Heroes: Why NBC is starting to lose me


Full disclosure: I’m only watching Heroes because LOST isn’t on yet. If LOST were on, I would not give a crap about this show. This is a cheap fix to keep me occupied until what really interests me comes back on.

In fact, that’s how it began. LOST wasn’t on and I was Jonesing, so I decided to check out the only other show with a solid geek factor: Heroes. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I initially checked out Kyle XY, but the network execs then made the bonehead decision to move the show to ABC Family after Season 1. In it’s place they offered the abysmally banal Weak. [Wait… No, I think it was called something phonetically similar. Ah, it was Greek. Weak is how it rated. I think I watched maybe 7 minutes of that suckfest offering.] Betrayed once again by the mystical unreasoned decision-making Puke-a-whirl of the consistently clueless network execs at ABC, I decided Kyle XY just wasn’t important enough for me to go searching after.

Now don’t get me wrong. Heroes did grow on me [until recently, but we’ll get to that], but it was simply chosen to insufficiently fill a void left by LOST. We rented all of Season 1, got caught up on all the nuances of the show and went on to enjoy Season Two. Of course, the writer’s strike reared it’s ugly head, cutting off the season at the knee caps, shorting everyone not only in length but in overall plot coherence. The writer’s strike ended, yet suddenly there were a slew of nasty rumors that the network execs [who, no matter which network we’re talking about, are as brainless as Sylar’s victims] had decided to can the show for reasons unfathomable. Admittedly, so long as LOST was on, I was OK. But LOST Season 4 ended and I had nothing to watch. And they took an inconsiderately long time to announce an airdate for Season 3 of Heroes. I had almost forgotten about them by the time the network execs got their heads out of each other’s saving graces long enough to validate our misplaced faith in them.

I don’t like this idiot scheduling drama. I didn’t like it when ABC’s brainless network execs started screwing with Lost’s schedule. I really hated not knowing whether the next show was a new episode or a re-run IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON! Re-runs come after the completed season, morons! And the 7-10 split…ach! Why in Sam Hill would I want to wait a few months to see the rest of the season when I’m halfway through with it. Was some at ABC TRYING to kill LOST? I still hate the late shot out of the gate thing they’re doing. Is it really a good idea to let everyone get good and interested, dare I say invested, in someone else’s show before you let yours get going? Hello? Anybody there? Oh. Sylar gotcher… Doesn’t matter. Network execs are so braindead, they’d never know the difference if their brains physically vacated their skulls– and neither would we! But no matter how much we complain, they continue to just shuffle that schedule like an iPod mix.

Maybe I should begin [or it is too late for a beginning now] with what I LIKE about Heroes.

Season 1, which I rented and mass consumed at the start of Season 2, was a bit dodgy, like most virgin seasons. Everything looks too B-movie at first, mostly because execs won’t commit money or quality to unproven shows. But the core idea of Heroes that the world is secretly populated with superpowered heroes and villains is intriguing, even if you’re not really sure why these guys have these superpowers or why they’re all complete novices, conveniently enough. You figure they’ll provide answers eventually [after all, this isn’t the perpetually mysterious LOST here].

But the point is that you find yourself [and this is the very little word you should be taking note of here, gentle readers] invested in the main elements of the drama. Investment, in case you’re wondering, is the audience’s implied agreement to buy into the fantasy and suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment. Like all agreements or social contracts, there are conditions which must be met by both parties. The key obligation of the entertainer is consistency. Some of my more astute readers already see where this going.

 The main elements of Heroes were defined in Season 1.

Peter Petrelli, arguably the main protagonist, absorbs other people’s abilities simply by being around them. Unfortunately, Pete frustrates us somewhat because, while he is a likeable do-gooder, he doesn’t fully understand his powers and possesses only a modicum of control over them. Peter’s family also includes a brother, Nathan, a politician who can fly, and Angela Petrelli [just call her Psycho Ma], who is an evil siren bent on a plan to destroy New York City. Ma Petrelli is part of a small group of superpowered individuals of dubious character. The Heroes find continually find themselves paying for the sins, past and present, of their mothers and fathers who belong to this group.

