12.18.2007

1988

It was this year that my love of comic book characters really began to take flight. I entered first grade and discovered Superman, X-Men, Batman, and others. Sorry to not get this done before my birthday (last Saturday!--I spent most of it working on some papers and caroling/spending time with friends), but somewhere in the middle of finals I realized that I didn't have time to post adequately. I'm a "Quality over Quantity" kind of guy.

Other notable things this year included:

  • Punching Susie King in the arm in Mrs. Nann's class. She cried; I got in trouble. A lot of trouble.
  • Discovering that little Mikee, the brother from '87, liked to bite toes. And he left them bloody
  • Being enchanted by the ability of a magnifying glass to burn things--leaves, bugs, toes, whatever!
  • Most Awesomest Birthday Party Ever-- Showbiz Pizza anyone? (It's now Chuck E Cheese's)
Anyway, the rest of this post will be dedicated to the one thing that nostalgically brought me back to my days of youth only to ruin it with asseninity and tomfoolery: HEROES.

10 Reasons Chapter 2 of Heroes sucked:

1. Hiro Nakamura

What is he doing in feudal Japan? OK, at first, it was interesting-- Hiro met his childhood hero, who happened to be a drunken sot; the hero and Hiro became friends; Hiro falls for hero's girlfriend, but is too good to actually do anything about it until hero realizes he, Hiro, loves her, hero's girl. All this in the span of about 30 minutes of actual screen time, wherein Hiro turns Takenze (sp) into a noble, honor loving gentleman, only to steal his slightly attractive girlfriend and send his idol into a diabolical 400-year rage. The real tragedy of this part of the series was Takenze's un-development. The creators could have made him so much more compelling--a conflicted, loving/hating immortal, but instead recognized that they didn't have enough of Peter Patrelli's sexy super-abs lighting up the screen, so devoted very little to making him sinister, evil, interesting, etc. More on that later. Anyway, Hiro has potentially the most powerful abilities of ANY of the Heroes crew, but like everybody else doesn't even think enough to use them beyond the painfully obvious...

2. Can Anybody Actually Use the Powers They Discovered Last Season?!

Seriously, it got annoying about 3 episodes in. Couldn't Hiro stop time and walk in to White Beard's camp (PS--who the @&#$ is White Beard?!) and snatch up the missing sword maker? Couldn't Peter Petrelli, who had no problem reading anyone else's mind, have done the obvious and read Adam's mind to make sure he was/wasn't a bad guy? Couldn't Claire...well, OK, she abused her power, which was kinda cool. But really...isn't that half of why we watched this show, to see these people recognize and utilize their powers as they devoleped/matured? Isn't it really a commentary on puberty, and how we all just wish we could fit in until we discover a group of people we feel comfortable with and grow into ourselves? Or is that reading too much into the mutant-outcast paradigm? I am now solidly off-topic.

3. Death Holds no Weight

For those of you who cheered when Noah Bennet (aka "Horn-Rimmed-Glasses" man) was brought back to life within 5 minutes of being killed by the ever-idiotic Suresh, I was right there with you. He was, and continues to be, the most compelling character on the show. It would have been a huge mistake to axe the same man who simultaneously exudes compassion and caring for his family and utter hatred towards those who would harm them. I mean, this is the guy who can tell the teasingly sado-masochistic Kristen Bell (may she ever be praised) "It hurts like a Bitch, doesn't it?!" and within two minutes achingly confess to his daughter "I love you Claire-Bear." That's neither here nor there, though...the creators over at Heroes, aka the writers, somehow thought it would be a good idea to make Claire/Adam/Peter's blood cure any ailment, any time. Nathan Petrelli was cured by Adam's blood, so why not resurrect Noah with his daughter's blood? Sounds innocent, right? Well, I've got news for you--while that may seem cool, you've essentially negated the sting of death. Now that no one can die, the ultimate source of tension in any narrative goes with it. Without death, what is life? Death used to be the ultimate emotor. The threat of death is something every single person can relate to. Now? Now we've simply turned Heroes into a kiddy fantasy where the good guys will make it to the end, no matter what, because they can't die forever. Which leads us to the next point...

