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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars Episode VII – or VIIs?

Given the Star Wars Episode VII Canon/Legends division and disparities among different versions of the saga, Star Wars fans may have to accept, if most haven’t already, what Star Trek fans may have already decided on, fan writers were already doing, and StarGate ones may have accepted: Have multiple continuities, each with its own past, present, and future, with viewers and writers combining elements as desired, everybody and his brother living with it. it’s probably the only way to keep sane about these behind-the scene conflicts.

What follows is how I feel from a combination of:

1.)  The trio of time frames suggested for the Clone Wars versus the prequels;

2.) Fan speculation back in the 1990s whether or not “Darth Vader” was a name that Anakin Skywalker expropriated from from a fellow Jedi/Sithlord;

3.) The differing edits of the Star Wars movies themselves;

4.) http://www.trekplace.com/fj-kdint02.html George Lucas seemingly sharing in Gene Roddenberry’s attitude towards licensees (they’re good only as long as they don’t shake you down to get their work on your screen);

5.) The Grand Prize: Star Wars Episode VII and its sequels (for now, at least) ignoring the Expanded Universe (i. e., Legends) stories, likely for Point 4’s reasons as well as reader complaints about repetitive plots, darkening tone, inconsistent writing, unlikable characters, and bizarre conceits.

US/Canadian science-fiction fans may also call the last point the Bad Robot Productions/Ron Moore approach (demolish the building to the foundation, redevelop from there, and dismiss the old building as ungainly). Ask older fans how acceptable that approach and outcome are – if you dare.

Unfortunately, that point may mean that whatever was good from Legends (Luke and Leia’s spouses and children, chiefly) and some fan-favorite characters and events may never show up on screen. The writers already denied movie immortality and payouts then may have the thankless task of explaining where character A was/how that character participated in continuity X. Also, those writers may have to fight with Disney over how characters introduced in one continuity may interact with characters introduced in another continuity or originated before the split in continuities.

As it is, those writers must be seething about the situation, but likely can’t complain publicly, go to court, or run to former Star Wars distributor 20th Century-Fox, and/or publishers, Bantam Books, Dark Horse Comics, West End Games, and/or Wizards of the Coast for financial/legal/moral support. They have to deal with the Disney/Marvel megalith and its monies, after all.  So there Legends lies, tolerable/enjoyable in its own right, an historical curiosity in others, but pushed aside for corporate reasons, for good and ill, by something that time will tell is “preferable.”

And then there’s the fan reaction. Famously, for reasons explained previously, Star Trek has no two licensees agree with each other in continuity not previously established on screen. Similarly, StarGate actually has TWO continuities, the Bill McKay book series from the 1990s and the SG-1/Atlantis TV franchise. (ironically enough, the former was supposedly closer to the original film’s world-building than was the latter).

In Basic (terms and Star Wars’ English-like language), there you have it: different continuities, each created by fans based on their preferences.  It’s probably the only way to keep sane about these behind-the scene conflicts.

Fantastic 4 and Mickey-Mouse Negotiating

The Fantastic 4 (a/k/a Fantastic Four) remake’s been accused of suffering from the same problems as The Amazing Spider-Man: dark-tone cash-grab designed to appeal to critics while keeping publisher Marvel Comics’ owner Disney from reclaiming a fallow field from 20th Century-Fox of 20th the movie studio and Fox the TV network fame.  Similar fates had already befallen Daredevil and Elektra and threaten the X-Men.

There’ve been claims also that Disney tried shade campaigns of its own against the Fantastic Four reboot (just to keep 20th from enjoying the F4 franchise without sharing more with Disney; see entry under The X-Men). And this is After earlier claims by Disney producers that one of their attempts at a live-action franchise was a victim of critics’ shade campaigns (see entry under The Lone Ranger).

Honestly, I’m surprised that nobody’s pointed out yet Disney’s infamy for holding out on a deal until that studio gets better terms. What also shocks me is that the late-1990s/early-2000s deals made among 20th, Marvel Comics’ Marvel Studios, and fellow Marvel distributors Columbia, Dimension Films (at that time a Disney unit), New Line Cinema, Paramount, and Universal for the movie, merchandising, and theme-park rights to Marvel Comics never included (or publicized) a clause involving what happens to the rights to those films (who gets to produce/distribute a film, stage, or TV show, or operate a theme-park ride/shop/restaurant/stage show where, in which format, for what time frame, and for how much money to put in versus how much money to get out) in the event that any of those companies changes owners, merge/buy each other out, and/or merge with/take over/get taken over by a party outside of their merry little clique.

Even more surprising to me is that 20th hasn’t yet taken Disney and their fellow distributors to court, claiming that Disney’s been pressuring them all into giving up lucrative movie rights without much of a fight to protect themselves or each other, and/or that Disney’s forced them all to make hole-plugging rush-jobs just to cover terms in their pre-Disney-buyout license deals with Marvel Comics’ Marvel Studios so that the rights don’t go to Disney.

And that’s leaving out that in the pre-Disney days, Marvel sought to develop a live-action X-Men TV series (Mutant X) without Fox getting any say in – or money out of – it, yet wouldn’t let 20th use Nick Fury on the big screen (likely both to keep from diluting the character in the Paramount movies, and to reduce jokes about Fox’s unsold Nick Fury TV pilot from the 1990s; that said, Fox earlier had done a failed – and, apparently, reviled – pilot for a live-action X-Men TV series, which partially could explain why Fox wasn’t invited to the Mutant X party).

(Of course, then 20th will have to prove those charges in court, which depends on how good their PIs, jury consultants, and lawyers are…)

At a later date I’ll explore a major criticism I’d listed earlier about how dark the non-Disney Marvel movies have gotten (a likely result of misreading the reasons for the X-Men movies’ critical and financial success and the creative mixed bags that the Batman, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four movies became). I’ll also comment on how dark the Distinguished Competition’s TV shows and movies have gotten in response, and in turn may have influenced the House of Ideas.

‘Til then, quoth Stan Lee, Excelsior, true believers!

‘Nuff said!