Heroes is like a bad X-Men comic - The Intrepid

Monday, October 06, 2008

Heroes is like a bad X-Men comic

The first season of Heroes was great, except perhaps for the season finale. Since then, the show has steadily declined into a pathetic mess. Season two featured a strange series of plots, including a particularly awful one where Hiro goes back in time to Medieval Japan, helps his boyhood hero Takezo Kensei fulfill his destiny, and falls in love with a Japanese girl named Yaeko. Even series creator, Tim Kring, suggests that the romantic-time travel storyline was flawed. “I've seen more convincing romances on TV,” said Kring, “In retrospect, I don't think romance is a natural fit for us.”

Part of the problem with Heroes is the constant time traveling. Time travel is fun plot device if used sparingly for great effect. In the first Season Heroes had a fantastic episode called Five Years Gone. In this episode, Hiro travels to a dystopian future and sees the consequences of the nuclear bomb that destroys Manhattan. In this future, Sylar, masquerading as Nathan Petrelli, has become President of the United States and people with special powers are hunted. What made this a powerful episode was how certain characters were shown to develop after the explosion. The dark turn in Matt Parkman’s once heroic character was particularly fascinating.

The dystopian future or alternate reality is a staple of science fiction. However, it is only potent if used sparingly. The writers of the X-Men have abused this plot device to the point where it no longer has any power. Characters always seem to go to the future and discover old disgruntled versions of themselves harden by misery, or that sentinels control the world.

Heroes has already overused this device, and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. In the current story arc, Peter Petrelli has traveled to the future, only to discover a hardened version of himself and his friends. Been there done that. Heroes needs to start doing something new if it wants to repeat the success of the first season, simply rehashing its plot is not enough.