Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Spoilers for, in order, "Heroes," "Journeyman" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming up just as soon as I call a limo...

How boring was "Heroes" last night? So much so that I vastly preferred the episode of "Journeyman" that followed it. (Though, in fairness, it was a decent episode of "Journeyman." More in a minute.) The new characters range from repetitively dull (Maya and Alejandro, who are now 3-for-3 in plots where they're temporarily split up, though at least here Maya actively decided to use her powers) to completely annoying (West the flyer, the Lucky Charms gang). The stories are moving at a snail's pace, typified by Peter getting the magic ID box but refusing to open it, largely because it gives the writers an excuse to keep him off the board as long as they possibly can.

The only real highlight -- other than, as Fienberg joked to me this morning, Parkman and Mohinder coming out of the closet as Molly's two gay daddies -- was the return of Sylar and the news of his apparent depowering. I said last year that he had reached a point where the writers needed to find a way to shake loose most of his acquired abilities because he was too powerful for them to write interestingly. (The season finale was proof of that.) So I hope that he's really back to ground zero, in need of acquiring an entirely new batch of powers, rather than having his talents temporarily repressed. And I definitely hope that he was unsuccessful in picking up Candace's illusion-casting powers, as they became really annoying in the last third of season one, giving the writers a Get Out of Scene Free card by allowing Candace to appear anywhere as anyone. (The power did give them an excuse to keep the character around briefly despite the loss of Missi Peregrym, and the writers finally pulled the trick they should have in the season finale by showing us, sort of, what Candace really looked like. If you want, fanwank it as the default illusion being so powerful that it can work even when she's unconscious, but not when she's dead.)

"Journeyman," like I said, was halfway decent. I don't know that it's a show I'd watch every week, but Dan's mission -- and the complications generated by its setting -- was a lot more interesting than the first two. Having to change something small while ignoring a big event is a familiar trope of this kind of show, but it's something "Journeyman" had to do at some point, and Dan's failure to save Hugh's sister illustrated some of the limits of what he can do. (If the guy playing Hugh wasn't a regular, though, it would have been a lot more interesting if Dan had saved the sister and then returned to the present to discover that he had a new boss, because Hugh was still a drunk without his sister's death as a wake-up call.)

That said, making him a reporter was a mistake, because there's no way a guy who's supposed to be a topnotch investigative journalist would be spending this much time with Livia without constantly badgering her with questions about the who, what, when, where, why and how of their "traveling" -- especially now that he's adjusted to the situation. I know I harp on this a lot with Jack and The Others on "Lost," but this is even worse, because it's the thing Dan is trained to do. That doesn't mean the writers have to make Livia spell everything out for us by episode four, just that there need to be reasons for Dan to not ask (i.e., his target shows up or Livia disappears as he's in the middle of a query) or for Livia to not answer (even "I don't know" or "I'm not allowed to tell you yet" would suffice). The ratings are lousy enough that I suspect this is a moot point, but if the show were to be around long-term, it would bug me.

Finally, that's two bad "Curb Your Enthusiasm"s in a row. This one was, I guess, partially redeemed by the sight of Larry and John McEnroe -- Larry's equivalent in the world of tennis -- screaming at each other outside the party, but the rest was a mess. The internal logic didn't work at all. I understand Larry wanting to help out the limo driver -- he got into trouble for something similar in the episode where he took a fork out of the restaurant -- but why invite him into Ted's house? Why not bring him a book or something else to help the guy pass the time? Why would McEnroe tolerate all of Larry's questions instead of just shutting the divider? Why on Earth would McEnroe invite Larry into the party after that fiasco at the cemetary? Etc. When "Curb" works, it's because you understand why people are behaving the way that they do, even though they're being ridiculous. This was just a lot of forced wackiness.

What did everybody else think?

45 comments:

The Engineer said...

I have been highly unimpressed with Curb again this year. I am about to cut it from the ole' TIVO list...

Anonymous said...

Heroes has been a big snooze. The stories are going nowhere! And I don't care about Hiro in the past or Peter in Ireland because we know they'll have to return to NY at some point soon. So what's the point? And the two new characters? To quote Karen Walker: "they're like Siamese twins joined at their boring personalities."

Rand said...

I actually liked the Heroes episode, but maybe it's just because I have a soft spot for the Irish. But I'm getting irritated by the fact its taking so long for Maya and Alejandro to get to the US (although it was cool to actually see her use her powers purposefully, and her brother's reaction was nice as well, I'm kind of wondering though about the jailed white guy's lack of reaction to almost being killed). I also am highly irritated by West, but I like that Claire (and the audience to an extent) is reminded that her father was a very bad man.

Rand said...

