Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heroes Season 3 Opener

First, some background for those of you who are newer to this blog. I loved season 1 of Heroes. LOVED IT. Until the ending... that was one of the worst hours of television I'd ever seen, simply because it was such a huge letdown after such an incredible season. (I rant about it in the book Saving the World: A Guide to Heroes, arguing against the great TV writer David Lavery, who liked it.)

Then came season 2. I hoped the finale had been a fluke... but apparently it was simply a nod toward the new direction of the show: which was SUCKSVILLE. New heroes included the DunderTwins from Mexico, a girl who could double-dutch or fashion roses out of tomatoes (seriously, THAT was her superpower), and Mohinder, who was seriously hot and sort of sympathetic throughout season 1 became Moronder, the numbskull who was forcing his father to spin in his grave like a freakin' gyroscope. Nikessica was even more irritating than she'd been in season 1. And NO ONE who died actually stayed dead, which was annoying. I thought maybe Veronica Mars could save the show, but uh uh... she'd turned down Lost to be on the more popular show, and didn't realize how much the writing would rot when she got there.

But then something interesting happened. Tim Kring, the series creator, came out with a mea culpa in EW, saying yeah, Hiro had been in Japan too long, and no, the new romances weren't working out, and yeah, some of it was just too stupid and drawn-out and no, they hadn't really worked through the new heroes to come up with anyone interesting. I'd never seen a TV bigwig admit anything like that. Usually an executive would blame the audience for not understanding their vision (especially with Kring, who responded to mass criticism of the season 1 finale with the outrageous, "Oh yeah?? Well... you guys were just expecting too much! It's YOUR fault for not lowering your expectations!"), but Kring confessed his vision had sort of gone south and he was kinda out of ideas. This guy who'd been making snide remarks about Lost dragging out mysteries had now realized that when you show all your cards, you've got nuthin for a second season. The final 2 or 3 episodes that followed this mess were really, really good, and gave everyone hope that maybe things would change. The Writer's Strike hit, and Heroes never returned. NBC shelved their very big plans and allowed Kring to go away and reimagine the show.

And now, season 3 is here. Problem is, season 2 happened so long ago and I'd lost interest so much that I couldn't remember where everyone was in the story. So I recorded the hour-long "Heroes: Countdown to the Premiere" that NBC aired leading into the 2-hour return, thinking they would catch me up, but instead it was the entire cast standing in Times Square mugging for the cameras, with lots of fans standing on the street behind barriers screaming in frantic enthusiasm for the show. It made NBC and Heroes look RIDICULOUS. Apparently this show they'd put so much stake in has fallen so far they had to create this fictional mania for the return to make it look like it was important and relevant again. Instead of recapping season 2, we watched Masi Oka stand there going, "I'M STANDING HERE WITH FANS OF HEROES, AND ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS, SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, SAVE THE WORLD!!!" cut to a bunch of girls dressed as cheerleaders. UGH. "I'M HAYDEN PANETTIERE AND YOU KNOW, I LOVE BEING ON HEROES!" "I'm Greg Grunberg and..." "HA! I'm Adrian Pasdar stealing the mike from Greg, you rascal..." "Oh yeah?? You're such a funny guy!"

And on and on and on... Stupidity.

FINALLY, I got to the premiere. Absolutely no "previously on Heroes," so I'll admit I was lost for part of it (there's Maia, what happened to her brother again? did he die or run away?... wait, why is Bennet in the cell? Who caught him?... what happened to Adam? Have we left him somewhere? why isn't he in this episode?)

