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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Two, Post 2B – Flash Back to Arrow

Remember yesterday, when I wrote about angst in the CW network’s DC hero the Flash, and how it’s a superhero trend, maybe for the worse?  Since the show The Flash is a spin-off of fellow CW Arrow, based on fellow DC hero the Green Arrow, The Flash may be following Arrow‘s lead.

Consider: Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen has a corrupt-politician mother who let them get swindled out of the family business, he and his sister Thea have different fathers, both men got mixed up with Ra’s al-Ghul, Green Arrow’s gotten one sidekick killed (by Thea for her birth father) and had to deal with another’s (supplied by Ra’s) drug addiction, Oliver’s US Government handler and Ra’s both want Oliver corrupted to their own ends, and a freelance hitman’s been gunning for Oliver since the beginning.

Then there are the love triangles: chiefly Laurel Lance (Sara’s kid sister)/Oliver Queen/Felicity Smoak (Oliver’s and Ray Palmer‘s aide-de-champ)/Ray Palmer himself (also known as fellow superhero the Atom).

Of course, Arrow‘s had a two-year head start on all of this morbid nuttiness, so it’s not as overwhelming as on The Flash, but still…

More to come, true believers of the Distinguished Competition, but first, I’d like to hear what you’d think.

Excelsior!

Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome, folks, to my new blog!  Here, we’ll be talking about science fiction TV shows and movies – not just what’s on now, but also what’s been around a while, who does what better, if these guys can join forces to create one great project instead of two good ones, how far they can go in one way without too many fans complaining, stuff like that.

I watch this stuff more than read it, though I also read lots about both; if I hit it big then maybe I can both read and watch.  Someday…

But for now…For my first post, we’ll (or at least I’ll) be talking about DC Comics’ Scarlet Speedster, the Flash (at different times forensic scientist Barry Allen and his nephew and former sidekick, fellow forensic scientist Wally West).  His show’s on Tuesday nights on the CW, so for both time and medium we can focus on that for now.   For all the praise it’s gotten, you could say the show also represents problems with superhero stories in general now:

1.) Love Triangles and Dark Secrets keeping the hero and the lady he loves apart (artificial drama with a frustrating drag-out);

2.) Avenging Dead Relative as motivation (hey, it works for Batman…); and

3.) Morbid Tone (see #2).

They all help create drama, but with the Spider-Man and Batman movies relying strongly on them, the whole thing feels derivative and more than a little bit dull.

Flash’s 1990 TV forbear had similar problems to the 2014 – in both cases, somebody probably took one look at a recent, successful Batman movie and said, “That’s working – the darkness and the thirst for vengeance – give the cool young guy some of that angst stat!”

Also thrown in, by the way, probably to keep viewers from drowning in backstory: “Whomever we could introduce into the story without guys standing around gabbing where they came from – who cares if our lead guy’s dead in the comic book and we’re giving his his of sidekick’s supporting cast!  And jamming this non-Marvel Silver Age B-Lister down non-readers’ throats is YOUR problem!”

Of course, the 1990 show failed because it had scheduling problems caused by the Gulf War and Bart Simpson, budget problems caused by “realistically” showing the Flash’s speed (and with 1980’s technology, to boot), no-one knowing who the Flash is…not because of how mirthless and at odds with the comic book it’s been accused of being.

The newer Flash possibly elides some of these problems – not going for the same audience as another network’s show on its night (I’m looking at you, NCIS and Agents of SHIELD); introducing the characters to TV viewers with Arrow and Smallville; stylizing the high-speed effect to keep even 2014 technology cheap; and keeping pace with the cast and tone of the contemporary comic book (for all the line’s complaints; see entry under Didio(t), Dan).

Still, we’ve got The Dead Relative and The Love Triangle to worry about: except the best that the show apparently can come up with is the angst-increasing “Third point in Love Triangle may also be to blame for Dead Relative; his solution to both involves a universe-destroying paradox that the hero has to stop.”  I wonder if, in the name of artificial drama and lazy writing – I mean, dark tone – the writers would append “…by stopping the ‘solution’ from happening.  Instant drama!  Instant back-to-not-having-to-rewrite-our-series-bible!”  Road trip to celebrate!” to the earlier quote.

That’s all for now; if I have anything more or new to say I’ll add it; if you have any questions, I’ll answer them; till them, quoth Stan Lee…Excelsior, true believers!

‘Nuff said!