Guilty Pleasure

from the 9th Wonders blogI honestly can’t tell if “Heroes” has gotten significantly better since I first saw it (and mercilessly ragged on it), or if I’m just starting to come down off my high horse and admit that my tastes aren’t as highbrow as I like to think.

I’ve still got problems with it. Biggest is that the whole thing reeks of Major Network Television. There are the stupid catch-phrases, and the big event gimmicks (“One of the heroes will DIE!”), and the soap-opera casting. Is it just me, or does anybody else think the actress playing the congressman’s wife just looks weird and unnatural?

Plus, it still feels like a bunch of people who are late to the whole comic book party. “We’ve got a superhero who can borrow other superheroes’ powers. Does that not just blow your mind?!?” Well, no, because we’ve seen Rogue do it in X-Men comics for decades, plus there were these movies that came out a while back you might have heard of. The creator of the show has been quick to point that out in interviews — he’s said he’ll come up with ideas and then hear from a friend that there’s already a well-established character that does the same thing. Still, it’s fun to make fun of him for it.

Especially when they try to build drama around it. Their big climax for the first half season was what goes down at Homecoming, and it was all relatively cool. But is there anybody in the audience who didn’t know what was going to happen as soon as the episode started? The character who borrows other heroes’ powers is going to sacrifice everything to save the girl who can survive falls from great height. But oh no! We see a horrible painting of the future showing him fall from a great height!

Fifteen minutes into the episode, my mother, who’s not exactly steeped in comic book lore, said, “After he absorbs the cheerleader’s healing ability, is he going to get the bad guy’s power too?” And she wasn’t having a heroin-induced vision of the future, as far as I could tell.

Still, the show’s engaging, it always delivers some kind of pay-off (I’m not mad at you, “Lost,” just very, very disappointed), and I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but it seems like the dialogue has gotten less corny and the acting has been bumped up a notch to B-list.

And as cocky as I am, there’s stuff that I’ve been too dense to comprehend. One of my big problems with the show was figuring out what they were going to do with the Niki character. Multiple personality disorder isn’t a super power. It was only while I was reading a message board, trying to find out which hero is going to DIE next week?!? that some fan pointed out what I never picked up on: she’s the Hulk.

I don’t know if that counts as “subtle,” considering that there’s already a She-Hulk. And I’ve heard that a version of the real Hulk’s backstory says that he was created not from gamma radiation but MPD as a result of child abuse. Short of having her screaming “Hulk SMASH!” instead of using long-range rifles, I don’t know how they could’ve made it any clearer.