Sylar, the main antagonist, possesses a simlar ability to Peter Petrelli. He has the ability to understand the workings of anything, even something as complex as the human brain. By understanding the workings of the brains of other superpowered men and women, he can somehow acquire that ability. Unlike Peter Petrelli, he understands how to use his abilities well nigh perfectly. Unfortunately, as a side effect of his ability, he has an overpowering hunger to know how things work, which has transformed into a psychosis that has formed him into a homocidal maniac. Disturbingly enough, he cuts the tops off his victims’ skulls and takes their brains, though it’s never really been confirmed why this gruesome act is necessary.

Mohinder Suresh is a scientist who is trying to track down his father’s murderer and to validate his theories about the existence of people with extraordinary abilities, presented in his book, Activating Evolution. He discovers that Sylar is his father’s murderer, but only after he unwittingly provides the psycho with a few more victims and, naturally, a few more powers. He tries to turn the tables on Sylar at one point, but sorely underestimates him and has to be rescued by Peter.

Hiro Nakamura can control time and space. He’s the most endearing of the cast. After a visit from hits future self, he sets off with his normal sidekick Ando on a quest to save the world. Yes, this was that whole Save the Cheerleader, Save the World hype.

Claire Bennett is an indestructible teenager who becomes Sylar’s target. After Peter saves her life, she finds out that Noah Bennett [aka HRG] is actually her adoptive father, that her father is actually Nathan Petrelli and that her mother Meredith Gordon is a pyrokinetic. HRG, an unassuming gee whiz family man who allegedly works for Primatech Paper, is actually an operative for the Company, an organization that bags and tags super-powered folks and assesses them to see if they’re dangerous. His partner, the Haitian, can erase memories and negate the powers of those around him.

Her life is pretty normal compared to Niki Sanders. Niki is pretty normal, but her split personality Jessica possesses super strength and has no qualms killing anyone. Her son, Micah, can speak to machines and get them to do what he wants, while her husband, D. L., can walk through walls [which is comes in handy when he escapes from prison]. Jessica also happens to be a hit man for Linderman, one of Ma Petrelli’s villainous circle and architect of the plan to blow up New York City. Jessica also has a sordid relationship with Nathan Petrelli.

Matt Parkman, Ted Sprague, Isaac Mendez and Molly Walker round out the last of the notables. Parkman’s ability allows him to read minds, which pretty much destroys his marriage when he finds out his wife has been cheating on him. He saves Molly [who can pinpoint the location of any person] from Sylar. Ted is the Radioactive Man. Though Sylar kills Ted, Peter Petrelli had previously absorbed his power, which is why he explodes at the end of Season One. Isaac Mendez paints the future. His paintings and their fulfillment provide the basic overarching plot of Season One. Though he is murdered by Sylar in Season One, another convenient series of paintings provides the plot for Season Two.

Though Season Two has it’s own characters and nuances, Season One established what we expected to see for the run of the series. Despite its brevity, Season Two delivered on this, expanding the background stories and the theme of fighting the future. Granted, there were a few disappointments. Sylar was stripped of his powers for the duration, though he proved just as evil without them. He did gain them back, of course. Meanwhile, we were further introduced to the Company and Ma Petrelli’s twisted inner circle, most of whom were killed off by the end of the season, by Matt Parkman’s father, the Nightmare Man. Also Peter Petrelli finds himself suffering from amnesia with little clue as to what kind of power he possesses. [But again, he and Sylar are always equal but opposite.]

Yet there is consistency as well, for again Peter must fight the future, this time against a virus that kills most of humanity.

Over the course of Two Seasons, we get a sense of how the characters will react.

