Dec 13, 2007 01:44 PM EST

Zeroes: Why The Writers Strike Is Good For The Heroes Franchise

Zeroes: Why The Writers Strike Is Good For The Heroes Franchise
I think, maybe, the best thing that happened to Heroes is the writer's strike. Instead of dragging it out another few months, they went straight for the big finish. This can only be good: it wasn't going all that strong. Where did Heroes misstep? Let's see.
  1. The Latin Americans: If there have ever been characters more useless than Maya and Alejandro Herrera it is hard to think of them. In addition to totally falling prey to (and dying at the hands of) uber-boring villain Sylar, they simply accomplished nothing. Alejandro got props for smelling Sylar for what he was--but then he just got killed leading to several cringe-inducing scenes where Sylar manipulates his sister.

    I am told that Sylar's immortality comes from his hit with the ladies. If that is true, ladies, take note: he's not just killing off Alejandro, he's killing your show
  2. Killing Nathan. There are too few characters on the show with actual charisma and stature. Nathan is one of them, Bennet is another. The Haitian (weirdly) is a third. Hiro (and to a lesser extend Ando) come in last. There are simply too few characters for them to be gunning down their good actors like that. If we have to watch more wish-washy "I'm lawful-good so I have to be stupid" Dr. Suresh, I may do some shooting myself.
  3. The worthless St. Joan. All that build up and all she served to do was a pretty bad kill-off of Nikki. I mean, I wasn't all that happy with Nikki (after the manufactured tragedy of her husband, especially) but 'cmon. Is she a hero or not? I understand she's new, naive, and probably scared--but she's got Bruce Lee's battle skills. During the robbery (and with the tomato) she exhibited reflexes, not rationality. Making her worthless, in need of rescue from a non-powered mom, and pleading helplessly with a gangster just seemed to rob her of any pride she'd had.
  4. Veronic Mars vs. the Cheerleader. She's not bad (she's just, um, cast that way?)--this was actually one of the less bad bits since they had the class to bring back HRG in the same episode that they killed him off in. My problem is on two fronts: the first is, again, Mohinder's fool's crusade to back the company or whatever flies in the face of any rationality. We can see they're manipulative and evil, why not him? And while I'd like Bell as a hero, she seems to just be eye-candy competition for Claire: why not give Claire more to do?
  5. While we're on the subject of the show's resident genius being an idiot, why didn't Suresh call his boss when Sylar showed up at his apartment. If he thought Sylar had his powers, why oh why would he just go home--does he have a death wish? Bob could've seen 20 goons, some other supers, or whatever to dismember the guy. I have to accept that Sylar, as a villain, is around to stay--but I don't have to like it. And I don't.
  6. Speaking of bad Villains: Adam. Adam wasn't bad as a bad-guy, per-se, it's just that his manipulation of Peter makes it seem like Peter was brain-damaged in addition to having his memory wiped. Wouldn't he question things? Doesn't he know that Hiro is essentially one of the good guys? Does he need to blindly trust the guy? How about going to destroy the vial himself? I mean, what would it take to convince him? How far would you trust someone as smarmy as Adam anyway?

The lesson to be learned here is that shows are victims of their formulas as much as they (and we) might wish otherwise. Everything: character, intelligence, and pacing is sacrificed for the plot. There will be no jaw-dropping scene where Aljeandro just has had it and shoots Sylar in the back of the head because it's the obvious thing. We will not see HRG just kill Bob and Bell with his hands because, well, he could. Nathan will not go public with the facts (although, right next to him, Peter could have) because it would change the all important nature of the show.

And that's ultimately why it's failing. The writers are capable of smart: Noah Bennet proves that consistently. They just can't do it. They are capable of humor: Hiro proves that consistently (but the show must be brutal with its heroes in other venues to maintain its "edge"). They are capable of telling incisive stories and they have innovative character concepts and execution. We're reduced to characters being transparently manipulated in scene after scene to "manufacture" drama. We're reduced to very few surprises (HRG is the author of several, such as shooting his mentor) because the broad-strokes are more important than the journey.

I don't know if it'll make Season 03--but I hope if they do ... they jump back over the shark.

-- Marco Chacon

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