But I have to say, I was pleasantly entertained for the 2 hours. Nothing mindblowing, but it's off to a good start, and I'm keen to see more. Some fave moments:
-Veronica Mars and Weevil, reunited
-Hiro and Ando watching the DVD of his dad, then opening the safe, and then the dad saying on the prerecorded message, "I told you not to open the safe!!"
-the speedster! It was awesome to see Jean from Friday Night Lights again (I TOLD you not to dump her, Landry, you tool.)
-the future standoff with Claire and Peter
-Sylar looking through Claire's brain
-Claire asking if Sylar was going to eat her brain and him expressing his disgust
-the creepy guy Parkman runs into in the desert (and him talking to the turtle)

What I didn't like:
-Mohinder still bugged me. "Oh hey, I just met you, but HERE is where I keep my precious, super-secret USB drive with ALL of the secrets my father worked a lifetime to keep, so if you ever need it, it's right here!" Were we supposed to take his rant as being sort of NRA agenda vs. Maia's non-NRA agenda? (The idea that if we ALL had guns, we'd be much safer, not realizing the people who we should be scared of probably have bigger and worse guns than we do... similarly Mohinder says he could inject his new formula into people and they could all be superheroes, despite the fact he KNOWS that the only ones who would want it are those who could do bad with it.) He's SO going to turn out to be a baddie. I'm kinda glad he's scaling or whatever that gross stuff was.
-I didn't get why they showed Milo Ventimiglia at the end instead of Francis Capra. Yeah, we get it, Peter's trapped inside Jesse's body, but everyone can see Jesse, not Peter, so why have Milo play the scene? That was really confusing.

Could someone explain to me what Sylar did with Claire's brain? Did I miss something or were we not supposed to see it?

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

i couldn't have said it better myself. seriously -- like you, i loved season 1 so much, hated the finale so much, was completely indifferent to season 2 because it was so convoluted and confusing and thought i'd give it one more go for season 3, only it's been 9 months since i even watched an episode and i was totally, utterly, thoroughly lost.

i really *want* to love this show, and maybe it's my fault for not buying/watching the S2 DVD to brush up before the premiere. but why is it, if lost came back, like, tomorrow, i would be able to pick up right where we left off in february with minimal difficulty, but with heroes, i just had this puzzled frown on my face for the entire two hours?

like you, i didn't understand what sylar did in clare's brain (did he remove a chip? swallow a tiny sample? remove something somehow ingest it?). like you, i was totally confused with the not-peter villain stuff at the end. like you, i found mohinder a little overpowering (dud to stud in 1.5 hours!). but i'm hopeful that once i get back into the swing of things, i'll rediscover the show i raved about in season 1. right now, i'm entertained and my curiosity is piqued, but i'm not totally engaged nor am i counting the hours until next monday.

David Kociemba said...

I was a skeptic from the beginning.

I decided fairly early in the Heroes first season that the writers didn't really know what they were doing. It wasn't the quality of the episodes but rather that the underlying fundamentals were poor. They had too many characters, which made creating 3D characters that evolved and forged intricate social connections that much harder. They killed off so many characters that I decided that they would either "take back" some of them or there would just be a flavor of the season approach that eventually undermined any kind of identification. And they had time travel and some kind of prophecy device as central narrative devices, which so often devolve into deus ex machina.

Put it all together and it suggested that the writers would have trouble committing to any of their characters.

And then they killed Sulu. And rushed the job, to boot.

You know, I think there's a book to be written on one season wonders. A book on shows that either lasted a season (The Prisoner, Firefly, My So-Called Life, Wonderfalls) or had just one outstanding run of episodes (Heroes, for people other than me; Twin Peaks). Explain why they worked and why they stopped working. I'd buy that.

Brian Douglas said...

I'm pretty sure I remember reading somewhere that Kring said that the problem with the S1 finale was that they ran out of money and had to scale back on the effects budget.

-there's Maia, what happened to her brother again? did he die or run away?...

No, Sylar killed him.

-wait, why is Bennet in the cell? Who caught him?

Mohinder, working with the Company, shot him to get Clair's blood to cure the virus. He then used some of Clair's blood to revive him.

-... what happened to Adam? Have we left him somewhere? why isn't he in this episode?)

Hiro trapped him in his father's coffin.

-Could someone explain to me what Sylar did with Claire's brain?

He was studying it to determine how her power work so he could duplicate it. Just as Peter has to find an emotional connection to duplicate powers, this is how Sylar does it.

Btw, did anyone else notice Sylar use his chameleon power to hide from Clair? You can see him do in a reflection.

