13 June 2009

Not So Super:Heroes Volume 4 (series 3) Review

Something a little different for the weekend

I know I am a little late in covering this, but I can’t help it if I’m not a yank – so if anyone happens to read this, be warned there are *spoilers*

So, Heroes Volume 4: Fugitives has come to an end, and I felt I should review it because frankly the show messes with my head and annoys me greatly, yet I am compelled to watch it

Let me start out by saying I only started watching this series on a probationary basis, as the past two ‘volumes’ have been pretty dire, and the Heroes writers said they were going to effectively start from scratch with this one, so no confusing back stories or multiple universe shenanigans – although the cast remained virtually untouched you didn’t ‘need’ to know their stories

So obviously, it passed my test and I watched it til the end, the first episodes were promising, with a government conspiracy bound to enrage any decent libertarian - it did very nearly become 'Heroes do the A-team' early on, but it averted that scenario

But unfortunately it never really went anywhere, the government conspiracy was quickly destabilised and never really inspired the sense of fear that it should have, there were moments with Claire’s storyline, but they quickly evaporated, while the other heroes seemed to move with relative impunity as anonymous extras were hunted down and Sylar went on a killing spree road trip, the menacing Sylar once again bringing the only real quality to the show

I say this while also pointing out that Sylar’s daddy issues and consequent identity crisis, which lasted for two episodes, were pretty weak plot points, and yet the character, and Zachary Quinto’s performance, shone through once again

There were some other good points, ‘The Hunter’ was well cast (I can’t spell his name) and he played a decent straight man through the series, though I felt he wasn’t particularly menacing, as he was meant to be, and he could’ve been developed a lot more as he was basically the only new character in this series, but the character redeemed himself for me when he foolishly played in to Sylar’s hands, one of the highlights of the season

The comedy aspect, as usual, was good and I’m left wondering that if it weren’t for Hiro and Sylar this show would have been toast long ago – Hiro and Ando’s adventures are always fun to watch and usually the only ones from the good guys’ side that are enjoyable – in this series they had to rescue a baby - ‘touch and go’ Matt Parkman Jr. which was insanely daft

Otherwise there weren’t a lot of positives to note – the show has always been driven by character development and ‘normal people with super powers’ and I felt that those characters were getting too far detached from their realities. Peter in particular was a great character in the first season, like most of them actually, his troubles were initially rooted in real life but now he’s a second rate character with little real development, he is very briefly at the start working as a paramedic, but that soon goes out the window as he turns fugitive and attempts to solve his pretty mediocre and repetitive family problems

But the really annoying thing about Peter is that the writer’s constantly have to invent new ways to keep him weakened – he has enormous potential, but were he allowed to actually keep his powers he wouldn’t have any flaws or fears and so the writers have so far: allowed him to retain all the powers he finds, wiped his memory and sent him to Ireland, removed his powers completely, then returned his power but in a limited capacity – which was the limit of his original power!!

It’s crazy to anyone who has followed this show since the start – and here’s the kicker, they never let you see the final fight between him and Sylar, in the finale Peter obtains all of Sylar’s powers and then battles him – behind closed doors!! Literally...All we get is a light show through a crack in the door while probably the best scene in the series is denied to us – why do they do that? The Heroes team love to brag about their special effects and then they refuse the one bit of action we’ve been waiting for, that really pissed me off

Also on the subject of the finale – Hiro was shown to be suffering ill-effects from his power (now only half what it initially was) and warned to stop using them, he then uses it one last time to save Noah and promptly collapses – the next time we see him is in the final scene alive and well – now that’s just sloppy writing, it seems pretty clear they ran out of time, but to not even explain what happened seems very lazy to me, and makes the noble sacrifice he made pretty worthless, it also seems pretty strange that his half-strength power that he only got back a few days before was killing him after he spent the previous two series stopping time willy-nilly, and nobody else seemed to suffer from their powers

Likewise the third coming of Ali Larter was somewhat infuriating – not that I mind the actress or characters, but she has now been killed twice and brought back in a new form – first it was the more dubious secret triplet, and now she has changed from an ice queen to a water queen, which wouldn’t be an unreasonable change IF they hadn’t already brought her back with a pretty ropey explanation before, making the audience think she has died twice is pretty infuriating and bordering on a theme

The story also focused on the birth of the company and how it was founded out of a previous failed government programme (all very symbolic) – this was a better plot point and was part of the reasonably strong lead-up to the disappointing finale, whether or not people enjoyed seeing the company in a positive light after three seasons of it being a rather sinister operation is debateable – I liked the reasoning behind it, but portraying it in such a good light seemed a tad over the top after what it did – to me it was very reminiscent of how the Lost writers gradually changed our opinion of ‘the Others’ and it was nowhere near the same level (Lost has completely wrecked me, I know)

So overall, it was disappointing – not as disappointing as the second season, but it certainly suffered similar problems – the main problem seems to be a lack of time, they blamed the second season on the writer’s strike, resulting in a hastily-put-together finale, but they chose to do the same thing with ‘fugitives’ – opting for a 14-episode arc, and frankly it wasn’t enough to set the scene or develop the characters effectively – put in broader terms, this continues Heroes’ theme of setting up a series pretty well and then failing to deliver, with a sprinkling of decent acting – there was, and always has been, an excellent concept and a good set-up at the heart of Heroes, but they have always failed to live up to that initial promise, and there doesn’t seem to be any particular direction running through the show, it is always changing with very sharp turns

Likewise I felt they could’ve introduced new characters in this series, all of the current cast were in it from the start (bar Danko) and considering the writers wanted a clean start they could have brought some fresh blood in seeing as all the main characters are pretty much all explored now – it wouldn’t have been very hard to pick up on a few considering there were dozens of extras rounded up, but they just left the old faces to carry the story along – a mistake in my opinion

In the end of course, they have won because I have watched nearly 60 episodes of it and it’s still alive, but ratings are falling and it’s really a pretty mediocre show – which isn’t too bad by American standards, as long as it makes some money it will continue, much like Grey’s Anatomy does – but you really have to think there must be some pride involved somewhere – I wouldn’t want to create a show that *just* pulled it in, I’d want one that a lot of people loved, or a smaller amount of people really loved – something akin to Lost, BSG, the Wire, currently Heroes is being outdone in quality by Desperate Housewives, which my mother watches! So I will continue with Season 4, again on a probationary period, which may please the accountants but isn’t so good for the writers – bear in mind that I will actually stop watching, I did it with Prison Break (fortunately Heroes isn’t on Fox so they won’t totally destroy it for the sake of it) – So be warned, Tim Kring

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