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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Release the robot pigeon

HEROES, so far --

Jeremy Slater is a hilariously funny guy. He also seems to be rather an assclown and something of a bully, judging from his blog. Still, I'm more in agreement with him than otherwise when it comes to the show HEROES. Some excerpts from his latest post on said subject:

I'm endlessly fascinated by the fact that series "creator" Tim Kring is far and away the least talented person on the entire writing staff. His episodes always seem to ooze clunky exposition, thuddingly obvious dramatic beats, and some of the very worst dialog on primetime television. Listen to Flying Emo Douche's stirring "robots and aliens" analogy in tonight's episode and marvel at the way his dialog rolls off the actor's tongue with all the grace of an Emperor Penguin getting kicked down a flight of stairs.

It's hard to imagine how depressing it must be to be a member of that writing staff, knowing that Kring will swoop down like some demented starving vulture to call dibs on the most important episodes of every season, including the premieres and finales. It must be like trying to plan a classy wedding, knowing full in advance that your fuck-up of a groom will get too drunk the night before and fill Aunt Marge's lap with vomit halfway through the ceremony. Why even bother?

Some of the highlights from tonight, in no particular order:

--The fact that new character Conveniently White Samurai is so obviously modeled after Captain Jack Sparrow that they even throw in an obligatory scene where a woman slaps him halfway around and he delivers a wisecrack directly into the camera. This is what Tim Kring calls a homage and the rest of the world calls HOLY SHIT THEFT THEFT THEFT.

--I mentioned the aliens and robots speech, right? It's too bad the writers were forced to cut the following scene, where Super Zac Effron walks across the football field, pumping his fist in the air to the tune of Simple Mind's "Don't You Forget About Me."

--I love the fact that Sulu was apparently killed by a J.C. Penny's fall catalog model. "Each jacket comes custom fitted with comfortable downy lining, a stylish removable hood, and the burning desire to harm aging homosexual icons of science-fiction."

--Between the Snidely Whiplash copy shop manager and the Stock Bitchy Cheerleader Who Always Bullies The New Girl On The First Day of School, it quickly becomes obvious that Kring's only source of insight into the sort of problems that normal (non-Hollywood-writer) Americans face must have been a steady diet of Saved By The Bell reruns.

--Th' foine, foine accents them foreign laddies were sportin' durin' th' foinal scene o' th' episode. Why, ev'ry day's a luverly day wif yoo, Mary Poppins!

--The fact that Matt Parkman aces his police test by SHOOTING A BAD GUY WHO WASN'T EVEN HOLDING A GUN AT THE TIME. I understand that Kring might have limited insights on small town Americana, but seriously, what the fuck? Didn't he used to write a show about a lawyer? Wouldn't that make him at least tangentially aware that this is something you're not supposed to do?

Sigh. It's going to be a long, long season.


The only place I even slightly disagree with Slater is in his condemnation of Tim Kring for his 'homage' to PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. And it's not that I don't think Slater has a point, it's just that I don't give a shit. POTC is one of those monumentally successful franchises that has almost completely passed me by; people can rip it off all they want, and I won't even notice.

However, the Conveniently White Samurai had me holding my head and stifling groans simply as to the utter wretched crappiness of the whole concept; I mean, seriously, I know that one of the Prime Directives of HEROES is that Only White Guys Can Be Truly Cool, but extending this mandate retroactively into ancient Japanese history to reveal that The Greatest Asian Hero Of All Time was actually, in fact, a White Guy, strikes me as ethnic arrogance taken to a nearly Old Testament extreme. It's almost sadistically racist.

It's also retarded for so many reasons that bad TV drama, and those who love bad TV drama, refuse to think about. For one, I have no idea whether or not the feudal Japanese spoke anything like contemporary Japanese, but I will say with some certainty that a Conveniently White Samurai from 17th Century Britain would not speak any form of English that a temporally displaced contemporary Japanese man (who doesn't even speak modern English all that well) would ever even remotely comprehend.

Moving on past the truly idiotic time travel bullshit, I cannot tell you how much it aggravates me that the Petrelli brothers are still alive. The Completely Unnecessary Heroic Sacrifice in last season's final episode was brain bludgeoningly stupid enough -- how stupid? Let me count the ways --

1. Nathan doesn't have to grab Peter and fly him up into the sky so he can explode safely in the ozone layer. Why? Because Claire has a gun, and she's already been advised that if Peter is going critical and can't shut down, she needs to shoot him in the back of the head. Now, maybe Nathan doesn't want his biological daughter to have to carry the emotional trauma of blowing her uncle's head off for the rest of her life, I can dig that, sure. But that doesn't mean he has to grab Peter and haul him up into the upper atmosphere at supersonic speed where they can both die together in an oh so noble final gesture of redemptive self sacrifice. No, it just means Nathan has to take the gun away from Claire and shoot Peter himself. Which would actually have been in character, and would have provided plenty of angst for both Nathan and Claire, which would have been good characterization, but wouldn't have allowed for cheap TV computer animated explosion effects, so, never mind.

