Thursday, September 24, 2015

Heroes: Reborn "Brave New World"/"Odessa" Review

Critical response to Heroes and Heroes: Reborn made mention of LOST. Heroes’ series premiere drew comparisons with LOST. Many preferred Heroes. Heroes “knew where it was going” whereas LOST put characters in polar bear cages and spun wheels. Heroes, of course, was a show without a plan. Plans matter more than anything to TV critics, bloggers, and fans. A show without a plan will spawn Twitter hot takes. Heroes conned the majority of its weekly viewers. The first season produced 14 decent episodes, a few them momentous (in the crazy opening four episodes of the season), but the rest of the season faded. Season two destroyed any good-will, and the writer’s strike destroyed any infinitesimal salvage job for that season. Season three happened. Season four happened, too, at a carnival, and then Claire revealed her powers to the world. NBC mercifully cancelled the series afterwards. The finale aired in February, so far removed from the massive positive reception and fandom that met four years prior.

NBC’s executives decided to bring Heroes back amidst a wave of nostalgia renewals. Coach, Twin Peaks, The X Files, 24, plus movie re-makes, contributed to NBC’s decision that gives Tim Kring another go at it. The post-show narrative was about the plan. I already mentioned the word plan. Plans are like oxygen for TV watchers. No show may live without a plan. LOST’s showrunners had a plan by the time critics anointed Tim Kring the television messiah, unaware Kring winged it. Heroes devolved. LOST’s writers enjoyed a wonderful creative stretch through to the end of the series. The majority of LOST fans and critics hated the finale, thought the writers planned the finale three years prior. Barely any folks bothered with Heroes at the end. Anyway, the point: the plan doesn’t matter, but the plan’s what Bob Greenblatt and Tim Kring probably sold to critics during the pre-premiere promotional run. Writers—artists—cannot plan out a story anymore than a weather person can forecast a storm. Writers will refer to a flash of inspiration, a great knowledge of where the story begins and ends, but so much of the story happens in the act of writing.

Heroes: Reborn runs thirteen episodes this season. It’s a fine number of episodes for a TV show. Tim Kring couldn’t sustain the narrative over twenty-two episodes. Kring probably mapped the season out, which will matter more than it should to folks. Plan or no plan, it won’t matter if the fans or critics don’t like it. The first two episodes of Heroes: Reborn—“Brave New World” & “Odessa”—is the same old Heroes. Amnesia, nefarious, shadowy corporations, a large number of characters, mystery, except now the world knows about super-powered people, dubbed evos, and bad people want to eliminate evos from the earth. Early in “Brave New World,” two villains, possessed of a softer edge and identifiable human relatable traits, take out a room full of evos. Quick scenes of fleeing evos from murdermous mobs follow. The scope scales back somewhat even though more and more characters are introduced as the episode goes by. The Heroes writers never struggled writing for an ensemble. The nonsense around the characters was the problem and remains the problem.

Heroes: Reborn goes for the epic. An epic terrorist attack’s the inciting incident of the reboot. Suresh claims responsibility for the attack. Yes, he of the many monologues from the original run. Suresh claimed responsibility for another attack. The question is why. The question is why for the rest of the episode. Why did Noah ask the Haitian to erase his memory and then kill him? Why Molly Walker? Why? Why? Why? Why do this all over again, NBC? The story darts between locations: Midwestern America, Texas, southern California, Tokyo, Japan, the Arctic, and the Deep South. Noah’s joined by a do-gooder disguised as truther who wants to find his sister, which makes him a spiritual bro of Noah, because he wants to find Claire (presumed dead in the attack, but revealed missing when Noah investigates the crumbled ruins of Primatech and another shadowy organization that brings Noah into Molly’s story. Molly wasn’t introduced until the second episode). Every beat of the first two episodes were predictable. Every single beat. Well, not every single beat. I didn’t expect the jock high school kid’s step father to fall victim to the penny man, because I didn’t expect the jock kid to be anymore than the antagonistic boyfriend of the high school evo kid’s crush. The important revelations about Molly Walker, the truth about Claire, the Kanatana Girl video game story, The Haitian dying before he could restore Noah’s memory, all of it reminded me of what I didn’t like about Heroes, of the narrative frustrations, the long drawn-out mysteries, the promise of epic change, because instead of “save the cheerleader, save the world,” it’s “forget the past, protect the future” and what they, whoever they are, need to protect is the northern lights.

HRG’s the strongest character of the bunch because of the history of the character. His arc begins where his wife’s began in the “Pilot.” He’s without memory, oblivious to the larger nefarious machinations, tracking down clues, killing old friends because he can’t remember a gosh darn thing about Odessa. Noah Bennett represents the best and worst of Heroes. “Company Man” is the best episode of Heroes; however, the character’s integral to the worst aspects of the show. He tied into a lot of nonsense gibberish. The heart of his arc’s promising. His love for Claire is his most humanizing trait. New characters have similar humanizing trait. Luke lost a son; Tommy doesn’t feel he fits anywhere; Miko wants to avenge her father, and Ren wants to help her; Quentin wants to find his sister. Fitting in, avenging loved ones, finding them means passing through the muck of the mythology.

I’ll reiterate that characters weren’t the problem. The mucky mythology was and is. I debated all day whether or not to watch and review the premiere of Reborn tonight.  Obviously, I did. I was curious about the series. My curiosity was sated. I don’t need more Heroes.

Other Thoughts:

-The Suresh monologue returned at the close of “Brave New World.” The show belongs to the new characters, with Noah as the exception. The original characters seemingly will appear every now and then. Matt Parkman’s inevitably disappointing return will not draw me back.

-The visual style of Heroes always rocked. The show still looks great.

-The butterfly was symbolic, eh?

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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.