Friday, November 07, 2008

Hero Worseshit

Like a complete numpty I’ve still been struggling to try and make sense of what the hell is going on with Heroes. The easy option would be to simply jack it all in and get on with my life, but the way this show is spiralling out of control it’s like having a niggling itch you actually want to scratch.

Unless they’re really good most television dramas start to unravel in their later years. It’s usually because they’ve far outstayed their welcome, the original producers have moved on to pastures new, and the new guys coming in turn everything around trying to make their mark. But I can’t remember anything that has spiralled out of control as swiftly as Heroes.

Even with the fantastical subject matter involved, seven episodes in this third season stopped making any real sense a long time ago. Sure the characters are different from normal people but why the hell are they behaving so strangely? It’s a given that Hiro has turned into a dick, but even he was beaten into second place by Sylar, being put forward as a reformed Susie Homemaker in another of the obligatory alternate future episodes that are turning into the default stories when they appear unsure of where to take the story.

There are some interesting sequences, like the whole Puppet Master interlude, tormenting the one-time cheerleader and her two moms. But if you’re a guy that can go around manipulating people like that, wouldn’t you be out making serious mischief and raising your lifestyle? Maybe he’s just a slacker who simply doesn’t give a damn, but ultimately the character just comes across as one of the many new and instantly disposable mutant brought in service the story mechanics that are blindly firing off in all directions.

Claire Bennet becoming one of the agents tracking down dangerous mutants alongside her father actually works quite well as an ongoing storyline. Shame then that it’s virtually swamped by all the other frankly bonkers machinations. If you were actor David Anders wouldn’t you be pissed that, having been bigged up as this evil character Adam Monroe the previous year, this go around, after only a few relatively brief appearances, your character is reduced to dust? What was all that about?

Then again, maybe you’d just be glad to be extricated from all this nonsense, pay cheque be damned. With the arrival of Claire’s biological mother, Sylar revealed to be part of the Petrelli clan, and the return of evil Pa Patrelli, presumably back from the dead and not exactly a happy camper, Heroes seems have swerved away from plundering Marvel Comic’s back catalogue of deranged super villains and ploughed straight into the madcap soap opera antics of a Dallas or Dynasty. And that’s just plain nasty.

As everything goes straight to hell on screen, what’s making the drama more compelling than ever is what’s going on behind the scenes right now. A couple of issues back, Entertainment Weekly ran the cover story Fallen Heroes. In a five-page article pointing out why this third volume of the drama was in crisis, the magazine highlighted the five main problems and followed that up with suggested solutions. Though fair in its criticism, the article obviously rattled cages at NBC.

Over the seven episodes of this season Heroes has shed 21% of its audience since the abbreviated second season. Even though it remains the network’s highest performing drama, with budget overruns pushing costs north of $4 million per episode, NBC finally put its foot down. On Monday it was widely announced that the network had fired Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb, the two co-executive producers overseeing the writing and story development.

Prior to Heroes, Alexander had been a writer/producer on JJ Abram’s spy drama Alias, which had two brilliant seasons before completely losing the plot. Loeb had worked on Smallville but is better known in comic book circles as the writer of DC’s Batman: The Long Halloween, sequel Batman: Dark Victory, and Superman For All Seasons in collaboration with artist Tim Sale as well as some incredibly tangled plots for rival Marvel. Somehow Heroes has brought out the worst aspects of their writing.

With them out of the door, the current rumour that writer/producer Bryan Fuller, who was involved in the first season, may return as a consultant to help out Heroes creator Tim Kring if ABC puts the kibosh on his saccharine-overloaded Pushing Daisies, which seems more than likely. Since Fuller’s work can be quite eccentric when he’s let loose, especially his previously created Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls, wouldn’t it be a better idea for NBC to look further afield?

If they’re seriously looking to get Heroes back on track, wouldn’t it be better to staff it with writer/producers of long-running genre dramas that worked over the long haul with hardly a misstep like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Battlestar Galactica? Which probably means that the network should have snapped up someone like Jane Espenson before she started working on Joss Whedon’s mid-season drama Dollhouse.

In it’s first year Heroes’ mantra was “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” Two years on it has simply morphed into “Save the show.” If you still care about it, what should they do to get the drama back on track before it heads for a complete meltdown? Or is it a case of packing up the play box and calling it a night?


At 11:18 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

do you think Claire looks a bit like my daughter?

At 11:39 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Now that you mention it...

At 9:30 am, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

How many time do I have to tell you? Get on the phone to Kring and gently but firmly suggest that you’re open to licensing the “Space Monkeys” to him.

If that doesn’t work, nothing will save the show... ;-)

At 2:27 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


...oh, I needed that...


Post a Comment

<< Home