20 October 2009

Are the wheels coming off Heroes already?

If Heroes has one recurrent theme it is that it sets the scene well, but then fails to deliver and great expectations soon peter out

This season was, for the third time in Heroes’ short history, supposed to be a clean break with a fresh new approach, no longer bogged down by confusing plotlines and too many characters – indeed, in the latest episode (Acceptance), we really only focus on four characters – Nathan, Hiro, Tracy and Bennett, with Peter, Angela and Claire in supporting roles

That’s actually quite a few characters for only 42 minutes of telly, but I felt it to be tedious television, with the storylines dragging and lacking in quality – Bennett’s soul-searching was decent, but Nathan’s tale, the main focus of the episode, was seriously lacking, while Tracy’s role seemed quite redundant except to look hot in a few little black numbers - it soon became obvious that what it was really lacking – Sylar, and perhaps some Samuel (the excellent Robert Knepper)

(*Spoilers ahead*) It really struck me how barren the show felt as it dragged on and I realised that we wouldn’t be focusing on the mischievous Sylar in Parkman’s mind at all, nor going to visit the mysterious fair that is the principle plot point that is driving this season – we did actually end up with both being included, but not until the final few minutes, there was nothing to intrigue the viewer, and nor was there any really decent acting until Samuel turned up for all of two minutes to set up the next episode, it was mostly characters that we’ve known since day one having a whinge about their life – perhaps it was supposed to be character development, well if it was, it sucked – because while ‘Nathan’ was investigating his dodgy past regarding someone we’ve never heard of before, I really couldn’t have cared less – and rightly so as he was ‘executed’ at the end, and guess what happened when he healed…that’s right, Sylar emerged! They really played that whole ‘Nathan’s really Sylar’ card really well…for all of three episodes

Of course, I don’t know if Nathan will return and the struggle will continue, but the final scene was highly predictable and failed to grab my attention, if Nathan is actually gone that’s a fairly awful piece of writing, if we’re in for a bit more of the struggle then it’s merely dull

Now I admit that I’m basing this mostly on one episode, and I enjoyed the previous one for the most part, I frequently found BSG episodes a chore and that was a good show on the whole, even the odd Lost episode has dragged, so it may just be a case of this being a filler episode to build us up to something – but I just felt that the set-up wasn’t just too slow or boring, as when you need to explain something to the viewer, it was just plain bad and felt quite pointless

I feel I am jumping to conclusions somewhat, but this is the fourth year, and I’m a seasoned pro at recognising when Heroes starts to go south, so I think I’m justified in not cutting them much slack – I said at the start of the season that they were on their last chance, and they’re only pulling in about 6 million viewers these days, as opposed to 14 million back when they started

Of course, I have yet to mention one of my favourite characters – Hiro, he was also in this episode, but I have to say I found his story rather trite, he is the comic relief in this show and they don’t seem to know what direction to take him, on the one hand it’s all a bit silly, trying to stop a guy photocopying his arse 47 times, and on the other hand he’s dying…warned his powers are killing him, and yet he manages to use it how many times? And why are we mixing terminal disease with arse photocopying? I have no doubt Hiro won’t die, but they do seem to be using it as a serious point, which really doesn’t mix well with Hiro’s general silliness – not to mention that the idea that Hiro’s power killing him is highly confusing already, as no-one else’s power has ever hurt them, there’s some serious plot holes in the powers and they really should sort them out because it undermines the show

I think, if anything, the introduction of Samuel and his fairground people is driving this season – it’s the only thing with any mystery in it, and it’s the only thing that is a clean break, the writers fell down by not including it enough - the only real reference to it was Bennett’s soul-searching, and we really didn’t need a whole episode for him to decide to investigate it, did we? We really didn’t need Tracy’s storyline, and even Hiro would’ve been better off out, while Nathan’s story was completely flat and just a cheap vehicle to get the irrepressible Sylar back in some form – this season should just be sticking to the fairground, keep Peter and Bennett involved, but get shot of the pointless Tracy, Nathan and Parkman and get some sense into Hiro’s story – if I had to pick only one thing to criticise it would be that they rely too much on older characters who aren’t going anywhere – perhaps because they fear the remaining fans will be upset to lose some actual popular characters (which seems to be the only reason Claire is still kicking around), or that they won’t be able to create anything decent, but they aren’t doing anything worthwhile, there’s no development going on with these old, stale characters and it just makes the show feel cluttered and pointless

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