Monday, September 25, 2006

NBC's HEROES

Heroes is an atrocious thing pretty much from beginning to end (the only exceptions being a guy from Japan -- the only guy having fun and the only one who has read a comic book or seen a movie, apparently). Among the offences of Heroes: a text opening telling me nothing I have not seen before, a very boring "leap of faith" off the roof unresolved (typical) until the end of the show (also the obvious "dream" transition), a reference to the untrue cliche about only using ten percent of our brains as a suggestion about where superpowers come from, a crappy "hip" font for captions (like high school girls going though the computer font list for a fun way to make a school paper stand out), hitting me over the head with a big exposition stick (my father was like this let me tell you all about it; that's why we are brothers; let me list off all the things I have tried to do to kill myself recently even though you know about all of them already; my father left me his fortune), a bad emphasis on the word "hero" in the phrase "hero worship", a plot where a hooker with a heart of gold takes money from the mob to put her genius interracial child in a private school and they come after her, the cliche of the mad "artist" (only on TV and in high school do artists act like this); the psychic power not to paint the future but to paint news coverage of the future (the newspaper photo, the TV footage), the cliche of the kid who tells an amazing truth and the authority figure who understands it metaphorically (who ever did that?) and Asians who are conformists because, you know, they are Asians. TV is crap.

And then Studio 60 came on only seconds later, and I remembered that Aaron Sorkin is God, and that everything is alright.

28 comments:

Coligo said...

Living in the UK, I'm not officially going to get to watch these shows for some time. I had quiet hopes for Heroes, but I'm not surprised its awful. I did go to some trouble to procure the Studio 60 pilot though (seeing as almost everyone involved is awesome) and I was suitably impressed. The pairing of Perry and Whitford is superb and its just great to have some quality Sorkin on the TV after a long wait.

ping33 said...

I loved the Japanese guy.
I tend to cut Pilots a break because frequently they have too high a level of exposition.
The Opening scene in the first ep of the West Wing made me want to puke (actually about the first 4 shows of it did) but it settled into a groove.

Marc Caputo said...

I watched it and didn't care much for it. I wanted to like it because I want to see comic book stuff in many mediums, but mostly because my wife wants to watch it and this may be an inroads to getting her to read comics. I'll stick with it, mainly for the above reasons but this is getting DV-R'd when "24" hits in Jan.

Geoff Klock said...

I forgot to mention HEROES 6 degrees of seperation thing. I hated that as well. Also I don't know what was going on with the eclipse, but I don't care either.

Ping -- You are a crazy man who knows nothing about televison. The West Wing pilot is fantastic. Instead of the clunky introduction of each character, you are dropped in the middle of things -- the president hitting a tree nicely deflates the melodramatic Cubans arriving in Florida thing. Instead of being spoon fed information you have to wait through several conversations before you learn what Josh said that got him in so much trouble. Jobs are complex (as they are in life) so you don't just get a list of types (Heroes had a cheerleader, a doctor, a scientist, an artist, a politician, an internet porn girl and a guy with a dull office job). And no matter what Sorkin writes about the dialogue lives it's own life ("I've read my bible from cover to cover. From what part of scripture did they get the idea to send my granddaughter a Raggedy Anne doll with a knife through its throat? Condemn them. Condemn then publicly. And until you do you can all get your fat asses out of my White House"); no such magic was anywhere to be found in the pilot of Heroes.

alex said...

Coligo: There might be some country blocking, but I believe the pilot is available via itunes and the like. Free presumably.

Every comic reading/watching friend of mine has mentioned that the premise of Heroes, and its execution as well, recalls Straczynski's Rising Stars series to an alarming degree. Unexplained event grants x number of normal people with powers. Having only watched the commercials, I say only Japanese guy piqued my interest. Not so much because he displayed the only set of non-archetypal powers (though that helped), but he's the only one who seemed to be enjoying himself. And superheroes w/o wonder are all kinda boring.

