Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
Anonymous Heroes?
2007-05-15 11:33
by Jon Weisman

I watch every episode of Heroes and am suitably engaged but also increasingly distanced.

I feel that as the crisis has intensified, the characters' personalities have shriveled up a bit. They're alternatingly hopeful or serious, occasionally relieved, but otherwise more and more drained of color.

It's not that I've stopped caring about the heroes or their mission, but I feel the plot has smothered the characters. They feel more like cogs in a machine - breathing cogs, but cogs nonetheless - than people whose company I truly savor. They're not particularly exciting individuals.

Conversely, on Lost, I feel that no matter how the plot rises and falls, few if any of the characters lose their snap.

2007-05-15 11:42:27
1.   underdog
(One coworker is obsessed with Heroes, beyond the point I can understand either his obsession or, now that I've stopped watching it, what he's talking about.)

Reposting: Btw, I was excited to read in Variety about the new Tintin movie plans - with Spielberg and Jackson! It's hard to picture exactly how they're going to be doing it technically, using real actors and animation, but not like Scooby-Doo or something, more like A Scanner Darkly? Anyway, sounds cool.

2007-05-15 11:44:36
2.   Benaiah
1 - Wow, I would love to see a link to that. I have read all the Tintin books, and I consider Herge's work to be some of the finest comic books ever written. I wonder if there was ever any heat for the racist depictions of black characters, who are expressed realistically, but drawn like "Sambo"-esq minstrels.

(I re-replied to your reposting)

2007-05-15 11:56:07
3.   Benaiah
I have several moments yesterday where I remarked to myself: "Wow, this is a really corny show." (Especially when the big cliffhanger of Peter heating up was defused by him saying: "Nevermind, I'm good.")

However, the best characters (H.R.G., Hiro and Nathan Petrelli) are wonderfully dark and dangerous. HRG has been humanized, but he would still kill a little girl to protect his family, and Nathan seems genuinely conflicted by his role in the procedings. The worst characters keep getting killed (hopefully D.L. actually dies) and Sylar is becoming one of the most chilling villians on TV. The show isn't nearly as ambitious as "Lost" but while that means it won't ever be as great as "Lost"'s peaks, hopefully it will prevent it from "Lost"'s valleys, too.

2007-05-15 12:18:28
4.   Jon Weisman
2 -
2007-05-15 12:19:34
5.   Jon Weisman
Down to the wire for Veronica Mars:

Looks like they need to win their conference tournament for a bid.

2007-05-15 12:27:39
6.   Inside Baseball
I enjoy both shows and have been impressed with how Heroes has improved during the season. However, to me, Lost is far superior. Maybe it's because that while events on the island are completely outlandish they are always presented in a realistic way that makes them seem somehow possible.

It reminds me of a difference in the type of action movies I like. I enjoy "realistic" type action films like the first Die Hard and disengage from those with ridiculous stunt work such as Mission Impossible 2. Similarly, I really enjoyed Casino Royale after not enjoying most all of the recent Bond installments.

2007-05-15 12:44:02
7.   Penarol1916
I'm up and down on Lost, and the same goes for the characters. I think most of the supporting characters are great. Sun, Jin, Sayid, Ben, Hurley, and Rousseau, have not lost their snap, but I really hate the Jack and Kate characters, the attempts at depth for both of them are terrible, half of their actions are completely inexplicable or just boneheaded, every episode that has them in it as little as possible is a great one for me. Sawyer and Locke I'm a little up and down on.

I also agree with Benaiah about the characters on Heroes, HRG and Nathan Petrelli are far more complex and believable characters than any on either show, while the rest I agree that the plot has smothered a lot of the other characters, most notably Claire, Peter, and the mind-reader (although his character was pretty boring to begin with so I don't mind so much).

2007-05-15 12:48:31
8.   Benaiah
My main concern is that Peter might become too powerful and thus rob the show of its drama. At this point Peter can: heal himself, stop time, fly, shoot nuclear blasts out of his hands, read minds and turn invisible. The first time he fights Sylar he is going to pick up about 10 new abilities, including absurdly strong telekinesis. By season 3 Peter will be getting in fist fights with God and holding his own.
2007-05-15 12:48:57
9.   Benaiah
8 - Obviously, the easy way out is to turn Peter into a villain.
2007-05-15 12:54:47
10.   underdog
I really think two more seasons of Lost is too much. They should wrap it up in one. And what if no one cares about the next season?

