Tuesday, March 03, 2009
*** WARNING: NO POKER CONTENT ***
With Julius Goat having seemingly quit the Heroes-recap business (all for good reason, too), there is a lack of good TV commentary out there in the poker blogodome. You won't find any of that here. Lord knows I don't have the skills or self-hate to take on the task of recapping Heroes as it continues to shed viewers and any semblence of good writing. But I do have some general insight into the show, so I might as well toss in my two pesos.
The problem with Heroes is the same problem that faces many a comic book. After a while, once you've established the characters and relationships and had some reveals, a comic can easily fall into a creative rut. Continuity is ignored (so, for instance, in the first half of last season Mohinder found a cure for the powers, but in the second half, he laments how he did not have any luck finding a cure and suddenly wants to help proliferate powers?!) and storylines get rehashed over and over (how many times is someone going to paint a prophetic vision of an nuclear mushroom?!). But the solutions to Heroes' creative rut can also be found in comic books, as well as by looking back at what Heroes originally was.
Make no mistake about it, the cast of Heroes was never supposed to be. The original idea was to have each season as entirely distinct stories focusing on how real people deal with the development of super powers. That's why season 1 was so great. It was exciting to see how Hiro actually learned to control time, or unravel the mystery of what happened when Nicki blacked out and woke up to a bunch of dead guys in the room. This was a chance to see real people in extraordinary situations, and some of them embraced it (Hiro) while others fell apart (Nicki). If all went according to plan, the entire cast would basically either be released or used in lesser roles in the next season, during which we could introduce a whole new group of super powered real people.
Unfortunately (or not, depending on who you are), the case actually became breakout stars when the show first came out, so the studio decided not to mess with a proven formula. Suddenly, it wasn't a show about real people dealing with powers, but the interconnectedness of these particular characters. Eventually, it felt like everyone had powers, and that just plain sucked. The excitement of the show was that it felt real and as everyone developed powers (Mohinder for one, then Ando, and later BS coincidences like Sylar accidentally kidnapping a boy with microwave powers who coincidentally he lived next door to Sylar's intended target), the show felt less about a real world with a few special people and more about a pulp comic.
The other side effect was that when you have a (formerly) beloved cast, no one can die. When you anticipate new casts every year, you can kill people willy nilly without the need to bring them back to life in contrived ways (HRG, Daphne, etc.). Instead, death matters, and we are closer to feeling that these impossible characters exist in a possible world.
So, how can the show be fixed? I have two suggestions, one of which comes from something I read early on about the intended trajectory of the show and one that is based on natural development of the storyline as it exists.
Very early on in the show's existence, I read that Season 2 (or maybe 3) was going to be called Generations and would focus on the prior generation of Heroes. This should be Plan A. Set an entire season in the past. You can start with a whole new cast, bring in Hiro for a couple of cameos or an episode, and show what happened in the 1970s and earlier when the group that would eventually create The Company first came together. It would be like the intended feel of the show, with a new cast every season to explore what it is like to develop unworldly powers in the real world. It would be connected to the past storylines as a prequel, and it could explain how things degenerated to the point that they did in Season 1. Sounds exciting? I think so.
A second idea would be to allow the Heroes to be outted. This is a game-changing move, but it keeps the show locked into the real world. Nothing annoys me more than seeing the speedster Daphne running into a crowded market at super speed, throwing papers and whatnot in her wake, but when she stops, no one seems to notice that this Caucasian chick in the middle of an Japanese market (actual Japan) just appeared out of nowhere at the same time as this gust of air and a streak of color. No one notices this?! Come on! That's not real. Real would have everyone freak out. At least have her run to a secluded alley and then walk out into the crowd. But to have her just appear? Plain silly.
So, allow the heroes to be outted. Let Nathan be caught on camera flying or have Sylar make the news during a killing spree. Then show what happens to the world in the face of people with extraordinary powers. You can keep the current cast and still build a story that is fresh to the show, unique to viewers, and compelling. I am sure that some heroes would grow cult followings. Stealing from the X-Men storylines, there could even be wannabe heroes who desperately want to become one of the special. There could be anti-hero movements. All sorts of storylines could come out. Coming out tales. Odd medical tales. Political intrigue. A school for heroes (another X-Men ripoff, but permissible nonetheless). The world might not look like the one we currently live in, but the characters would still act in a realistic manner.
Of course, lest someone at Heroes finds this, we will probably be stuck with the same lame storylines and bad acting (and the acting has gotten worse and worse as the show proceeds). Let's hope the writers can turn this ship around before it blows up (as foretold by a prophetic painting).
Until next time, make mine poker!
posted by Jordan @ 12:29 PM,