Also, just to nitpick, but in the S2 finale, you can see the shooter (it's obviously Peter too--you can tell by the haircut, and his swagger), and he's not wearing a baseball cap!

Btw, S2 plays much better on DVD. At least that's what I though.

Anonymous said...

The more I think about the premiere the more disappointed I get. Come on, Tim Kring, you had nine months to come up with something - and then you send Hiro to the future and let him watch another big city explode? (Yes, it's the whole planet, I get it, but something new would have been appreciated anyway.)

And what about Mohinder's superpower serum? Had you just watched a copy of "The 4400" when you wrote that, Mr. Kring?

I liked the character dynamics between Elle and Mrs. Petrelli, though. More of that, please!

Anonymous said...

I was pleased with the Premier. Like most I couldn't remember what had happened in S2 and was trying to remember which characters had even met each other and what their relationships were. Did the girl who could mimic what she saw on TV die?

Anyway, it looks like a good beginning even though I hate anything with time-travel (I am a Lost fanatic and was horrified at their finale).

One last thing - MARLO STANFIELD IS ON HEROES!!! If he could only have brought Snoop and Cheese with him.


Paticus said...

I liked the premiere a little better than last season, but I must say that I was disappointed. And I think I have figured out a large part of what annoys me about the show now: A lot of what happens seems to depend on people being DUMB.
Hiro: Oh, I'll open the safe. oh, i'll open the envelope containg the formula. Oh I'll hold it up in the air so someone can snatch it from me. And THEN, I'll allow her to get away AGAIN, so that we can track her.
And WHY would Mohinder inject himself with the serum so quickly after NO tests ? they should have had Maia be threatened, THEN I might have believed him deciding to inject himself. Also, isn't he essentially just re-enacting "The Fly" ?
Why would there have been a box from "Dad's Office" with delicate files dangerous villains just sitting out on the table in Claire's house ? Oh, so Sylar could find it, and know where all the worst people on the planet are!
It just feels very lazy, and while i do believe that the creators of LOST know exactly what is to happen over the next two seasons, i don't have any faith that there is any controlling narrative to this show. it just feels random and messy.
(I apologize if I have butchered any character name spellings.)

Anonymous said...

The most interesting storylines of Heroes are:

1)The eternal vengeance living and growing in Adam Munroe, both for Hiro's betrayal and to destroy all goodness existing in the world

2)The incomprehensible gray area where Angela Petrelli permanently resides; whether her intentions are good or bad she is always entertaining


3)The new Level 5 evilness that has escaped. The villains seemed pretty hardcore what frying up innocents at the local gas station seemingly just for the hell of it.

Hopefully these stories don't fall behind as less interesting ones take the forefront.

Nikki Stafford said...

fb: "From dud to stud in 1.5 hours" HAHAHAHAHAHA!! I just laughed out loud at that one, I love it!!

What bugs me about Mohinder is that he's supposed to be the smartest of the bunch. I can forgive (sort of) his lack of street smarts, as in his inability to kill Sylar when he had the chance and Sylar was passed out in his apartment in S1 and he had him tied to the chair, etc. because his ethics got in the way. But he just does REALLY STUPID things science-wise, and those I don't forgive.

David: I agree. I think like a lot of Lost fans who also loved Heroes, we were getting annoyed by the end of S1 about the smugness of the show's creators and ardent Lost-hating fans, who would go on and on about, "See? Check out OUR ratings, this show is WAY better than Lost right now because we're not dangling mysteries over your head, we're SOLVING them, week after week!!" I said it at the time (check my blog posts from back then) and I'll say it again: When you solve your mysteries, you run out of interesting mysteries. Kring came off as a one-trick pony, and I really want him not to be. Because when Heroes is good, it's REALLY good.

Brian: I was going to ask if anyone can remember the shooter we saw at the end of S2. I remember thinking it was Adam, but that's all I remember from the scene.

Martin: Absolutely agreed on Elle and Granny Petrelli. Petrelli is a fascinating character now, one of the last intriguing ones they have left.