4. Nathan Petrelli--Awesome, and...DEAD?! What is this, "Who Shot J.R.?"

Now, Tim Kring seems desperate to have his audience ride out the Writer's Guild strike. He must be thinking that we'll spend the next nine months of our lives fretfully wringing our hands, wondering "Oh, who could have killed Nathan?" However, the writers negated any concern we should have for Nathan the moment they brought back Noah Bennett--can't we just inject Nathan with Peter's blood and bring him back to life? I mean, Noah Bennett was shot in the eyeball, and potentially dead for many hours before being ressuscitated, so why not do it for Nathan? It's just bullets, right? Anyway, either way the writers go from here will be disingenuous...either you write some stupid situation where Peter's blood won't work (but why not grab some from Claire or have Hiro teleport into the ground and snag some heroic hemoglobin from Adam in his grave?) and Nathan really dies, or you do the obvious, smart thing and have Peter ressurrect Nathan, in which case we just spent the last nine months fretfully wringing our hands about the non-killer of a guy we had just started to appreciate who really didn't die and we can get to know better. Again this presents us with the idiocy of the writing team: why kill one of the better characters?! Nathan was another terrifically conflicted creation--politician/brother/son who loves his family but can't balance that and/or come to grips with his power cravings; faltering father and husband who loves his wife and kids but can't seem to bring himself to embrace first daughter Claire or keep from cheating on his wife; pretty GQ guy who gets horribly scarred saving New York from a nuclear holocaust, who is then brought back to pretty boy status after a villain's blood reverses the scarring. But now he's either gone, even when we know he could have been ressurrected easily, or the powerful and tremendously emoting assassination that could have been has gone up in smoke. Did anyone else not cry when Nathan was shot? I know I didn't. But that's the tragedy of it all. We should have been weaping. Here's a guy who sacrificed nearly everything--his body, his political career, his family--in order to protect innocents and his brother. There is an incredible power in that kind of sacrifice, but...the power that was invested in that character has been lost to the ether...the writers have messed up the potential that was Nathan Petrelli forever. He's the embodiment of the potential that was tapped in Chapter One, only to be royally screwed up in Chapter 2.

5. What is a Press Conference Going to DO?!!!

This could only come from the warped, elitist mind of a Hollywood writer. What could be more powerful and change everything for the better than making an announcement over the local media? The pen (or in this case, the press-box) is mightier than the sword, right?! Well, Nathan Petrelli, with all due respect, I fail to see what announcing your ability to fly to the world will accomplish. Claire had the same idea--"I'll expose myself to the world, and then they'll leave us alone." Huh?! Did you get hit on the head and not heal when you said that? And then, in the very next episode, Claire's plan has suddenly changed to where, if she can just expose the Company the truth of what is going on will set her and every other mutant free. That makes as much sense as suing the mob for doing bad things. We all know they do bad things, but the brilliance of it is that they're covered by pseudo-companies and legitimate operations through which they launder their money. Now, I have a better idea--have Peter Petrelli blow up the company.

Boom.

You're done! Next story arc.

6. New Orleans

Can I just say that I was rooting for New Orleans to rise above the flooded waters from Katrina, but after this convoluted/idiotic story line took us NOWHERE except to kill off Nikki (the third and final compelling character in this mess) in a gang-inflicted home explosion so that Micah could rescue his comic books and his dad's medal of honor, I wanted the Big Easy to slip back into the Gulf of Mexico and never show its soaked head again. Dumb as vegetarian gumbo.

7. !Maya!..(Spanish pouting)..!Alejandro!

I hated the wonder twins from the very beginning. First, their accents were not from Venezuela, or wherever they're supposed to be from. If anything, these two were Argentine. That's nit-picky. What really killed me though was the constant running, driving, walking, stumbling into America in order to "cure" Maya--only to have Alejandro die in a motel and Maya get killed... and then ressurrected. How do they meet up with Sylar anyway? They drive up to him in the middle of the desert where he has collapsed conveniently on the road. How do they get into America? They run into a bumbling bunch of Minute Men and force Maya to get all crazy on them and cry black death tears.

Did anyone else notice that every episode had to include Maya getting angry, losing control, crying her black tears of mass death and having Alejandro come in again and save everyone from a silly death just to again emphasize to the viewers that yes! Maya has the most non-traditional, ridiculous super powers of all time, and she can't control it?! I can just imagine the writer's brainstorming session for this storyline: "They might forget that Maya has this power, so let's hit them over the head with it as much as humanly possible." Right, because it's a cool power? No. Because at some point they thought it might be handy, and they need to fill up a few minutes of screen time that they couldn't come up with dialogue or plot points to move the story along.

