three luck winners on Halloween!
OK, so I admit it: I don’t wear hats because they make me look goofy. And like hats, Heroes is now making me look goofy, and it’s doing it in a very unexpected way: it’s good again. I know, I know-I’ve spent a fair amount of time giving the show shit-which it’s deserved-only to suddenly find myself nibbling at the tasty feathers of crow while the show carefully and meticulously crawls out of the hole it spent the last two seasons digging itself into.
So here’s the recap: in the three episodes since the lackluster season premiere, Heroes has demonstrated once again that it knows how to build a careful narrative in which its characters can demonstrate a little growth, a nugget of exploration, and, as is desperately needed by a show about people with super powers, a surprising glow of humanity. In the time since the now infamously ill-received premiere, every episode has been carefully plotted to bring the show’s core characters back into the foreground while some of its more useless or annoying characters and their shtick remain conspicuously absent.
The ever-annoying Nathan Petrelli appears to finally be permanently dead, Ando has been left behind in Japan while Hiro rejoins the New York division of Heroes, Inc (OK, I made that part up) as he tries to make right some wrongs from his past before his tumor kills him. We’ve only had to tolerate Matt-I’m-such-a-whiny-bitch Parkman for (I think) one episode, and although his “Sylar is in my brain” storyline so far has been a little cliche (and more than a little reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica’s vision of Cylon #6 in Gaius Baltar’s head), it’s been done to surprisingly good effect as the “evil Sylar” has Parkman hard at work systematically destroying his own life. Now if they just kill Parkman, things will get even better in the Heroes-verse.
I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: Heroes’ season 4 premiere was a masterpiece of mediocrity. I had high hopes when I heard that Brian Fuller had returned, but those were of course dashed to pieces when he left again, and as the premiere demonstrated, for good reason. Let’s talk a bit about what’s wrong with Heroes and what might have made things a little better.
1. Sylar. He was an awesome villain in season 1 and a complete waste of time in season 2. He was tepidly interesting in season 3, and in season 4 he’s a Cylon #6 ripoff embedded in the brain of one of the show’s least interesting characters, Matt Parkman, while his real body is waltzing around under the control of Nathan Petrelli–who should have died 2 seasons ago and stayed that way. When they first put Nathan in control of Sylar’s body they could have done something interesting–let the audience forget he was really Sylar.
Explore Nathan as Nathan for half the season while the new villains do their worst and just when things seem to be at a low point, worsen them–by letting Sylar re-emerge as dominant, with no warning whatsoever and no sign of an underlying Nathan. Instead, though, we get to endure Sylar as a hallucination to a boring character while Nathan starts to feel powerful enough to, no doubt, do something stupid yet again.
Heroes is a troubled show. Moreover, it’s been a troubled show since episode 1 of season 2, and it doesn’t really appear that’s about to change. Tonight I finished catching up on the Season 3.5 (or if you prefer, Volume 4) episodes aired so far and I’m more convinced than ever that this show has lost its way probably forever. Like most seasons, it started off in a somewhat interesting way-with the “wave with the wind” politician Nathan Petrelli turning on the Heroes and convincing the president to create a task force to round them up and–do something with them, though it’s increasingly unclear as to what the plan was.
Meanwhile “Claire bear”, the most worthless character on the show, continues to whine about how she “should be doing more”, while Nikki-Clone continues to flip sides with her rat looking face, just like her good buddy Nathan. Meanwhile Parkman–who’s inexplicably gone from being a cop to a detective to a security guard and now to nothing–somehow has the ability to paint the future. I was so glad when they took away Hiro’s ability to go into the future and see what’s coming while simultaneously killing off the remaining ‘paint the future’ character, and now they’ve done what? Given the ability to the second most worthless character on the show. In all honesty I’m becoming quite tired of this routine, and unless the writers do something to fix this show they’re going to flush it completely down the toilet. But where did the laundry list of mistakes with Heroes begin?