What are Person of Interest “Fans” Smoking?

[Note: This is a rough draft; I’ll be working on it more this weekend.]

Person of Interest started on CBS in 2011 as a cyberpunk twist on police dramas.

By 2014 it turned into sexist and racist trash (both women of color are brutalized on-camera – and replaced by women not of color; practically all the women on the show are written as unprofessional and self-righteous anyway). In a new misreading of comic books as both story and art, the writers think that we could sympathize with brain-cell Harold “renamed Ben Linus” Finch being written as a sniveling coward – when his actor, Michael Emerson, not only can’t sell that to the viewer (or at least this viewer), but brings to mind Ben Linus’ self-servitude and -justifications instead with that material.

Then there’s the supposed good guys accepting a raving-lunatic opponent of theirs (another sterling example of the women on this show, and one of the women-not-of-color-replacing-a-brutalized-on-camera-woman-of color) as a partner and not as a marriage-of-convenience in the face of a common foe.

Said common foe, the second of the show’s two hacking-into-computer-feeds-for-vigilante-work-computer-systems, sees anybody not on its team as a threat – and denies the supposed heroes successes in saving people whom the first system wants saved.

And then what fans the show has left EXCUSE this with “It’s really cyberpunk darkness that had to be sold as a cop show.” And CBS can’t complain without pissing off the show’s fans, supporters, producers, and writers – and can’t let back past actors or get rid of the crazy lady mentioned earlier without a lot of hurt feelings somewhere.

I hope you’re happy, “fans.”

[Note: Post subject to change this weekend.]

 

 

 

 

Heroes Reborn? Or Refunded?

Heroes Reborn – Tim Kring’s paycheck reborn.  That’s probably the only reason why he wanted to do this mixed-bag whose pedigree (heh) it’s struggling to escape.

“Do I look like I could afford first-rate dog food for the past five years?

On Television Without Pity – in February 2014, back when it still had a forum – I noted the following critic and viewer complaints about the old Heroes:

  • Uneven pacing
  • Unlikable characters
  • Racist and sexist characterization
  • Unjustified nihilistic worldview
  • Diffuse, derivative, and repetitive plots
  • Failing to maintain a sense of wonder, despite the writers’ best efforts
  • Failing to explore/expand the show’s own backstory, universe and mythology any further/sooner/greater than the writers already had and ended up doing
  • Giving the viewer a sense of disbelief, disgust, and dismay instead
  • Reach-exceeding-grasp ambitions that fall apart when exposed to real-life problems and are not as much salvaged as rework-able as soon/well as possible as trashed as not being memorable enough to be worth salvaging, much less reworking
  • Over-reliance on special effects when budget kept telling them not to instead of building up character drama to compensate

And my personal problems with Heroes:

  • Least-bad writing wasted on the least-liked characters
  • Poor storytelling to explain those problems
  • Acting like Los Angeles can look like other parts of the world when verisimilitude problems would and did work against this – as it often does with location shoots – and have the writers flat-out admit instead that they really are in Los Angeles …

Thus forcing the issue with diffusion, and with it pacing and characterization, while making a single geographic point a character in its own right and an integral part of and grounding for the show itself and its identity, thus possibly masking and resolving some of the other script/story problems as well…

To which we can now add Toronto to the Los Angeles references.  That said, both shows have set scenes in LA and made references to Toronto – just too-little-too-late, and with California and Ontario portraying each other when not standing in for themselves or other parts of the world.

Thrown in now another problem with Heroes Reborn: Ripping off DC & Marvel’s superhero stories each chance Heroes gets. Guy in armor with a grudge runs around a big city fighting unscrupulous bigwigs? Arrow and Daredevil have your backs. Government agents and corporate contractors grab big-E “Evolved” humans off the streets for bigoted and other nefarious reasons? Agents of SHIELD and The Flash have their diatribes lined up for the fan websites. Once-abusive ex-Fed tries to make amends to his family? Arrow and Agents of SHIELD deal with that also. Heroes dealing with crimes they’re going to get involved in? Daredevil & The Flash question this too, albeit obliquely and in their own ways.

Also I wondered aloud that

Whether or not the producers and network can/will address the writing depends on… how many and which lessons both producers and writers have learned, and how much/well they’ve learned those lessons…

“Only halfheartedly, from what we’ve seen,” is the answer.

Case in point: The October 8, 15, & 22 episodes of Heroes Reborn each suffer from slow pacing, and in each case the story doesn’t really pick up until the 8:30 mark. The October 29 episode had the self-defeating, confusingly-described attitude of, “We can’t change the past from the viewpoint of its future, though others from our past could’ve gone into our present/their future, seen the outcome, and gone back to change their future/our past – we shouldn’t help them because we’re scared of timeline changes messing us up even worse. We can, however, modify some parts of our past to negate a worse future down our road. And forget anything from the old show that seemingly negates this.”

The cynical would claim that Kring’s scared of time travel creating a new show backstory, thus throwing whole episodes into a counts-for-little-from-a-rerun-standpoint alternate universe.

We’re nearly halfway through the season, and it feels as long; before tonight, I was just glad that the story was speeding up, but scared that it won’t go fast enough.  Now I’m dismayed that Kring went to the smaller-more-plot-serving-paradoxes-to-avoid-a-larger-plot-denying-paradox.

Tim Kring said that he wanted a central mystery that characters would puzzle out individually, calling it exciting drama (go figure). Is what he claimed, I wonder, code for, “dragging the story out to pad the home video/online streaming/strip-syndication package?” As Milo Ventimiglia noted, the downside is that without at least one resolved story line and/or revealed plot point per episode, viewers would get impatient – and abandon the show.

“An attitude I’m giving you right now, Kring.”

Apparently, viewers – at least here in the USA – got that impression, and for this reason (among others) stayed away from the old Heroes, by and large.

The only plus that continues is Jack Coleman earning viewer admiration for giving his character an impressive toughness – and even then, the father’s had to deal with his daughter’s (badly handled) death and two nothings of sidekicks. Said ankle-weights include Quentin Frady, a nerdy anti-corporate hackitivist (is there any other?) whom I’ve dubbed “Beardy” for the carrot shavings hanging from his actor’s, Henry Zebrowskis, chin.

 

More golden, here: any redder and this caption would be a Mentalist episode title.

The other is Taylor Kravid (Eve Harlow), the self-righteous brat excuse of a daughter of a corrupt CEO (Erica Kravid, played by Rya Kihlstedt), and whose distinctiveness begins and ends with her actress looking like she could be Michelle Rodriguez’s little sister.

“Happy Halloween, Trudy Cachon.”

And why isn’t Hayden Panettiere suing over her character not only being killed off, but being used as a plot point from beyond the grave, just because the actress couldn’t/didn’t want to leave her family and show in Tennessee?

“At least Kring’s not showing THIS again.”

That said, Masi Oka’s landed on his feet…

“Hawaii Five-0 respects me better!”

Though that didn’t stop him from teleporting to Ontario for some cheap-time-travel-plot reason.