Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Problem With 'Heroes'

Well, there's no one single problem with the show, obviously; I'm just adding to the chorus of complaints, but I think there is something specific that could easily be changed which would turn things around.

Nathan Petrelli has the ability to fly. And he is one morose motherfucker. Now, honestly, would those two facts really go together? If you could fly, wouldn't you be skipping through the air like a giddy schoolgirl? Instead he treats his power like a disease, a crippled limb that he will use if he has to, but prefers to otherwise ignore it. I call bullshit on that. None of the good guys seem to like having their powers. Well, Hiro did, but they took away his power, didn't they? Meanwhile, all the bad guys seem to love having powers. So it seems like the writers are using this character shorthand where if you have fun with your power, you must be bad. I think they're misinterpreting the moral of Spiderman - with great power comes great responsibility. The show seems to feel this means the good guys have to be serious all the time. Uh, no. You can enjoy a power without being reckless or irresponsible.

Because we don't have the sense that the good guys like having their powers, that makes it rather hard to root for them, because we can't identify with that attitude. It would be awesome to read minds or fly or have super strength or run fast or whatever. Where's the wonder? Where's the joy? The first season had plenty of that. The first season also happened to be the best season so far. Coincidence?

Here's what I think the show needs to do to get back on track and fulfill the promise of that first season.

- Resolve this boring 'hunt the heroes' plotline quickly - I mean, the show is 'Heroes', not '24'.

- Get back to basics - who are these people, and what does having these powers mean to them and to those around them? Until the heroes understand who they are and what their places in the world are, they're going to continue running around aimlessly from one crisis to the next.

- Organize the heroes in a meaningful way - the first two seasons revolved around the company and collecting 'heroes' in order to contain them. What needs to happen now is for the heroes to get organized. There's a reason why the Avengers and the Justice League were formed, why the X-Men were a team - so you wouldn't be a freak alone. Mr. Bennet can be the leader and public face of the organization - oh, and that leads me to the next point...

- Out these heroes already. Give 'em secret identities of course, but it's past time that the world knew there were heroes. It's stretching the bounds of credulity to think that the world doesn't already know about it.

- Along with organizing the heroes comes the idea of training them so they won't be helpless in certain situations where their powers aren't helpful. Claire can heal herself, so why hasn't she been trained in weapons and martial arts yet? Her character is begging for a bad-ass makeover, and the best defense is a good offense, so why wait? Same goes for the rest of them - Parkman in particular could stand to lose a few pounds anyway...

The show can be saved - I think the writers just need to acknowledge that they're essentially doing The X-Men for television, and take the best aspects of the comics for the show. Oh, and while superhero costumes may be necessary, don't forget the lesson of the Incredibles - no capes.



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