6 ways to make Heroes a good TV show again

Daniel offers 6 suggestions to rescue the Heroes from the doldrums...

What more can I say about this episode that hasn’t already been written? For the last 13 weeks I’ve been watching the show, often switching between hope and despair at the direction Heroes has taken and, sadly, as this volume reaches its conclusion, it is with a sense of relief rather than reluctance that I sat and watched the final episode.

Dual once again threw at us the kind of mindless drivel that has undermined Heroes this season. Apart from plot holes so big you could three-point turn the Titanic in them, the episode once again lacked any real direction as it seemed like Kring was hurrying through the mess of narrative that has been created over the past three months trying to tie up some loose ends and end on some kind of satisfying resolution for the audience. So cue more ridiculous time travel, the sudden and rather silly deaths of several bit-part characters and an excruciatingly executed ‘house of horror’ effort as Sylar rampages through The Company and you pretty much have the unsatisfactory culmination of 13 weeks of narrative wooing by Kring that was volume 3.

Normally, I end a season with a sense of reluctance, desperate as I am to find out what will happen next and at a loss to think how I will fill the aching void in my viewing schedule. But with this season of Heroes it comes with a sense of relief, not that it is over, but that it may offer Kring and Co an opportunity to fix what has been broken and get the show back on track.

But how? Well, now that the show needs saving as much as the cheerleader we’ve come up with a few suggestions…

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Get back to reality – In season 1 Heroes had a sense of reality, sure it was a show about people with fantastical powers saving New York City from obliteration, but despite this pie-in-the-sky premise, it had one foot firmly planted on the ground. Claire was at school going through the growing pains of a teenage girl, Peter was battling to find a purpose in life and Suresh was trying to make sense of his father’s legacy. Each character had a family, a job, some kind of tie to reality that fleshed out their place in the narrative and gave each a very individual reason for being and for using their powers. Sadly, this sense of reality has gone and Heroes and its characters seem so far removed from real life that their actions seem inconsequential at best and at worst, have lost the interest of faithful viewers. Hopefully, the involvement of the government, signalled at the end of volume 3, will give the show a much needed injection of reality.

Less is more Heroes is groaning under the weight of the characters and plotlines it has gorged itself on in the past few months. The problem is there is too much to work with, too many characters, issues and locations not just for the audience but for the writers who flit from place to place, narrative to narrative without settling long enough to breathe meaning into their creations’ existence. Heroes needs a detox and to trim some of the fat that has built up in recent volumes. The systematic slaughter of fringe characters in the final episode is hopefully a sign of things to come, but if the show is going to be saved it needs to lose some top line characters and inject a real sense of life and death stakes back into proceedings. When the show first started out, Kring said that one of its strengths was that it could re-invent itself, refreshing its cast list to maintain audience interest. But he has been weighed down with the success of the first season and laden with a breakout cast that he couldn’t ship out. Who can say that characters such as Parkman and Suresh have offered anything to this volume? Both have appeared irrelevant and out of their depth at times, offering precious little in character development or narrative intrigue. And I have lost count of the number of times characters have died and come back to life recently, so much so that I greet a major character’s demise with as much attention as the latest DFS advert and with only slightly more interest. It’s time for a shake-up.

It’s Fuller time – Apparently, he’s not due to return to writing duties until episode 19, but the man who added such humanity to season 1 and who sadly had some of his finest work culled in Heroes’ name is the perfect tonic to the show’s current ailments.

Get some new sets – I’m bored of Isaac’s loft, Claire’s house and The Company headquarters…

Get some new ideas – Oh look, the world’s going to end in the near future and in a bizarre and convoluted way that will be slowly revealed to us during the coming weeks through time travel and prophetic paintings. We need something new, something intriguing; you don’t always have to save the world from apocalypse to grab our attention, Tim. Why not show the audience a good time, give them an individual to side with, or a cause to rally against? Don’t just give us another explosion and tell us to be quiet. That’s Michael Bay’s job. 

Give us an end date – It’s amazing how much more poignant a series becomes when it has a sell-by date. It worked for Lost and it will work for Battlestar Gallactica but without a final destination Heroes could spiral into the depths of televisual hell as the network regurgitates season after season onto our screens transforming a once groundbreaking show into the superpowered equivalent of Friends.

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So, all hope is not lost, or is it? Give us your thoughts, your feelings and your suggestions on how the show can be revitalised below and cross your fingers and hope for sentinels…lots of sentinels.

Read Daniel’s prior review here.

30 December 2008