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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Out of Control

25-Jul-08 12:00 PM by
Filed under Trailers; Comments Off on Out of Control

It's been a month since the Get Smart movie was released, and reviews have been surprisingly positive. All the fans I know of the original television series who saw the movie have enjoyed it, which is not what I expected.

What's also unexpected is the alacrity with which Warner Bros. released a sequel — or more accurately, a spinoff. Bruce & Lloyd Out of Control, which came out on DVD the same day its theatrical sibling hit the silver screen, stars Masi Oka (of Heroes fame) and Nate Torrence as their characters from the Get Smart film. While Maxwell Smart saves the world, Bruce and Lloyd get their own adventure to recover an invisibility cloak that's been stolen from Control's tech division. Here's the trailer:

Though the film hasn't enjoyed the favorable reception of Get Smart, I consider it a creative venture nonetheless. It's ingenious that they thought to use all the film's assets and actors while they were already on the set, saving the cost and effort of recreating it later. It also rides on the coattails of its big brother, and vice versa: fans of Get Smart will recognize the brand name when they see it at the video store, while anyone who hasn't seen the theatrical film but liked this lower-budget alternative may be lured to the box office. And my reservations regarding the remake of the television show may not hold true here, since this is an original adventure with original protagonists.

By the holiday season, we may see a two-disc DVD set that contains both movies. In the meantime, the spinoff can also be purchased or rented on iTunes, where a 7-minute, 90-megabyte "making of" featurette is available for free.

My Secret Identity

25-Oct-07 2:22 PM by
Filed under Celebrities; 1 comment.

Angela Gunn is proving quite the sleuth at revealing the unpublicized lives of the stars. First she found a list of 66 celebrities who blog (ever wonder what Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cusack, and Jeff Bridges have to say that's [supposedly] unscripted?). Now she's dug up their resumes to reveal their inner nerds — that is, "celebrities who work at traditional artistic pursuits to make their way in the world, but have been known to kick back with a little astrophysics or microbiology in their spare time."

The list is a good balance of the expected and the surprising. Masi Oka, Wil Wheaton, and Bill Nye we already know about — but Dolph Lundgren? Rowan Atkinson? Lisa Kudrow? You have to be kidding me. I don't know whether to be impressed by these geeks' intellectual genius, or by them defying stereotypes and playing characters completely antipodal to their nature. (By contrast, my acting self receives daily audition notices for the fifth season of Beauty and the Geek.)

Excellent job, Ms. Gunn, for this fun and insightful piece (my contributions to which — Drake Hogestyn and Natalie Portman — reveal perhaps more about ME than I'd like…).  In a culture where "heroes" are often such for all the wrong reasons, it's nice to have admirable reasons to respect these stars.

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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