Monday, September 22, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: 'Heroes' season 3 review

In today's final column, I review the first half of the two-hour "Heroes" season three premiere:
The first hour of "Heroes" season three is more exciting than most of the 11 hours of "Heroes" season two combined. Considering that "Heroes" had one of the worst sophmore slumps of all time, though, that's not a high compliment. "Heroes" may be better this year than it was last year, but it's still a very dumb show that just wants you to think it's smart.
Perhaps the second hour (which NBC said they didn't send out for review because Kring wanted to keep it "sacred" for the fans) will be better, but so long as Mohinder and Maya and a number of other people and things are around, I doubt it. "Heroes" is what it is -- just interesting enough to make me watch so I can complain about it, I guess.

(Speaking of which, since I still need to watch that second hour, please wait until after I've done a spoiler post -- likely sometime tomorrow -- before commenting specifically on the episode. And that includes anyone who happened to be there for the Comic-Con screening.)

44 comments:

Robert said...

Ah "Heroes." Why can't I just quit you?

It's a show I constantly think about, the Season 1 DVD set sitting there staring at me on the shelf still unwatched.

On the one hand, I think about some of the very cool moments such as that shot of Sylar and Peter about to face off in the Day's of Future Past inspired "Five Year's Gone," and get really excited, before I remember the annoying monologues, useless drama, inane plotting, and horrible characters I had to endure just to get there.

For every five plot lines that this shows seems to usually have going on at once, I find that I am maybe usually interested in maybe a quarter of one of them.

But unfortunately, I still just want to keep giving the show another shot for those rare moments that seem like a comic book come to life that are so few and far between.

Or maybe I should just give up and watch Unbreakable again instead.

dez said...

^I love "Unbreakable"! Also, like you, I can't quit "Heroes." I guess I like Hiro and Ando too much to give up on a show that has them in it.

Anonymous said...

Count me in the "I want to like it more than I actually do" category as well.
I Tivo the episodes and probably only end up watching 20 minutes after I am done skipping characters that I don't care about.
Does every character have to be crushed with the burden of having powers? How about someone who actually enjoys being a super-hero. The show has absolutely no sense of humor about itself, which would be okay if the drama wasn't so dopey.
Having said that, I will still be watching tonight in hopes that it will become a show that I want to watch and not one that I feel that I have to.

dez said...

How about someone who actually enjoys being a super-hero.

That's why Hiro and Ando are my faves--they're really into being good guys. I think the muscle-memory chick digs her powers, too. And of course, we know Sylar loves his powers (btw, did anyone see the Robot Chicken parody of Heroes last weekend? Sylar's power backfired big-time, hee hee).

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think the muscle-memory chick digs her powers, too.

And, of course, she's no longer on the show anymore. (I think Kring said she and Micah are gone, and neither was in evidence in the first half of the premiere.)

andythesaint said...

it's still a very dumb show that just wants you to think it's smart.

That's just about the best description of this show I've ever read. I'll keep that in mind while I decide whether or not I want to keep watching it (I'll tune in tonight, but the show is on a short leash for this season).

Lindy said...

I can't decide if I want to watch "Heroes" this season. It's been off the air so long I barely remember why I used to watch it. On the other hand, it does follow How I Met Your Mother (albeit on a different network) so laziness may keep me hooked.

henry said...

I was at the Comic-Con screening. They only did the first hour. I agree on it being more exciting than the second season overall. I keep my fingers crossed they can recover.

Anonymous said...

I thought I saw Micah in some of the promo photos....I hope he isn't gone, he is a tolerable character.

Kyle Wasko said...

Not that "The Second Coming" is off limits or anything (it's terrific and all...), but they used it, like, just barely a year ago on The Sopranos (and quite memorably at that). Seems a bit lazy to me.

mrsb said...

Off topic, but Alan, is tonight the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother?

Tracey said...

I liked the first season a lot, once it got going. And it took an awfully long time to get going. It really built up toward the end. I particularly liked the episode where Sylar thought he was the exploding man, realized that, although he didn't mind killing people to get what he wanted, he didn't want to just cause random destruction, and cleaned himself up to go home to mama. Sylar's interaction with his mother made me think of Psycho, of what Norman Bates must have been like when Mother was alive. And then the last episode of that season... Pfft. Just didn't seem to pay off much.

