Okay, someone want to tell me why I should still care? I had been assuming my level of ennui with this season was the result of so little forward plot movement, but here we had an episode with arguably more of it than the rest of the season combined -- Peter opens the magic box, Veronica Mars shows up and electrocutes the head Lucky Charmer, Parkman confronts his father (who actually was the Nightmare Man and not a red herring) and has a quintessential illusion-inspired fight with Nathan, Mohinder crosses paths with Nikki, Monica learns how to use her powers, etc., etc. -- and yet I was just as bored with this one as all the others. I've been procrastinating this blog entry for the last few hours (the "My So-Called Life" DVD set makes a handy tool for that) because I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to write about it.
Besides the obvious narrative foot-dragging, here are the problems, as I see them:
- Flat characters. This was a problem in season one as well, but the stories were advancing so quickly and with so many surprises along the way that it didn't matter how two-dimensional almost everyone (even characters I enjoyed, like Hiro) were. The only regular character with any real complexity or nuance is HRG, who unsurprisingly is the one who's most watchable even when the stories are going nowhere. But now that we know this world, what everyone can do, etc., it becomes harder and harder to feel invested in a bunch of cardboard cut-outs who often have less personality than actual comic book superheroes.
- The big split. I and other people rode with some of the slower sections of season one because we were under the impression that, eventually, all these characters would come together and something interesting would happen. Instead, we got that dud of a finale where everybody stood around while Peter beat up Sylar with a parking meter, and when the new season began, the writers had split everybody up again. There's more interaction now than there was at this time last season (say, Parkman and Nathan teaming up to see his dad), but we're still stuck in a bunch of parallel narratives that move only slightly faster than your average daytime soap.
- Been there, read that. Back when this show began, I noted that Tim Kring wasn't a comic book fan, which could go one of two ways: 1)He would approach the concept of people with powers in an entirely fresh and interesting way, or 2)He would start recycling a bunch of comic book tropes without realizing it. It's been far more the latter than the former, though with people like Jeph Loeb on the staff, much of the recycling can't be written off as accidental. I don't even care that they're still ripping off Watchmen, or that Monica has the Taskmaster's powers, or whatever; there's only a limited number of new ideas out there, and I care more about something interesting being done with a concept than whether the concept has been done before. The problem is, they're not doing anything interesting. I've read that Parkman/Nathan fight scene a million times in X-Men and other comics, always playing out exactly that way. Maybe it seemed cool to the non comics-reading audience, but how big a portion of the audience is that?
Am I being a tough grader here? "Heroes" consistently gets more comments than any other show I blog about these days, but in skimming the last few entries, it seems like most of the comments are arguments about why the show's lame, rather than whether it's lame. I'm not checking out yet, but I'm wondering if anyone else is thinking about it.