8. Peter Petrelli Amnesia

This part of the Chapter was just dumb--and lasted for eight episodes or so. OK, I get the plot point that they filled in several episodes later--Peter had gone on the rampage with a super villain (Peter's kryptonite? Stupidity) and needed to be stopped by the Haitian, who took all his memories. However, that shows some lack of foresight on the Haitian's part. Set the most powerful being on the planet loose on the world without any memories of who he was to guide him morally. On a completely selfish vein, I was incredibly bored while Peter (didn't) try to figure out who and what he was. Worse, his Irish girlfriend had NO chemistry with Peter. She's cute, and heaven knows I like that accent, but Peter and her? No way. And sweet Milo Ventimiglia, the actor who plays Peter, and who usually does better than this, showed that he has become Television's Keanu Reeves. Example:

Imagine Neo from The Matrix whispering, very powerfully "Nathan?!"

Imagine Bill from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure uttering "Nathan?!"

Imagine the good cop-dude from Speed intensely lifting an eyebrow and breathily saying "Nathan?!"

Now, you should have no problem associating Peter Petrelli with the worst actor of our time. I hope I didn't ruin anything for you.

Back to this point, I really think that this part of the storyline had its origins in the following brainstorm at NBC studios--"Man, we need something Irish in here. I've always liked Irish accents." "Yeah, and what about an amnesia story? Every good soap opera has an amnesia story line." "Good, we can save some time for us to think up a way to patch the story by sticking an amnesiac Peter in the middle of nowhere Ireland in a crate." "Oh, and don't forget to give him a girlfriend." "Nice! Ooooh, ooooh!.... we can also have him prance around without a shirt on, that ought to boost our ratings with the 18-35 female demographic! The advertisers will love it!" "Done. So let it be written, so let it be done."

9. Suresh Has a PhD in Dumb.

Like my friend RuthAnne pointed out, Suresh has a moral compass without needles. Within the half season that was Chapter 2, Suresh had

  1. Agreed to help Parkman and Noah Bennet take down the Company, no matter the costs (good guy)
  2. Agreed to help the Company take down the dangerous mutants, no matter the costs (bad guy)
  3. Tried to kill Sylar (good guy)
  4. Killed Noah Bennett (bad guy)
  5. Brought Noah Bennett back to life (good guy?)
  6. Tried to destroy the evil muto-death-cure virus (good guy!)
  7. Tried to develop the evil muto-death-cure virus (BAD guy!)
  8. Saved the Haitian's life (goodish guy)
  9. Tries to save Molly (and later Maya), only to play right into the hands of Sylar (good guy, but inept)
  10. Preens about, spouting off on such topics as ethics, morality, and the greater good, all with a very formal Indo-British accent which is a pre-requisite for the brainy guys. (bad guy)

There was not an episode where I didn't think, Man! Suresh blows! Then my friend Rebeccah came up with the solution: Kill Suresh. Easy as Chicken Vindaloo. Instead of killing off compelling characters, why doesn't the show weed out weak and idiotic characters? Well, because they've created those weak and idiotic characters, and it's a tarnish on their pride to eliminate the chaff they so lovingly raised up as wheat. So they get rid of two of the characters that had an ounce of interesting to them, and force the third to tell his family to give it up.

10. 12 Episodes got us...the Death Virus

From day one of the first season, we knew there was an imminent threat, an explosion in New York City. We knew we had heroes who were trying to cope with and develop powers of their own. We knew that they would play some part in preventing the explosion. We had villains, we had heroes and we had in-betweeners. We had character development, plot progression, splendid writing, and ambiguous morality situations. We didn't quite know who was good, evil, or misguided. We couldn't judge who would do what next, and all the surprises were pleasant and fit pristinely into the overarching storyline. This year, we had a discombobulated mess of disjointed, ill-fitting stories that tenuously led up to a final threat that we didn't even discover until midway into the season: the ultra-super-duper-98%-of-the-population-killer virus. OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH. Scary. Only, we never got to see what the virus could do (except for one scene of the Haitian with a fever in Haiti and a brief trip to the future where everyone was dead) with anyone we cared about. Would it have killed us to have seen Nikki suffer a bit, or anyone else infect by the strain? Sylar seemed to do fine with it over the course of the season (sans powers of course), and Nikki seemed to be having a great time in New Orleans with her son, Captain NerdyPower. Sadly, there was never any real tension established there.