Enter Season Three, post-writer’s strike. Why EXACTLY did these goofs deserve more money?

Now we have an evil Claire. A Sylar who just wants to be good. [I don’t WANT to like Sylar, not even a little bit!] An evil Peter Petrelli who’s absorbed Sylar’s power and psychosis. A Hiro who is willing to stab his best friend for the cause [COMPLETELY OUT OF CHARACTER!] and a monstrous Suresh who unaccountably threw caution to the wind and injected himself ala Dr. Jeckyl. Um, why? Did the post-strike writers forget what they were writing while they were off demanding more money?

I don’t want everything to change simply for the sake of change itself. Shock and awe me, yes, but don’t destroy that skein of consistency that preserves the very plausibility, dare I say integrity of the fantasy. How do we invest in something that shows so little internal consistency?

Ah well. LOST is a long way off. Perhaps Heroes will sort itself and find it’s bearing again out before I find other interests.

.

–Sirius Knott

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. izikavazo says:

    I don’t mean to nitpick, but Kyle XY has always been on ABC Family, I think they just put it on ABC to fill a time slot and to get more people to move over to ABC Family.

    I don’t know where I heard this but it sounded like a perfect idea: I heard that in Season 2 the writers were going to start over, start with brand new heroes and a new story arc. That would have been great. They could have brought back the original actors for cameos or maybe the occasional recurring role, but it would have been great.

    Frankly I think that is one of the main problems with the show, I’m getting sick and tired of all these characters who won’t die. Nathan is useless. Niki (or whatever her name is now) is terrible. Parkman is still doing his confused face in all of his scenes. Suresh is a terrible hero and a worse villain.

    And also I’m getting more and more angry with the casting. They introduced us to new characters last year and so far that appears to be a waste of time. What happened to West and the girl who could learn anything she saw?

    People complain that Lost writers make it up as they go, and at times I bet they do, but at least they don’t just give up on stories (except Nicki and Paulo, and that was our fault). The Heroes writers are just trying to drive us crazy.

    Also, I hate the future. They keep on going to the future and seeing apocalyptic scenarios, but we know that’s never going to happen, it’s outrageous.

    – izi

  2. Sirius says:

    Update:

    OK, Hiro pulled a fast one, he’s still a good guy and Ando’s still alive.

    But now Peter is ONCE AGAIN useless having been stripped of his powers by dear ol’ dad! Powerless and pointless. Do the writers really think that’s a good alternative to clueless and pointless?

    –Sirius Knott

  3. Sirius says:

    @ izi:

    Nathan is useless, but at least they’re explaining it now. [He wasn’t born with powers, so they gave them to him artificially.] In his defense, even Nathan has admitted that flight is cool, but well nigh pointless in a fight.

    Suresh is probably the biggest disappointment of the show. They had a chance to make him into something cool, but I’m almost sure we’re past caring now. My guess is Dad Petrelli will take away Suresh’s condition, Mohinder will be grateful and will naively serve the villains. Why is naivete so common amongst the good guys? And since they are so patently clueless, why aren’t more of them dead, as you succintly pointed out? In any case, why don’t we have any hard-nosed Wolverine types or simply people with sense?

    To West and Joan of Arc I would add, what the blazes happened to Peter’s Irish gal, the one he stranded in a plague-ridden future?

    Point taken about the apocalyptic futures. The heroes always seem in over their heads. I think it’s time the danger was more tangible. Why is the world always getting imperiled? Why aren’t the villains simply trying to take control and get rich?

    I REFUSE to take credit for Nicki and Paolo! Like Sawyer said: Who? Their arc was completely unbelievable. Like they actually discovered all the Island’s secrets before everyone else. Puh-leez! And their fate was too macabre. Did the writers channel Poe for that farce? Like Shannon and Boone, I simply never cared about these characters because the writers never gave me reason to — and gave me every reason NOT to!

    –Sirius Knott

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