Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Heroes Report on 'A Clear and Present Danger'

I am not a fan of the "new direction" for this fourth "Volume" of "Heroes," otherwise known as the second half of season three. For one, the premise is ridiculous, seeing as Nathan wanted to flood the world with special people one moment and exterminate them the next. For two, making all your main characters go on the lamb is not the way to bring the sorely-missed human element back into the show.

That said, this first episode of the volume, "A Clear and Present Danger," was watchable. That's about as far as I'll go.

Once again, show-runner Tim Kring is trying to begin the story by putting all his pieces out on the table immediately and catapulting his characters into the storyline. In this first hour, we learn plenty:

1) In six short weeks, Nathan has become the head of a secret black-bag hero-hunting government agency, and both Angela and HRG are working with him.

2) Nikki, Suresh, Hiro, Parkman and Claire were all black-bagged and put on a plane to the government internment camp. Sylar was the only target able to evade the Hero Hunters.

3) Thanks to Claire, the group was able to break free mid-flight, and now they're about to crash land to their new fate as fugitives. Hey, the Volume title!

Sound simple? Sure! And for all I know, the heroes working together and staying alive could make for good television. But there wasn't much in this episode that encouraged me.

For one, the writers still don't know the physics they set up for their own show. Suddenly Peter needs to make contact with people to absorb their powers. Plus, the cliff-hanging ending of the episode features Peter losing grip of the plane, getting pulled by the suction of a hole in the plane... the only problem is, Peter can fly. Where's the danger there? If he gets sucked out of the plane, won't he just be able to fly back in? And frankly, with his aerial powers, should he even be getting sucked out right now?

This may sound like a fanboy nitpick, but I am a firm believer that Sci-Fi needs to follow its established physics, or else it's just make believe.

On top of that, the episode wasn't even put together well. Watch that scene with Parkman speaking to his African Spirit Guide and count how many continuity issues there are, just with the Spirit Guide's staff.

But those issues are just cosmetic, I suppose, compared to the bigger problem -- "Heroes" lost its emotional weight after season one, and nothing I watched tonight indicates this volume will recover it:

Claire is betrayed by her father, again. How many times is this now? And are we really going to have to endure another of their "heartfelt reunions"?

Peter and Nathan are fighting again. How many episodes before Nathan has another change of personality and all of a sudden it's the Petrelli Boys to the rescue once again?

Sylar is still looking for his father. Need I say more?

The fact is, these are the same old characters with the same old problems that were handled beautifully in season one, only to be dug up again and again. Want to know where "Heroes" went off the rails? Look no further than the end of Season One: Sylar was killed, Peter and Nathan blew up and Parkman was shot. Plus, Nikki was cured. If any of those plot-endings stuck, the show could have just moved on to different areas to explore.

Instead, "Heroes" has just tried to go to the same plot wells again and again, and this premiere looks to be no different.

Want that new and exciting direction, Tim Kring? Kill off half of your beloved cast and bring in new blood for new stories. Until you can deal with not seeing your buddy Milo or Zachary on set everyday, your show will continue to flounder.

But I suppose all we can hope for in reality is for the unspectacular but adequate action series this premiere seems indicate. Oh well.

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