Monday, October 22, 2007

'Hero-ic' Effort?

The current issue of Entertainment Weekly blasts "Heroes" for what having what it describes as a sub-par season, and even many fans of the show are anxious for something eye-popping to happen.

As I pointed out a few postings ago, "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) was blasted by some last year because it had so many diverse plot threads that only came together after a full season. The writers seem to be taking the same approach this season.

That being said, the writers need to speed things up just a bit. It's hard to care about new characters when we are only seeing glimpses of old ones. We've barely seen Niki (Ali Larter, who spent part of the summer filming "Resident Evil," so she probably wasn't available) this season, and Hiro (Masi Oka) and Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) were completely absent from last week's installment.

Meanwhile, the show seems pre-occupied shoving new, uninteresting characters down our throat. Enough with the brother-sister plague carriers, already. Other than serving as a plot device for getting Sylar (Zachary Quinto) back to New York, they've detracted more than they've added. And Micah's cousin (Dana Davis), who has one of the more lame superpowers ever in duplicating whatever she watches on TV? (I'm curious, if she were watching "Heroes" and saw someone use their powers, such as Nathan flying, would she be able to fly as well?) But at least I know who to call when I can't operate my George Foreman grill.

Tonight could be a pivotal episode for "Heroes," since it marks the introduction of the lovely and talented Miss Kristen Bell as Elle, a mysterious woman with a mysterious power who seeks out Peter. Certainly, bringing in the likes of Bell is something that's going to be exteremely exciting for a lot of fans, but will the producers drag out her introduction as well so we can have a few more quality moments between Claire and her boyfriend?

Don't get me wrong, "Heroes" is still must-see TV for me, but the producers need to get us back to the characters we spent a season rooting for first, then introduce other characters into the mix (unless it's Kristen Bell, then they can give her as much screen time as they want).

I do find it interesting, though, about how impatient viewers are these days. TV isn't a two-hour movie; writers should get a few episodes to establish storylines and characters. Take a look at "Chuck," (NBC, 8 p.m.), which some people said was slow out of the gates. I disagree; "Chuck" took its first two episodes to set up the series and characters, then kicked it into overdrive by putting Chuck (Zachari Levi) into full-time spy situations. The result has been that "Chuck" is one of the more pleasant surprises this season. Ditto for "Journeyman," (NBC, 10 p.m.), which some viewers complained about being "confusing," when that is precisely the point. Our confusion mirrors Dan's (Kevin McKidd), who suddenly finds himself in different eras, seeing his dead fiancee. Who wouldn't be confused by that?

As always, it's all about finding the right balance, something not always easy to do on the TV landscape.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the premiere of "Samantha Who?" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.) last week. It fulfilled the primary function of a sitcom - it made me laugh, something ABC sitcoms really haven't done in years. How long the premise of a woman re-discovering herself after amnesia may end up getting stretched thin, but it's hard to believe the same network that's given us this also gave us "Caveman" and "Carpoolers." But then, it's hard to believe the same network that has given us the god-awful "Big Shots" also airs "Pushing Daisies." So, what do I know? But given "Samantha's" timeslot between "Dancing With The Stars" and "The Bachelor," expect it to last a while.

What do I know, indeed? I find "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.) to be the best sitcom of the night, arguably the best on TV right now because I'm not enjoying the full hour versions of "The Office," yet "HIMYM" is the lowest rated CBS comedy, losing out to the likes of "Big Bang Theory," "2 1/2 Men" and "Rules of Engagement." But maybe the success of those shows, combined with "CSI: Miami," will keep "HIMYM" around for a while longer.

Speaking of great sitcoms, thank goodness for diminished expectations, because "Aliens In America" (CW, 8:30 p.m.) has been a riot, though no one seems to be watching. It follows "Everybody Hates Chris," and is followed by "Girlfriends" and "The Game."

Finally, I gave up on "Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.) and "K-Ville" (Fox, 9 p.m.) weeks ago, and haven't missed them. While a lot of "PB" fans were angered over the death of Dr. Sara, I've always hated what I thought was one of the dumber-written characters on TV. (How this woman got her M.D., I'll never know.) But "PB" is an example of trying to milk a show too much instead of finding a natural ending.


Jonathan said...

I was so annoyed by all of the internet postings over the big event on "Prison Break," and it ended up just being the death of a character in which the actress playing her had already left the show. It served its purpose by actually getting me to watch the last couple of episodes, but I think I'm done.

I agree that viewers have an extremely short attention span, which isn't a new thing. But with the recent success of shows like "Lost" there was hope that more people would be in tune with shows like this. I still think NBC has been making the public think "Heroes" is more of a hit than it really is, which worked pretty well for the season opener, but numbers have been down ever since.

I think with shows like "Journeyman" and "Chuck," your point is very valid, but these are two shows that right now are a million times more interesting than "Heroes." They're also newer shows trying to find their legs in their early stages of development, so that I can forgive for the time being. But "Heroes" should already have established itself, and with the first few episodes in the 2nd season, it seems as if it has fallen back a bit.

Hiro's story was interesting at first, and is now seeming a little silly. Claire's story has some of the worst writing on television right now, and the special effects of her boyfriend flying are terrible. Which is strange, because they did a fine job last season with the Flying F/X.

