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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

TV Watch: Heroes

Last night's Heroes was the best episode of Lost I've seen all season. Here's why:

- A flashback pertinent to the current storyline and furthered our understanding of not just the characters involved but the overall plot in general. In Lost, we would would have gotten a flashback about Claire's Dad's previous life as an air guitar maestro in a high school garage band.

- No red herrings. When a character walks in with a folder of information ... it actually contains real information and the character actually bothers to summarize the folder's documents. If this were Lost, Jack would have tossed the folder to the ocean proclaiming it was a trick.

- Characters who actuallly want answers about their bizarre circumstances. Radioactive Man wasn't going to take no for an answers and good for him. When you've been abused and confused - it's good to get your bearings. Sawyer would have apparently still be sleeping in the Bennet's hammock looking for his lost shaker of salt.

What's odd is that I don't really think Heroes has a lot in common with Lost. Heroes isn't draped in it's mystery like Lost where the characters are literally surrounded by it everyday. Heroes wasn't framed like a working conundrum when it aired. Sure, it has elements of a mystery - and in many ways adheres to the mystery format better than Lost - but it feels more like an action drama than anything else. It's like ER with x-ray vision.

Anyway, last night was one of the better Heroes episodes yet. It was focused, revealing and interesting. For me, the show "known for its twists" (their words not mine) was known as the "show needing to find its legs." I think maybe it finally has.

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Anonymous said...

You know, that brings up an interesting point. I used to run gaming campaigns full of conspiracy and espionage. It got so that the players felt they couldn't trust anything that happened and they completely stalled out eventually. Some of them even resorted to adolescent displays of "I don't care" ism.

Obviously not so much with the fun.

So I began a new tactic and although the atmosphere was still one of suspicion, no NPC ever intentionally lied until such time as the players had evidence about whatever they were lying about. Even then, they never lied terribly convincingly and the players would only believe them if they felt their characters would buy it. Eventually we pulled out of our tail spin and flew on our merry way.

Lost appears to have hit that same stall point, eh?

Winkyboy said...

I just caught the episode tonight, and while I thought last week's show was awesome, this one topped it. I turned the screen off thinking, "Now, THAT was some good writing!"

Opposed to Lost, Heroes really feels like there's a distinct, important purpose to it.

And speaking of purpose, finally, FINALLY it looks like there's some reason for having psycho-mom's alter ego on there... I really liked the way that this episode answered a lot of questions and still managed to bring up entirely new mysteries:

So now, who is Claire's dad working for? Is this guy Linderman? Does Hiro's dad know about his powers - and if so, why doesn't he do anything about it? What's with the connecting symbol between psycho-mom and the Haitian?

Lotta cool stuff coming, lots of good answers now supplied. Huzzah!

Josh said...

To your point, Corvus, I think Lost's producers have squandered a lot of trust. They stated during season one that the show's mysteries were rooted in science. They've brought up and set aside so many little details that fans can't even decide if they're supposed to keep track of them any more. Recent gaffs like the "3 big mysteries" which imploded just add to the pain.

So when they respond to that with things like "here's how Jack got his tattoes" - I think a "I don't care" ism is probably in tow :)

Yeah, Heroes feels like it has a direction you can actually follow. I don't feel like I'm being dragged along. Heroes' biggest problem, imo, was wasting time recapping and giving lip service to characters not involved in the current episode. This episode sidestepped all of that and pushed forward.

And Heroes is replacing good answers with good questions - whereas Lost routinely replaces lousy answers with confusing questions. Like Desmond bringing down 815 - makes no actual sense at all ... but was the major "reveal" of season two.

Deacon said...

I'd agree with you about the Heroes episode. I think part of its success was that it stayed focused on a smaller group of people instead of "let's check in on [blank]" syndrome. Even the flashbacks were pertinent to characters in the room. It also managed to integrate the conflation of superpowers in interesting ways, much like the encounter between Sylar, Claire and Peter Petrelli - as opposed to a simple ass-kicking a la Matt and Jessica.

That being said, my original desire for the show was to see a shorter arc, to have the "big explosion" thread only run half a season - and the slow pace of the previous episodes have only made me want that more. That would still leave the "what is the company" arc to bind the whole season and allow them to do a separate arc underneath that for the second half of the season.

Talking with my friends, we theorized that some of the discontent with Lost stems from the X-Files, and how Carter promised everyone that there would be a decent conclusion and that it would all make sense and then he stretched it out for nine seasons without making much sense at all. I just re-watched the movie and it ended and I went, "Why the bees? Why? They explained it and I still don't know."

I think if the Lost producers stay committed to a 5 season run then they can easily wrap everything up with nice bows. The problem is going to be keeping the show alive until then - if it dies then it really becomes nothing but an exercise in dishing out plot points.

Josh said...

The Lost producers constatnly say "we can't tell you X" or "we can't tell Y" because if we did "we wouldn't have a show left."

OK. Fine.

It's just - that's not our fault. Why should we wait around until season six for you to finish a three season arc?