The show was so well-received in England, it's already in line for an American remake. But rather than let you get disappointed by that, let's talk about the just-completed first season and why you should be seeking that out instead.
The set-up goes like this: four heroes walk into a bar. No, really. In this case, it's a set of four lower-level "capes":
She-Force: Jenny is as needy as she is strong -- and she's the 3rd strongest woman on Earth. The Hotness: Alex is desperately trying to be famous between rounds of bickering with his ex-girlfriend. Timebomb: Don can be summed up in three words: Drunk. Gay. Retired. Oh, and he likes to stab people. Electroclash: Sarah is Alex's aforementioned ex, who's not above using her powers for less-than-good.
The thing about this show is, in just six episodes, it's that brilliant, British slice of awkward, like Peep Show or that other show. And there's plenty of little touches hidden throughout their fully-realized little world. Since there's six episodes, here's a peek at (NSFW) stuff from the debut, "Supergroupie":
While I was away from the living room a few minutes ago, I overheard a post-Oscars advert for Slumdog Millionaire. You know, the victory lap-style ad where the announcer all but says, This Film Won A Sh-tton Of Oscars, So Aren't You A Dumbass If You Haven't Seen It Yet?
The spot, of course, makes sure to feature "Jai Ho," which took the Oscar for Best Song -- sort of. The version used in the advert is about a beat slower than the original, and had some English-language lyrics stapled on, some cheery-sounding nonsense about "You Are My Destiny." Yay pandering to Middle America! The reality is, the original song is a lot better than what's being advertised:
Just read over at Comic By Comic that the Green Lantern movie is officially on for next winter. It'll be interesting to see how the public responds to someone who's neither Super nor Batty from the DCU. I'd rather it be John Stewart getting the call, of course, but it looks like the first film will be Hal-centric. Any thoughts as to who should wear the ring on the screen?
IO9 is reporting that the Green Hornet movie is back on -- with Michel Gondry directing. I liked Eternal Sunshine and all, but this strikes me as an odd fit. Either we see how good Gondry is at action sequences (the Hornet, after all, is the urban adventurer type) or this becomes a whole other type of superhero flick. I'm sure Peter Pixie and I will be discussing this on our podcast Sunday night.
Lastly, apropos of nothing, but simply because I watched it this morning and it made me smile, a little Full Monty for you:
This week on SEXY TORTURE THEATRE: Noah and Mohinder, come on down!
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
After crunk-napping Mr. Bennet last week, Mo, Matt & Peter wrapped him up and took him down memory lane to gain more intel on his role in Nathan's Hero-hunting initiative. So why did Noah start playing HRG.I. Joe? The economy.
See, after Primatech was gutted awhile back, Noah ended up another recession casualty, with a (presumably) decent severance package and gold watch from Mrs. Petrelli. Sure enough, though, his old life comes calling when Nate recruits him – not to head up the operation, but to serve under the EEEEVIL Danko. Though the flashback sequences throughout the show made sense, it's a pity that we didn't see Noah get recruited by another prominent paper company in the NBCverse. Where's corporate synergy when you need it?
Scoff if you will, but even a hint of humor, or something a little more relatable about Noah's joblessness, would have livened up the multitude of flashbacks that framed the show. He even spells it out for us (and Angela) at the end of the show: “You know me,” he assures everyone. “You know I'm comfortable with morally gray.” I always enjoy Jack Coleman's performances, but we get it, already. Hopefully Bennet's newest gambit – cozying up to the Hunter – will yield a good payoff.
Hopefully better than the reveal surrounding Suresh: Apparently at least part of the reason he's been so wishy-washy since escaping from Con Air two weeks ago is, he knew it coming; We saw Bennet recruit him just before the abductions started, and Mohinder didn't tell anybody. You can imagine how his former co-foster daddy took that bit of info. In Mo's defense, however, he allowed himself to be captured, ensuring not only an escape for Matt and Peter, but a tasteful set of iron cufflinks for himself, courtesy of Chez Nathan.
And, hey, Matt's got it even worse -- he's the victim of another recycled plot, after painting a vision of himself as the latest Exploding Man. The big twist this year? Apparently Parkman is going to go off in Washington D.C. Rather than being shocking, the sight of Matt laced with frakking pipe bombs came off as yet another ham-handed attempt at social commentary – and made “Cold Wars” a call-back to the bad old days of Volumes II and II. That's the kind of reminder the series can't afford to give viewers anymore.
