So I’ve finally caught up on Heroes — for the longest time, I had about seven episodes just sitting on my DVR waiting for me to watch through all of them, and I finally did. I’ll warn you right away: this post is only for people who’ve seen Heroes all the way up until the eleventh episode of the fourth season. Spoiler alert. As of this writing, the show is on holiday break, and will be back with a few new episodes next week. There are a few reasons for this post: one is that I’m thinking about trying to become a television writer, and so I want to see if I can be a little creative with a show that I follow. And the second reason is that frankly, Heroes sucks. I thought the original pilot was bad, but I was told to keep watching by friends, and I think my interest (and probably everyone else’s) in the show peaked back in episode five, when Future Hiro appeared to Peter on the train and the series actually promised us an interesting future. Unfortunately, other than Five Years Gone, which is probably my favorite episode, the show has completely floundered, and at this point, it’ll take basically a complete reboot to get back to a place where it’s relevant or interesting.
Thus, here are five things that the show should do to revitalize itself:
1) Move forward. This is the biggest problem of Heroes in general — it’s more or less an extended origin story, which is fine. I like the premise of the show, which is to put superhuman abilities in the hands of real people in an interesting way. Duck the capes and aliases completely and put a new spin on comic books. That’s great. But at some point, you need to push on in the story, and either move your original Heroes forward, or move on to other origin stories. Creator Tim Kring originally wanted to have a rotating cast, and that’s one way to go. But with a guy like Peter Petrelli (who was really shaping up to be a great central boy scout figure in the developing universe), you can’t go back to having him lose his powers every season, or have yet another character have amnesia that puts them back at square one. Move on! Either find us new characters, or at least let the current ones start actually solving some of their problems instead of dealing with the same nonsense they’ve dealt with for three seasons.
That’s pretty vague, but to a certain extent, the rest of these are all extensions of that idea. This show has basically become the dramatic flagship for NBC, whose dramatic possibilities are so bad that they’ve got Jay Leno on every night at 10, and as a result, everybody is dipping their hands in to try and make sure the soup tastes good. The show’s been through about three different runners (including the great Bryan Fuller), and there’s been multiple shakeups in the writing staff. I would say Tim Kring should run it, but it sounds like he’s the source of some of the issues, so maybe they should just hand the whole thing off to someone who knows what they’re doing. And the first thing that person should do is:
2) Kill Sylar. Case in point for there being too many influences on the direction of the show that don’t belong: Zachary Quinto’s Sylar, who was probably supposed to be killed off at the end of season one (that would have been a suitable first season finale), and yet who has bounced around and since spent more boring time on the screen than any of the other characters. Why did this happen? Quinto’s a marquee star — NBC did the demographic research, and his was the face they decided to attach the show to. But that doesn’t make any sense — he was written in as a psychopath who will stop at nothing to keep killing, not to mention that more than a few characters have made it their goals to end his life. Seriously? Hiro, with all of his time-bending power, can’t finish off Sylar when he’s broken and bleeding? No, Quinto was in Star Trek, he’s a face, and NBC is going to tie him to the front of the boat until it goes down at sea. I actually like the guy — he seems like a pretty good actor, despite his character making no sense, and he was a great Spock. But NBC, really, let him go. Kill him off, solve some storylines, and find a new villian with a new plot. Even Samuel, who’s been a fairly respectable villian this past season, looks tired of having to deal with old storylines.
I should say that they came close at the end of the last episode — Nathan threw himself off of a building to supposedly finish off Sylar forever, and in my chair watching, I was almost convinced that they would actually do it. But no, Sylar slunk off the wrecked car smirking, and I had to put my head in my hands. Why can’t we just be rid of this lame guy and his lame story?
3) Stop worrying about the powers. I get the sense that the creators of the show are worried about limitless power “breaking” the show’s logic, because everyone who seems to have an awesome power seems to either lose it or get a case of amnesia every five minutes (or in Hiro’s case, some supposedly fatal disease that only keeps him from time traveling when it doesn’t fit the writers’ purposes). And it’s true that it’s a conundrum — if Hiro can travel to any time and place, why doesn’t he just travel to the exact time and place that Samuel kidnapped Charlie and get her back? If Peter is indestructable, can go invisible, travel through time, and change shape whenever he wants, how could you get him in enough danger to make it interesting? Obviously, we’ve got to break them back down, right? Otherwise the fans will burn us alive for forgetting a power that Peter should have picked up or missing a possibile step Hiro could have taken.
