Home > heroes, television, tim kring > Rants about Heroes (spoilers)

Rants about Heroes (spoilers)

So I’m going to try something quick and dirty this time around. I’m writing this on my phone, with the built-in qwerty keyboard, so I won’t be writing a novel here.

This week I’d like to talk about something that’s been bugging me quite a bit: Heroes.

When it initially appeared two seasons ago, the series seemed new and fresh. Even with its obvious indebtedness to Marvel’s X-Men comics, the show seemed to offer up action and gravitas and style in a way that was altogether different from anything before. But then something weird happened: people liked it. Characters suddenly became phenomena in their own right. “Save the cheerleader, save the world” ended up repeated by people who hated cheerleaders and people who hated comic books (and the world, I guess) alike. The show’s first season run was something mythic in television. The Big Hit.

And then there was that second season. The pacing, the new characters (I distinctly remember everyone I know and respect dubbing Maya and her brother “The Latin Wonder Twins” almost simultaneously), and the added twists seemed wholly unnecessary. The one thing I liked about the season is what eveyone else hated: Hiro’s Japanese subplot with Adam Monroe. It dealt with the one thing that is sorely lacking in comics but can be used to great effect in television–character development. But, Hiro notwithstanding, the season was a lost cause before the writer’s strike cut it short.

Series creator Tim Kring claimed that he’s listened to the fans and delivered a more active, kinetic plot. While I’d like to agree with him on that, I can’t. The plot for seaon three seems as convoluted and bizarre as any late-season X-Files episode. Characters with insanely cool powers that just appear from nowhere, only to die within ten minutes’ time. Characters that I never really cared about, like Claire’s birth mother, being given integral roles in the show. Characters I loved getting shafted. Everyone being reduced to a stock version of themselves. Claire Bennet. Is anyone surprised the she’s become a stock Angry At Her Parents Girl? (Also, how unconvincing is she as Future Claire?) Peter Pitrelli, the stock Brooding Hero?

And then you have the Big Sweeping Changes(tm). Hiro kills Ando! Ando kills Hiro! Hiro digs up Adam! Sylar’s not all evil! Peter’s not all good! Old Man Pitrelli’s still alive! Nathan finds God! Linderman’s still dead!

And THEN you have Noah, Anglea Pitrelli, Mohinder, and Matt Parkman. PICK A FUCKING SIDE, PEOPLE. I’m tired of your vacillating!

Oh, and The Big Problem. The Maguffin. The thing that unites them all into one plot: the visions of the impending doom of the future. Operation Impending Doom Three, if you will. First it was the explosion in New York. Then it was the virus. This time it’s the formula (how symbolically ironic is that?) with a bit of exploding California thrown in.

What this is all coming to–my point–is that plot, action, powers, all that is cool. But frankly, if I don’t care about the characters, I’ve stopped caring about the show. And really the only endearing character on the show right now is Mr. Turtle. And that’s because he’s a cute turtle.

All in all, Heroes still has places it can go. There are, at this point, dozens of characters just waiting to be fleshed out into real people. But like I said to my wife and my brother yesterday, Heroes is in a place now that it took Marvel almost 30 years to get to: a place where style is overtaking substance. Where the next buck is more important than the next story.

This show that combined the best elements of The X-Files, X-men, Watchmen, and dozens of other elements has finally turned into simply the sum of its parts, when it had the abilibty to be so much more. At the end of the day, I don’t want to help create a new character by voting with my text messages. I don’t want to read the online comic for information that I should get in the show. I don’t want a media empire to take my money. I just want a show that I can watch that has high-quality writing, acting, directing, and most of all, storytelling. Is it so much to ask from a show that used to promise those very things?

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Categories: heroes, television, tim kring
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