The saving grace for Heroes last year? Without a doubt, the writers' strike, for stopping the series' fall from grace – and common sense.
Coming off one of the best debut seasons in sci-fi history, the critical and commercial darling went completely off the rails during its' sophomore season, collapsing under the weight of an ill-advised semi-reboot of the story, new and pointless characters, and scripts that felt grafted from first-season drafts. Ominous vision of the future? Check. Overwrought sense of urgency? Check. Overt lack of resolution? Check. For a series whose creators seemed to insist wouldn't take after comic books, bad comic-book tropes sure seemed to pop up last season. It wasn't until the Volume II finale that our favorite super-dudes and dudettes (mostly) stopped being dumb, and Hiro emerged as a super badass, putting erstwhile false idol Adam "Takezo Kensei" Monroe six feet under, that the show regained its' sense – and its' senses.
In true Hollywood fashion, series creator Tim Kring accepted responsbility last year by blaming the fans, explaining last season's sluggish start as the result of inflated fan expectations. He repeated his complaint more bluntly to geek-centric Wizard Magazine: "How do you build a story when all the audience really wants is crack?"
This season, one would imagine the audience really wants the show it fell in love with to return, especially after the creative team had additional time to prepare for this coming story arc, the much-anticipated "Villains."
The Racialicious Scorecard:
As TIC will be contributing weekly reviews to Racialicious this season, we'll be spotlighting the various characters of color. Here's a look at where everybody stands coming into the season:
Hiro: The fan favorite and soul of the show spent most of last year building up his own role model, coaxing Adam the immortal layabout into becoming a hero before the love of a woman and the murder of Hiro's father turned the two into the series' first pair of arch-enemies. Things don't promise to get any easier this year; not only might Adam to return (illogical escapes? Check), but Hiro will pick up a new, super-speedy nemesis. Hiro is also reportedly going to be the one to get this season's Ominous Vision, which involves his BFF Ando getting powers.
Suresh: The world's dumbest scientist – seriously, how many times has this guy been played in just two seasons? -- barely escaped getting killed by Sylar after spending most of last season as a flunky for the anonymous Company (covert agencies “higher than the government”? Check). Thank goodness he lived; who else was going to give us those non-descript voiceovers to start every episode? And what's the status of his bromance with Parkman?
Maya: ... Last year, her brother not only never complained about Maya killing his wife on his wedding day, but took to the road to protect Maya, putting his life on the line for her repeatedly. And she still fell for Sylar, never even suspecting him of killing her brother. I hate to question the intelligence of a Latina character, but, if the refugee from the Telenovelas Dimension hooks up with Suresh, let's hope any potential progeny sits near a smart kid in school.
Micah and Monica: D.L.'s son and niece were among the few bright spots last year, but they've seemingly been shoved on the back-burner after Monica got herself kidnapped by some gang-bangers during her first “mission,” forcing Niki to seemingly die while making the save. But, neither of the younger heroes is featured in ads for the upcoming season, while Niki is. Make of that what you will.
The promise of more evil characters, one hopes, will get the series back on track, emphasizing more winning and less whining from our titular Heroes. But early reports lean toward another tired trope: once again, the plot focuses on another Ominous Vision of the Future, and visits by more future iterations of different characters. Will this latest trip to the creative well go well? As a wise man likes to say, stay tuned, True Believers ...
Besides writing my thoughts and reviews here, I'm a Special Correspondent for Racialicious.com and the co-creator and co-host of Hour 42, a podcast covering superheroes -- in the air, on the air and all around us.
I'm not a good person. I'm the guy who whistled "Always Look On The Bright Side" during Passion Of The Christ. I've gone to SCA battles and yelled, "WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET?!" You can say it, it's okay: Smart-ass. Jerk. Bigmouth. This is where I share my take on ... well, basically everything. But especially the geeky stuff in life.