A not so heroic effort – a Heroes series 3 review

10 12 2008

(Spoiler Warning: this review relates to the episodes screened in NZ so far)

What’s wrong with Heroes Series 3? The first season of Heroes was great, a taut gripping drama that was genuinely compelling. Sure it ripped off other things – most notably J.M. Stracyznski’s Rising Stars and Brian Wood’s Demo but also a whole host of other comics as well as TV shows like The 4400, but it did so in a way that was grown up and sophisticated. Essentially you didn’t mind because it was just really really good. “Save the cheerleader, save the world” was a mantra that we tuned in for every week, it meant excitement and drama.

Then it all kinda went wrong. The season 1 finale fell a bit flat, we were promised (threatened) with the apocalypse and instead we got a literal puff of smoke. It was all a bit whoop-de-doo. Season 2 was wrong in so many ways. They introduced too many new characters, went away from the characters that we liked (Micah and his family should have had more of a prominent role, and Hiro was in the past for waaaaaaay too long) and made it too slow.

Pre Season 3 we were promised that they were going to go back to what was working in the first season. So far it’s been a failure. The action has definitely returned, there are a plethora of baddies out there and some of our heroes are turning villainous (rather apt when the season is titled: Villains), but it all feels very kindergarten. Everything is simplistic and the sophistication that seemed to be there in season 1 is absent. Or perhaps it was all just an illusion and we were so grateful to have a grown-up superpower show that we ignored its many flaws.

Whatever the case, Heroes season 3 has too many problems.

The show suffers from Peter being too powerful. He can literally almost do anything. They’ve tried to rectify this somewhat by having him firstly be stuck in the body of a criminal then by him contracting Sylar’s power. This has turned him into a powers vampire and we have an insight into what has driven Sylar to be a monster so far. Admittedly this story is strong and provides many of the more powerful moments in the show. However it has the potential to go farcical if Peter has to be restricted every episode, if they don’t he’ll logically be able to solve every dilemma with one of his myriad of powers.

There’s also a definite sense of the producers making things up as they go. Case in point is Peter’s Irish girlfriend from season 2. WTF is she? Isn’t she still trapped in that alternate hellhole future? I found this quote from Tim Kring to be quite shocking:

When the fan asked if Peter would ever acknowledge Caitlin or express any grief over what seems to be her dire fate, Kring replied, “No, we passed it. We leapfrogged it.” He added that when the idea of returning to Caitlin was brought up, they asked, “Really? Are we going to risk that? We have enough stuff to [deal with].”

That’s just bad scripting, bad storylining and bad producing. So we’re supposed to give a crap about characters that the producers obviously don’t? my wife, who is a storyliner for a television show, is absolutely disgusted by this and says that she’d be in deep crap if they pulled a stunt like that.

Another problem I have with the show is that there is no real sense of a broader story like there is in Lost or Battlestar Galactica. This is something that the show definitely needs. Personally I would love it if they explored the reasons why the powers have come on now. Why can’t they have some otherworldly threat appear – it would give you a lurking menace and really, is it any sillier than the utter crap that they’ve pulled already? Maybe their powers are the world’s defence mechanism at some terrible tentacled menace that threatens our very existence.

The other problems I have are pet peeves:

Every time I see Parkman do that constipated turtle face when he is attempting to use his powers I want to throw my remote at the screen. Show the powers another way, the way you’re currently doing it is farcical.

They’re frikkin ripping off The Fly with Suresh’s story and it’s not even that interesting! It’s possibly because the actor is soooo bad but I doubt it. At least when Stargate Atlantis rips things off (which they do every second episode) they do it in a cheerful and exciting fashion.

And worst of all, they’ve ruined Hiro’s character. He was the best character and now he just seems annoying. Characters change and evolve, have him become that dark future assassin struggling to regain his happiness. He just seems like an annoying Chihuahua at the moment. I want Ando to kill him.

I don’t think the show is irredeemable but every week it gets harder to watch it. It’s a tragedy because once upon a time, Heroes was must see television. “Save the cheerleader, save the world”  now means “meh”.

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2 responses

10 12 2008
J.C

it gets worse!!

11 12 2008
sahar009

Great review! Sums it up pretty well. Loved this part: “Every time I see Parkman do that constipated turtle face when he is attempting to use his powers I want to throw my remote at the screen.” Ha ha ha ha!

I do think there is some sophistication still left. There are so many themes and concepts that you can glean from the episodes. If you want you can take a look at some of my reviews, I attempted to cover some of them: http://saharsblog.wordpress.com.

I also think that Season 3 is about catching up the mistakes from Season 2, and Season (Volume?) 4 will be better. Hopefully. Or I will also throw my remote at the TV.

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