It’s been the hot topic for months (at least in the Internet’s nerdier sectors): Does NBC’s “Heroes” suck complete rocks at this point? Is it beyond repair? Is it time to finally give up and go back to watching FOX’s “Prison Break”? Until last week, the answer was an unequivocal yes, yes, YES!
What went so wrong with the much-buzzed-about superhero series? The first season (titled “Genesis”) was a knockout, giving viewers tons of characters, action and a fresh new take on the entire men-in-tights genre. But even as that top-rated season came to a close, there were ominous signs. Initially, creator Tim Kring hinted that each season of the show would be completely self-contained, perhaps concentrating on an all-new cast of characters. That didn’t materialize, of course. Kring stuck with his original cast and even managed the return of three characters who died in the first season finale (out-of-control Peter Petrelli, self-sacrificing Nathan Petrelli and villainous Sylar).
The second season (titled “Generations”) was a mostly dull affair, taking several poor side roads. Time-traveling Hiro got stuck in feudal Japan for no productive reason and Sylar did a south-of-the-border road trip with the boring twins, Maya and Alejandro. With those plot threads excised, hopes were high for the third season (titled “Villains”). But this one has been all over the map in terms of tone and story line. The writers (Kring mostly) have relied on utter redundancy thus far. The show has resurrected just about every dead character. (Niki returned as her identical twin sister, Tracy, and has even been set up to die and be replaced again with her as-yet-unseen identical triplet Barbara). It has shamelessly rehashed superpowers. (So far Issac Mendez, Sylar, Peter Petrelli, papa Arthur Petrelli and that mystical African dude have all manifested the “painting the future” skill). And it has swapped character motivations so frequently, it’s impossible to tell if characters are good or bad. (Is Sylar a hero or a villain this week? Is Horn-Rim Glasses a murderous jerk again? Has Evil Claire from the future returned?) To top it all off, this is the third season in a row in which our heroes are scrambling desperately to avert an apocalyptic future they’ve witnessed. Earlier this month, Kring actually called viewers “dipshits” for watching the show on a weekly basis, and it’s hard to argue with him.
So what gives us hope for this show’s future? Last week, ABC announced it was canceling “Pushing Daisies.” Terrible news, but it frees up that show’s creator, Bryan Fuller, to return to writing duties on “Heroes.” (He penned the season one fave ep “Company Man”). He’ll get there just in time to wrap up the show’s next story arc, “Fugitives.” The only question is, will there be any viewers left to watch it?