Second season was ... just awful. Just really, really awful. The first season set up suspense in the first episode, when Hiro saw NYC exploding. Second season never really established what the stakes were. They should have started with Peter in the plague-destroyed future and worked from there, but instead they just threw out a lot of new, unpleasant characters, many of whom they didn't even bother to give a *name* let alone an explanation for several episodes.

Kring says he understands what he did wrong, and will do it right this time. I'll give it a chance.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Off topic, but Alan, is tonight the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother?

Yup. TV season officially begins today. I've seen the HIMYM premiere and have a post ready to go for 9 p.m.

Tracey said...

(reading your column...)
"How do we make love stay?" Seriously? Sylar quotes Dan Fogelberg? Please tell me you're joking, Alan...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Please tell me you're joking, Alan...

I never kid about Dan Fogelburp.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Does anyone else feel vaguely unclean watching Claire and Peter interact?

Tracey said...

Does anyone else feel vaguely unclean watching Claire and Peter interact?

Somewhat, but not nearly as unclean as I felt watching Moonlight, where our hero rescues a little girl, spends her entire life protectively watching over her, and then gets romantically involved with her when she grows up. Icky.

BF said...

Saw another character from the "May Not Be All That Dead" Department in last night's promo. Is he on board for more than a 2 scene cameo this season? Cause I'd be VERY interested if so, not nearly so much if not...

zodin2008 said...

Alan, Thank you for saying what you said and dissing even season 1 a little.

I watched all of season 1 and 2, and I am sorry, even season 1 wasn't very good...mediocre and childish writing, average actors (except for maybe Jack Coleman as HRG and Adrian Pasdar) and season 2 was ferociously bad.

I keep reading enough good things about season 3, but my strong lean, with a few hours before it airs tonight, is not to watch it. I am far, far more excited about the return of "How I Met Your Mother" and next week with "Chuck". To watch "Heroes" tonight, I feel like I am forcing myself...like eating your vegetables when you're a kid.

Andrew said...

The problem with Heros is that except for rare instances, it's too busy trying to convince you that it's engaging and clever than merely trying to be intelligent and engaging. It doesn't have a sense of humor about itself and doesn't realize that its writers often stray far on the wrong side of the line between dramatic and cheesy.

Yet for a show that is so flawed, it's not so bad that it can't be saved. I want to like it. The premise is appealing. Hiro and HRG are good characters. George Takei and Malcolm McDowell have had good turns as guest stars. Which, I guess is why it is so frustrating that it fails more than it succeeds and that the showrunners haven't show that they understand what makes the show work well. Elsewhere in the sci-fi/fantasy serialized genre, Lost and BSG both suffered from aimless mediocrity, but only after brilliance. And the creative teams behind both of those shows understood why things weren't clicking and remedied those problems. I hope that Kring et al did take the long break to figure out what makes their show work and run with it. If not, why bother continuing to watch?

Nicole said...

I too am creeped out by the Claire Peter interactions, mostly because real life has tainted my view of those two. It doesn't help that Peter Petrelli is self-important as hell and could really be killed off and I wouldn't miss him. Claire is more interesting only because HRG is her dad, but Hayden Panetierre's acting abilities aren't that fantastic otherwise.

Future Hiro was awesome, Dark haired Claire looks like a retread.

dez said...

And, of course, she's no longer on the show anymore.

Yet we're stuck with Maya? BAH. Maybe I'm not so bummed after all that I have to work tonight and have to wait until tomorrow night to watch.

Stef said...

3/4 of the way through this premiere, I have to say.... I think Heroes has lost me for good this time. Blech.

Christy said...

Meh.

Count me in on the want to like it more than I do category.

I'm thinking the TWOP recaplet will be more than enough Heroes for me.

I get the feeling this is produced by people who want in on the superhero/sci-fi money train but aren't fans of the genre and just don't get it.

I did like Larter's character more in this incarnation.

Anonymous said...

as soon as mohinder and ando get powers...cancel the show. some bums are meant to stay bums

JoeE said...