I actually think Hiro's not coming back. The legend said that Kensei would have to sacrifice his heart, and he just called Hiro his conscience.

David said...

I actually really enjoy the ancient Japan storyline. However, I think it would have been better if the people had reacted to this guy in modern clothes dropping into ancient Japan.

Curb just hasn't been up to par this season; I loved last season's adoption storyline, especially when he temporarily became a Christian, and became Bizarro Larry.

Anonymous said...

But, Alan, is there a funnier phrase than "freak book"?

BigTed said...

Yep, "Heroes" was a bore -- the two new characters remind me of the two characters that were suddenly introduced to "Lost," then just as suddenly killed off because the audience hated them so much. And why aren't they doing more with the older, first-generation-of-heroes characters? They put together a great group of scenery-chewing actors (especially compared to the blah actors who play most of the younger folk), so why not use them?

And finally, after all the controversy last year over Claire's gay boyfriend, how come her new boyfriend seems so darn fey? I think his power of flight comes entirely from his loafers.

"Journeyman," on the other hand, is increasingly reminding me of "The Dead Zone." Not only does the star look remarkably like grown-up Anthony Michael Hall, but there's the same recurring plot line: "I have to use incomplete information to figure out what's going on in time to save somebody." Plus, the overall quality is on the level of a middling cable show. I have a feeling it's going to end up with USA Network-size ratings, too.

Tom said...

Here's how you fix the Sylar problem of him having too much power. He can steal people's powers but he can only have a certain number (say 3) at any given time. If he can fly, be invisible and run really fast then he has to get rid of one if he meets someone that fart nickels. Although I'd personally hold out for someone that can fart quarters.

dez said...

And I definitely hope that he was unsuccessful in picking up Candace's illusion-casting powers

Same here, but not for the same reason. I don't want Sylar popping up every damn place because he was casting illusions.

I loved the painting at the end, which almost made up for the episode being so tedious (get out of Ireland already, Peter! leave Japan already, Hiro--Ando needs you!). They averted NYC going kaboom--will saving HRG save the world, too? :-) Plus, I don't think he did something so bad to Flying Emo Boy; I think someone's using FEB to set up Claire, possibly to kill HRG. Bleah.

CYE was okay, not great. The stuff with the freak book was really funny, but I agree that the internal logic didn't work. Still, I did laugh out loud at Larry and McEnroe saying "What a freak!" in front of Heather Mills.

dez said...

Oh, yeah, and back on "Heroes," Peter used two powers at once for the first time(healing and telekinesis). Veddy interesting.

Jesse said...

Definitely agree about the snoozefest "Heroes" has become. The whole box/romance thing pissed me off, because I was expecting that they were tying up the Ireland storyline. Same thing with Hiro's storyline, the stupid romance and secrets angle is boooooring. Shape him up and ship him out.

On the plus side, we get Nathan back in action. Sadly, he appears to have shaven, but at least the pelt will be able to keep a small family warm this winter. But I'm still waiting on Kristen Bell! We were supposed to be getting her character, yet she hasn't shown up in as much as a frame from the previews. She's at publicity events with the cast, and judging by set photos, they've already filmed well into her storyline. Bring her in already!

Matty said...

This could be WAY off base, but doesn't West look a lot like Eric Roberts? Maybe there's a connection. I can't wait for next week when Maya and Alejandro escape another sticky situation with the always reliable oily eyes.

Other than the premiere, the one thing that's really worked for me this year is the enmity between Larry and Ted Danson. It's not normally laugh-out-loud funny, but that situation gets me every week. The repetitive situations and major logical jumps are getting old quickly, though.

Jennifer said...

I'm thrilled to see Sylar de-powered and Candice off the show, though it doesn't exactly make sense that Sylar didn't slice her brain off and then thought he had her power, or whatever.

Loathe the twins storyline. I guess they're the New Ted, but still, in three episodes they get separated? In a row? Gah. Make this stop. Make the entire Irish crap stop too. I can't take the accents, and there is just no justification for Peter not looking in the box.

I can deal with the Japan thing, though. I have a strong suspicion (note: not spoiler info, I've never seen anything on this one way or another) that Kensei will turn up in the present day. If that storyline continues on after 16--, I won't mind too much. Though I do feel sorry for Ando, basically sitting on his arse until Hiro returns.

Dark Tyler said...

It's very fortunate that Hiro can deliver his diary to Ando at a specific point in time and space. Of all the people that touched the sword in FOUR CENTURIES only he opened it, at that specific time? Nice.

And what's up with Hiro being nowhere in the "now" timeline? It's been established that he can return at around whenever he wants, so I take that he chooses to wait and return at the exact point of the story arc's conclusion. How thoughtful of him.


