13 November, 2008

"Heroes" being rescued


GD has already posted about this but this New York Times article adds more to the original EW article and this Defamer article gives the point of view that Heroes has always been crap.

For me season three lost it when they decided Hiro needed to be more of a comic relief. The character was funny but it was his charming naivete that won us over and made him a favourite character. In the current volume he comes across as an annoying asshole. It was too forced and too slapstick.

The inciting incident for this Villains volume was Hiro doing something incredibly dumb which could end up destroying the world but it was played as comedy. Right off the bat you had characters doing things which made no sense and the comical tone meant we weren't sufficiently invested in the threat to the world. Although all the alternative realities and butterfly effects doesn't exactly help increase the tension.

Apparently the excuse given to the pissed off actors was that the rubbish set-up was needed for the great finale. Eh? Was there really no way of doing it without sacrificing logic? It seems unlikely.

Heroes is not a total wreck as there are things like Suresh wanting powers - which was added to the long list of bad decisions - which I actually liked and understood. It's lost about 20% of the audience but it still leaves a sizeable chunk - which would have been acceptable if the show didn't cost so much.

Lessons learned for me:

  • Character logic can't be sacrificed
  • You can't get good endings from bad beginnings
  • The impact of your set-piece flashy sfx moments will be somewhat diminished unless the audience care about your characters
  • Tone is crucial - pick one and stick to it
  • Keep it simple - avoid too many characters and too many storylines
  • Having a clear theme is important

7 comments:

Chris said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head in your last paragraph. You can't get good endings from bad beginings. TV shows sort of betray the audience when there is an obvious "set up" that has no other reason to be in the plot other than to make something else happen. If there's no other connection than just the cause and effect, then it feels forced.

And I definitely agree with your view on the FX. If you don't care about the characters amidst the huge explosions and fight scenes, then the show becomes a commercial rather than a piece of dramatic material. All flash no substance might work somewhat in an action movie, but not on a tv show that you want people to return to each week.

Janice Okoh said...

I am so glad it's not just me not "feeling" Heroes anymore.

Janice Okoh said...

I too liked the Suresh story but thought it very much like "the fly" could be wrong as I stopped watching after four or five episodes.

Jez Freedman said...

I too am mourning the demise of Heroes - what was the best season one I've ever seen. Sort it out Mr Kring - please!!

Robin Kelly said...

Chris, I do think they lost sight of why it was popular: ordinary people suddenly finding they have powers which can be a curse as well as a blessing.

Janice, I don't think The Fly thing would have mattered, 'borrowing' is just standard practice in television. Heroes would have been an improvement in that Suresh's problem was deliberate and not just an accident. It was down to a character flaw.

Jez, season 1 was brilliant which makes the rapid descent to average more of a shock. Kring says the new volume starting next year will be better. Yeah, and politicians can fly.

Andy Conway said...

For the first time ever I've actually fallen behind with Heroes. Only seen the first 2 eps of season 3 and I'm intending to catch up soon, so I can't really comment on the character inconsistencies. But the main difference I've noticed is in the pacing.

The new season is cut at a much more frenetic pace and it seems we've lost all the poignant, dreamy, slow moments that were such a feature of season 1 and were so important in making us empathise with the characters (Peter in the back of Suresh's cab looking at the eclipse, Clare Bear depressed at the kitchen sink, etc).

It just seems to be all Flash, Bang, Wallop now, and as a result, I don't really care about any of them. Maybe that's why I'm so far behind.

Robin Kelly said...

Andy, I know what you mean, I also ended up with a stack of Heroes to watch when in the first season I was counting the seconds till the next episode.

I watched the first ten minutes of the season premiere again to see what you meant by pace and I agree. A lot happens which, firstly, sets up a huge mystery of why Claire wants to kill Peter but I'm still wondering why Claire has forgotten Peter could easily avoid the bullet and instead tried to kill him less obviously ("I'm going to shoot you after we have a little chat. Get ready to stop time to avoid the bullet, OK?")

After Future Peter's assassination attempt we get pace as he runs away and is chased by Present Peter. FP leaves the gun in one room and runs to another room where he leaves his cap and jacket before he teleports away.

Teleporting away immediately he's alone (taking everything with him) means less pace but makes much more sense.

So it's not only that we're missing the character moments and character logic that drew us in before but the pacing is fake and not organic to the story.