* No surprise, the strength of the episode came from the moments between Echo and Boyd. I liked getting the timeline of events heading into 4.1 * The relationship between Boyd and Topher might become a key, as well. Getting so many reminders that They Are Not Friends leads me to believe that's going to change. * Between the flashbacks she suffered in the midst of "The Target" and her breakdown in "Ghost," could Echo be considered "faulty" by the 'House? After all, they don't want another Alpha on their hands ... * I'll be interested to see why, exactly, Echo was spared in Alpha's rampage * The final monologue by Evil Agency Guy struck me as gratuitous at first -- unless we learn that he and Caroline had a pre-Echo history. Then I recalled the earlier implication that Alpha was behind the faux client who tried to kill Echo. What if Evil Agency Guy had actually set up the hit?
Lastly, I wanted to recommend this look at Joss Whedon's history with using (appropriating?) Asian motifs in both the 'House and Firefly, over at The R. Very interesting read.
I didn't sleep at all Tuesday night -- I tried, trust me -- and spent most of yesterday helping my friend's mom move her enormous furniture pieces into an apartment. So if you're scoring at home, that's 28.5 consecutive waking hours commemorated by two hurting arms, one picturesque bruise on my forearm, one sore shoulder, and a partridge in a ... er, nevermind.
After 12 hours of sleep, though, I feel a little better. But I'm still worried -- am I loopy because I actually found this parody of "The Wrestler" a little ... hopeful? You be the judge.
Watching "Building 26" took me back to my days as a fugly kid at the roller-rink, watching the popular kids pair up and the floor clear. Yes, this episode was a Couples Skate!
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Sylar and Luke: Our resident Sith and his newfound apprentice did some bonding on the road to ... wherever the hell Sylar Senior is holed up these days. Along the way we got hearty bits of exposition on how Sy does what he does and more subtle-as-a-jackhammer reminders from Luke of how similar the two are to one another. Still, the MVP of their sequences was the car radio: "Psycho Killer"? Good stuff.
Hiro and Ando: The Dynamic Duo traveled to India – how? Who knows? Who cares, right? -- to fulfill one of Parkman's predictions and save a woman (Amrapali Ambegaokar) from marrying a complete dweeb of a “bad guy.” Neither of the almost-intended exhibited any powers, so it's quite possible the whole thing was just an excuse to get Hiro to work through his jealousy of Ando's newfound powers and restore his belief in his own heroism, and to get them a message from Rebel urging them to save Matt – nevermind that they were just hanging around with Matt.
Nathan and The Hunter: Oh, sure, Nate would get some time in with SEXY TORTURE victim Tracy and new boss Abby Collins (Moira Kelly), but it was Danko who arranged for Tracy to briefly escape her tanning salon cell and freeze a poor guy to death. The incident is enough to steer Abby from the path of Liberal Guilt and onto the Petrelli bandwagon.
Claire and Noah: Jack Bauer, eat your heart out! We also learned that Nathan's troops have access to Every Traffic Cam, Anywhere, Regardless of Whatever Network They're On. Thanks to that convenient plot point, Claire was spotted locating a new meta-human, Alex (Justin Baldoni).
Rather than laugh in his face at the fact that he's basically Aquaman-lite, Claire protects West 2.0 from her father, going so far as to hide him in her closet. She also tells a somehow-surprised Sandra that HRG is – get this! -- lying about his job. Fortunately for Mrs. Bennet, she finally stands up for the family and kicks him out. Unfortunately for Noah, he can't even drink away his sorrow in peace, as he's abducted in a blaze of irony by Parkman, Peter and Mohinder. Check, Please!
Next Week: The Not-Avengers and Mr. Bennet spend some quality time together.
There's still traces of Buffy in Dollhouse, but, thankfully, it's not Buffy goes And so far, it's not bad.
Our girl Faith, of course, is front-and-center as Echo, complete with Watcherhandler; there's Fred(!) as a kindly hot/medical type; there's even a creepy variant on the Xander/Andrew type, in charge of mindwiping Echo and the other "Actives" after their latest mission – or, as boss lady Adelle likes to call them, "engagements." But so far, there's little sense of "quirk," and the only Big Damn Hero in the cast, Agent Paul, is, as far as his bosses are concerned, chasing a trafficking ring that doesn't exist.
And that, right now, is the first big angle: will Paul the Fed crack the case and catch the 'House before Echo stumbles onto the truth for herself? If him doing so means the former Caroline has to face the music for whatever Dark Secret she's hiding, do we root for him?
