As I have said many times I don’t get to watch much TV. “LOST” was one show I have watched each season, although it was really losing me last year, and it has yet to premiere in 2008. The two shows I currently watch are “Heroes“, the darling of last year’s TV season and “Bionic Woman“, new this year.
Both shows are in dire need of a rescue of heroic proportions. I’m not the only one who has noticed… I read separate articles this week in TV Guide and in Entertainment Weekly about how the show’s creators are trying to revamp their shows in mid-season. Here’s my take on each show’s troubles and what they need to do to fix them:
Despite a rather disappointing ending the first season of Heroes was a thrilling ride and some great TV. We were treated to a slow burning introduction of a world just under the surface, where some individuals had genetic gifts and powers that were sometimes boons and sometimes curses. The unveiling of these characters and their development was intertwined with a mysterious threat to the city of New York in the form of some kind of nuclear explosion. Tension built as secrets and twists were revealed at an engaging pace, wrapping up with the finale where disaster was averted and the city saved, at a cost. The disappointing thing at the end was a general lack of action and a good, satisfying super-fight.
Unfortunately Heroes mostly picked up where it left off. Up until last week’s episode the series has bogged down in slow moving and boring sub-plots that find the supers (I use the term from “The Incredibles” because they aren’t all “heroes” and “mutants” is so Marvel) all split up and doing their own things… which in general isn’t much. Whereas last year the plot zipped along once we got to know the characters here it has become very LOST-like in it’s drawing out of the simplest of sub plots. This season needed to hit the ground running and instead it ground to a screeching halt. Plot’s like Hiro’s time trip back to feudal Japan dragged on way to long without a significant story to tell. Sylar’s predicament is also taking way too long to move forward. Mohinder and Matt have become a bickering pair of parents to adorable little Molly… with much fawning over her after nightmares. Peter has the ultimate cliche: AMNESIA. Claire’s high school adventures, love interest and angst is about as boring as anything in the new season.
Nov. 5th’s episode showed some signs of life… finally. In the article I read in Entertainment Weekly, Heroes creator Tim Kring actually apologized for the show’s many missteps and promised that they are busy fixing things to bring it back to the excitement of last season. He mentioned many of the issues I have with the show as points they are changing, and some I hope they also re-examine.
Here’s what I hope to see addressed to make Heroes heroic again:
Get a “save the world” threat going- This looks to finally be happening with the “plague” storyline that was introduced in the last few episodes. One of the key elements of the show’s success last year was the mysterious nuclear threat hanging over the series. Even as subplots were introduced and ran their course, everything kept moving toward that one major threat. So far nothing like that has held any of this season together. It’s all been aimless sub plots. This new, major threat is a welcome thread.
Lose “Alejandro and Maya” storyline- Could these two be any less interesting? Run. Caught. Girl cries runny mascara deadly virus. Boy absorbs virus. Repeat. I hope Alejandro is a red herring and will have nothing to do with the resolution of the plague catastrophe… if he ends up absorbing the whole plague at the end I am writing this series off completely. I have faith in the writers that this is just too obvious. Anyway have Sylar eat their brains and then get on with it.
Less angst, more plot- We don’t need to be beaten over the head with the fact that Matt feels Molly is his surrogate daughter, or that Claire is unhappy in hiding, or that Nathan is guilty over Peter’s “death”… we get it. Get on with some story. We also need more super-powered action. This season needed to start with a bang… the time for the wonder of characters coming to grips with their powers is over. Time to use them.
More of the old generation heroes story- This is the most intriguing of the storylines. Let’s get into the history of this older super-group and at least find out what kind of powers they had and what they did with them. I’m still waiting to find out what Mrs. Petrelli’s power is. I hope she turns into a she-hulk!
Get Hiro into the present and smarten him up- The wide eyed goofball of last season should be beginning to grow up and move more toward the bad-ass Hiro of the future we saw in season one. The whole feudal Japan plotline was drawn out way past the point of any interest. Looks like he’s back at the end of last week, but he is still unaffected by the serious issues he’s faced. Let’s see his character grow.
Lose the amnesia schtick- Ugh… is there any other plot device that says “we don’t know what to do with this character” more than to give them amnesia?? If Peter is so all-powerful that to bring him back intact would be to make it too easy to solve any crisis, then have him lose his powers for a while. It would have been interesting to have both he and Sylar having lost their powers and wake up with no memory of how they got where they are. Then the mystery of what happened to them, which would end up being from the same source sometime during the 4 missing months, would have been a nice sub-plot.
Make Noah a bad guy again- He’s become like a teddy bear. I was glad to see some the-end-justifies-the-means badness when he killed Spider-Man’s landlord last episode, but he needs to have some clear objective he is trying to accomplish where supers are used but expendable… that is when he was at his best.
A lot of these issues were addressed in the last episode, and by the previews it looks like Peter’s amnesia will be gone tonight. There was a lot more action and plot advances in that episode also, so things are looking up. I hope they keep it going tonight.
The Bionic Woman-
This show also has bogged down badly. I hate to say it, but I think they might have miscast Michelle Ryan as Jamie Sommers. She is plenty hot, but not very threatening or capable looking. I’m sure Ryan is a good actress but she looks lost trying to figure out this role. She looks like the neighborhood babysitter. It makes no sense that she went from bartender to secret agent in 4.5 seconds… they also have not been very consistent with her bionic abilities. If she can run 70 mph, then one kick from her bionic leg should cripple any human opponent. Yet she spends minutes at a time sparring with goons… very unconvincingly I might add. Here’s what they need to do to fix this show:
Get more Bionic- The most intriguing thing about the sci fi behind the show is the computer enhancements of Jamie’s brain. It was shown briefly in the pilot that combat training was hardwired into her… what other kind of skills could have been programmed? That could have some great plot implications. It’s been suggested that a bionic brain can be “hacked”… there are some real possibilities.
Bring on the Bionic bad guy- What happened to the first bionic woman and the originator of the technology, Jamie’s dead boyfriend’s dad? Where is that plotline? Even as the other self-contained stories go on, this main thread should be explored and slowly developed ala the X-Files government conspiracy amid the monster-of-the-week stories. It’s been ignored since episode two.
Lose the sister- Oh No! Jamie’s been lying to her bratty little sister! They have trust issues! The tension! In the last episode Jonas bails little sis out of jail and tells her Jamie is a condo salesman. Please.
Find a good love interest- preferably a semi bad guy, or at least an agent for a competing agency, not some lame pretty boy CIA agent. I am having flashbacks of Lyle Waggoner. Make him interesting and dangerous.
Train her up- enough sparring with Jet Li. How about really training her as an agent so she can go undercover for real? Use the bionic brain angle and download skills to her brain for missions if they have to.
This show might be beyond recovery. Good premise but there just isn’t much to chew on yet.
I keep thinking I should have been watching “Life” all along… that one looks like it could be good. Maybe I’ll have to trade in one of my shows. My TV watching time is very limited.