2. Nathan doesn't have to grab Peter and fly him up into the sky etc ad nauseum because Peter can fucking fly too, just as well and just as fast as Nathan. If Claire won't pull the trigger, then Peter can zoom off into the stratosphere his damn self. (Sub-stupidity: it's difficult to imagine anyone who has spent more than three minutes listening to the Most Powerful Superhuman Since The Dawn of Time whining and sniveling about how sucky his life is, hesitating for so much as a nanosecond, were they given the opportunity to bust a cap in Peter's self pitying punk ass.) And, you know, given that he's supposed to be all good and noble and heroic and shit (when he's not turning invisible and taunting junkies and getting his girlfriend fatally shot, I mean), I'd really expect Peter to fly away himself, before he either traumatizes his niece or forces his brother into a self sacrifice play.

3. Nathan probably can't grab Peter and fly him up into the sky, at least, not very far, because supposedly, as Peter builds up to his gigantic nuclear explosion, he'll be giving off massive amounts of heat and light and flame and radiation, which, supposedly, only Super Regenerating Claire could withstand long enough to get close enough to him to shoot him.

4. Nobody has to kill Peter to shut him off. Peter was starting to go critical once before and Obnoxious Invisible Asshole knocked him unconscious (easily), which turned off the chain reaction. I'm sure there are any number of people standing around Peter as he's about to go nova who would be happy to knock the little bitch unconscious, and if there aren't, I would happily volunteer.

(Sub-stupidity the second -- I don't understand why knocking Peter unconscious would shut off his chain reaction; as he seems to be able to at least slow down the chain reaction through effort of will, you'd think knocking him out would cause him to immediately explode, or, at least, accelerate the detonation process, as he can no longer struggle to contain and control it. Still, what the fuck, an excuse to punch Peter Petrelli in the face is always a good thing. Maybe kicking him square in the nuts would shut down his fission reaction, too. I at least urge people to try it. At every opportunity. Safety first, and all that, you know.)

But now, not only do we have this insanely stupid and utterly unnecessary Heroic Sacrifice to deal with, but we find out, it wasn't even a Heroic Sacrifice, because the dumbass miserable whimpering motherfuckers both survived it anyway. Nobody knows how they survived it (I in no way excerpt Tim Kring or the other writers of this show from this statement) but still, somehow, they did. Maybe an alien despot teleported them both into a limbo dimension right before the explosion occurred. Or Professor Warren had secretly cloned them prior to their heroic deaths. Something.

It bothers me terribly that Peter isn't dead, and it isn't just because he's such an appalling little whiner, either. Once the writers decided to turn Peter from X-Mimic (someone who has the superpowers of any other superhuman standing within a certain limited range of them) to The Composite Superman (a guy who absorbs and permanently retains the powers of a vast host of superhumans), it was absolutely necessary from a plot point of view that he either die, or, at the very least, turn evil... and given that this show already has an evil version of Peter in it (Syler), well, he really just should have died. Given the general power level of the remaining characters in this thing, Peter is simply way too massively unbalanced to be allowed to play a starring role; just how shabby and worthless do folks like the telepathic cop, or Nathan himself, look compared to Super Peter? And if Super Peter is always going to be around to save the day in the final episode, what, exactly, do people like The Scary Black Guy Who Walks Through Walls, or Psycho Stripper, have to offer?

Now, had the writers not lost what little remained of their minds and kept Peter at the 'only has the powers of heroes nearby' level, things would work much better. For one thing, Peter would have a reason to hang out with other superhumans, and they would have a reason to actually show up for the big, climactic fights. But since Peter only needs to meet a superhuman once in order to gain their power, well, once he does, as long as he's around, that character has become redundant.

It is, honestly, such a spectacularly bad idea, I'm amazed Peter isn't a member of the All New All Different X-Men.

I haven't even mentioned the monumental assheadedness embodied in the concept of Claire and her family, On The Run From A Secret Conspiracy With Eyes Everywhere, and, you know, nobody has made the slightest effort to disguise themselves even slightly. Claire is still blonde, her father still has that ugly ass haircut and those stupid fucking glasses and he's working in a fucking copy shop for the love of jebus, and they still haven't gotten rid of that stupid fucking dog. How moronic is the Secret Conspiracy hunting them, anyway?

Beyond all this, I'm still waiting for the second season to really get started. I'd hoped that the various characters would move on to the next obvious stage of their development as, well, heroes, which is sto say, organizing themselves into some kind of team or at least mutual protection society, but noooooooooo, despite the fact that many of them are aware that there is a threat worse than Syler out there, Syler himself isn't actually dead, and now, out of nowhere, we have this weird virus killing paranormals off, still, it occurs to exactly none of them that they should get organized, both to protect themselves from these threats, and maybe to protect the rest of the world, too. (And you'd really think this would occur to Claire's father, as getting all these other powerful superhumans together would be the best way imaginable to protect Claire from the Evil Secret Conspiracy.)

And, honestly, WTF is up with Black Eye Goo Chick and her twin brother? If this is the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver of the HEROES franchise, Kring has not improved on the source material. I mean, seriously, EW.

I'm sure there's even more stupid shit I haven't mentioned, but, honestly, how much stupid shit do you need in only two episodes? This show needs to turn itself around fast, or I'm going to start checking out K-VILLE.

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