Save the Cheerleader, and Everything Goes to Crap

DISCLAIMER: The following review of Heroes: Season 2 is entirely my opinion. As such, there are many personal value judgments, especially with regard to entertainment value. I recognize that millions of viewers found the show to be thoroughly entertaining, and these people are free to completely disregard what I have to say.

Also, those who have not seen these episodes yet and do not know the major plot developments should avoid this article at all costs. Ye be warned, here there be spoilers.

SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, AND EVERYTHING GOES TO CRAP

by John

The blog-o-dome is abuzz with talk of Heroes – Season 2 on DVD. While I may be tempted to add it to my queue near the bottom, I am in no hurry to re-live the equal parts boredom and near-aneurism-inducing frustration brought on by these episodes.

Creator and executive producer Tim Kring said of Season 2, “the show’s first season was about ordinary people finding out they had extraordinary powers. The second season is going to be about these now extraordinary people trying to fit in with the ordinary world.” This season’s train was apparently headed off the rails before minute one. Heroes worked (when it did work) because it was a show about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. When you make a show about people doing ordinary things, it doesn’t matter if they happen to be extraordinary. It’s BORING. Nobody wants to watch a show about Superman doing his laundry, or Batman balancing his checkbook. It kills me because they had such an opportunity to ramp up the tension and action of the show by picking up right where it left off at the end of season one, but instead decided to make use of the Dragon Ball Z plot-restarting technique (take all season to gather all seven dragon balls and make a wish, then watch as the balls immediately rocket off to all new corners of the globe, requiring you to take another strikingly similar season-long journey.)

SPOILERS ON!

Speaking of scattering everything the first season built to the four winds, let’s take a look at characters and their development. Heroes is an ensemble show without question, but they attempted to fix one of critics’ biggest complaints (too many different character plots, though not necessarily too many characters) by adding MORE character plots! Los Gemelos de la Maravilla (the Mexican Wonder Twins) are the most prominent example of this. Months after the finale, I have still not heard a single positive word about these characters from anyone. Their subplot was completely useless, their characterization was inconsistent at best, their backstory made NO sense, and they contributed nothing but filler to an already filler-stuffed season. The only time I had a glimmer of interest in Maya was when she was ready to abandon all of her values and become the Baroness to Sylar’s Cobra Commander. Sadly, it lasted all of ten minutes. Let’s break down some of the others, shall we?

Monica Dawson was an interesting character, in large part because Taskmaster’s powers of photographic muscle memory are so darn nifty. He’s a character that doesn’t get ripped off very often, but Heroes hates original ideas. Her story arc was one of the most appropriate of the bunch, as it actually involved her trying to be a hero. What a novel concept!

Bob, Elle and Adam made for interesting, if confusing, antagonists. I’m still unclear as to who was really calling the shots in the first season. Linderman was apparently a pawn for Angela Petrelli and her shadowy co-conspirators, yet Angela acts as though Adam is the Antichrist and that she never wanted anything to do with him. Bob always seemed like a stooge, and I was reluctant to believe that anyone put him in charge of anything. Elle’s characterization was a joke. Based on the way she was written, I kept expecting to see her in a dominatrix outfit constantly licking her lips at the prospect of fresh subjects to torture. Actually, her sociopathy reminded me of Famke Janssen’s character in Goldeneye (especially the scene where she looks like she’s getting waaaay too much pleasure from firing that machine gun.) We get it, Kristen Bell. Elle is a tough but sexy bad-girl who’s just crazy enough to do it, so don’t push her! But deep down, all she ever wanted was Daddy’s love. Now we don’t mind that you killed all those people, Kristen Bell, because all you wanted was a hug.

As for Adam, I really never understood this character. He goes from being a drunk and a cheat, to being a hero (reluctantly and for a very short time), to getting (deservedly) jilted by Hiro and the Princess, to becoming the world’s most eeeeevil villain?! You’d think an immortal would learn to find some perspective and get over his grudges. Nevertheless, he tears a few hundred pages out of Ra’s Al Ghul’s handbook and becomes an undying eco-terrorist bent on wiping out humanity so that the scales can be reset. The only trouble is that his plans don’t make anywhere near as much sense as the classic Batman villain’s (and don’t get me started on the logistics of the nefarious plot in Batman Begins) and barely need superhero intervention to stop at all. While his comeuppance is nicely poetic, I don’t think anybody was fooled into thinking this would be the last we’d see of Adam Monroe. After all, the same thing happened to Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood and he was back before the episode was finished.

West is apparently the show’s attempt to replicate Smallville, with disastrous results. The only way this character could have been interesting would have been if he’d been a spy for The Company all along, charged with seducing and ultimately bringing in Claire. If that had been his motivation, all of his actions would have made sense. If not, it’s just (in my opinion) hack writing.

The addition of a third personality inside Nikki/Jessica’s already cramped skull was pathetic, and another attempt to re-hash the same problems from season one after they had already been entertainingly resolved. D.L.’s death was one of the only emotional moments of the season, and it was given what seemed to be as little screen time as possible. After a very mysterious absence, we find out that he gets offed in a flashback midway through the season! Why, oh, why couldn’t that random cokehead have shot Nikki/Jessica instead?! Because we had to tolerate an insufferably un-entertaining rehashed plot that went nowhere until it culminated in the only cheer-worthy moment of the season: Nikki being crushed and burned to death in a somewhat bold yet incredibly stupid gesture of heroism. If her death was one of the story changes brought on by the writer’s strike, then thank Goodness for it.

Speaking of the strike, I am actually glad it happened. It forced the writers to cram what I would like to think a normal episode’s amount of action and intrigue should be (which was doubtless at least three episodes pre-strike) into their final episode and to actually resolve things to some extent. I was sad to see the character of Nathan get perforated, especially since Peter and his super-blood were right there and could have been used to save him again, but they didn’t do much with him this season anyway. I think I’ll imagine that he died in the nuclear explosion, and that season 2 was all a bad dream.

The buzz about season 3 (subtitled: Villains) is that it should bring the show back in the right direction. Only time will tell, of course, but I think they’ll be okay if they trim the vast network of not-interwoven-enough plots and actually provide some overt conflict between heroes and villains. We don’t need costumes or giant monsters, but we do need some gorram thrilling heroics.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: