At one point last year, I remember being stunned that such a well-written, well-acted, interesting television show wasn't immediately getting canceled. About halfway through I lost a lot of my enthusiasm, but I still watched every single episode in chronological order. I expect I'll do the same with season two (on my iPod, at the gym, woot!) but perhaps not. I've only seen two episodes so far, but what I've seen is more than a little disappointing.
- They're actually letting people use their damn powers this time--except for Future Peter and Future Hiro, people in season one didn't really get to be as bad ass as they deserved. It's nice to see people showing off a bit, in a show about super heroes.
- Also, um, it's still very well shot, I think...
- Um, the acting is great.
- There is no longer a foreordained plot point--nothing is coming to a head, and no predictions are made about the future. You'd think that things would be more exciting now, since we don't know what will happen.
Instead, I strongly suspect that the writers won't feel any urgency in moving the story along--it looks like Heroes is rapidly achieving stasis. Stasis is good for writers (it's hard to come up with interesting plots to write!) and for marketing folks ("No, you can't kill her, do you know how hard it was to cast for that demographic?") but not very good for Art. Or, you know, television shows. Basically, it seems highly unlikely that the show will surprise me. At all.
- Now, I don't mean that these episodes didn't have any twists, but there so far there was nothing that made me say more than, "Hmm. Interesting." what I want to be saying, "Holy shit, that's amazing!!"
What I don't want, however, is to care about Claire Bennet's love life, or how her dad fits in at Kinkos. I have a petty life, thank you, with plenty of petty problems to concentrate on the in the real world--if I'm going to watch a fantasy series where people shoot lightning and fly, then maybe they should be involved in something slightly more epic than flirting with that cute boy. Or bumbling around ancient Japan, for that matter, or passing a Detective's test.
Slight (ok, long) tangent--the current show I'm lighting at Triton is Arthur Miller's All My Sons, which I hadn't read before. Miller totally restores my faith in the whole genre of "realism". Joe and Chris Keller are just as small and petty as anyone in an O'Neil play, and they are far less special than the characters in Heroes. They're literal concerns are also far less interesting--Chris wants to get married, his mother refuses to believe that her son died in the war, the dad did some shady stuff in his business three years ago--but the underlying concerns are totally off the scale. It's set in middle class America, where people talk about the family business and the girl next door, but it's about the same stuff I'm reading in the Iliad--honor, loyalty, courage... no, make that Honor, Loyalty and Courage. And Miller's characters have the same passion that Hector and Achilles do, and the audience feels it, too.
Heroes, on the other hand, seems to be the reverse. These epic characters, gods among humans, are mostly concerned about their own day-to-day lives. Maybe this will change in future episodes, but even last season (when they were trying to save the world) only Hiro had any sense of the epic about him.
- Nathan Petrelli didn't die. Neither did Peter. So the lame self-sacrifice cliche at the end of Season One didn't actually involve any self-sacrifice, making it even more lame. That's amazing.
- George Takei did die! Dammit, if Heroes Season Two had consisted of twenty episodes of George Takei narrating actuarial tables, I would have gone out and bought a TV. Instead, they killed him off in episode two. Arrgh!
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