But then all this reminds me of Ultraverse and New Universe too. So now I await the episode where a football (american variant) gets granted powers and form Kickers, Inc.

Geoff Klock said...

I forgot to mention one thing I did like about Heroes -- I thought the actress playing the "hooker with a heart of gold" (I know she is not actually a hooker, but you get the point) was well cast; she has a nice pulp-heroine quality, beautiful but a little bit ragged.

Geoff Klock said...

I also wanted to add that someone emailed my myspace page to ask if I owned a bizarro TV set because he thought Heroes was great and Studio 60 was bad bad bad (because it is a member of the "look how smart I am" genre). He did not give any evidence for this, and he also told me I had "serious problems" but I told him to come and post his comment himself on this page anyway. We can wait and see if he shows.

ping33 said...

I totally disagree about the West Wing Pilot. That whole tease scene with Rob Lowe "You have to go because your boss...POTUS? Was in a bicycle accident?!"
The Stock scene where Moyra Kelly rides into town?
Also Do You REALLY want to be talking about Hookers With a Heart of Gold after propping up the Shlock that was West Wing S1E1?

That show got good once they realized Sheen was staying on and it became about the administration rather than the people who work for it.

Madd_Hadder said...

I am still hoping for good things from Heroes even though the opening episode was a bit weak. I guess I am a sucker for all things superhero-esque. My main issue with the episode was how heavyhanded it was. Aside from the Japanese character, who was fantastic, everone was so morose. UGH! If I were indestructable you better believe my ass would be doing all kinds of cool outlandish stuff!

As for Studio 60, It's already one of my favorite shows. Amanda Peete is the one downside but she grew on me this week. The use of Gilbert and Sullivan was brilliant, except it probably went over the heads of the general public. I liek the darker more aggresive tone of this show as opposed to the last 2 Sorkin Shows. However, the 2 things that matter most in Sorkin shows are still intact and beautiful- the writing adn the relationships. Matt and Brad are great together!

Dean Trippe said...

yeah i didn't like heroes either. too much trying to be EPIC not enough story. asian dude was the only character i liked as well, and i did think tim sale's paintings looked cool.

anyway, studio 60 rules all.

Geoff Klock said...

Ping: fair enough about the Hooker with a Heart of Gold. I guess I can't argue with that. But one thing I will add to my defence of the West Wing pilot is the way they introduced the set -- Leo has seven different conversations most of which we can't follow (this is his day to day life; exposition would have been unnatural) and he walks through the whole set running his mouth the whole time. That scene knocks me out and even if I hated the rest of the episode I would have come back for the next one just to see more of that. Heroes had no such scene to hook me in.

dean: I did not even know tim sale did those paintings. thanks.

ping33 said...

Sorry this is OT - Geoff, you rarely mention music, but have you heard The Fiery Furnaces? The Gilbert and Sullivan nod made me think of them.

My thing with Pilots is that they are almost never a true representation of the show, they are more like extended promos for what the show MIGHT be. There was enough I liked about Heroes to keep me through 4-6 shows (I LOVED the way it was shot, LOVED IT) esp since I just download them and watch them when I have 42 minutes free. Also I think the West Wing Vs Heroes pilot comparison is apt (The first two Studio 60's were at 75% and 50% done when I left the flat this morning so I haven't seen them yet) as I can see the things you were turned off by in the former as being similar to the things which turned me off from the latter, while we each seem to be able to overlook the more "stock" aspects of each (Hooker With A Heart of Gold, Dreams of Flying, Morya Kelly's entrance (and overall character, I hated her SO on that show) etc) and instead latch on to the nuggets we liked. I could easily see Heroes going down the wrong path, perhaps it already has... but for me it threw enough out to justify its existence even if some of it was handled in a clumsy or unimaginative manner.

