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An open letter to the creator of Heroes [Feb. 29th, 2008|10:36 am]
[Current Mood |cheerfulsave the cheerleader]

Dear Tim Kring:

I am, by nature, not much of a TV watcher, so the fact that your series drew me in? Bravo to you. By your own admission, however, Season Two suffered some pretty serious "sophomore missteps." Thanks to the writer's strike, you had to regroup before going into the second half of that season, and honestly, that was a good thing. You recovered some of your momentum at the end of Season Two, but please accept these following suggestions for your upcoming return to the air in the fall:


1. Dead supervillains should stay dead: Take a cue from Joss Whedon. Killing of the Big Bad of a season is a triumph: the audience was pumping fist and yelling "YES!!" when Hiro took out Sylar. Having that Big Bad escape and return the next year? LAME. The biggest disappointment of the season one finale was the blood smear leading to the manhole.

Now I know that your whole pitch was "Sylar is still around, but he's changed. Um, no. "Psychopathic killer who consumes brains to steal powers" to "psychopathic killer who wants to recover his ability to consume brains to steal powers" is not a change. It's a slight plot twist, that's all. You have set up this year with the same "Perils of Penelope" that we had last year. Bored now.

You want to get yourselves out of this mess? Have it turn out that Sylar is still under the thrall of Candice's spell and all of this (including the fucking Guatemalans) has been his dream. Come on, it worked for "Dallas" when they discovered that killing off Bobby had really messed up the plot - a full season do-over! Was it lame? Sure, but they recovered nicely from it. And in this case you don't even have to negate the whole season; only the crap that Sylar was in. Then have Candice and Co., having learned whatever it was they wanted to learn, carve out his brain. And there you'd have another set of bad guys.

Trust me on this: the Corporation is a big enough Bad Guy to tie all seasons together. You are not Spiderman or the Fantastic Four, expecting to carry on for decades. You can actually kill "Dr. Doom." There are other bad guy ideas out there. Show us your imagination, instead of convincing us you lack any.

2. Do not make the people we are supposed to be rooting for so irritating that we want them dead. I like the concept that some people might have powers that will lead them to do terrible things. Niki/Jessica was a great example of that. The Guatemalans, on the other hand? God, I cheered when Sylar killed the brother, and making brain salad out of the sister would have gotten a standing O around here. Continual, frantic whining does not translate to character development.

And as for Monica, with her power to mimic anything she has seen? One or two times of "Whoa, what the hell?!" would have been fine, but you turned her into a frelling cat macro: "I Can Haz Powahs?!" Good lord, girl, did something hit you in the head during Hurricane Katrina? Have you completely lost your short-term memory? (Apparently so, since your idea of hiding out when the bad guys return is to cling to the ceiling instead of going back out the damned window.

Which brings us to:

3 Don't make your characters be stupid in order to put them in peril. One of the truths of superhero stories is that it's really hard to keep enough of a power balance to keep a sense of suspense. It's really easy to create a world in which the normal laws of physics are no match for the hero. And it's even easier to fall back on conventions whereby the hero, too strong to be threatened by mere mortals, must take continual I.Q. dips to be gotten into trouble.

Stay away from this!!! It always feels artificial. Monica has been watching kung fu movies. It's already been established that her body mimic skills are all but subconscious for her. Yet when the thugs spot her, she just freezes in place? Allows herself to be tied up? Since when has the mere waving of a gun stopped Jackie Chan? Her "perils of Penelope" moment was just stupid.

Far more interesting is watching Matt Parkman struggle against becoming as evil as his father--and then succumb to it in the name of expedience. THAT is an interesting story line.

Bottom line, Tim: you have a great concept here, and you've come nowhere near using it all up. But don't fall back on cliche. Please.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-29 06:01 pm (UTC)
Dammit. Finishing quickly and my mind went all Peter Parker. Will fix.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-29 06:08 pm (UTC)
I thought Eden had blown her brains out to keep Sylar from munching on them?

Dammit, who was the one that was his captor and could shape change the world then? Candice?
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[User Picture]From: midnightsjane
2008-02-29 06:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, it was Candice.
I agree with your whole post. In a way, I think it was a good thing that the season was so short; hopefully it gave the writers a chance to regroup and do the next season justice.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-29 06:12 pm (UTC)
Will revise to use the right name. That's the problem with writing quickly and working from memory.

And yeah, the short season was actually a gift to the Heroes folks.

Edited at 2008-02-29 06:14 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ninjahq
2008-02-29 06:16 pm (UTC)
I think you covered all the points creator Tim Kring didn't apologize for himself.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-29 06:18 pm (UTC)
I applaud him for his willingness to reanalyze himself. Now if I could just get this lj entry to him!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-29 07:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, believe me, the reason this is an open letter is that it is NOT just my complaints!
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[User Picture]From: miripanda
2008-02-29 06:53 pm (UTC)
Ayyyymen, sister! Heroes was a series I came to belatedly and under duress, but I fell pretty hard and fast... It's odd for me to be watching something As It Happens; I tend to come to most of my TV shows as they get canceled, then watch them all on DVD accepting each as a relic of its former time....

But I think you're so right on, especially about the Not Making Them Stupid So It's More Dangerous angle. I really like to see characters work things out in their heads; it doesn't mean they don't get rumbled or outfoxed, but it means they have a plan.

Alias used to bug me because I felt like...I couldn't see enough of the "strings," like Jennifer Garner's character was totally on genius autopilot. I like to see plan, execution, momentary setback, triumph due to awesomeness. Not...plan, stupid, stupider, miraculous save.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-03-01 03:28 am (UTC)
Stupid, or morally anguished. Those are generally the two fallbacks of such programs. Pisses me off.
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[User Picture]From: jacobford
2008-03-01 04:14 am (UTC)
Suggestion #4, or an additional note to #1: If you're going to have the balls to shock us by killing off a major, and popular, character, then please have the balls to KEEP said character dead so as not to ruin and/or cheapen the surprise. (Re: HRG)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-03-01 08:52 am (UTC)
Yes, also a very good suggestion.
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