Anonymous: Wait wait wait, WHAT?! How did I miss Marlo? Cripes, where was he? I can't believe I missed him somehow. Who is he playing?? God, wouldn't that be awesome to have Snoop and Chris come along now? They'd make meat of the bad guys left. Doesn't matter if you can produce fireballs from your hands: Snoop will get you. ;)

I forgot to mention in my rundown that I was thrilled to see not only Scarecrow from Scarecrow and Mrs. King, but the Greatest American Hero. I think I just betrayed my love of cheese TV in the 80s. ;) (Hey, I was 9, I can be forgiven.)

Paticus: I agree... too much is convenient and I remember saying that out loud to my husband when Sylar found the files on the counter. DUH. There were other things that were so bloody convenient I was angry.

mrsb108: I couldn't agree more. You just nailed the best storylines for me, too.

Anonymous said...

I've decided that the only way to enjoy Heroes now is to not think about it while watching and then never think back on the episode after it's aired.

Otherwise you start wondering why Future Peter travels back to the moment Nathan is giving his speech instead of five minutes earlier so he could just talk to him instead of shooting him. Or why Hiro is fine reversing time when he's bored, but won't do it when a world-destroying formula is stolen out of his hands. Or how a closet door manages to stop Sylar. Or how closing the blinds prevents Claire from jumping out the window. Or how Mohinder goes from "We need to cure the powers!" to injecting himself with a power-giving drug in the span of three scenes.

I could go on, but it's sort of a low-hanging fruit at this point. Unlike Lost, which just gets better the more I think about, Heroes just seems to get worse upon even light reflection. And that's frustrating, because I unabashedly loved season one, and I don't understand why it's so hard for them to recapture that quality.

Austin Gorton said...

Heroes is quickly falling into Smallville territory for me: fun to watch but falls apart upon ANY examination, because the writers can't be bothered to fully think through an individual plot in relation to their premise.

Look, a lot of people like to mock the comic book crowd for being anal retentive, but when you're dealing with a comic book-y show like Heroes, the writers HAVE to be anal retentive, because the audience sure will be. But the writers don't.

So you end up having moments in each episode that happen ONLY because that's how the writers decided they were going to happen, not because they make sense in the context of the show or the characters. So you end up with questions ("why didn't he just...") that can only be answered with "plot-hammering" ("because it makes things more dramatic").

Things like, why Future Peter went back to shoot Nathan DURING the press conference instead of just before it? Because it made for a dramatic season-ending cliffhanger. Last season, why didn't Peter phase through the vault instead of struggling to open it telekinetically? Because it made for a cooler visual.

And the big one: anytime Peter or Hiro fail at anything, why don't they go back in time to moments before and fix it so they succeed? Because that would undermine the entire dramatic narrative. Well, then, maybe the writers should put some kind of limitation on these powers instead of just hoping the audience doesn't notice.

I've said from Day One that Peter needs some kind of limitation on his power, otherwise he makes all the other characters null and void within the plot. For awhile, it was simply his lack of control, and then it seemed like he could only use one power at a time, but that was shown to be false last season. So now it seems like the only limitation Peter has is his gullibility and inability to act unless Nathan or Adam tells him what to do.

All of that seems like nitpicking, and I can let of some of the plot-hammering slide, but as the show continues, it seems to happen more and more to the point where it gets harder to ignore/excuse. Smallville did that kind of stuff to the point that I had to stop watching (amongst other reasons) because the plot-hammering was so obvious it overshadowed everything else, and I really hope Heroes doesn't reach that point.

Perhaps the best approach is the one obscure suggested: watch it and don't think about it. But when's the fun in that? In the TV landscape that Lost has created, I can't help but reexamine and analyze my favorite shows.

David Kociemba said...