Off the top of my head I can think of only 3 shows (there are surely more) where the 1st show can stack up with the best episode from the entire run: Cheers; Weeds; and 24.

Geoff Klock said...

Ping: I would add Sports Night, Firefly (which is kind of cheating I know, since the Pilot was a two hour special thing and didn't even air first -- though if we are counting the episode that did air first as the pilot then I stand by that was well), LOST (also 2 hours), Newsradio. Plus Brit stuff like Smoking Room and Green Wing were strong right out if the starting gate.

mitch said...

Geoff: I'd have to agree about Sports night (which I think also had the a terrific last episode) and I'm particularly interested in "The Train Job" (the second pilot to Firefly). Fox requested (or demanded) that Whedon and his team put together this second pilot because the powers that be weren't satisfied with the two-hour pilot "Serenity". What I think is so intriguing is that it seems to follow the logic of the show: there is a statement by Nishka in a later episode ("War Stories") that if you hold a man over a volcano, you meet the man for the first time. "The Train Job" is the show Firefly held over a volcano.

ping33 said...

Smoking Room (and my other fave brit series SPACED) both had good openers but I had both seasons of Smoking Room via Homechoice several months ago and I was struck by how well the 1st show captured the MOOD of the series, but also how much better the series gets once the actors and writers got a better grip on everything involved.

I turned off the Lost Pilot about 20 minutes in and never looked back. My wife just last night was lamenting how I wasn't into Lost and she didn't have anyone interesting to talk about it with... she loves you Geoff (will only listen to CGS eps which you are on) so maybe I'll have to point her to the blog.

Newsradio's pilot is made workable because it's Jimmy James' tour and the character and actor could read the phonebook and be funny (kinda like Cheers' which is totally based on the Chemistry between Sam and Diane) But totally has the "world tour" feel about it which is one of the things which makes pilots so tiring.

One of the reasons I cited Weeds, in addition to the fact that it seems to be the rare series which gets worse and worse after a great start, was that it Throws the Viewer in the Thick of Things in a similar way which you praise The West Wing for doing... except without the triteness of the Hooker or Moyra Kelly scenes.

The Wire had a good first show.

ping33 said...

(Had both seasons on VOD via Homechoice... sorry)

CtznKen said...

I concur Geoff. I might watch another episode, but I could hear the pitch meeting for the show "...it's Lost meets the X-Men!" Heroes reeks of the filtering of popular plot threads from other popular ensemble dramas through an adolescent producing brain.

The "Six Degrees" plot thread is probably seeing the same fate as the "Manipulation by Criminal Mastermind" plot saw after the success of The Usual Suspects.

I have to admit I will be a latecomer to Aaron Sorkin's new show. While I liked Sport's Night and the characters on The West Wing, I cringe when drama becomes pedantic even when I agree with the politics.

sara d. reiss said...

two cents, for whatever they're worth:

I would say I hated Heroes if anyone asked me directly, but truth be told it was so goddamned boring I pretty much zoned out for everything but Hiro's scenes. I am old enough to have lived through or at least know about such shows as Twin Peaks, X Files, West Wing, Dallas, even things like The Prisoner, so please don't bore me to the point of insult with your rehashed "is this Final Destination movie #5?" heavy-handed cookie-cutter nonesense. Even tho I'm not the target audience, I've also read my fair share of comic books, so don't pretend a general audience has never seen people discovering "super powers" before, either. If I am two to three steps ahead of you and can start saying the dialogue before it happens, go back to tv camp and try again.

Studio 60 is fucking brilliant and I would pay an exhorbitant amount of money just to hear people like Matt and Brad do Sorkin scripts. No matter what you say about the West Wing pilot or Sports Night or any Sorkin production, whether the actors needed time to settle in or the sets weren't shot correctly or whatever bones you have to pick, even the pedantic liberal politics, the magic is in the music of the dialogue. Like G says. Just listent to the rythyms and how the characters speak with one another and skip the subject matter. Each of his pilots have dropped us into the thick of things, right into the middle of the orchestra pit, and left it to us to figure out what we want to do with that. I love it.

