Heroes without hope?

Sunday, December 21, 2008 by

With Heroes now on a break, it’s time to ask if the show is finally beyond all hope.

Sylar - no more Mr Nice Guy... again

Sylar - no more Mr Nice Guy... again

Although the first episode of this third season showed some promise (Nathan’s new found religious fervor, in particular, looked like it might just go somewhere), things have progressed since then seemingly on a “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” basis.  Yup, continuity and logic just can’t shout loud enough when the writing team are postulating, “Wouldn’t it be cool if: Sylar and Noah had to work together/Sylar was revealed as being Peter’s long lost brother/Mohinder got powers/Ando got powers/Everyone lost their powers…” and so on.

It’s resulted in a show constantly backing out of storyline cul-de-sacs (actually, Sylar isn’t a Petrelli; nor is he good; Mohinder’s cured of his powers etc etc) and dropping bits of the plot as it goes along (What happened to Linderman? Where did the Haitian suddenly nip to in the final episode?).

Season one casts a long shadow over the show, a firecracker run which impressed by blowing every trick in the stack – particularly with its various time-shifting episodes. No more can the show jaunt to an apocalyptic future, or take us back for a peek at how things began… it’s been done.

So what’s actually left? And is the show beyond hope? Here, humbly, are a few suggestions for a revived Heroes

- Kill people! Obvious to say, but it does reveal a lack of confidence that the programme-makers have never yet offed anyone significant. And there are a few characters who’ve clearly passed their sell-by date: Parkman and Mohinder in particular.

- A new point-of-view. The fun of the time travel episodes had been (and notice I say that in the past tense) they offered a different point of view on events. Perhaps this could be achieved in new ways. For example, how about going down the Marvels (a comic book by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross) route and showing us the heroes’ antics from the perspective of ostensibly a by-stander?

- Write out Sylar. The show’s bogey man now seems to be stalking the production team. In series two and three, new villains have been introduced (Kensei, Parkman’s dad, Old Man Petrelli), dressed up as the biggest and baddest threats ever… until suddenly there seems to be a crisis of confidence, and Sylar is hurriedly re-established as top dog. So get rid of him and go for broke with something new.

- Develop Hiro. There’s a pervasive fear in really moving the characters on (Claire and Noah always end up back home, hiding from The Company, for example) which has particularly stultified Hiro. Originally a refreshingly ‘innocent’ voice among the maelstrom, he’s now just unbearably twee. When the show cuts to him, it’s like we’re in a different programme altogether. It was telling that when he was ‘regressed’ to his childhood, he didn’t actually seem any different. How about letting him grow up? And let the show’s immature moral compass waver as he’s forced to make tough choices.

- Have fun with physics. Okay, in a programme where people can fly and spit fire, it seems pointless to nitpick. But that bit when Ando and Daphne used super speed to, not just go back in time, but turn up at exactly the right moment, and across the globe in Toyko, was just too hard to swallow. Reign back in the reality. Wouldn’t it be good if the impact on the human body of travelling at high speed was acknowledged? Or flight – once Nathan got above the clouds, couldn’t he just once panic as he realises he’s confused and no longer knows which way is down (plus, it’s bloody cold). Some exploration of the consequence of powers might just anchor the show a little more.

Anyway, that’s five ideas from me. Suggestions, anyone?


10 Responses to “Heroes without hope?”

  1. Nigel Fishwick on December 23rd, 2008 10:07 am

    I’ve actually quite enjoyed this series. Fair enough, it could be improved in many ways, but in nontheless makes for pleasantly enjoyable telly. Then again, I enjoyed the much derided second season too.

    Anyway, as for suggestions…

    I think a major issue with the series is the way that those with abilities seem to be seperated from the everyday reality of everyone else. I’d like to see their actions impacting on the world in a more visible way: A team of FBI agents tracking the serial killer who removes the top of their victim’s skulls; An Airforce investigator looking into numerous reports of a flying man; Press reports on strange fires and electrical events. At the moment, the general populace seems to be almost totally ignorant of the extraordinary events taking place around them.

  2. Ljones on December 23rd, 2008 5:46 pm

    I can think of the best thing to do …. get rid of it completely! I must admit I can’t stand this series. I wish BBC2 would put something better on rather than this one-trick pony. I must admit I never really got all the hype over this series either.

    Heros? Bah….zeros!


  3. Rob Williams on December 23rd, 2008 6:07 pm

    Build something up for once! The Linderman storyline was good in Season One, but the past two seasons have just gone through the motions and a bit more real life drama please i.e. romance, death and other stuff like that…. Plus bring back Claude! Let’s not have all the heroes to be apple-pied Americans. Yes, Claire is nice enough but surely if there were a whole mixture out there let’s have slightly rough, fat, non conventional as well…

  4. Cindylover1969 on December 25th, 2008 9:51 am

    Ljones – Anything constructive to add? No? Thought so.

    Anyway… There have been rough and fat heroes (like the one with super hearing and the real looks of the illusion-causing one), but most of them get killed off (probably for the same reason there has yet to be a rough, fat, non conventional James Bond or Doctor Who)… and as for non-American heroes, what would that make Hiro, Hana and the Haitian?

    Maybe a new showrunner might help (it wouldn’t be the first time such action’s been taken). It’s encouraging that Bryan Fuller’s come back…

  5. Nick R on December 27th, 2008 1:11 pm

    There’s a pervasive fear in really moving the characters on (Claire and Noah always end up back home, hiding from The Company, for example)

    Yep. How many times has Noah said “I need to know that I can trust you!” or “I was only trying to keep you safe!” or “I only wanted to do what was best for my family!”

    Best bit of the season:

  6. Gabriel on December 28th, 2008 10:04 pm

    I’ve developed a superpower myself while watching the show, namely holding back the gag reflex at each use of the epithet “Claire Bear”.

  7. Jonathan Haw on December 31st, 2008 12:27 pm

    This is a slightly oblique suggestion, but I wish they could just make an entire series BEFORE transmission. As Graham suggests, a lot of the problem seems to be a lack of confidence in new ideas – and I’m sure this is linked to the fact that, like all US network shows, it is in production at the same time as transmission. This means that if the ratings are a bit wobbly, as they have been for the last couple of series, there is enormous pressure on the producers to make changes, deviating from their plans, and perhaps fall back on tried and tested characters and situations. How many times have we seen the series set off on an interesting path in its early episodes, only for us to end up at the same places? That’ll be the men from the network putting their oar in. That pressure must be even higher given how exceptionally expensive this series is.

  8. Cindylover1969 on January 4th, 2009 9:33 am

    One problem; if you make an entire 22-episode set (or 12 to 13 episode set) and it haemorrhages viewers DURING that lot – though ratings have at least levelled out now in this case – you can’t do anything about it. That ain’t no way to run a railroad.

  9. Cindylover1969 on January 8th, 2009 7:56 pm

    E! columnist and one-time “Heroes” guest actress Kristin Dos Santos (she was the croupier Hiro and Ando talked to in Vegas, back when she was Kristin Veitch) writes that one of the cast has asked to be released from his/her contract.

    Like a lot of the people guessing, based on the clues my (admittedly biased because I never liked her on the show) money’s on Ali Larter – reasonably known before the show started, little screen time this season, an excuse to come back in her clones… too bad about NBC not being keen on letting her go.

  10. Rob Buckley on January 9th, 2009 6:41 am

    Which would be a shame. I could never work out why they simply didn’t give her something to do, rather than spending every week working out new ways to victimise Clare.