Also, our villains got neutered this season. Sylar (how did he survive a Samurai Sword through the chest?!) has lost his powers and stumbles and mumbles around Mexico half the time. Linderman's presumably dead (although you never know now, what with the miracle blood circulating throughout the show). And even Nikki's sinister half is on sabbatical when Nikki has her powers--which is rare this season. We have Bob, the gold-making villain. We have the bi-polar Suresh savant. We get Veronica Mars--Elle--halfway through the season, and she was great, but never chilling in the way a Linderman or a Sylar was, inflicting the type of damage, individually gruesome or mass-scale homicide that allowed us a glimpse into their souls. Sure, we saw some conflict within her towards the end, but it's nothing like that which we saw with the ambiguously good/bad guys Noah Bennett, Nikki, or Nathan Petrelli last season. Like them, Elle was a somewhere-in-between twilight girl, not even a real villain, and the most electricity you got from her character was that charging through her body.

Overall, the genius of Heroes last season was good writing, character development, and an organized, well-thought-out plot. All of that went MIA this year, and it makes me want to say "Game Over."

But part of me knows it's just "To Be Continued...."

Unless the writers go on strike forever, in which case the execs would be forced to hire guys like me...

9 comments:

madelyn said...

Bravo. I just love your grammatically correct rants! I especially love the hero/Hiro bit, it was very lawyery. I have to say that I agree 100% with all of the analysis that is this post. I would like to mention, however that there was one improvement from last season: Peter got rid of his sweepy bangs...apparently there was a barber in that crate where he lost his memory, or something. I found that extremely distracting last season. I would also like to voice my frustration about the "to be continued..." every freakin episode! I half expected the "to be continued" NOT to appear what with the writers strike and all, but nope. Sure enough there it was at the end of the last (and every other) episode. Buggy.

By the way, I think this is a great chance for you to quit law school, move to L.A. and become a non-union writer. The producers are getting pretty desperate and pretty soon there is going to be nothing on TV and the American public will have no choice but to go outside or something...or just watch "reality" TV.

Barb said...

I have to agree with Madelyn: yay to Peter's haircut and I have to disagree with you on one small point, yay to Peter's shirtless scenes. Shameless, I know, but I liked 'em.

Can they kill off Suresh? He's the narrator! Although, he could narrate from the grave like that dead lady on Desperate Housewives does....

Dude- I agree with you on so many of your points. I was stoked at the end of last season when Hiro ended up in feudal Japan but that storyline just stagnated so quickly and ruined the pacing of every episode.

Last season, this show gave me nightmares. Sylar freaked me out! Then when we got to see his face, he was less scary (that actor formerly played Tori Spelling's gay friend on So NoTORIous), but he still was creepy. This season he's LAME-O! We need some good, scary villains to make Heroes work or it ends up being a nighttime soap!

That being said, I still love this show and I still think it is smart and innovative. I just want the writers to get a little more cohesive direction!!

EBV said...

Thanks, girls! Good to know some people have the patience to read longer posts.

Also, Barb, thanks for correcting my spelling. It's almost always embarrassing to go back and edit something you wrote up, but with you, I know I have a fellow spelling/grammar geek.

Hasta la lectura!

Natalie L. said...

I completely agree! This half of the season of hero's was the most pointless t.v. watching I've done in years. The only good things were- Sylar getting is powers back, Alejandro and Maya dying (too bad she's back)and Elle's electricity. Other than that. Blech. Their plot planning totally sucked this 1/2 season.

Andrew McKnight said...

So my knowledge of "Heroes" is limited mainly to the "save the cheerleader, save the world" tagline and the fact that someone told me Sulu from Star Trek was on it. While I was very much impressed by your impassioned writing, my ignorance of basically everything "Heroes" left me with no clue as to what you were talking about. I guess I feel bad that I missed the train, but then, seeing how everyone seems to at least dislike the show now, I guess I don't.

However, Showbiz Pizza...magic.

Mel said...

Apparently I am the only person on the planet who is not a "Heroes" follower. However, I did still enjoy your post- yay Eric! And seriously, showbiz pizza (where a kid can be a kiiiiiddd!)....I am so jealous. We always did the McDonald's playplace parties. Lame!

gurrbonzo said...

I haven't climbed on the Heroes train, but that Showbiz rat is freaking me out.

Cotter said...

I don't watch Heroes either although maybe I should

AlliSMiles said...

i agree about most of your points. this season was a disappointment. and i find it really funny that we both still watched all of the episodes despite the fact. for your own personal enjoyment, hero's name is Kensei Takezo. :)