Nikki: The hope is that he learns from the experience. In teaching BtVS, one of the things that's fascinating is watching how Whedon learns from his experiences. He made a mistake with the music in Prophecy Girl, slamming too hard on it, and never makes that mistake again. He kills Darla and then figures out a way to bank good villains like Drusilla and Spike for future seasons. He makes a bad casting/actor-coaching decision with Kendra, sees the poor chemistry between Mr. Trick and the Mayor and switches villains mid-season to Faith and the Mayor. And he accepted/made the decision to recast Willow's role with Alyson Hannigan from the unaired pilot.

My basic feeling is that this is the critical season in Kring's career. Can he learn from his mistakes and improve his craft? Publicly admitting error was a good sign. But if characterization doesn't improve, it may be that he's a concept guy who needs a strong characterization writer to be teamed with him. This season may make or break him in the role of series creator.

Tim said...

Nik - "Marlo" was one of the villians who escaped from Level 5.

He was riding shotgun in the van at the end.

If the rest of you don't know what I'm talking about - you need to!

Watch 'The Wire'!

Anonymous said...

I didn't get to see the little hour long red-carpet event, but after reading your review I'm glad that I didn't sit through that, lol. It probably would have annoyed me just enough where I wouldn't have liked the episode at all. But as it was, I actually really enjoyed the episode, and I wasn't expecting a lot of it.

I, too, though, had forgotten a lot of what happened last season because of just how suck-tastic it was, so a little (or long) recap would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is a bit snarky, but I suspect the reason there was no recap of last season is that they don't want you to remember last season.

Brian Douglas said...

Monica Dawson (aka the muscle mimic girl) was still alive at the end of S2, after Niki (apparently) sacrificed herself to rescue her from a burning building. She and Micah are presumably still in New Orleans.

The reason the files were on the counter at Clair's house (and they were there in the S2 finale btw) was that she, thinking her father was dead, was going through them in order to go public to take down the Company, but Noah returned and talked her out of it.

Also, although they never said or even hinted as much, I wouldn't be surprised if the Company made their highly-secure vault somehow phase-proof. Maybe the door and and walls were extra-dense or something.

Brian Douglas said...

The red-capert thing did include a comprehensive recap of the series, including the S2 cliffhangers, so they didn't need to repeat it at the begining of S3.

Nikki Stafford said...

Brian: It wasn't anywhere near comprehensive. They chose certain characters and told you what happened to them, but focused on season 1, not 2. I know, because I watched it. A lot of the questions I had were not answered. And they would do it in a tongue-and-cheek way, like, "But Hiro doesn't need to worry about Adam anymore" cut to Adam in the coffin banging on it. I STILL didn't remember what they were talking about until you just posted above that it was Sulu's coffin he was in. I had no recollection of that.

Austin Gorton said...

"I wouldn't be surprised if the Company made their highly-secure vault somehow phase-proof. Maybe the door and and walls were extra-dense or something."

Trust me, I have no problem coming up with "in universe", so to speak, answers to questions like that, and it isn't like I expect to never have to do it, especially with a show like this.

I'm okay with a certain amount of plot hammering, or suspension of disbelief, or coming up with answers like that from time to time.

I just get worried when I have to do that more and more often. It reached the point with Smallville where I had to do it so often that I couldn't enjoy the show, because it felt like the writers just stopped caring about keeping moments like that to a minimum.

Heroes isn't at that point yet, but I'm worried its only a matter of time before it gets there.

Anonymous said...

Mohinder took his shirt off. Did anything else happen?

Oh, and I think Sylar and Peter were switched at birth, so now Peter and Claire can get it on.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I think Sylar and Peter were switched at birth, so now Peter and Claire can get it on.

they might as well ... they're getting it on in real life!

Emilia said...

Yeah, is anyone else weirded out by the constant sexual tension between Claire and Peter, who are uncle an niece?

I am SO glad I rewatched S2 before watching the premiere, because it was so incredibly forgettable I couldn't think of a single thing that happened other than Hiro running around in feudal Japan.

I thought the premiere had promise--I hope Kring has big, sound plans for the rest of the season.

Carlos Rivas-Paulino said...

I think it was a GOOD start, unlike Lost who always has a GREAT BEGNNING AND END.. and here are my comments.....