Lastly I do agree that Moira Kelly sucked royally and that's probably why her character is only in the first half of the season finale, she's not even there after the president gets shot and no mention of her disappearance is mentioned. He magicked her away cos she didn't fit. Which means Sorkin agreed with all of us. I'm not entirely sure if it was Moira Kelly herself or just the character that didn't fit. But I will say that the actors themselves are just as important as the writing cos sometimes the two won't fit, like when we saw Rob Lowe, fantastic as Sam, crash and burn as the lead in A Few Good Men in the West End.

Anonymous said...

I think she got fired over money.

I am a huge West Wing fan. Actually my hatred of its first few shows is one of the main factors of my lack of faith and extreme tolerance for shows in their infancy.

samax said...

i apologize to all my readers for not watching this, but i read "Rising Stars", so i felt like i didn't need to go there...

teevee is for the weak, anyways...

nothing about the commercials i saw made me really want to watch it, they just made me feel obligated as a comics nerd.

thanks for watching it so i woldn't have to...

Anonymous said...

I liked Heroes enough to give it a "steady go" for me. I believe in giving a show some time to develop its legs. Having worked in the TV and Film industry for eight years, we might be in for a big surprise come Episodes 2, 3, 4 and 5 as they really start to flesh things out. I would give the show a break. People wonder why shows don't last after the first episode. If you don't peform with the audience, you get sacked from the schedule fairly quickly.

http://www.myspace.com/geminis_twin

Geoff Klock said...

Anonymous -- you are right, five more episodes down the line this may be great, and if it turns out that is the case -- if someone here says they hated the first episode but it got much much better -- I will catch it on DVD. For now, time is not an unlimited resource and the show did not earn 4 more of my hours.

Rubin said...

Your missing out ... Heroes is a fan hit, a ratings hit and the best new show of the season!

Claire said...
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rubixcubeman said...
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Adam said...

Hello there I was wondering if you might be interested in doing a link exchange with my NBC Heroes site, I've already went ahead and added your link to my site, you can find it in the blogroll on the sidebar.

If you do add my link to your site my I kindly as that you include the anchor text NBC Heroes for the link and the URL http://www.nbchero.com

Thank You and If you would like your anchor text changed to something else please let me know and I'll happily change it for you.

P.S. If you do not want to do a link exchange or if my link is not present on your site after two weeks I'll assume that you declined the request and will remove your link from my site otherwise I'll happily keep it online.

8thesandbox said...

Geoff,

I was wondering if you had yet to see any of Heroes beyond the pilot. Are you still holding out to see if it is worth your time? While I haven't seen the first season since it aired, I would be curious to see if it falls into the category of television shows that works better as a DVD set where you can watch multiple episodes at once and consume a season rapidly (writing for the trade or DVD set?) Overall, while there were slow parts to the first season, I think the ending did pay off for the most part. I do think the second season has really been a letdown and can't recommend it really. Easy come, easy go, right?

I was also curious about how you felt about Studio 60 as it grinded to its bitter, bitter end. The last three or four episodes (all part of the same story) really were almost unwatchable as the worst West Wing rip off which raises two questions-can you rip yourself off and how can all the elements that I liked before just go so horribly wrong? I almost thought it was me but I watched West Wing again and still enjoy it so I don't think the fault lies with me.

So, Geoff, the ball is in your court.

Where do you stand on these two shows?


dot dot dot

Streebo said...

8thesandbox -

Geoff stopped watching Heroes after the first few episodes. His stand on it is that it has too many contrivances and plot holes. And unless I am mistaken - he eventually admitted that Studio 60 lost it's way after the promise of the early episodes. You'll stand a better chance of getting a response if you ask a question during the free form comments post each week. Anyone rarely goes back to the old posts to read the comments.