An Open Letter to the Writing Staff of Heroes.
Dear Sirs and Madams:
OK, first of all, let me say that I have enjoyed your show immensely since its very beginning, and am happy to report that, not only was I an early adopter of your series, but I have watched all of the episodes in real (Tivo) time and not on DVD. Basically, I am a huge fan. And let me underscore the fact that I am a fan in spite of myself; I enjoy your show despite the fact that I don’t usually like sci-fi and I never got into any of that graphic novel shit. I never even read comic books or anything as a child. You see, generally, I live my life in the real world and tend not to entertain any of the kind of delusional thinking that leads to one fantasizing about what it would be like to fly or who would win in a fight–Superman or Batman–and that kind of crap. I’ve never once wondered what super power I would want over another, unless you count the time that Mr. Right-Click asked me that very question specifically, and I replied that I thought flying was kind of lame when you compare it to, say, being able to heal yourself from any injury or being able to reverse the aging process at will. But that admission was under duress. And, I digress.
Like I say, I became a big fan even though I have always found the Hiro and Ando interludes to be annoying and slow-moving excuses for comedy plots. And before you ask, yes, I found the two of them tedious even before that unfortunate four-week period early in season two during which Hiro was trapped in
Griffith Park “ancient Japan” with that British guy from A Beautiful Mind. Let me level with you, I have had an assload of Hiro’s absentminded bumbling about with secret formulas that get stolen the second he is put in charge of them, and by the way, what the hell is with the constipated look he gets whenever he stops time? Is it painful for him or something? Is it something that mineral oil would help with? I have to admit that I was kind of pleasantly surprised when, at the close of the episode two weeks ago, Hiro abruptly and nonchalantly stabbed Ando with a samurai sword in the middle of that dive bar, because though it was shocking and out-of-character, I dared to dream, if only for a second, that we were finally to be done with the Bert and Ernie of Heroes and their constant incompetent asshattery.
But naturally that was one of those madcap things-are-not-as-they-seem situations you guys like to deploy so much. In fact, I think you’ve become so fond of the concept that any plot device can later be explained away as being the work of supernatural smoke and mirrors, that perhaps you’ve become too dependent upon the trope. It’s overdone, guys. I don’t want to tell you how to do your jobs, but . . . like Monday night when you had Matt Parkman appear to be punched through the chest by that one guy who gets strong off other people’s fear, and then cut to commercial, and then we come back and find out that it’s all an illusion he’s planted in the fear guy’s mind? You guys can do better than that.
Look, when things first started to lead nowhere, I was patient with you guys. For instance, I totally get that you probably never had a clear idea of what to do with the Nikki character, and that some studio exec probably just announced that you needed to have a statuesque, of-age blonde on the show and expected you to work out the details. So you figured casting her as the hooker-with-the-heart-of-gold, single mother to gifted-child-of-mixed-race in Las Vegas was as good a character sketch as any for the narrative goal of featuring Ali Larter in skimpy outfits. And only halfway through the first season did it occur to anyone that Multiple Personality Disorder is not so much a “superpower” as it is a plot dead end, and that you would have to kill off Nikki, even if it meant leaving Micah alone to grieve over his mother’s open casket in post-apocalyptic New Orleans. Which reminds me, whatever happened to Micah’s cousin, the one who could learn anything she wanted if she watched somebody do it on You Tube? Great product placement there, guys, by the way–but did she get killed by those gang bangers that had Micah’s comic book? See, I can’t even remember now.
[singlepic=336,320,240,,right] What I’m trying to say, guys, is that the seams are starting to show. You killed off Nikki because yeah, that whole storyline was really going nowhere, but again, no way are you cutting Ali Larter off the show, even if Hayden Panetierre is finally out of her jail-bait phase–you still need some window dressing to keep the 18-24 male demographic, right? And, sure enough, then you brought Nikki back, except she’s not Nikki, she’s Nikki’s twin that we never knew about! And she can freeze people if she touches them when she gets too angry, another colossally inconvenient superpower. Come on guys, have we learned nothing from the cautionary tale of the Wonder Twins? Remember the guy twin was always turning into water and having to be carried around in a bucket by his sister, who was flying as an eagle? And they’d be up against, I don’t know, Skeletor or some shit, and the best that guy could do was form an ice prison? Hello?! Where are you going to go with this? And don’t get me started with the guy in the African desert who paints on rocks and feeds peyote to the visitors. Are we supposed to just accept at face value that he happened upon a Universal Studios t-shirt down at the watering hole? Really? Or are you guys just letting those marketing assholes go directly into the wardrobe department now, with no direction whatsoever?
What I think is that you guys need to learn from the mistakes of Lost: when they had too many red herrings, they started losing viewers. Because yeah, we like the soap-opera-masquerading-as-sci-fi structure, but it is imperative that you maintain the illusion for us that what we are watching is not a soap opera, or else we start questioning our aesthetic sophistication. We start asking asking questions you don’t want us to ask . . . like why are we are staying up past 9:00 to watch a show sponsored by Playskool? And how many minutes of this alotted time slot from 9:00-10:00 are actually devoted to narrative progression, strictly speaking? Eventually, we start thinking about what this says about our lives, and who we have become, and then we are reminiscing about the good old days, when we used to read Sartre and sit around making jokes about existentialist monkeys. And make no mistake, my friends–this is not a road you want us to pursue, because it ends in you guys working on spec for The Wiggles.
Are you guys feeling OK? Does something have you down? Listen, I’ll be sorry to see Sarah Palin go, too, but you have to remember that the huge boost in creativity that we have enjoyed for the past 8 years as the result of an oppressive political regime and its requisite dumbshits ripe for lampooning, well it must needs come to an end. Sure, as a result of the Bush Administration, we gained American Idiot, but don’t lose sight of the value lost to our 401(k)s, not to mention our national pride. From a creative standpoint, I’m as sorry as you guys to see these easy targets go, but you guys are going to have to dig deep. This suffering artist thing is growing old, and despite the attempts of the right to make stupidity chic, we’re not dumb enough to buy that Nathan Petrelli has been born again. I mean really.
In short, step up your game, guys, and don’t make me come over there.