As the pilot, "Ghost," kicked off, we're not told how long Caroline has been Echo, or why she felt forced to sign on with the agency. But, in the midst of her latest assignment, Echo not only walked into another Active's initiation, but was ambushed by the memories of her latest persona, a hostage negotiator, when she ran into the man who kidnapped and (it's heavily inferred) abused her years ago.
Instead of taking her own revenge, though -- which would have been the Buffy resolution -- Echo, in this new persona, instead stands up to the guy and simply finishes her job. It's somebody else who does the shooting. A small change, perhaps, but a very telling one, and one I'm interested to see develop over the course of however many episodes it gets.
"Ghost" was allegedly the victim of Fox's ham-handedness – even creator/geek deity Joss Whedon said to wait it out 'til Ep 2 before rendering judgement. But, sure enough, Whedonites' opinions are already split between "WORST. EPISODE. EVER" and "OMGTEHJOSS!" Between trying to keep the show from getting canceled, of course.
No reason to worry just yet, though; not only did "Ghost" did well enough in the ratings to keep the show safe for now, but, as a pilot, it fulfilled its' own engagement – set up the rules of the game, introduce the antagonists (besides Paul, a former Active has apparently gone off the reservation, in a bad way) and establish Echo as the one to change the game. I'm not willing to write it off just yet.
Like I said Thursday, contrary to popular belief, I do believe in love songs. But, I don't believe in the hackneyed. So, instead of waxing poetic on things romantic, I give you my favorites of the genre.
Tied for fourth place are two songs from R.E.M., which I always thought were related in spirit. Where "Nightswimming" dealt with new love, tentative and wishful, "Leaving New York" was a last plea for a love well-known and almost-lost.
At #3 are The Pogues, who I talked about during the Holiday Jukebox. And just like "Fairytale of New York" was maybe the first Christmas song I really liked, "Tuesday Morning" was maybe the first love song that I truly enjoyed.
In second place is "Don't Change Your Plans," from Ben Folds Five, which breaks my heart every time I hear it, because of the way it weaves together its' protagonist's sense of loss with the simple reasons he loves and misses the girl he can't have -- not because of any falling-out, but because their lives are simply going in different directions.
And at the top, now and always, is a song I fell in love with the first time I heard it, in a sprawling outdoor stage in the heart of downtown San Diego: Woody Guthrie's "California Stars," as covered by Wilco. This is the one you'll hear at my funeral, for sure.
Now, I still maintain that the first Matrix film gave the superhero genre a much-needed kick-start and template when it was released, saving subsequent hero flicks (O HAI X-Men) from the likes of Joel Schumacher. So I'd be interested to see if a Wachowskis take on Kal-El would follow the "grim-n-gritty" template DC reportedly wants to go with in a post-Dark Knight environment. Personally, I'd say that, if DC is looking for a story that can make Superman "relevant" again, Joe Kelly handed it to them years ago.
Across the pond, The Sun is reporting that the new Doctor, Matt Smith, has signed a five-year deal worth a million pounds. Hopefully some of that cash will be spent on upgrading the ol' Police Box:
Finally: while I am all about the Facebook, this video, which The Nerdy Bird turned me on to, can't help but make me cringe a bit. Here's a look at how F-book might play out in our day-to-day:
It might surprise some of you to learn that I do still believe in love, and in love songs. It's quite true that I'm not really up to to really investing (in any sense of the word) in such things -- at least for now. But the idea itself doesn't repulse me.
Now, when I say "love songs," I don't mean the kind of tunes Da Vinci's Notebook so smartly mocks in "Title Of The Song":
My favorite love songs have a more ... I don't want to say "magical" quality, but something a little out there, an odd combination of delicacy and declaration. So, I thought I'd devote the rest of the week to sharing them with you. Perhaps you might find a slow song you could use to your advantage this week.
To kick things off, a song I recently rediscovered and listened to quite a lot today, "Emotion In Motion," by Ric Ocasek.
A little dab of Galactica helped keep Heroes on an even keel this week – don't look now, but this makes two consecutive non-heinous episodes!
"Trust and Blood," penned by former BSG writer/exec. Producer Mark Verheiden was all about bonds: the Heroes solidified theirs; Nathan and Noah worked on keeping theirs together; and both Claire and Sylar made new friends.
The episode was told flashback style, as Nate recounted to his mom the events immediately following last week's fateful Oceanic Flight 815 transport plane crash in Arkansas. While the boys and Claire waste no time trying to regroup, Tracy wastes no time before playing Let's Make A Deal, offering up Peter in exchange for her freedom.
