Monday, September 24, 2007

Heroes: Four Months Later

*Checks calendar* it is. Props to them for getting that little detail right. And I'm glad they didn't feel the need for the same sense of realism for the episode "Five Years Gone" (or "Six Months Ago", for that matter, although that would've been cooler to see).

OK, so Heroes. If you haven't watched the first episode yet, this will probably contain spoilers. If you have, it won't. If you don't care, you're not one of the three regular readers of this blog, so I guess I don't know what to tell you. You were expecting maybe office-related humor? OK, here's something for you to use around the water cooler:

You: Hey, did you hear Marcel Marceau died this weekend?
Co-worker: No!
You: (Shaking head sadly) That's how good he was.


Co-worker: Yes! So sad.
You: I know. Should we observe a moment of noise?

OK, so for the rest of you, here is the thought that sums up everything I think about the show to date:

Love the ideas, but they got the archery wrong.

Let's do the obligatory preamble. I am a fan of Heroes. I love the premise. I love that it's made sci-fi shows suddenly cool, just like reality shows were after Survivor, even if it means that we'll be flooded with a bunch of sci-fi equivalents of "Temptation Island" and "The Swan". There were active debates in my household as to which of "Heroes" or "24" to watch live and which to DVR. (The excessive number of commercials in "Heroes" did nothing to help it here--something I would like to thank Nissan for correcting, if only for one week.) I still have last season's finale in coveted "Save Until I Delete" status. I love the characters, not in a jailbaited "Is it legal for me to admire those?" way, but in a "I'm genuinely interested in what happens to these people to the point where I'll yell at them when they do stupid things" way. I'm excited to see that Werner Brandes is still working.

But here's why 24 won the pole position in the live-vs.-DVR debate, why I always walk away from "Heroes" with a firm "but..." following "That was great!"

Japanese archery looks funny.

I know this, partly because I am a tremendous nerd, but mostly because I, like most, have a great talent for remembering bits of information that will never, ever, ever be of practical value. In this case, some portion of my brain devoted itself to the book Zen in the Art of Archery in my sophomore year of college. Specifically, it remembers two things:

1) Breathing is very important; and
2) Japanese archery looks funny.

It looks nothing like what you'd expect. It looks kind of like you just woke up and are stretching without yet having realized that there's a bow and arrow in your hands. There's a fun little animated .gif of it on the site, or you can see it on the YouTubes.

If you were paying attention when the archers fired on Hiro and Kensai (although, honestly, I don't know why you would), you would have seen that they looked like they learned archery from Kevin Costner. I don't fault the actors here. I don't even think I can fault the director. I recognize that this is a stupid, annoying, nitpicky thing on the level of accusing Michael Dorn of accenting the wrong syllable in his Klingon war cry.

To me, though, it's just a symptom of the larger problem with "Heroes": the writing is just...well, good. Too many times last season, I felt like they were dumbing characters down to drag out a big reveal (like Niki/Jessica taking about 5 episodes longer to figure out her bipolarism than anyone with a brain) or inventing inexplicable plot twists because they'd written themselves into a corner (Hiro's missing powers). Little things that could've been done better, but weren't; little details that needed just a little more attention, but didn't get it.

Like the fact that Japanese archery looks funny.

I'm still in for the long haul, and I'll probably write about it again. But I'd hoped that, once they had proof that they could succeed, NBC would lavish money and Joss Whedon on the show, and it doesn't look like they did. And so it looks like I'll keep leaving each episode with a firm "but..." after my "That was awesome!"

Then again, who ever knew that watching TV could give you a firm "but"? (Rim shot)


Jon said...

its true Heroes does sometimes commit many a faux pau...

but this season is going to kick ass... two words...



even if she's only on for an arc...

(oh that and NBC just realized they actually have a decent show on their hands that has a HUGE cult following.)

Unknown said...

I hear that they are unveiling a hero who has superhuman goaltending skills and draws his power from channeling the earth's seismic energy through the cartwheels that he performs with Zildjian cymbals on his hands. I think he is the guy that Kristen Bell falls for.