Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We can watch Heroes, just for one day

So my only exposure to the program "Heroes" was watching about twenty minutes of the second or third episode of season 1. When I publicly said "Meh", everyone insisted I'd caught the worst twenty minutes EVER of the program and that I was missing out. But the whole "save the cheerleader, save the world" tagline made me burst into laughter the first time I heard it. I mean, really, out of context (or even with a bit of cultural osmosis context) it's the worst call to action for joining a TV show I can really think of.

So last night Jason and Jamie had both missed Monday's episode, which was waiting on our DVR, and so I figured I could sit through an hour of super-programming. After all, I made Jamie sit through Starship Troopers.

I have to say, that hour of Heroes was about the worst hour of TV I've borne witness to in quite a while, and I can see why producers are being shed from the show left and right.

Luckily for WB and NBC (and you, the lucky Leaguer!), I am happy to provide my analysis as a student of superhuman fiction.

1. Built in mythology - Sure, I'm coming to the show late in the game, but Heroes is one of the shows left-over from the post-Lost success that already had some multi-year mythology mapped out and is slowly, achingly revealing The Big Secrets. These shows/ comics/ what have you are painfully slow as they spend their energy pacing out the reveals like an antibiotic you have to finish.

Note that almost all of the shows depending on a mythology reveal but Lost have gone bye-bye. The format is unique to Lost. Do not attempt at home.

2. Robert Forrester as god-like corporate exec using business powers to manipulate everyone - I don't know if the "Super Old Man Potter" thing is really a creation of John Byrne and Marv Wolfman in their re-imagining of Lex Luthor as corporate mogul instead of super-scientist, but it seems like you see a heck of alot of this character, who threatens others, but nobody will just punch in the face. Even DC realized this was a tired trope and Lex is back to super-scientist, by the way.

Moreover, Robert Forrester just isn't very good. He sounds like he thinks he's playing a street-wise cop with every line. It's bizarre.

But I think the "evil corporation" bit has been so overplayed in so many ways that its tough to do anything new with it or buy into it at some point.

Terminator sort of has this problem, but they've really reigned it in.

3. The X-Men Internal Conflict Syndrome - What does Superman do? Superman saves the day. He interacts with mere mortals in his guise as Clark Kent. He plays at being one of us, so when the big action happens, we get what the threat is. A giant robot is trashing downtown, asteroids are headed towards Earth, and off he goes to save the day.

A while back, X-Men became a book not about mutants trying to co-exist with one humanity, but became this book where the X-Men were simply fighting one mutant group or another who wanted to kill the X-Men. Their agenda was not a threat to the general populace, it was, pretty specifically, the X-Men (which led to all sorts of questions about being more trouble than they were worth, but whatever...)

If a show is called "Heroes", it seems that the show might want to strive for more than "saving your own skin", which is great, but not exactly the heroic ideal. Heroes get out there and DO something for others. They do not skulk around worrying about magic formulas, etc... They use their blinky powers for the betterment of mankind.

Apparently this season, Heroes introduced some villains, which, you would expect would do the opposite. They would want to use their powers for taking advantage of the general populace. Instead, they spend their time skulking around trying to hassle the semi-heroes.

The bottom line, very little of what happens episode-to-episode seems to affect the world at large, and seems to hinge and circle melodramatically around this tiny group. The show should really expand its world-view.

4. What is the deal? - I could have spent three hours stopping and starting the show asking "what is the deal with this guy?" or "so what's their story?" as the show didn't see fit to fill me in with much in the way of exposition.

I don't want to tell NBC how to run their show, but if you're having a problem with viewership, maybe an impenetrable storyline and characters who are caught up in a bajillion plot lines isn't how you bring in new people to bring in viewers to replace those you lost.

X-Files knew that it had to spend a lot of time with episodic stories and building an audience, but that lesson seems lost on the producers of "Heroes".

Anyway, I probably won't be tuning in. Mostly for the same reasons I didn't tune in when the show started. I still find it derivative, the acting as hokey as any Sci-Fi original. It just isn't my bag.


Anonymous said...

Unfortnately, Heroes hit its peak with Season 1.

Michael Corley said...

What I agree most with is the fact that "Heroes" does not live up to its name. Yes, it's supposed to be "realistic" but dammit, get out there and save someone once in a while! Sheesh.

The League said...

Yeah, I mean... maybe if they volunteered at a soup kitchen or something, it might sell the title a little better.

Anonymous said...

Actually, they're trying to save the world from destruction.

The League said...

Through the most indirect means possible, it seems. I dunno. I'm just telling you what I saw in an hour of the show. In which, I might add, they never explained what was going on in any way, shape or form.

But if I gather what I think I gather from some comments Jason and Jamie made, all three season some calamity has been foretold, then they all run around trying to prevent said calamity...?