Re: Tintin, I'm sure they'll modernize some of the characterizations while staying true to the main ones as much as they can. I think Herge's work was a product of its time, and you're right in some of the earlier stories in particular there are definitely some racist characterizations (Asian, African and Latin American) but as he went along, and overall, his characters were pretty strong while also remaining comical. I don't know which of the stories they're adapting yet, but it probably won't be The Crab with the Golden Claws or whichever one had both racist Arab and African depictions...? But there were some terrific stories in those comics. I read 'em all many times as a kid. Better than Lost!

2007-05-15 12:57:18
11.   Jon Weisman
My biggest concern about Heroes is Hiro losing his sense of humor and joie de vivre.
2007-05-15 12:57:20
12.   Hythloday
While I agree in general that the characters have been muted as the season reaches its climax I don't necessarily have a problem with it. It seems reasonable to me that people would become simpler as the conflict and tension increases. But it isn't as if the Heroes characters were terribly deep to begin with. So if you strip away those simple characters as tension increases then you are simply left with plot. I'm ok with that. It is a good plot.
2007-05-15 13:02:09
13.   Benaiah
10 - There are 3 more seasons (though only 2 seasons worth of episodes).

I think Arabs are depicted fairly positively in the series. Tintin has some close Arab friends, and even lets a spoiled Arab prince name Abdullah live in Marlinspike. He avoided essentializing the characters (I remember a subplot where a group of African Muslims were being sold into slavery but still wished to go to Mecca on a pilgrimage) but his drawings and dialogue are pretty racist.

2007-05-15 13:05:23
14.   weatherman
I think I'm going to enjoy the Screen Jams blog.

9. - If the "future" episode is any indicator, Peter may become the hero that is most reluctant to use his powers, making him a deus ex machina of sorts. It makes me think of the old show Airwolf. It was only at the very end of any given episode that the viewer was treated to a montage of Hawke readying the helicopter and taking off to do away with whatever enemies were causing trouble.

I really hope that is not the direction they go, but that was definitely what happened in the future episode.

2007-05-15 13:46:49
15.   trainwreck
Lost should only improve after the twist ending on the season finale.
2007-05-15 14:15:48
16.   Benaiah
15 - Lost still has two episodes left, including what looks like a double episode next week. I imagine that the last episode will be a doozy, since it seemingly always sets the show in a new direction entirely.
2007-05-15 14:21:37
17.   trainwreck
I already know what happens. Do not worry, I will not spoil a thing.
2007-05-15 14:23:25
18.   Benaiah
17 - How do you know? Are you a reporter? A spy? A seer?
2007-05-15 14:25:09
19.   trainwreck
My friend is obsessed with the show. Apparently, there are sites that have continued to give away spoilers since the show started. My friend lacks any restraint and read what happened and then blurted it out.
2007-05-15 14:31:02
20.   Benaiah
19 - This sounds a little sketchy, if I were you I would assume that this information is wrong and then watch the episodes with an open mind. If it actually is wrong, then great it didn't get ruined for you, if it is right, then maybe it will take you awhile to confirm your expectations.
2007-05-15 14:32:55
21.   trainwreck
Yeah, I pretty much have no other choice but to do that. He did not give away one of the major issues of the episode.
2007-05-15 15:12:15
22.   Jon Weisman
Jericho goes from freshman darling to the dumps.

How I Met Your Mother, which had been in some doubt (which I couldn't quite believe) will be back.