I actually fell asleep on my comfy chair, tonight. This show is bleeding viewers, and I'm not surprised at all.

jim treacher said...

Answer: Heroes was very boring. I seriously thought Parkman and Mohinder were going to kiss, though, which would have livened things up. David Anders was pretty much the only interesting part of the show. Loved his reading of "Hiro, you can't leave! You're like a conscience. Only I take heed of you..."

memphish said...

It's time for Heroes to figure out what the heck this season or this set of episodes is about. Get rid of everything but the HRG and Mama Petrelli and get on with it already. Everything else -- teenage angst/rebellion, amnesia, foreign set love triangle -- feels more like I'm watching a daytime soap and I'm sick of it.

Kristin said...

Once again, "Heroes" had good parts and bad.

Good: Emo boy coming between Claire and HRG causing distrust once again.

Bad: Keeping Peter with the Irish gang. He needs to get back to finding out what happened to him and why he is what he is.

Good: Sylar not being able to absorb powers by eating (??) brains anymore. And now he's screwed b/c he has no idea where he is, no powers to get out of where he is, and no way of knowing how Candace was going to help him reacquire his powers.

Bad: the whole 'My Two Daddies' thing is ridiculous.

Good: Nichelle Nichols!

Bad: She didn't say a word and only has 2 seconds of screen time.

Good: The painting storyline...sort of like last year's thing with the predicted death of the cheerleader and the explosion. I like that we know where it will end up but don't know how they will get there and don't know what the other 5 paintings will show.

Bad: the brother/sister deadly duo taking forever to get to the U.S.

So, so inconsistent. Very sad to see.

Alyssa M said...

Heroes is definitely a disappointment so far this season. It's way too predictable and just not subtle enough (not that it was ever that subtle). I groaned when Claire's superboyfriend actually said, "The man with the horn-rimmed glasses." We all figured out his abductor must have been HRG without him having to spell it out for us.

BF said...

Uhura did actually have a line, even if it was the worst pronunciation of "N'awlins" ever. Speaking of which, I can offer a on-site report that your average New Orleans yard looks nothing like the Malcom in the Middle set like "Heroes" would like you to believe.

That last painting reminded me just how much I miss Issac's drawings and how they contribute to the show. If we're going to have power duplications now, we really need a new future painter.

Anonymous said...

What was disturbing about the brother/sister scenes was that the sister purposefully murdered those police officers and the other inmate. She had a flash of glee in her eyes. Really, the cops weren't doing anything other than what they would do with anyone who broke into a car. They were corrupt, but they are not The Company. But she murdered them. And the brother brought them back. They are a snoozefest. Kring is lame.

Anonymous said...

dark tyler -

I don't think that the sword contained the notes from Hiro until just two days ago. Only at the point when Hiro went into the past was it possible for him to slip a note into the sword in 1671. No Hiro back in time, no note.

If in five years from now, I am able to travel back in time and tell JFK to take a different route through Dallas, we still live in a world where JFK was killed in 1963 until such time that I make my time traveling trip.

Same with the sword. No secret compartment until Hiro leaves the current time line, travels back and alters the sword's history, i.e. a few days ago.

--bad dad

Kristin said...

The hispanic girl did not kill the people in the police station. At the end of the scene, the kid in the cell next to the brother 'woke up,' and the two policeman started to regain consciousness.

Dark Tyler said...

bad dad:

Indeed, Hiro changed it two days ago from his perspective, but from an outsider's view, the altered sword still existed for 4 centuries before Ando could find it.

These things make my head spin, but I think this is how it went.

Anonymous said...

As long as Nichelle Nichols is joining the cast after George Takei, can I get an amen on the most awesome coup this show would be getting William Shatner to be the baddy for a season?

BF said...

I don't see The Shat being an option as long as Boston Public remains on the air (which will be forever, because ours is a vengeful God). We can always hold out hope for Leonard Nimoy.

SJ said...

Hmmm I'll have to disagree...I think the last 2 episodes of Curb have been great.

Tom said...

If I might butt in on the "Heroes" thread, could I make an observation on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"?

I have to respectfully disagree with your criticisms, Alan. The theme of the show was Larry's (misplaced) sense of egalitarianism and his desire to act as much unlike the pompous jackass Ted Danson as possible. I completely bought that Larry would invite the limo driver into Danson's party, after Larry vainly spoke up on behalf of the bartenders in their bowties, worn at Danson's behalf to "class up the place." And McEnroe was a brilliant choice for a celebrity to have Larry pick up -- he's Larry's equivalent not just in obnoxiousness, but also in New York bogus-street-smart-we're- just-guys affectations. So I bought his behavior in the limo. Neither Larry or McEnroe want to be the first one to act like the sort of prick who hires a limo.