1. Can the writers please stop with the time travel. Every freaking year with someone going back in time.... I know they are trying to get the whole "days of future past" storyline right, but enough is enough. This is not the X-men so stop... 3 years, 3 time trave storyline, if they need help writing, I'm available..

2. To me when Heroes began, I thought I was getting a drama with people finding out they have abilities... I forgave the writers for deviating cause fans wanted another x-men, but only as long as they kept a drama storyline. The writers did when they kept Parkman with molly and mohinder. I thought that gave the show and these obselete characters a chance to show their acting skills and still be part of the shows. Then they go and take it away from the beginning, by shipping parkman off the africa, like the writers messed up when they sent hiro back to japan. Back to back mistakes so far.

3. The Fly homage looks interesting with mohinder turning into a bug/roach.

4. I'm Dominican like danira/Maya, and I can say that she is useless so far. The worst mistake was killing her brother, but I understand their storyline would of being over already and plus paying two actors when they only need one was not good for budget.

5. Save the world again... Being there, done a million times over.. Writers if you need help, many fans can help, but please originality counts for something still....

6. I agree with alot of fans, Peter looks like the dumbest bad boy in the world.. is this how caucasians think bad boys look?... i say this cause of the caucasian writers writing the show... I mean to be honest, sawyer from Lost plays a more convincing bad boy, and lets face facts when you a pretty boy its hard to do it, only a few can, like brad pitt, val kilmer, george clooney... Peter petrlli makes me laugh, and the scar is even funnier....

7. I know the writers must worship the day the fans made Gabriel/Sylar a full cast member. If it wasnt for his character, the show would be in bad shape.. To me the show hangs on sylar, HRG right now. Mohinder/parkman I cant tell anymore, Claire is just the pretty fact to look at, since nikky is the babe of the show bar none. Nikky looks so damn good I cant believe she came out of Final Destination flix...

FINALLY... I hope this year goes better than last, I know the writers wanna blame the stirke for all that went wrong, but I don't think the writing helped.. I will bame it on sophmore jinks and hope for the best. Great start so far except for the Parkman/Molly debacle/Time travel again/Save the world crap again... Nikki made it all worthwhile though. To me its not even the way she looks, its more of her attitude. Ok I lied, its also the way she looks....

Brian Douglas said...

I agree on the time travel angel--it's getting old already. Are they going to do this everything season?

From the S2 DVD, it sounds like they had a more interesting story for Maya in Vol 2.5 which was aborted due the writer's strike, which involved the outbreak of the virus (i.e. Peter et al. failed to stop Adam from releasing it).

Also, it's Niki, with one k. Well, it's Tracy now anyway. And Ali Larter's not from a Final Destination movie...she's from TWO of them :-)

lostboy815 said...



I thought H.R.G. said in season two
"If You Die Bob, The Company dies with you"? Now Psycho Petrelli is the Boss?

Why did they demote Kristen Bell to "Special Guest Star" Status? I liked her Wierdo Character.

Why Is There another alternate future disaster, Is the world meant to end every year from a different threat?

Also Where's Monica, Micah, & Molly? Did they abandon these characters like L.J. Sophia in Prison Break?

Is Everyone related? Let Me guess, Sulu, And Psycho Petrelli, had an affair and she is Hiro's Mom also?
Nikki & Jessica have a half brother
from Maury Parkman named Matt? O And Mohinder and D.L are twins...

NeonMoon said...

So was I the only one excited that The Greatest American Hero was a guest star? Although, most Canadians probably wouldn't be that excited since he the AMERICAN hero. But still, I think it was awesome that William Katt who played a super hero in the 80's got to guest star on a super hero show. Although I would never want to die the way he did. Maybe now that they seem to have the star trek reunion out of their system they'll have guest stars who were in old super hero shows. Adam West as a guest star might just bring the show down to whole new level of crap we've never even thought of, though.

Anonymous said...

I was excited to see William Katt.

"Believe it or not, I'm walking on air..."

However, I'm bloody sick of Sylar. I guess he'll become one of the good guys now and we'll be stuck with him.