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[TV] When Good Heroes Go Bad

Posted in Geeking Out, Technology by engtech on July 06, 2007

heroes tv series hiro nakamuraI just finished watching the first season of the new hit TV series Heroes on DVD and I have to say that I’m disappointed. I’m still an avid reader of comic books, so when a new TV series starts that seems like a mild rip-off from X-Men came out, I didn’t really have a choice when it came to watching it.

I’ve always enjoyed the stories about how people deal with having super-powers more than the crime fighting and action. The most interesting sci-fi stories are the ones that deal with how society reacts to the fantastic, and unfortunately that is something Heroes never explored in depth.

(photo by Ivo Sandaval)

They started out well with many interesting characters, but that was also the biggest flaw. Too many characters means too much time spent on telling the story. Often they went several episodes without covering one of the favorite characters. There also seemed to be a ridiculous duplication of powers [2] amongst the existing “heroes”. At least they were willing to kill characters off.

Too many characters also means it takes too long to tell the story. I’ve recently become a big fan of Warren Ellis and one of the things he does very well is timing a story arc. The Authority wraps up every four issues, and Nextwave wraps up every two issues. Heroes would have done well to follow the same formula to keep everyone’s attention. Taking 24 episodes to show “how to stop an exploding man” ensures that the finale won’t live up to expectations. (And what a lame ending it was…)

Every episode was linked to the overall plot, when one-shots and smaller story arcs would have gone a long way to develop the characters and hold the attention of the audience. The Days of Future Past rip off where Hiro travels five years into the future was one of my favorite episodes because it stood out from the rest. I hope they do more of that, instead of huge epic story arcs that are hard to follow and ultimately unsatisfying.

heroes tv series hiro nakamura watch sylarI thought it was very cool that they did an online comic book series to fill in some of the back story. A torrent of issues 1-24 can be found here, and 25-31 can be found here [3]. Use a bit torrent client to download and use CDisplay to view.

The preview of season two sparked my interest, and I hope they take some time to focus on one story arc to completion instead of their current blueprint where everything leads to one arc that plays out less than thirty minutes.

(photo by robjtak)

Footnotes

[1] Completely screwed up by Marvel’s “everyone is a mutant!” stupidity.

[2] Linderman and Claire both heal. Peter and Sylar can both copy other powers. Wireless and Mika can both interact with machines. The writers need to read George RR Martin’s Wild Cards to get some idea of all the crazy powers that people can have.

[3] Since the comics were available on the NBC website, the torrents should be legal to distribute.

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What Others Think

Tech Chick: “Eureka: On Friday NBC announced that the majority of the Season 1 cast of Heroes will be touring the world to promote the Season 1 DVD/HD DVD release (set for August 28th), as well as the upcoming second season of Heroes. I know the DVD release isn’t as exciting as the upcoming season, but getting to see 50 deleted scenes and the 73-minute never aired premiere episode WILL make the wait less painful. I promise.”

Forever Geek: “In an interesting move to avoid airing repeats, NBC has ordered a 6 part second series called “Heroes: Origins” – this show will feature different characters from the ones appearing on Heroes, but some of the characters in the series will eventually make their way to the main show. This series will air in the regular Heroes time slot when the show goes on hiatus next fall.”

“So, last night’s “Heroes” season finale didn’t satisfy on every level I hoped it would, but it did wrap up at least the bomb scenario… spoilers

Movies No One Should See: “Not only is he awesome as Hiro, he’s more badass as Future Hiro (thanks to time traveling, shows up sometimes). A little goatee, fluently speaking English, and the samurai sword with him at all times: this is how Hiro could be in the future. Of course, that future is ala “Age of Apocalypse” so it might be altered next season (and he’ll show up as Hippy Hrio instead).”

Random Musings: “However, the other 22 episodes really made up for this one lackluster season finale. Almost all of them were brimming with interesting and shocking plot twists that made this show one of the most complicating and yet satisfying ones I’ve seen in a long time. For those of you who haven’t watched it, make sure you get the DVD as soon as it’s released, you really don’t want to miss out on this great show.”

Blogs about Heroes

8 Responses

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  1. Chris Rohde said, on July 06, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    et:

    Always a fan, but I tend to disagree on this one. The choppy timeline and slight (slight!) duplication added to the characters… where claire can heal herself, linderman can heal other things, and sylar can only steal powers where peter accidentally takes them (think of Ms. marvel).

    I can see though how you might be disappointed, I think the week lapses between episodes helped build up anticipation in what might otherwise have been one long LONG story.

  2. engtech said, on July 06, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I watched the first 14 episodes week to week, and then watched the last 10 episodes over a few days… I felt that everything building up to “save the cheerleader” was interesting and well done, and then it started getting unfocused from there until the last episode.

    People were constantly moving between Las Vegas and New York for seemingly no reason. There was also a sense that when we find out more about Linderman and Nanna Petrelli it doesn’t flow at all with their previous actions. It also didn’t seem like Hiro’s father’s character made a natural progression from the times we saw him over the series (trying to get Hiro to be CEO, giving away Claire, training Hiro).

    It really felt like they were trying to conclude too many sub-plots at once in the last episode. But what really got me down was how the epic battle between Peter, Hiro and Sylar seemed to be over in 15 minutes. The battle between future Sylar and future Peter was much more satisfying.

    I’m looking forward to the next series, but I think it would be a lot better if they tried to tighten up the plot. Three 8 episodes stories or four 6 episode stories that also combine to tell a bigger picture would be much more satisfying.

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  4. santoki said, on July 06, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    After the first month of introductions, I was completely sucked into this show. That is, right up until the season finale. I thought that the epic battle was less than epic, and the corn factor was a bit on the high side.

    But then again, they sucked me right back in with the last five minutes. Hiro is great like that!

  5. Madhur Kapoor said, on July 08, 2007 at 12:12 am

    Which was your favourite hero from the whole series ?

  6. engtech said, on July 08, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Favorites were:

    Hiro
    Sylar
    Nikki/Jessica

    I think Claire is one of the better actors on the show, and I’m looking forward to what happens when she gets beyond the teenage angst stuff.

  7. [...] Engtech was disappointed by Heroes. I haven’t watched the whole series so I defer my opinion. [...]

  8. [...] Engtech was disappointed by Heroes. I haven’t watched the whole series so I defer my opinion. [...]


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