2007-05-15 15:13:55
23.   Jon Weisman
Longer article on ABC

2007-05-15 15:21:54
24.   trainwreck
Pushing Daisies sounds like it could be an interesting show.
2007-05-15 15:29:34
25.   Andrew Shimmin
22- Did you not believe it because the numbers are good, or because the show is? I don't remember who recommended it, over at DT, but I gave it a try. Once was enough.
2007-05-15 15:30:24
26.   Jon Weisman
25 - Just because it's a relatively popular comedy.
2007-05-15 16:56:39
27.   underdog
13 Good point - I think it was more the drawings and some of the dialogue than it was the spirit of their portrayal that could be construed as racist, or at least really dated. There was a lot of diversity in the Arab characters, you're right, though I feel like there were one or two characters who were kinda offensive. Maybe I'll revisit these soon. I guess you could say that Captain Haddock reflects badly on British sailors, for that matter. ;-)

And, re: Lost - yikes.

2007-05-15 17:51:18
28.   dzzrtRatt
17 I put a post on my blog about a year ago that has been clicked on incessantly by people looking for Sopranos spoilers. This was not what I intended. I figured I better deliver something, so I started looking around for sites that promise "real" Soprano spoilers, so I could refer people to them.

Unfortunately for the people who leave their supposed inside scoops on these spoiler message boards, you can go back and check what supposedly was going to happen, according to some inside source -- a hairdresser on the set, the owner of an ice cream parlor where a scene was filmed, whatever. While there are occasional nuggets of truth, generally these spoilers have turned out to be hilariously wrong. And not just far-out wrong, but wrong in ways that sound like deliberate misinformation, e.g. some of the spoilers referenced a car accident, but with a completely different outcome.

My guess is HBO or David Chase has hired some creative person to inject misleading spoilers into the blogosphere. It's cheaper than filming multiple endings and red-herring scenarios. If you put a plausible-sounding story out there and attribute it to a minimally credible source, it will quickly become gospel.

Which is all a long way of saying that your crazed "Lost" fan friend might be getting played by the very people to whom he is most devoted. Whatever he thinks he knows might be way off, while J.J. Hunsicker or whoever is off having a big laugh. (If you can't tell, I haven't made the leap into "Lost")

2007-05-15 20:47:35
29.   Underbruin
28 - While that's true, sometimes people are remarkably good at finding out plotlines in advance. I'm a fan of the new Battlestar Galactica, and somebody had up what was effectively ever major plot twist for the last two episodes of this recent season a couple weeks before they aired.

They were pretty much totally spot on. It seems that sci-fi shows in general attract a different type of fan, so I suppose it partially depends on whether you lump Lost in with some of the other popular sci-fi shows (Battlestar, Stargate SG-1, the now-in-limbo Star Trek, etc; though none of those had Lost's audience volume). I've seen Heroes get the spoilers treatment with excellent accuracy in the past. Speaking of Heroes -

I think part of the danger is that the show is starting to spread itself a bit too thin. In the early going there were a handful of core characters. That number has been expanded significantly since the show's inception. Not that shows aren't allowed to add new characters, of course. But it can be hard when each character is supposed to bring something relatively unique, and you're talking about superhero powers here.

One thing I really like about Heroes, though, is that characters seem to grow and change. Though plenty might disagree with me, I really don't see that with Lost, or not to the same degree. Also, things seem to happen much more quickly on Heroes, which is a big part of why some of the characters have gotten simplified to a degree. While it's nice to give people lots of backstory, I can do without Hurley episode number 74 featuring 35 flashbacks (warning - hyperbole alert!), to get from point A to point B a little bit more quickly. In its one season so far, Heroes has moved much faster than most other shows. The characters suffer a bit, but I think it gives the show more snap in general, even if you might think the people themselves have a bit less.

Also, 8, remember Peter has already fought Sylar twice. Once in Odessa, and once in New York. If he hasn't picked up those abilities by now, he probably never will (though he may already have them).

2007-05-15 23:16:10
30.   Greg Brock
I'm as big a sci-fi fan as the next guy, and I just couldn't hang with Heroes. From the wooden acting (Hiro and Greg Grunberg excepted) to the sullen tone to the overcooked narration, it was sooooo boring.

I'm assuming it got better, so I'll give it a second shot on repeats. But man, it just didn't do it for me.

2007-05-16 06:57:28
31.   Benaiah
29 - Good point, maybe Sylar's powers don't transfer because of the way he acquired them.
2007-05-16 10:26:31
32.   Inside Baseball
30 It definitely has gotten better, I agree it was surprisingly boring for a significant stretch at the beginning there.

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