The great thing about bad writing is that you can have characters do absolutely anything you want them to do, at any time, for absolutely no reason, with absolutely no regard for what they have done previously. Hence you have Hiro blatantly ignoring his father's very, very simple dying wishes and HRG not immediately killing Sylar, the guy who ripped his daughter's skullcap off.

The supervillain plot looks like it might have been a lot of fun, but as usual the writers have never met a subplot they didn't like, so it'll get bogged down with yet another time travel rehash, a political subplot that makes crib death look exciting, and even more convoluted Petrelli family drama. I'm done. Glad Andre Royo and Jamie Hector are getting good TV work, though!

filmcricket said...

Where the hell was Andre Royo? And David Anders, for that matter (aside from the flashbacks)?

No one has to answer this if the answers would be spoilerish - I just don't remember seeing them.

There were a few bright spots, particularly in the second hour, which I won't mention here at Alan's request. But generally, this was pretty meh.

Oh, and during that "countdown to the premiere" thing: is it Masi Oka's genius-level IQ that allows him to look like he's not reading a prompter, or is it said IQ that allows him to memorize his lines, unlike the rest of his costars?

Dan Coyle said...

For every "that's cool!" moment there was a moment that just made me go, "what?" Or "Oh, for f---'s sake!"

Hiro's vision was almost the same thing he saw in season one! ARRRG!

Is that how they're going to deal with Elle? Just kick her off to the side? Bell's performance may have been goofy as hell, but it gave S2 what little juice it had.

Parkman's African Odyssey? Are they serious?

The best part was Christine Rose as Angela Petrelli, yet another supporting character who's forced herself into the center of the narrative by dint of being more interesting than the leads.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"The great thing about bad writing is that you can have characters do absolutely anything you want them to do, at any time, for absolutely no reason, with absolutely no regard for what they have done previously."

Thank you. You've summed up everything that's wrong with Heroes, and has been since the beginning. In Season 1 the show was frequently praised for its unpredictable plot twists, but unpredictability is not, in and of itself, a virtue -- the best unpredictable plot twists are the ones that seem inevitable once they've happened.

Mohinder and Maya can go away now.

So can geek-pandering stunt casting. Eccleston and Takei were cool. But it's just out of hand at this point -- any actor who's ever been in a show with a superhero or a spaceship seems to have a guaranteed guest shot at this point. The density of all these guest turns makes them less cool than they should be.

(I was going to say something like, what's next, Adam West as the president? But that would, in fact, be pretty cool.)

Dan Coyle said...

Also: Why can't Monica remember what happened in the damn bank? I really wanna know already!

JoeE said...

What's really amazing is the fact that even though there are no less than 157 different subplots in play involving twice as many characters, the writers still aren't done introducing new characters for the season.

Dan Coyle said...

Or stealing from Chris Claremont.

dave said...

Was that... Marlo?

JimRock said...

I wish this show were good...really. If Peter Petrelli would have not come back from the future it would have been a decent show watching the "heroes" deal with a case of societal paranoia. NOt sure if I can watch another episode, maybe if I were guaranteed not to be forced to watch Suresh...I'm sure he'll die and miraculously come back to life like all of characters in this series.

Run Yeti Run said...

I have the same question as filmcricket... where the hell was Andre Royo? I went through the episode a second time on fast forward and still didn't see him. What gives? He was definitely in the credits.

I really hope they give us some chances to see Francis Capra and Kristin Bell on screen together.

Marlo! said...

I think Knox's power is to be a West Baltimore druglord...

Anonymous said...

In the beginning I thought they were simply ripping off J. Michael Straczynski's RISING STARS. You know, but with less intelligence.

Which was sneaky but hey, at least they weren't silly enough to copy the biggest comic in the world. Oh wait, then they started... um... doing an homage to the Claremont/Byrne classic storylines in The X-men. Those being only widely considered the greatest mainstream superhero comics ever produced. And once again they did it with less intelligence, originality and artistry. It was hard to feel bad for them as ratings went to pieces.

And now (much like the X-men in the lowpoints of the 90s) they're stuck in their own time-traveling, alternative futures mess and it will make it almost impossible for new viewers to jump on board.

