Heroes Redux

12-Oct-08 11:23 AM by
Filed under Television; 2 comments.

Between 8 PM Friday night and 1 AM Sunday morning, I watched the entire second season of Heroes. The writers' strike abbreviated this season to only 11 episodes, down 23 from the show's launch — otherwise my marathon would've been far more demanding. Though I liked both seasons, I can see why some fans were disappointed with the follow-up to the blockbuster debut season. Here are my thoughts (and spoilers)…
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Unheroic Union

17-Jan-08 5:58 PM by
Filed under Celebrities, Television; Comments Off on Unheroic Union

The writers' strike has left many Hollywood denizens with plenty of time on their hands. So, like the rest of us slackers, they're playing video games — except when they do it, it's newsworthy.

Jesse Alexander, co-executive producer of Heroes, was recently on Major Nelson's Xbox Live podcast. From time indices 1:51:06 to 2:32:15 of this 53-megabyte file, Mr. Alexander talks about his past writing video game scripts for Activision; why writers are king in television, but not movies; why the upcoming Heroes game won't suck like the Alias game did; and the similarities and differences between, and the convergence of the television and gaming media.

Personally, I'm not sure just how similar the two media are. They've been talking about "episodic gaming" for awhile, but we've not seen anything approaching 22 installments of one-hour weekly morsels. Though a single game might last longer than that, its cinematic experiences have been achieved only via pre-scripted, non-interactive sequences that take the player out of the game. It doesn't seem anymore effective going the other way, either: the interactive features offered by next-gen DVD formats are garnering little enthusiasm from consumers. It seems cinephiles want cinema and gamers want games. Astonishing!

Convergence overlooks the unique strengths of each genre. I enjoy television and games for different reasons and would hate to find them lost in a hybrid exhibiting the strengths of neither.

Heroes for One Season

17-Oct-07 5:37 PM by
Filed under Television; 6 comments.

In the course of the last six days, I watched all 23 episodes composing the first season of Heroes. It was a perfect application of the DVD medium: uninterrupted, commercial-free broadcast of a continuous narrative with no waiting. It was difficult for me to ever turn the television off, as the story never disengaged its audience long enough to warrant such a break.

It's true that perhaps this series about ordinary people who discover they can do extraordinary things may be unoriginal; in comic book format, we've see similar powers in the X-Men, and on television, it's been done by The 4400. I'm not familiar enough with those efforts to say how Heroes stacks up, but I definitely enjoyed this particular take. I appreciated that it was set in a modern, everyday world, free of aliens and mysticism, while still incorporating the staples of science fiction, such as genetics, time travel, and samurai.

Having engorged myself on a half-year of story in less than a week, it's almost dizzying all the details and character development I've witnessed. (I usually hate it when bad guys turn good, as it leaves me with undirected angst — but they handled this one well.) Though I didn't find the depth and breadth hard to follow, I did think it unlikely that all these disparate threads would weave together. I'm willing to chalk it up to the "destiny" they were always talking about — even if all the secrets and misunderstandings between the characters sometimes made it seem like a soap opera.

There were so many characters that I felt their specialness was diminished by the frequency with which they met people like them; what are the odds that everyone in the Petrelli and Sanders families would empowered? (Must be genetic.) Yet I'll contradict myself by saying Mohinder was the least interesting character. Except as "guardian of the list", I don't feel he played a very important role in bringing the characters together or providing them with vital information. Though an interesting person, he was, in more ways than one, underpowered.

The tapestry of which he was a part was a rich one, and anyone looking to further explore its mythos need not look far. Many of the show's key people and places have their own Web sites, most notably Hiro's father documenting the legend of Tazeko Kensei. NBC has also produced nearly five dozen short comic books detailing the background and side events of the show, available for download as free PDFs. (Or pick them up as a single $30 hardcover this November 7th) I'll be consuming these shortly, as it probably won't be until this time next August that I'll get to watch season 2. That gives me a full year to contemplate the many questions with which the final episode left me:

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From Zero to Heroes

12-Oct-07 5:07 PM by
Filed under Television; 3 comments.

Just a brief post to report I finally saw the first two episodes of Heroes last night. My first thoughts: OMG!!

I watch a lot of first episodes (Deadwood, Angel, Joan of Arcadia), just to get the feel for a series before dismissing it. Not the case here — nothing has ever hooked me like Heroes. I had actually seen the pilot on NBC.com back in January, so what I watched last night were the unaired pilot and deleted scenes; a fast-forward review of the actual pilot; and the second episode. It's fascinating to see all the different threads, both actual and deleted, all at this point unresolved. The characters and powers, and the reactions of former to latter, are intricate and diverse, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I almost wish I'd waited until tonight, so that I could stay up late and watch more! Fortunately, I can still do that. No spoilers, please!


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What Makes Heroes Tick?

06-May-07 5:48 PM by
Filed under Television; 12 comments.

Two great superhero shows are coming to DVD in August: on August 28th, Season 1 of Heroes; and on August 7th, Season 2 of The Tick.

I love The Tick (the cartoon, not the live series — ugh), finding its dry wit comparable to Earthworm Jim or Freakazoid, and thought the Season 1 DVD set was one of my best video purchases of 2006. Heroes I've seen only the pilot of on NBC's Web site (per an earlier comment on this blog) and was intrigued enough to warrant interest in the DVD's release.

It should be a great way to end the summer and segue into a new season of superhero television!


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