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I'm Cathy Leamy, a Boston cartoonist and medical writer. Check out my comics! They're mainly about health care and autobio stories.

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Monday, October 9, 2006

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thoughts on Heroes, episodes 1-3

It's three episodes in, and as much as I would really like to enjoy the new superpower-focused series Heroes, there are just too many little nagging details that all add up to me feeling unsatisfied.

Things I enjoy about Heroes

Hiro the Japanese teleporter. He takes joy in his new powers and does things proactively. Go Hiro! I cheer whenever he's on-screen - he's a fun guy to spend time with. Plus I like the typographic layout of the subtitles.

The cop who can read minds has had only a small amount of screentime, but he's got potential.

Things I don't enjoy about Heroes

Most of the action centers around New York City, yet again, like so many other urban shows out there. Are writers really that strapped for cities?

Most of the main characters are white, practically all are thin, none appear to have any kind of non-power-related disabilities (except the baddie, who wears glasses), and all but two are American. I'm not looking for token wheelchairs or Chris Claremont-style internationalism, but it would be nice to see a little more diversity in character types and backgrounds. Maybe more characters along these lines will be introduced down the road, but the first few episodes are the memorable ones that set the tone of the show and establish the primary cast.

Elements that seem way too familiar. Genetic evolution as a theme (X-Men), a superstrong cheerleader (Buffy), an apocalyptic destiny that needs averting (The Dead Zone series off the top of my head, but I know I've seen it elsewhere), predictable powers (flight, invulnerability, and mindreading - No, seriously? Wow, I never would have guessed those), predictable tension elements (a serial killer, a wall of crazy, indecipherable computer files), and predictable character types (the stripper with a heart of gold [OK, when she's not getting all Mr. Hyde], the drugged-up creative artist, the politician who'll do anything for poll points).

It's been only three episodes and already the two lead powered female characters have been sexually assaulted or coerced. Where's my Bingo card?

Too much gore for my taste.

What I would much rather see watching Heroes

This is just my personal interests talking, and I'm sure people out there would find this dull, but I'd like to see Six Feet Under-style storytelling but with superpowers. Forcing some heroic destiny on characters is so Dungeons and Dragons. Recent cable series show that you can tell interesting stories just following people's crazy lives. Why do we need to fall back on the predictable setup of "I have powers, now I must fight crime/save old ladies/stop the supervillains"? Instead of Heroes, I'd rather see Slightly Extraordinary People. Forget fighting the apocalypse - I want to see how they handle their powers in day-to-day life. That's a show I'd watch, though I suspect I might be the only one watching it.

7 comments!     click to join in

1 Dave Lartigue   (8:22am - Oct 10, 2006)

IT's always interesting to me that TV shows love NYC, an incredibly culturally diverse city, yet will only fixate on white yuppies there.

The opposite show, I guess, would be "The Adventures of All Three Black People in Bar Harbor, Maine".

2 Kevin Church   (6:22am - Oct 11, 2006)

IT's always interesting to me that TV shows love NYC, an incredibly culturally diverse city, yet will only fixate on white yuppies there.

The opposite show, I guess, would be "The Adventures of All Three Black People in Bar Harbor, Maine"

I would watch the show Dave just pitched in a heartbeat.

I've not worked up any interest in Heroes - I think it's the pandering feel I get from all the promotional material.

Also: Jeph Loeb.

3 Kitty   (10:35am - Oct 11, 2006)

Yeah, I think that third episode is my last, unless I hear differently about the show later on.

The promos make the show seem so cutting edge and innovative, but everything in the show feels familiar (in a done-before way, not a comfortable way). I watch the show thinking, That's like this other show, that's like this one comic character, that's like this movie from a while back. The only parts that hit me from left field are the gory bits (aah, that guy's head! Aah, that girl's chest!), and that's not something I enjoy.

4 Tivol   (1:03pm - Oct 12, 2006)

So my problem is that the show is proceeding too slowly and WAY too predictably to its mid-November explosion climax.

I worry that, like with Lost and 24, it'll become clear that the writers had a focused goal for their first eight episodes and were caught off-guard by the network's contract extension. I'm sad that the plan for the first eight episodes is being executed so plainly.

There were too many missed opportunities to throw curveballs into the plot. Crazy Ali Larter should be becoming a supervillain. The cop in trouble because of psychic powers should be unsuper, and the little girl should be psychic. Despite his ambitions and dreams, whiny younger brother should be unsuper and serve as a suicidal Aunt-Mae-type for flying older brother. Showing more non-heroes will make the heroes seem rarer and cooler, and it'll give the audiences some sort of surprise.

I guess I would've preferred each episode to be a focus on one person thinking they have superpowers (whether they do or don't) and freaking out about them, all Twilight Zone style. Build up a set of heroes in September and October and lead them into action in November; don't spend October having them crawl to their goal. If they get past this current story arc, they could easily slip in more "meet a new hero" episodes to spice things up, but I doubt they will.

5 Kitty   (1:15pm - Oct 12, 2006)

Man, Tivol, you nailed it there. It really is progressing predictably, and there aren't enough curveballs. Even just a change like "the politician is actually the star of the 'flying power' storyline; let's see how he handles such an unbelievable secret while in the public spotlight" - that alone would get me to watch the show.

6 GeorgeCurious   (9:16pm - Oct 14, 2006)

I haven't seen this show yet and I had no idea that is was a superpowers based show. But it's just not everyday you see someone namecheck Chris Claremont on their blog.

7 Kitty   (3:51pm - Oct 17, 2006)

Heh, Claremont references are par for the course! Check the linkblog on the side - this is a comic book geek blog, no questions there. And that's part of why I'm so unthrilled with Heroes - as a comic book geek, I've seen it all before. This show ain't bringing anything new to the table except dudes with their heads cut open.

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