They've copied the mainstream comic world too closely and now it's biting them in the tush. Well done!

Anonymous said...

TIMELINE.

In a show where a ridiculously large number of people can teleport, fly, travel at the speed of light, time travel, and otherwise move themselves from place to place without regard for the laws of physics, the narrative timeline is very important because it keeps us anchored to something.

How did Sylar get from NY to CA? He can't bend time & space yet. How is it that Mohinder and Maya seem to have moved several weeks into the future since the end of last season (long enough to set up housekeeping, to (thankfully) dump Molly, and for Maya to significantly reduce her accent) while everyone else is somewhere between a couple of hours and a day or so. When is Parkman? He seems to have been in the desert for longer than all of the rest of the story took place.

And now, I'm betting that the world's most stupid, most gullible (but exceptionally good looking) children have been conceived.

This needed to be a 12-episode mini-series. They don't know what they're doing with series drama.

Tracey said...

Oh no he di'int... Oh yes he did! Sylar quoted Dan Fogelberg. And so ponderously that I'm not sure I even would have recognized the lyric if I hadn't seen it here first. And without the slightest trace of irony, as far as I could tell. And Sylar never struck me as somebody who was interested in deep questions anyway: I like the idea of him introduced at the end of the first season, a kind of Norman Bates, consumed by a need to live up to his mother's expectations by becoming the most special person ever.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Guys, I'm working on the actual spoiler review now. Can we hold off on additional comments until then?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Episode review's up. Please take discussion there.

Anonymous said...

WOO HATE MORE WOOOO

Steve said...

I still watch this show, I do find it entertaining, but the plots are poorly done. The first half of season 1 was very good! People had called it the 'lost' killer because it revealed secrets, but it revealed too many! You really need a deeper mystery to keep people guessing, and Heroes threw that out back in season 1.
This show doesn't know where it's going, I'm convinced that they didn't know who shot Nathan last season.

My problems with the plots are multiple. First..

SPOILER WARNING!

OK.. Now that we know Claire can't die.. does that mean that the plot of season one meant nothing? OK.. so keeping the power from Syler was a good thing.. but if she can't die.. I feel like "save the cheerleader, save the world" is all out the window.

The time travel bit is getting old.. we had future hiro in season 1, now we have future Peter... and why on earth would he come back and shoot Nathan! Why not come back a day earlier and just tell him.. as Hiro did to Peter in season 1.

But it gets worst.. Carlton Cuse(of Lost fame.. or maybe it was Damon) once used the Hiro/peter encounter of how NOT to do time travel. If hiro came back to warn Peter about the cheerleader, and the cheerleader was saved, Hiro could never have come back. Now we have future peter, who has changed the future. Even so, why hang around.

The mohinder thing contradicts the entire premise of the show. If this serum has something to do with adrenalin, how does THAT modify your DNA! It may be how it WORKS, but it’s the DNA right? But wasn’t this about Evolution.. now there is a serum that will create powers in anyone? What about Syler getting his powers by examining the brain to see how it works.

The new Villians that escaped from their cells, and their behaviors remind me of Superman II. And there are starting to be so many family connections that it’s getting worse than Star Wars… OK.. so now Syler is Peter and Nathans brother and Claires uncle? Are you kidding? God, I hope so!

Oh, and what happned to that poor irish girl that Peter left in an alternate future filled with disease last year. When they changed the future, did she disappear? And I think that’s my big problem with the show. Too many dropped plot lines, and way too much time travel… it’s about seeing the future and changing it before it happens. That’s weak.

But it looks like they’ll be a little more focused this season, I think they know they opened too many characters and story arcs last Season. That’s a good sign.

Despite all this, I found it entertaining, but I’m teetering on not watching the show. Last season, I tivoed through a lot of it. My wife stopped watching a few episodes in. I’m teetering on not watching, but as long as my friends keep watching… I’m tempted to keep up. Also, I need something new to entertain me until Lost gets here in January. I suppose I could find this elsewhere. But I do think it’s fixable, but the bad plot lines have already been set this season… but I’ll give it a few more.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what ever happen to the Haitian. Is he expected to come back to the show? I thought he would have been useful against the new villians and Sylar.