But here’s the thing: comic books have been dealing with this for years. It’s a story about people who can move things with their mind and fly through the air — it’s not like it makes sense anyway. Viewers are tuning in to see strong, consistent characters, not just nitpick over all the ways Hiro could have time traveled to save the day. Sure, some people will nitpick, but those people are called fans — you want that to happen. So writing staff, stop being lazy, create some characters with enough power for us to stay interested, and start getting creative with what you do to them. Superman has had vast, limitless power for years, and every single week he gets in another set of trouble or adventures. If you can’t get some conflict to envelop your characters because they’re just too darned strong, you need to think of a bigger conflict. And I don’t mean just inflate the budget with world-ending explosions every week, I mean get creative about the way you tell it.
4) In fact, go on a killing spree. You know who else they need to kill off? Angela Petrelli. What does she add to the show? Tracy Strauss could die, too — in fact, she did die as Niki Sanders, but apparently Ali Larter was too popular, so they had to bring her back as a completely different person. And then they completely ignored the most interesting part of her new story, which is that there was some scientist actually creating Ali Larters in a lab somewhere. Forget her aimless, boring wandering — why didn’t we hear more about that?
Other people that could stand to die: Suresh (who’s died like three times now, and hasn’t come back any more interesting either time), Matt Parkman (I like Greg Grunberg, but explain to me what’s interesting about his character? That episode with his father was pretty well done, but now that he’s supposedly back with his wife, what does he want? Why are we still following him?), and Denko. Oh wait, Denko did die, but his death was so boring, and his character was so wishy washy that I wouldn’t mind them bringing him back just so they could kill him again.
5) Where’s the ladies at? This is really my biggest personal issue with Heroes: all of my favorite women on the show end up getting killed off way before their time. Eden McCain was an awesome character — she could control people with her voice (she killed her stepmother by saying “I wish you’d die”), and one of the series’ first big reveals was that she was spying on Suresh for the Company. But no sooner had we gotten to know her true self than they had her shooting herself in the head to keep her away from Sylar. Really? She couldn’t just say, “put me down”?
Then I really liked Candice, the shape shifting girl, who not only looked great when she was shaped like Missy Peregrym, but also had an interesting back story: she was actually a really ugly high school girl who’d found she could use her power to look like whatever she wanted on the outside. That’s a really awesome and interesting backstory, and even in her few scenes in the show, there were some cool hints at the dichotomy there. What happened to her? Sylar killed her for the lamest of reasons. Why? There was a schedule conflict with the actress, and the writers couldn’t keep the character interesting after that. The schedule conflict was with a show on CW — NBC should have written Zachary Quinto’s check out to her and solved the problem right away.
Kristin Bell was Elle Bishop. Great actress, great character. Killed by Sylar.
Daphne Millbrook. Killed — well, not by Sylar, but for a stupid reason. Matt Parkman’s story with her was interesting, and it makes him even more lame that he seems to have forgotten all about it.
The cheerleader was killed by Sylar, but you can’t kill her anyway. But she has been much more annoying since — never has a character had such a cool ability and used it in such cheap and stupid ways. Has she ever actually used her power in a way that wasn’t just for showing it off to someone? I remember her running in the burning house and jumping out the window to escape — and that’s about it.
I like this other character they’ve got in the extended universe named Hana Gitelman — she’s shown up on the show a few times, but she’s a girl that can send and recieve communication with her body. I kind of hope they don’t give her a bigger part on the show, though. Because every cool girl with a great power ends up dying anyway, usually at the hands of that idiot Sylar, who (as previously stated) should have been killed off three seasons ago.
So yes, Heroes writers, there’s what you need to do. Let the powers go nuts, clean house by killing off some major cast members, and for Pete Petrelli’s sake, leave the ladies alone.
Posted on Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 at 3:34 am. Filed under general.