Last week's installment was more interesting though; the team-up of Parkman and Nathan was a lot of fun, and discovering that Matt's father has some involvement in the storyline was interesting. I also enjoyed the return of Sylar even if it was him teaming up with the "Wonderless Twins."

I am also excited about Kristin Bell's appearance since the Peter storyline has been the most interesting for me so far. And, like you, I'm not giving up on the show by any means; it's not like the show is on the level of something like "Moonlight."

I remember being in complete disagreement when everyone started ripping on "Lost" early on in its second season, but with "Heroes," I'm actually agreeing with the masses. And while I understand that these are build-up episodes to hopefully greater things to come. Even if everything turns out fine and I love the rest of the season, I think I will still be looking back at these first few ep's as boring and trite. "Heroes" 2nd Season is the definition of a "Sophmore Slump."

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, I think it might be too early to label it a sophomore slump, but Heroes has definitely been slow out of the gates.

I've liked the Hiro stuff, the Peter stuff, the Nathan stuff and the Parkman/Mohindar stuff, especially as we delve deeper into the company.

And, as Zodin2008 pointed out last week, the producers may change horses in midstream and dump the Wonderless Twins much like the Lost producers did with Nikki and Paolo. (And remember, Lost turned lemons into lemonade with one of their best episodes ever because of the way they got rid of those two.)

I haven't minded the flying effects of Claire's BF.

As for PB, Sarah Wayne Callies had been negotiating in the press with producers for months, so when they decided to get rid of the character permanently, it wasn't much of a surprise.

Jonathan said...

I meant to imply that in its early stages, the 2nd season is in a sophmore slump, but it most definitely could get out of it. Tonight's episode was an even stronger installment coming off last week's solid episode.

Phillip Ramati said...

It's amazing how much of a difference someone like Kristen Bell makes, and how much nicer it is when you don't have two of TV's more annoying characters on. But I'm finding Micah's cousin to be just as irritating as the twins. You can mimic anything, and you choose jumping rope as a means of testing a theory?

But the Peter plot and the Parkman-Nathan plot are showing more and more potential.

zodin2008 said...

I have to say, Jonathan, I know we only know eachother through blogging on here but I found myself reading your post and feeling just about 100% on the same page.

"Heroes" has been, for the ost part, hard to watch. While I agree w/ phillip that the fkying special effects are fine, the guy (Nick D'Agostino) playing 'West', Claire's new boyfriend, needs to be taken out back with the wonderless twins and drown. Sorry, that sounds cruel, but the level of which I despise all 3 of these new characters is hitting ridiculous proportions. How "Heroes" could not estimate this type of backlash with so many overstuffed new characters is rather mind boggling.

I agree that Kristen Bell is a welcome addition but Bell would be a welcome addition to any show on Television. On one hand, I was sad that Bell turned down the far superior "Lost" to be on the cheesier "Heroes", then again, if Bell had chosen "Lost", I might have NO reason to watch "Heroes" but for her, I will stick for a while.

Still, the Feudal Japan storyline has kind of run its course and is now just dull and silly. (though if the "Heroes" producers want some free advice on which new characters to keep, let Hiro bring back David Anders character to 2007). So with Claire's annoying boyfriend, and the entire Parkman-Mohinder-my 2 dads-The Company storyline feeling like a confusing mess, they top it off with the girl from "The Nine" (Dana Davis) having a stupid superpower.

Phillip, I agree. Mimicking Television? REALLY, "Heroes" writers? The best you could do?

I also want to go back to another thing Jonathan said - NBC is the emporer with no clothes. They keep promoting "Heroes" like it's this massive ratings hit and the ratings are way down. The 2nd season has been mostly dreadful and dull, and a genre show can't afford slumps the way a procedural can. Proceudrals and Reality TV are filler TV, but the mindless masses like those shows so they can slump and the audience drones on either way.

But a show like "Heroes" coming out of the gate so poorly with so many terrible new characters and bad storylines for old characters, well, even NBC is going to be fully exposed on these bad ratings.

As for "Journeyman", the show has been confusing but it's not really because Dan Vasser is just confused - the show is not done in a way to be inviting to its audience. That being said, I am enjoying "Journeyman" far more than I am enjoying "Heroes". But the only really great NBC show of the night is "Chuck".

And Phillip, though we've been disagree a lot of late, you are 100% correct abnout "Chuck" - the show needed to find it's sea legs early, but this show is a great time every week.

Without question, my 2 favorite Monday night shows are HIMYM and Chuck. Why HIMYM is so low rated completely blows my mind actually.

Phillip Ramati said...

Heroes ratings may be down, but it's still one of NBC's top-rated shows.

I like the company storyline, still has a lot of upside, and they've barely had Hiro in the past two weeks. I still am enjoying feudal Japan.

I see Heroes making the same mistakes Lost made during Season 2, in which they introduced the "Tailies" rather than continue to develop the regulars. On the other hand, Lost also introduced Ben (Michael Emerson) in Season 2, so I try to give new characters a little bit of time to establish themselves.

But thus far, I could definitely do without the twins and Micah's cousin.