I could watch “Heroes” for just one day

Delighted to be in a mediocre seriesEntertainment Weekly just ran an article about Rosario Dawson in which Kevin Smith calls her a “hot geek.”.

Which to me is like saying “compassionate conservative;” it just doesn’t exist. The terms are mutually exclusive. For those of us who were nerds back when being a nerd meant something (mostly it meant rejection and shame), this whole new movement, what with your X-Men and Spider-man movies being big-ticket productions and movies about hobbits winning Oscars, is a disturbing trend.

Only the most naive of nerds would see this as welcome, fulfilling some life-long fantasy that someone who looks like Rosario Dawson would walk into his gaming session in the back of the comic book store and confess her love for him in perfect Klingon. The cold hard reality is that when someone who looks like Rosario Dawson can speak Klingon, then there’s even less need in the universe for someone who looks like you.

So sorry, Mr. Smith. You’ll still be welcomed into the Dragon Con with open, sweaty arms, but your friend will have to stay outside. We have a cosmic order to maintain. Open the gates too wide, and you get stuff like “Heroes”.

For all I know, “Heroes” was a true labor of love by a dedicated, hard-core comic book fan who’s wanted to do a story like this ever since he was a teenager. It sure doesn’t come across like it, though. Watching it, you don’t get an image of a dedicated artist passionate about telling a story, but a group of NBC execs passionate about cashing in on the success of the X-Men movies and “Lost” and too unoriginal to do anything other than copy the format of every other “disparate people brought together by supernatural circumstances” package series.

The whole thing has a junior-varsity, C-list vibe to it. Even starting with the opening text crawl, a completely unnecessary prologue that threatens this is just the “first volume” in an “epic story.” Then the pompous, overblown, and completely unoriginal title credit: “Chapter One: Genesis.” They’re getting the comic book feel down, but unfortunately it’s an Image comic book.

And it just goes on like that. It’s not horribly inept or offensive, just completely unoriginal, unsubtle, and ham-handed. You’ve got two-dimensional characters in stock situations doing uninteresting things. Everybody talks in exposition. The mysterious, intriguing villain is neither mysterious nor intriguing. The performances are mostly competent but completely unremarkable (which is a feat, considering all the awful, clumsy exposition-heavy dialogue the actors have to deliver). It’s all Generic Television Superhero Product.

For me it was all summed up by one scene: our Japanese character, who’s named Hiro, because you see that’s clever, is having a conversation about being a loser with his salaryman friend in a karaoke bar, because you see they’re in Japan, and on stage are two guys doing the “I Want it That Way” bit. It was a dull, pointless conversation between stereotypical characters in a totally stereotypical situation, with an obvious and clumsy and already-outdated and not very clever topical pop culture reference.

There was one moment at the very end of the pilot that had a halfway-intriguing twist and almost made me curious as to what happens next. I read on that NBC site, in an interview with the creator of the series, that the idea for that came from his friend Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of “Lost.” Reading that just made me kind of sad for the guy, that his one original idea he has to admit came from somebody else.

I don’t think I have enough pity to keep watching the show past a second episode, though. If I want to watch a series about people with strange new powers in a real-life setting, I’ll watch “The 4400” or “Smallville.” If I want to watch a series about a bunch of disparate people brought together by unnatural circumstances, I’ll keep watching “Lost.” Or maybe I’ll just read a real comic book.

7 thoughts on “I could watch “Heroes” for just one day”

  1. I’ve read the guy who created the show isn’t a comic book-reading guy at all, so you hit the nail on that one.

    I’m gonna keep watching it, for a while at least. I like seeing cheerleaders sticking thier hands into garbage disposals.

  2. Yeah, I’ve got to admit I’m going to keep watching for a couple of episodes, just to see if the story picks up and they do anything interesting with it. I just didn’t want to ruin a good Bowie reference.

  3. I couldn’t make it through the first episode. “Smallville” has enough of the requisite “hot chicks” (which my wife consistently makes fun of) and has enough entertaining stories for me to get my comic book TV fill that “Heroes” just seemed bland. Besides, “Smallville” is going to do a junior “Justice League” type episode so I don’t think I’ll be watching “Heroes” again.

  4. I’m actually not sure if I liked it or not. To me, one of the best things about the show was Hiro, who I thought had sort of a sincere supernerd vibe going. That, and their Japanese wasn’t obviously terrible.

    The little “twist” at the end I presume involves the two brothers? I thought that was pretty clever. But you’re right in the respect that it feels … unoriginal. I wonder if it’s because I’ve got years of comic-book reading experience that the characters feel sort of stock, and that their powers, and the situations they’re in all feel familiar, because you’re trying to pull something original out of something that’s iconic, and been around for decades. Either you retain the “familiar” feel, and poach existing storylines (or facsimiles of them), or you do something really new, and lose the superheroes vibe?

    I dunno – to me, it feels like Astro City, the TV show – or that it will once it gets going. For now, there’s too many stories, and too many sort of “obvious” things that aren’t really gelling properly…

    I guess we’ll see.

  5. I know nobody likes it, but didn’t “Unbreakable” mine this terrain years ago? Or is this show more explicitly whizz-bang superhero-ey?

  6. It does have a real Unbreakableish quality about it. And since I hated that movie, I mean: it’s got lots of the overbearing self-important attitude that it’s telling comic book conventions in a realistic and dramatic way, even though it’s showing you nothing you haven’t seen before in comics that do the same thing 1000 times better.

    Still, for all the stupid, clumsy stuff it keeps doing, there’s just enough intrigue in there to keep me going for a little while at least. The second episode upped the gruesome factor a whole lot, which is something my body needs anyway, and I like that. Plus the time-travel travel twist with nuclear explosion, I actually didn’t see that coming. Same with the cheerleader breaking her neck, a surprisingly well-done scene in an otherwise clumsy as hell series. And MPD Lass is kind of hot, and I want to see exactly what her superpower is and how they explain it.

    But in that very same episode, they have the blander-than-bland villain watching the videotape he stole from his daughter on his laptop with the sound turned up, queued just to the right moment, before she even has a chance to leave the room. So I imagine I’m going to be doing a lot of eye-rolling while I slog through to see what happens.

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