Friday, October 31, 2008

Save "Heroes," Save the World?

 I've been meaning to write something about the show HEROES, given that this is a blog about heroes...I mean, I bemoan the lack of respect for heroism and here I am, ignoring a show called HEROES that I admittedly watch every week like "clockwork" (heh, get it?)...it's a show that hasn't given me pause as to its treatment of heroes as sacrificial lambs (not yet, anyway...). Well, I was late to the first season, but got hooked on the dvd's before the second disappointing season...I watch it every week, like a soap opera addict...and yet...well, this is a blog meant to analyze the cultural implications of heroes, and, so far, nothing in HEROES really gets my gears going in that regard (although Nathan Petrelli's religious conversion came close...). For what it's worth, HEROES is simply candy for my heroic sweet tooth....and this is a show that is too good, and has too much potential, to be nothing more than brain candy...


 Well, the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly inspired me to break my silence, because it sums up just about everything that I didn't want to say. Their cover story says "FALLEN HEROES: "Oh great...Now the cheerleader, the world, and the show need to be saved. But is it too late?" Part of the problem is that the writer's strike stole momentum in the ratings, but there's more to the problem...the first season was GREAT as drama and an origin story, and really stood alone. I think the problem is one of sustainability. It started as a novel idea, superheroes without costumes and silly capes. There was drama, intrigue, and storytelling on an epic scale that has now become formulaic (and predictable, if confusing, stealing too much from actual comics, especially DAYS OF FUTURE PAST from the X-men.) 

Is the show past its prime already? According to EW, creator Tim Kring says that HEROES needs to be "zeitgeist-tapping, blockbuster even television in order to remain viable." That said, EW lays out the main problems of the show, with their suggested solutions: Too many heroes (retire some "capes," absurd plot twists (make the heroes smarter!), overheightened reality (get back to the heroes roots), stale storytelling (get a new bag of tricks), and HEROES is too disposable (FIND A BIG VISION-AND SET AN END DATE). 

The last problem is the big problem. The first season did have a vision, but it's now delving into soap-opera serialization. Like many comic book heroes, HEROES is threatened with the prospect of seeing its once-novel characters become cliche and pointless. The third season shows some ambition in the role-reversal of the heroes as potential villains with some dramatic moral situations. EW suggest that the "redemption of Sylar" storyline could be the theme that could be the show's finale. Whatever it is, it has to be something IMPORTANT, if it's not to become a superpowered version of YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS...

For another take on the EW article, comicbookresources.com has a point-by-point rebuttal defending the show, give it a read. But that said, I will still be tuning in to satisfy that sweet tooth...nothing wrong with brain candy...but I'm really waiting for the meat-and-potatoes...

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