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Well, At Least It's Still Better Than Chuck

Irony and sincerity have never co-mingled as one so heartily until Heroes: Season 2 (or grandiosely labeled by its creators as Volume 2: Generations) happened last year on NBC. Never have I felt so deeply invested in a cast of characters and a premise as equally as I have been able to mock both with great ease. Its first season surely exhibited the same sense of righteousness and overly glossy production values that helped turn Season 2 into a caricature of itself, but at least it also contained carefully mapped out plot twists and genuinely propulsive character intrigue. As soon as they got full of themselves, however, they confidently marched into an abyss of storylines going nowhere and melodramatic performances with no development to back any of the silliness up. And yet, with every episode bringing the series into a new all-time low, there was always a lingering desire in the back of my heart that it would turn itself around. Never happened. So tonight we dove into Volume 3: Villains with little reason to not go full on ironic in our enjoyment of the show, other than that incorrigible feeling that maybe, just maybe, things could get better...

The Red Carpet Premiere Countdown: By preceding a two-hour season premiere with a red carpet countdown replete with unnecessary shots of the cast getting photographed as they walk toward some vague unmentioned destination, things surely weren't looking transformative in the "we're better than every show ever" category. (What are they walking into anyway? A fancy LA theater with a TV that has bunny ears up at the front of its stage?) There was a lot of deep serious man voiceover trying to convince new viewers that they wouldn't be confused by the show's convoluted mythology (a lie) if they were watching the show with pure eyes, that many answers from past seasons would finally be answered (probably a lie), and that all of our favorite characters would return to something something (I tuned out because I assumed it would also be a lie, but I did hear him talk about the character of Mr. Bennett: "he's a pretty cool dad...when he's not killing people"). Not only did all of this ridiculous superfluousness make me even more weary of the impending premiere, but Qualler pointed out that the actors from the show presenting various time-filling segments ("Ever heard of a green screen? Here's one of our bumbling executive producers attempting to explain what it is and how the magic behind the camera works!") gave him a certain feeling of uneasiness. We're about to immerse ourselves in a land of fiction, where these actors portray very fantastical people in an otherwise realistic world. Seeing them shill out NBC's poor excuse for high-grade drama just ruins the magic rather than helping to hype it.
Episode 1 - "The Second Coming": We began with a crapstorm of WTF moments within the premiere's 30 seconds that quite honestly made me instantly forget the hour long promotional blitz I had just witnessed. Doesn't mean the WTF moments were particularly satisfying, but I felt at least a fraction of the "Yes! Average people with superpowers confronting each other in overly dramatic ways!" feeling I recall ever so faintly from the first season. Future Claire tries to kill Future Peter, but Future Peter stops time, takes Future Claire's gun, time travels to the present, kills Present Day Nathan before he announces the existence of superheroes to the world through a press conference, Present Day Nathan comes back to life with the help of the first season's still enigmatic Linderman character played by Malcolm McDowell (what do we really know about this guy? he was a significant part of a group of middle-aged people with powers and supposedly died by a brain-squish at the end of Volume 1: Genesis but I guess not?). And that was just the first few minutes. So there's really no spoilers there, by my definition anyway. It was a whirlwind. Not particularly engrossing or groanworthy, but just pleasant fun that confirms my place as a passive addict to an okay show. After that I kind of lost track. Hiro and Ando are looking for a mysterious formula and a new female Flash-esque character who looks like a video game character. Sylar is back on the hunt for more powers (how is he alive again?). And just when I felt like I was hit with all I could handle for something I thought I was going to only enjoy on a surface level...
Episode 2 - "The Butterfly Effect": Another episode? I totally forgot that was coming. I can barely handle when shows have a second episode in their season premiere and even less so when it comes as a surprise. Oh well, at least we get more characters reintroducing themselves here. Anyway, a lot of characters I thought would be long forgotten show back up, seemingly erasing all memory of Volume 2, except for the character of Maya (remember her from last season? her eyes go black and kill whoever's around her?), who winds up in a dimly lit apartment with Mohinder for the whole time. And Mohinder fools around with serums to try to help her and eventually gets all Jeff Goldblum on us (nothing more will be said for spoilers' sake). That was probably my favorite twist the show decided to take (at least of those I adequately payed attention to). Kristen Bell's fiery pixie character and Greg Grunberg's lovable telepathic oaf come back as well, as do some promising new characters, including a crew of villains led by Jamie Hector, aka The Wire's Marlo Stanfield, which is immensely titillating. In the end, it's still an undeniable entertaining show to watch with a group and laugh at and be inquisitive about (half the fun is re-explaining all the convolution to everyone, as it's been quite a while since Peter Petrelli left that Irish chick in the apocalyptic future - he did do that, right?). All the flaws and pomposity is still there, and while blinding at times, it ultimately doesn't detract from me wanting to even rewatch the eps on NBC.com to figure out what exactly's going on (if anything that's going actually makes sense, of course).

Obviously it would be a waste of your time and mine to do an analysis like this each and every week through the end of this potential return to form (probably a lie) of Heroes. However, I will be sure to add a quick two cents to each of my posts to keep all the fans/anti-fans on top of the show that has so vehemently become a part of my (sad?) pop culture identity.

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 9:09 AM |  

    I mentioned this show to a girl at work, asking if she was going to watch it. She said no, that she was excited for Dancing with the Stars. I said yuck.

    I then went home and promptly forgot about Heroes. I played Resident Evil 2, instead. And when it was time for my in-front-of-the-TV workout, I watched Baseball Tonight and True Blood on demand.

    In sum, Heroes may suck, but it is still more exciting than me.

  2. Blogger qualler | 9:45 AM |  

    Speaking of sucking, how was True Blood? (I haven't watched it yet on my DVR.) I say suck because, you see, they are vampires, and also, through two episodes, it has been less than a stellar show (though it has some promise if it can show just a little bit of depth in its characters). I think the big problem with the show is that Anna Paquin is terrible. Or maybe she's great -- honestly, I have no idea at this point.

    Regardless, last night's Heroes made me go from "Me no likey Heroes at all" to "M'eh, I'll watch it if it's on." I do like the idea of multiple Jess from Gilmore Girls from different periods of time roaming around all over, yet the Indian guy is really, truly, incredibly boring. I do also like the promise of crossovers, too, with Jamie Hector ("Marlo" from The Wire) as a hero now, too. And I've never seen such big subtitles as when Hiro and Aldo talk to each other.

  3. Blogger chris | 12:20 PM |  

    YES! I'm glad Qualler's in on Heroes. It really is more of a social event than it is an actual show to appreciate. After thinking on it, I don't know if I want to rewatch the eps on my own - who would I comment about Mohinder's obscene slenderness to?

    "Peter Petrelli's straight trippin'!" - a student reaction to last night's premiere.

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