“Heroes,” I am very disappointed in you. You too, CBR.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about America’s favorite prime-time network superhero drama, but this set of articles has me fired up enough to go at it again.  I like ComicBookResources as a website, but I can’t say that I agree with their criticism of Entertainment Weekly’s criticism of the show (BTW: wow, we’re really getting layered with this one.)

The articles begin in agreement: Both EW and CBR agree that “Heroes” needs to trim its roster.  When you’ve got A-plots, B-Plots, C-Plots and D-Plots all operating concurrently, is it such a surprise that your show is getting an ‘F’ from readers?  And again, this goes back to my hatred of the “Dragon Ball” method of splitting storylines: Start with the characters apart, slowly bring them together, then send them all scattering to the winds again after the climax.  It almost seems as though the writers are afraid of having to figure out a problem that a room full of heroes couldn’t solve, and if that’s the case they have no business writing anything related to superheroics.  CBR tries to explain that it’s not always so easy to trim storylines, and that fans will cry out when characters aren’t given what they see as their due.  I argue that the key is to do it properly, unlike their write-off of Caitlin that will never be addressed in the story.  That was just shoddy storytelling, and there’s no excuse for it. Besides, if you kill a few characters and don’t have them miraculously rise from the dead, you actually heighten the tension of the story!

EW argues that the absurd plot twists can be solved and removed by making the characters less prone to making pants-on-head idiotic decisions, while CBR rushes to their defense saying that sometimes stupid decisions add to the realism.  After all, they may have superpowers but they’re not actually heroes!  My mistake, I thought the show was called “Heroes” and not “Supers!”  That’s why we love HRG: He’s a guy with no powers who makes the world as much of a better place as he knows how to.  Compare that to most of the cast, who have never used their powers to help anyone but themselves (or whoever is pulling their strings.)  What happened to the days of Claire pulling people from train wrecks, or Hiro trying to save diner waitresses and Vegas showgirls (even if they were lying to him?)

EW presents two problems: Overheightened emphasis on grim & gritty “reality” and stale storytelling.  CBR argues that their proposed solutions: “Get back to Heroes’ roots” and “Get a new bag of tricks” are mutually exclusive, and that it’s an illustration of the classic fanboy complaint (that heroes never “move forward”, but that every change ruins what they love about the series.)  I don’t see it that way at all.  To me, the two solutions can go hand in hand if the producers of “Heroes” reexamine the first season in a Geoff Johns-esque way and find the essence of what made the show so great in the first place: Ordinary people doing extraordinarily heroic things.  You don’t need to keep telling the origin again and again, but you do need to have more story points focused on ordinary people trying to do the right thing with these incredible gifts given to them.  You don’t need increasinly more complicated shadow organizations (and don’t even get me started on the whole it-was-really-so-and-so-the-whole-time cliche that they loooove to use so often) to serve as adversaries when you’ve got so many real-world dangers that they could be facing.  Just look at “Kick-Ass” for inspiration on that front, though I must say that series seems to be falling off the rails a bit as well.

One of the big disagreements between EW’s review and CBR’s is in the discussion of whether or not “Heroes” should emulate “Lost’s” model of grand vision and planned finale.  EW says it could save the show from its constant feeling of running in circles, of adding twists and turns without knowing where the road was leading in the first place.  CBR thinks nothing could be worse for the show, given its tendency to plod through its previous season-long story arcs at a dinosaur’s pace.  Can I imagine what would happen if they planned two seasons in advance?  Gosh, I don’t know, maybe they’d actually be able to have a coherent metaplot that was both internally and logically consistent!  Whose idea was it to blow up New York in season 1, anyway?  First it was thought to be Linderman, then Angela, then Maury Parkman, then Adam, then back to Angela, and now Arthur?  It smacks of make-it-up-as-we-go-along, as does anything with the character of Angela Petrelli.  While that’s excusable to some extent (Christine Rose is an excellent actress and was underused in the original version of the role) you can’t just keep changing major conspiratorial story points as you go and expect a coherent narrative!  Even comics don’t usually have their continuity get this convoluted after only three story arcs!

Finally, EW and CBR agree that one thing Heroes desperately needs is an infusion of single-episode stories that can serve as “jumping-on” (or jumping-back-on) points for non-fans and aren’t as bogged down with an overarching continuity and “decompression” of story progression.  I agree as well, and think that it could be the only path out of the mire they’re in.  Even in today’s writing-for-the-trade paperback model of storytelling, done-in-one issues are always welcome.  They manage to have a concrete and finite beginning,  middle and end, and they very often succeed at encapsulating exactly what the property is all about.  In fact, if “Heroes” had had a few more of those in the early seasons, the producers might have had a better understanding of what we the fans liked so much about the show in the first place!

Allright, that’s it for now.  More on this when I actually get around to catching up with this season.

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