Friday, August 21, 2009
I Can Be Your Hero, Baby
But can you take away the pain? From the looks of the new "Heroes: Redemption" promo poster, I doubt it. It prominently displays my three least favorite, overused characters in the entire ensemble (and it's a big frakkin' ensemble). Which means the NBC promo monkeys just made it a lot easier for me to stick to my pledge of not watching the new season. Yes, Ray Park is adorable and nine shades of awesome. But does that make up for the big ol' mess that the writers turned this show into over the past three seasons? Not really, no.
It started off so well. Ordinary people discovering they have extraordinary powers. Deciding whether they would use said powers for good or evil. A truly scary villain whose mere shadow sent chills down our spines, and a complex Company keeping watch over everyone while operating in the morally grey area. Every episode ended with a cliffhanger that left you chomping at the bit for your next weekly dose. Granted, there were some missteps here and there, but then an episode like "Company Man" or "Five Years Gone" would come along and all was forgiven.
Sadly, once season 2 premiered, such well-written and well-acted episodes started to become the exception rather than the norm. Road-tripping with Maja y Alejandro, whiny West, whiny amnesiac Peter and the Irish girlfriend he so rudely left in a plague-ridden future, months and months of feudal Japan that couldn't even be saved by the innate charisma of David Anders, Kristen Bell as a sadistic sociopath who murders innocent (and handsome) pub owners just because they won't make a Veronica Mars movie.
I actually kind of liked Elle because, apart from Sylar at that point, we hardly ever saw anyone enjoy their powers. Hero or villain, you gotta' drop the angst and start believing this stuff is kinda' cool. Embrace your inner Mystique. We all know you're ripping off X-Men, so just acknowledge it already. Yes, you give Stan Lee a cameo every now and then, but you owe Marvel a whole lot more.
Anyway, a shortened season 2 (due to the writers' strike) led us into season 3 where we finally met...dun, dun, dun...Arthur Petrelli. Because the viewers certainly hadn't had enough of Angela and Nathan and Peter and all their family angst. This volume entitled "Villains" seemed very promising at first. The most dangerous and powerful of the Company's inmates set loose to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting public. With the added benefit of talents like Jamie Hector, David H. Lawrence XII, Robert Forster, Andre Royo and Jessalyn Gilsig raising the bar.
A bar we shall now call "Sylar's Daddy Issues" and which we shall be beaten over the head with for the rest of the show's run. Gabriel Gray started out as a cipher--a gifted watchmaker turned serial killer who traveled the world collecting powers, and snowglobes. His father was gone, and his mother (the luminous Ellen Greene) was a possessive harridan pushing him to be "special." Ah, but wait: he was actually the orphaned son of Arthur and Angela Petrelli, who each took turns manipulating him into being their weapon of mass destruction. Ah, but wait, again: Ma and Pa Petrelli were lying to him, and he was rasied by the watchmaker and his wife, but his real dad was John Glover. The devil from "Brimstone," Lionel Luthor, the magnificent bastard himself. He and his prodigal son faced off in one episode. That was it. One episode. Frak me.
Meanwhile, all the other people with daddy issues (Nathan, Peter, Claire, Niki, Parkman, Mohinder, etc.) are either working with the government to round up "specials" or trying to evade its goon squad led by Zeljko Ivanek. Who is brilliantly weaselly, as always, and should have shared more scenes with Jack "HRG" Coleman. But even as the cast improved, the storylines got dumb and dumber. It got to the point where if you didn't read the graphic novels on NBC's web site, you had no idea who was doing what and why. I'm not sure if it's because the writers are lazy or they're trying to be all hip with their interactivity, but crazy as it sounds, there are people who don't have access to a computer. And even if they did, they wouldn't use it to figure out why Daphne is the way she is or why Agent Rachel was trying to help Doyle. Psst, writers--there's this thing called a script that includes dialogue and expository action and story beats. You've written them before, people; I know you can do it again.
That's the thing. Now that Bryan Fuller has left, again, someone needs to slap these writers around, take the crack pipe out of their hands, and make them write out a show bible. You people created this world, now's the time to set the ground rules. Actually, back in season 2 was the time to do that, but nevermind. Who has what power and why? What are the limits of their powers? Who's related to whom? And have any of you ever been in a real comic shop? Dig this: sometimes there are girls there. And sometimes those girls actually read the books that are on the shelves. And sometimes they actually talk to the guys in the shop like they are fellow human beings and not insulting caricatures. Dude, did I just blow your mind?
So, in a nutshell, I won't be watching this next volume of "Heroes" because I just can't stand the aimlessly wandering plots or the dizzying character shifts or dropping truly interesting characters in favor of yet another Ali Larter clone. Quality genre television on a mainstream network is very hard to come by these days and when you have a genuine hit, you should stop messing around with it and stick to what works. Also, Mr. Kring, stop being a D-bag to your viewers. You need every single one of them.
Of course, all these words are mere empty threats if they manage to get Christopher Eccleston back. I will gladly swallow my pride with a tequila chaser if that happens. Y'all keep me posted, okay?