Peter, obviously, has other plans. After ditching Tracy and escaping yet another confrontation with Nathan, he emerges as the leader of our fugitive fivesome, assuring Hiro,Ando,Mohinder and Matt that NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN. You'd think Hiro, the comics fan, would just reassure him that things would be back to normal in a year or two. But nevermind.
Poor Matt, of course, already knows the future is changing, thanks to his increasing proficiency with the power he inherited from Usutu. Unfortunately for him, one of his new Etch-A-Sketch visions proves to be true, as Daphne is apparently gunned down by Homeland Security troops. I say "apparently" only because Hiro, the comics fan, could've just reassured Parkman that ... oh, I give up.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Sylar goes from having father issues to diagnosing them in others, as he recognizes would-be hostage Luke Campbell as a fellow bad seed – one who can cook him bacon in 90 seconds while tipping him off about the missing Papa Grey. Presto! Instant Padawan!
Claire's new buddy is more secretive. He or she, identified as “Rebel,” says hi via text message, assuring her, “You can still fight back.” Proper spelling in a text? Obviously this person will turn out to be a villain. Let's hope for more OMGs and ILU's in Claire-Bear's future.
However bad Rebel turns out to be, he or she can't be half the bastard Nathan's hired gun, Danko, is shaping up to be. Even as Nathan and Mr. Bennet grapple with the reality of their new roles, “The Hunter” seems to be chomping at the bit for the junior Senator to fail, so that he can take more drastic solutions. And as the episode closes, with Angela refusing to support her son's newfound course, and Tracy calling “You're one of us!” after him, the strain on Nathan is palpable – and, most gratifyingly, believable.
Next Week: Area 42? Kids' stuff. Welcome to Building 56!
The Racialicious Scorecard: Hiro & Ando: Ando seemed to hold it together, for the most part, but Hiro sounded even more fanatical than usual about Heroism and regaining his sword and whatnot. Definitely a turn for the worse from his usual fanboy antics. It's also a shame Hiro is ignoring his corporate connection again; surely there's some reporter in Arkansas who would love to hear about the government kidnapping a foreign businessman, hmmm?
Mohinder: Not much to do for Suresh this week, aside from seemingly hesitating before joining Peter and the rest of the escapee crew. He did, however, unsuccessfully urge Hiro to leave them behind, telling him, "It's not your fight."
Luke Campbell: Man, the guy's changed a lot since the "Me So Horny" days ... er, wait, wrong Luke.
Usutu: On the plus side, he took a more active role (so much as he could) in assisting Matt. On the minus side, too bad for him people still remember Isaac.
Just here to get back on the horse, so to speak. Things are ... well, sometimes they're good, sometimes I think they're not. The trick is getting to be keeping myself busy enough to err on the side of the better. I'll keep you posted. Right, so let's talk about a few things:
Like I said Monday, so far, so good. But, I've been re-evaluating the Peter/Mohinder sequence after reading a comment posted in our discussion of the episode over at Racialicious.
As we saw early on in the episode, most of the core cast was returning to a regular life. Most of them got jobs that were related to their chosen career paths; Peter was an EMT, Parkman was a security guard, and Tracy and Daphne went right back to their old jobs. Yet Suresh -- Doctor Suresh -- was back driving a cab.
On one hand, putting Suresh in the cab was most likely a device to get him to meet up with Peter. But, upon reflection, it did come off as lazy writing by Tim Kring. Couldn't it have been plausible for Petey the Medic to deliver a patient to Doctor Mo at a hospital? You don't sacrifice the ensuing conversation, while putting both characters at a more equal footing. (Also, Peter came off as tone-deaf, if well-meaning, while talking to the EMT of Iranian descent, but we'll talk about that on The R later in the week.)
The Brave & The Bold
I'll be honest: it disappointed me to read that Will Friedle had been cast to do the voice for the new Blue Beetle on the show. I would have liked for DC's most prominent Latino hero to have been voiced by a Latino. Though Friedle, to his credit, has said he didn't want to make Jaime into Speedy Gonzales 2.0, it's just one of those things, y'know?
But, after doing some research, I'm happy to note that Friedle's casting is a rare miscue, rather than a negative trend. Last week, for instance, not only was Not only was Ryan Choi featured as The Atom, but he was voiced by Asian-American James Sie. Prior to that, black characters Black Lightning (Bumper Robinson) and Black Manta (Kevin Michael Richardson) had been voiced by black actors. Richardson, in fact, is a series regular.
