Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Screw the cheerleader. Screw your friend.

Spoilers for "Heroes" and "Friday Night Lights" coming up just as soon as I get some cupcakes out of the oven...

On "Heroes," Claire's dad -- or H.R.G. (Horn-Rimmed Glasses), as NBC officially bills him -- is quickly gaining on Hiro in the favorite character sweepstakes. They even had equally hilarious reactions to phone news, Hiro to his future sword (the entire Peter/Hiro/Ando conversation was great), H.R.G. to the idea that someone has the power to stop time. With Jack Coleman becoming a regular and the way he's been portrayed the last few weeks, I'm wondering whether he's really evil or just morally gray. When he and his bald buddy abducted Matt Parkman, for instance, all they did was scan his powers and then send him home without his memory of their encounter.

If he's not the big villain, then maybe Niki is. We knew her mirror-self was willing to do things she wouldn't, and some people had even guessed that those bodies in the desert were the people D.L. had been accused of killing, but that was some hard-core badness from her last night. Her fight with D.L. was the first straight-up comic book-style fight, down to D.L. using the Vision trick of phasing his hand into an opponent's body and then solidifying it just enough to make them pass out from the pain. (At least, I assume she's just passed out, as I can't imagine NBC allowing them to kill off Ali Larter this quickly.) I wish the episode had ended on D.L. running out of the room with Michah, because the quick cut to Eden (aka Pixie Girl) sapped some of the cool cliffhanger juice, making two episodes in a row that didn't end right on a stunner.

Also, no Nathan, Parkman or Simone this week. I know Peter and Isaac need to get the painting from Simone, but I'm hoping the producers have started to realize her pointlessness and are easing her out to make room for other characters like Ando and H.R.G.

I'm damn curious to see the ratings for "Friday Night Lights" this morning. If it did even marginally better than "Studio 60," then that's likely all she wrote for Sorkin's Folly. If it did the same number, or even lower (and, with real football as competition, that wouldn't shock me), then NBC has some tough decisions to make.

It's just too bad the "FNL" people couldn't have thrown together a stronger episode for this unplanned Monday showcase. There were parts of it that were very strong (the team visit to Street's room), and overall it was fine, but compared to previous weeks, it felt like a drop-off.

In particular, I think they fumbled the resolution to the QB One issue, first by making Voodoo such an obvious screw-up that no coach in America would have left him on the field, and second by skipping over some of the obvious beats after Taylor made the switch (the crowd's unhappy reaction to Saracen's return, followed by Saracen beginning to play well, etc.). The Voodoo scene in coach's office painted the character as morally ambiguous enough that the writers could have either gotten more mileage out of him or, at least, made Taylor's decision much tougher. (Though I continue to love any scene where Taylor goes berserk on one of his players. Kyle Chandler usually plays such easy-going characters that I didn't know he had this type of screaming in him.)

The Tyra subplot felt divorced from the rest of the show and was made especially odd by the fact that, outside of her High School Slut-wear, Tyra looked roughly the same age as the scruffy young businessman. The show had already done a good job of establishing that she's a lot smarter than she looks and that she longs to get out of this one-horse town, so unless (as Marian guessed) she winds up pregnant as a result, not sure what the point was.

Whether it was the visit by the team (and, especially, Riggins) or he was going to do it on his own, glad to see Street decide to skip over the six months of self-pity and move directly towards training for some Murderball. I think I would feel more investment in the love triangle if the actors playing Lyla and Rigggins were better, but Street's cool.

What did everybody else think?

24 comments:

Lindy said...

Did anyone else get the impression that Claire's "bio-parents" are fakes? The scene in the driveway seemed to leave room for the possibility that H.R.G. hired someone or asked his colleagues to pretend to be Claire's biological family.

Our newest hero, D.L., grew on me pretty quickly, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the coming weeks. One question: how the heck did he figure out that Niki was responsible for framing him? Did something Micah said tip him off?

Christy said...

Very clear that the bio-parents are fake. And I figure DL recognized the suitcase.

Nicki bores me so I want her dead.

I choked up at the team scene in the hospital. I also seem to be having a hard time recognizing different generic pretty blonds. I wasn't sure who picked up the out-of-town guy and couldn't figure out how it tied into the earlier stories. Thanks for cluing me in.

kristinj said...

I also wish the special airing of Friday Night Lights had been a better episode (although I watched it directly after The Wire, so it was bound to suffer in comparison). There was a lot of good, though: I agree the scene where the team went to visit Street was excellent, and I enjoyed watching the team rally around Saracen.

I think the way out they've taken with Voodoo is disappointing, and hope there's something more to come. They'd done such a good job balancing the character (not only his conversation with Coach last night, but having Coach Taylor's earlier speech about earning the job in some way influence Voodoo's choice to play for Dillon) that having it end this way would be a misstep for a show that to this point had been largely avoiding them.

It's also getting difficult for me to watch Riggs so completely implode; I hope there's a rock bottom soon.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Still waiting for the fast national ratings, but in the overnights, FNL actually did worse than Studio 60 did last week. Hopefully the demo numbers look much better, but I doubt it. Sigh...

Matt said...

And did worse against a CSI: Miami repeat and blowout MNF game, which would seem to increase the potential audience for NBC in any event. NBC's got hard choices to make with that slot.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Well, in the Fast Nationals, FNL actually did better than Studio 60 has for the last two weeks in both viewers and 18-49, so maybe there's hope.

Dan Coyle said...