Throughout the episode, the "Freak Book" theme -- freaks being the metaphor for messy, dumb humanity struggling along without the buffers of money and class -- was well handled. I found it a very satisfying and logical episode -- once one accepts that Larry is a horse's ass who will never admit he's wrong until after disaster has struck -- yet usually has his heart in the right place.

I've said it before and will say it again -- this is the best show on television.

Anonymous said...

No, bad dad.

The notes were always there. They were there during Season 1, although we didn't know it, Hiro didn't know, and Ando didn't know it. There was no 1671 without Hiro; he was always there. Just because 2007 Hiro didn't know that was his fate doesn't mean he wasn't always there. Think of it not as a Back to the Future time travel theory but a Dr. Who "Blink" one.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"It's time for Heroes to figure out what the heck this season or this set of episodes is about."

I think the show has already stopped being about anything other than itself.

Toby said...

Alan, are we allowed to speculate on who might be killing off the previous generation of Heroes and/or Company people? I think it was fairly obvious this week who it was that killed Kaito, but if my guess - and that's all it is, a guess - is considered a spoiler, I'll hold off.

Dark Tyler said...

Yes, we are! Please, share!

Anonymous said...

I knew we were in trouble when my husband commented that Heroes is moving as slowly as Lost, which he abandoned in the early 2nd season...He's ready to jump ship, and Heroes was one of three TV shows he watches (Simpsons and The Office being the other two). Yikes!

The Pale Writer said...

HEROES missed a golden opportunity to really do something fun and cool; namely, it had all (or most) of its heroes gathered in NY, saving the world at season’s end. why, oh why, did this season not start with them having formed a quasi-justice league and going around solving crimes and injustices while a new evil force emerged as the central “mystery” plot – maybe one of the heroes themselves turning against their own – but which one?

instead, it's simply rebooted itself, wiping out peter's memory, sylar's powers; oh, look: claire is confused and lonely again; HRG is obtuse and mysterious...

so far, big, big yawn.

dez said...

^And D.L. is dead (dammit!), but we don't know how or when (except within the last four months). DAMMIT!

Alan Sepinwall said...

And D.L. is dead (dammit!), but we don't know how or when (except within the last four months).

I just assumed he died from the gunshot wound Linderman gave him. If movies and television have taught me anything, it's that gut shots can linger long enough to allow you to do one or two final heroic acts, but they'll kill you.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of relieved to see I'm not the only one NOT diggin' Heroes this season. I thought maybe I was just distracted or something... but I have been so overwhelmed, and it saddens me because I was all about the Heroes Lurve last season and forced a ton of people to watch it. Now they are probably cursing me.

Lindy said...

Another frustratingly dumb development in the Peter storyline. If the writers want to keep Peter off the board, they could have had him stay in Ireland investigating how he wound up in that crate in the first place. Instead we're supposed to buy that he's so happy robbing bookies that he doesn't want to find out about his real identity. Right.

I'm intrigued by the development with Sylar, however. Is the Company responsible for the loss of his powers? And did they really want Candace to help him acquire more abilities?

dez said...

Peter's obviously absorbed the awesome power of stupidity from one of the Irish d00ds.

Alan, a gut shot will kill a normal person. The characters in "Heroes" are not normal. I bet he survived the gut shot and then got killed in some other incredibly annoying way involving Nikki ;-)

TC said...

I groaned when Claire's superboyfriend actually said, "The man with the horn-rimmed glasses." We all figured out his abductor must have been HRG without him having to spell it out for us.
Sure, BUT Claire hadn't figured it out. And that exposition was (as Alan said) just as much to remind her as it was us that HRG was a bad man.

greebs said...

Just deleted Curb from my Season Pass, and not sorry about it at all. I count it as the third bad episode in a row for that, and life is too short for that..

Anonymous said...

My problem with "Heroes" (which has been my problem with the show since it started) is not the pacing, it's the stories. I wouldn't really have a problem with all these separate story lines or the pacing if any of them were interesting. Maybe I just read so many comic books that everything this show does is so predicatable.

Jay said...

Wasn't Heroes just as sluggish and plodding at the opening of last season? I guess that's to the writers' credit: how quickly we forget the tedious Eve/Mohinder plotline (the computer was blinking "Are you sure you want to quit?" for not one but two whole episodes), Linderman having Niki/Jessica assassinate Nathan, Hiro's dalliance with the memory girl waitress from the diner, etc, etc. I'm just sticking with the show because Kring and Co. pulled off a stunning back nine episodes last season, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

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