So I'm glad that B&TB is mostly doing right by its' characters of color. I'm also glad the upcoming comic book based on the series has given Katana a costume that looks more like her original gear. The harajuku-ish outfit the cartoon version originally sported kinda weird.
SuperOld At The Super Bowl
My apologies to Brother Jim, but I couldn't put together a complete SB 43 diary Sunday; I spend most of the day prepping for Hour 42. But Springsteen's performance bugged me.
I mean, the guy sounded creepy from the moment he started in with that whole "AMERICA, PUT DOWN THE CHICKEN WINGS" noise. Look, Bruce, if your own tour rider calls for your kids to get chicken wings, not to mention an entire roasted chicken for your aging sax player, don't give me crap for enjoying a $2.99 8-pack of wings because you're so desperate to come off like a "working-class guy." That whole Benny Hinn routine of yours was much scarier than Prince's guitar -- and not half as funky. And tell me this: Janet's breast slips, and it's a scandal; Bruce teabags America, and not a peep. What was that about?
No worldwide publicity tours. No hour-long infomercials. Heroes is now just another sci-fi show. And for this episode, at least, it was a decent one.
As it kicks off the critical "Fugitives" arc, not only did the creative team finally get the ball rolling on the various doomsday scenarios it had alluded to throughout the series, but it also skipped to a plot point we used to have to wait at least 10 episodes for – Superhero Team-Up Time!
Building on the fall finale, "A Clear And Present Danger" saw Nathan Petrelli, now the freshly-minted Homeland Security chief, begin to round up the other Heroes, with the help of Mr. Bennet and a new character, Danko (Zeljko Ivanek), aka "The Hunter." In short order, Tracy,Mohinder,Hiro, and Parkman are picked up for shipment to ... well, we never get to find out, thanks to the increasingly pugnacious Claire.
Previously spared by biological daddy Nathan, Claire stows aboard and initiates a jailbreak that goes wrong when Peter, after mistakenly making contact with Tracy (he thought she was Niki) ruptures the hull, which will apparently crash the plane -- but not before ejecting one unknown hooded figure. Judging from next week's previews, most of the core group will at least have survived the crash, and we can bet that the Mystery Masked Metahuman will make his or her presence felt later in the series.
Meanwhile, as predicted by our Roundtable in December, Sylar apparently fell through a plot hole and landed in Baltimore, eyebrows in mid-season form (and actually looking plural!), in the midst of his search for his own biological father, in between bouts of fending off government agents. The attack sequence on Sylar was actually a welcome touch of continuity and common sense, and it actually made one hopeful to find out how Sy survived the destruction of Primatech headquarters.
In fact, the episode was marked by a mostly logical progression of the primary storyline, believable interaction between most of the characters – alas, Greg Grunberg and Brea Grant are still unbelievable an on-screen couple -- and piqued enough interest in the other plotlines (Sylar's search, the remaining Heroes "in play," the unknown detainee) to already put this episode ahead of most of the previous volume.
Next Week: Would it jinx things to wish for a second straight good episode?
The Racialicious Scorecard: Usutu: The Roundtable's favorite character returns! Usutu is apparently still playing Obi-Wan to the newly precognitive Parkman's Luke from beyond the grave. This time, Usutu's spiel involves Matt becoming a "prophet" after inheriting his powers. Anybody else hear Unchained Melody playing whenever the two are on screen together?
Mohinder: Careful what you wish for, doc. After expressing support for Nathan's ideas, Suresh is himself among the first to be tagged and bagged, and not even his super-strength (a remnant from his Spider-Mo days?) can save him from being betrayed by Noah. Mo did, however, share a nice moment with Peter before being captured. My only complaint was that he seemed to forget the whole "left for dead face-down in viscous liquid in a burning building" thing a little too quickly. We'll see how this plays out.
Hiro &Ando: When we rejoin Tokyo's finest, Hiro's mission is to help his buddy become a full-on superhero, complete with spandex, Ando-cycle, and fortress of geekitude. Fortunately for Ando, he's aware his "super-charger" power is limited – and that women dig his groovy bike. Unfortunately for both of them, Hiro's rounded up by Nathan's Stormtroopers. (Another welcome bit of logic: Nate had no way of knowing Hiro was de-powered, or that Ando had powers now.) Hopefully this leads to an Ando/Daphne reunion, as Grant and James Kyson Lee actually did show chemistry during their scenes together last year.
Stay tuned later in the week for the return of the Racialicious Roundtable!
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.