Also, H.R.G. showed enough restraint not to use his sidekick to lobotomize Claire's would-be rapist, instead simply wiping his memory. I'd like to think he's morally grey rather than Cigarette Smoking Man Part 2 (who also showed some morally grey areas before the writers ran out of ideas). Plus, I really enjoy Jack Coleman's weird, WEIRD performance. I'm glad they're making him a regular.

D.L. and Niki had some very nice scenes together. I like D.L., a good guy who's made some stupid decisions. And he had good interaction with his son.

Kind of surprised there was no Nathan in this episode, but I hope you're right they're jettisoning some of the other characters to make room for more popular guest characters. I want Hiro's buddy to stick around, too.

Alan Sepinwall said...

To be specific, Studio 60 did 7.431 million viewers last week, with a 3.2/8 in 18-49. The week before, it was 7.76 million and a 3.1/8. FNL averaged averaged 8.29 million viewers and a 3.5/9.

(Courtesy of my friend Ellen Gray, who actually saves old ratings e-mails.)

kristinj said...

I'll take hope at this point. I've found it to be a battle to get people interested in FNL; I usually get the smile and nod when I discuss it. I can't seem to convince people that (a) it's not only about football, or (b) it's not only a teen drama. Then again, the people who suck it up and watch are usually surprised, so maybe that will happen with the viewers who tuned in for the first time this week.

Taleena said...

I was beginning to think Pixie Girl was Syler until I saw her talk to Claire's Dad. H.R.G. I am now convinced is not bad but part of a monitoring group.

With the reveal that D.L. is not such a bad guy, Niki is shaping up to be a mostly villian although not wholly given to the Dark Side.

I predict the H.R.G. will be very interested in Micah, child of two supers. Also there will be an arc of Niki's bad side trying to get Nathan or Ando to get Micah away from D.L.

I have F.N.L on tivo for no other reason than it was on after Heros. Studio 60 did not catch my interest to do even that.

porter said...

I'm actually OK with the handling of Voodoo, given that his presence is going to keep rippling with the hearing on his eligibility (he was also in the teaser for next week, staring down Smash).

I agree, though, that it would've been interesting to see that gray area played out over a little longer time. But it doesn't seem too out of whack for a superstar athlete who already has an entourage to feel that entitled.

Mac said...

I was thinking that HRG may actually be Claire's bio-dad. Maybe not. And like Taleena, I thought that Pixie Girl was Sylar, but I guess not.

Weird that they left Grunberg passed out on the floor the previous week and ignored him anyway.

dez said...

I'm starting to wonder if Sylar is an entity that resides in a host body (say, Niki's) and moves from host to host as necessary. Perhaps that's what the weird "S" tattoo on Niki indicates? Haven't we seen that tattoo on another hero? Either that, or they're all part of some big experiment (which veers into "Kyle XY" territory, which I don't mind, actually).

I love Hiro and Ando together. Ando can be Hiro's Boy Wonder, wheee! I'm also enjoying D.L., but without Niki. I kinda do hope she's dead on the floor, although I suspect her animal strength and propensity to kill will be necessary to defeat Sylar. H.R.G. is much more interesting a character and I'd rather see more of him, though.

dez said...

Oh, yeah, Alan, are you going to do a Dexter entry so we can talk about the ep? :-) Please???

Pete said...

Alan, can you give us a crash course on the various kinds of ratings--i.e., the difference between "overnights" and "fast nationals," and any other kind of ratings? Or give us a link to something that explains them?

Anonymous said...

the big bad is the politician surely... brothers destined to be on opposite sides...that very telling comment in ep 1. 'I know I cast a long shadow Peter'

the2scoops said...

borrowing a bit from some graphic novels (and The Incredibles), maybe the big bad is Nathan: stage a disaster, plan to swoop in and save the day, ride into office on the popularity. But something goes wrong.

Two of HRG's scenes made me rethink his role in this: his reaction to hearing that one of the heroes may be a time jumper ("Cool!") and his reaction to "Save the cheerleader." I think I agree on the morally grey assessment.

CM said...

For a second I thought you wrote, "Alas, no Nathan, Parkman or Simone" and I didn't understand.

I still think HRG is bad, but that Claire's involvement will give him some internal conflict and make him more morally grey.

Nobody can surpass Hiro as the favorite character! I wonder, though -- why is his voice so much lower when he speaks in English? Does it have something to do with the soul patch absorbing the high-frequency vibrations from his vocal cords?

Anonymous said...

Anyone know the name of the song that played during the game sequence for last night's (10/30) episode of FNL? I've searched the NBC site and can't find anything. Thanks in advance to anyone who helps.

hilary said...

The last song in FNL was Camera Obscura's "Let's Get Out of This Country" from the album of the same name. It was used well and soooo not the kind of thing I'd have expected. I mean, they're from Glasgow.

Anonymous said...

Hilary,

It was a small snippet at the beginning of the game. Listened to Camera Obscura on iTunes and that doesn't sound like the song. Do you know the other song? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

REMEMBER THE NAME by Fort Minor is the song. Rock/rap combo played for a quick minute.

Anonymous said...

Obie Trice - Since They Wanna Know, of Entourage fame, was also used during the sequence where Voodoo scores his touchdown.

filmcricket said...

Maybe the mysterious Linderman is going to be involved with whatever happens, although there's been no link established between him and Claire (upon whom everything hangs, apparently) as yet. But Niki, D.L. and Nathan have all had some kind of contact with him, and Hiro and Ando have now twice brushed up against the Niki/ikiN storyline, which makes me think what happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas.

The ep itself was kind of blah, though. I was actually saying "let's get the show on the road" to the TV. It feels like Hiro has been in Vegas for years at this point.