Tag Archives: Nerdy TV
It’s a shame, really. I do love the cast and characters (except Kate–I hate Kate for being a stereotypically weakfemale lead, always making stupid decisions that seem to illustrate that “if she’d just listened to the man” things would have been better), who’ve managed to grow on me, each in their own, wonky ways, over the course of the six seasons leading up to the Lost Series Finale. The drag is that the resolution was disappointing enough that I really will never recommend anybody start from the beginning of the series and watch it. Great acting is always wonderful, but without a well executed overall story, what’s the point?
But enough about the cast and characters; everyone already knows those are wonderful. The problem with Lost was always in its plot, or more accurately, lack thereof. In the end it sort of works out, in some sense, because Cuse and Lindelof successfully managed to explore a number of interesting themes both in the main body of the series and in the finale, not the least of which are those about personal choice and sense of self in the formation of identity.
Like life itself, Lost ends with no real revelations, no magical key to sudden knowledge or wisdom, and with countless plot threads utterly ignored. Lost can be summed up as a “beautiful cacaphony,” leaving you starved for a melody, yet mesmerized by its absence. As a series, Lost is chaos incarnate, with very little meaning in most of its machinations. It’s like Cracker Jacks: tasty by the handful, but ultimately you really do need to eat a real meal.
Is it worth the time investment? If you got into the series at the very beginning and already had a sizable time investment, say maybe, the first 3-4 seasons, I’d say yes. If you’ve never seen Lost and are wondering if you should start, I’d say no. Why? Simply put, you can get all the major philosophical themes of Lost via countless other stories or films and understand its meaning in a few short hours, whereas the series will leave you, most of the time, confused and spinning your wheels. I submit that life does that enough already.
In the interest of helping you, dear reader, avoid spoilers in the event you haven’t seen the finale but plan to, this is your last chance. Beyond the break you’ll find a list of top Likes and Dislikes about the finale, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts on this non-event Event in the history of television.
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.
By now, you may have read that Joss Whedon’s most recent show, Doll House, has been cancelled, though with a bit more ceremony and respect than most cancelled shows ever get. Unlike said other shows, Doll House will be allowed to complete its second season as planned, with every single episode airing, in order, as promised. I’ve got to give Fox props for trying-they’ve given the show almost every opportunity to succeed, with the one exception being that it’s been stuck in television’s worst time slot since the day it launched. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps a Sunday night slot might have yielded better results.
The immediate trend I’ve noticed on the topic has been one of blame, and specifically, blame for Fox. I have yet to see many people blame the show’s writers, who I think carry a significant burden of blame, nor the show’s audience, who certainly deserves blame a-plenty. A lot of things happened to conspire against Doll House, not the least of which was DH itself. The concept is, without a doubt, effing brilliant. The problem is that during the first season, the show’s primary characters-the Actives-were completely and utterly unrelatable. From the first episode to the sixth, it was very difficult to care about any of the characters. Yes, there was some good action, and yes, we got to look at some nice boobies in tight or revealing outfits, but those things alone do not make a show interesting. Well, at least not interesting enough to watch religiously.
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.
1. I am just at the end of Season 3. I have now seen seasons 1 and 2 twice in their entirety but am not yet caught up to season 5.
2. I love great character development. Lost gives me this by the acre.
3. I love great plot development, which even the best characters need in order for me to care about their plight. Lost is devoid of plot.
With all that said, I’m going to start blogging about each episode as I catch up from here. Recognize, therefore, that I’m a little behind and will catch up shortly. When I began watching Lost, I was quite entranced. The show was rich with character development (and it still is) and in the first season there was a fair amount of plot development as well. Most of the time, it even related to the character development in some way, which was pretty cool. I’m not at all sure there was any kind of epic point to it, but nevertheless it was quite enjoyable.