Wednesday, January 31, 2007

heroes and villains

I missed the first two episodes of Heroes when it started this fall. I tried to watch later episodes, but couldn't engage. Caught the final before-holidays episode and I was hooked. I even put the return date on my calendar so I wouldn't miss it. So now I've seen two new episodes and I can understand why I lost interest early on.

What works: The main story arc is fantastic. That's what keeps people coming back. Acting and characters are good.

What isn't working: Heroes is all about the mini scene. Since I write that kind of ADD fiction, I'm particularly interested in what works and what doesn't. It isn't enough to just cut up the scenes - that won't be enough to keep people glued to the screen. The main problem with Heroes is that many of the mini scenes don't drive the plot forward, and are almost filler. You also have mini scenes that are lies. They end on some breathtaking image of imminent danger, but when we come back we find there was no danger.

This criticism could be premature. Heroes is still on my calendar and I plan to watch at least a few more episodes.


Bill Cameron said...

I know lotsa people who adore Heroes, but it hasn't hooked me yet. I've gotten into the habit of not watching this kind of show during broadcast runs anymore though. If you miss one or two, you're messed up on the story arc, and because networks seems to have this moving target approach to scheduling these days when it comes to serial shows, it's easy to miss one.

(Why is some nitwit sitcom on at the same time, every week, week after week, but the shows you need to watch regularly to keep up with the story always have "special" off-night broadcasts?)

Anyway, with the whole "can't keep up in broadcast" thing in mind, I finally signed up for NetFlix. Why? To watch The Wire at long last. Season One, Disc One is now in my hands.

I watched the first two seasons of Lost on DVD, and a number of other shows. I tried to watch Lost season three on regular teevee, but in addition to not feeling as interested as I once was, I missed an episode or two and now I don't try anymore. NetFlix will probably be my approach there as well, and, I suspect, with Heroes as well. With so many smart people recommending it, I figure I have to give a chance!

anne frasier said...

hah! i think you were post on my blog at the exact time i was posting on yours. :D

that's a good idea about netflix. i have the same problem. i can't keep up with the serials on TV. yeah, i'm gonna do netflix!

i think was also happens to me with serials is that the filler scenes make my mind wander, then the commercials make my mind wander, and when something interesting finally happens i'm not even in the room anymore. netflix would help solve that problem too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I've pretty much decided not to watch shows with continuing story lines except for the ones I'm already hooked on (The Wire, Rescue Me, The Sopranos). The commitment is just too great.
This one did look intriguing though. Let me know how it turns out for you. I can always rent if it's worth it.

Bill Cameron said...

I think you're right, anne!

Kelly Parra said...

I love Heroes! Have watched it from the beginning. But I have to agree the filler scenes drive me nuts. The last episode was repetitious and now they show all the previews for next week that seem important. argh.

Elizabeth Krecker said...

I haven't been able to watch more than two scenes at a time of Heroes, and I feel so left out because it seems like EVERYONE loves it!

I hadn't thought about the mini-scenes, but it makes perfect sense. With the mini-scenes, there's no character continuity and the story doesn't seem to make any sense. And then there's the commercials - which I actually watch because some are so entertaining. But all of those factors combined and...I just can't focus long enough to "get" it!

Gotta run, now...I'm signing up for NetFlix!

angie said...

I love iTunes. I don't do regular tv - streaming entertainment is not a good fix for me as I end up watching copious amounts of crap. I hate commercials and I REALLY hate coming into a new show in the middle of things. I've wondered about Heroes, but never got around to checking it out. Now I'm wondering if maybe I shouldn't see the first episode or two. BTW, Ugly Betty is flippin' hilarious and weirdly sweet. I'm totally hooked on that show. Otherwise it's the usual supspects - Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Veronica Mars (very clever & hip).

Filler shit sucks, though. Maybe I've been working on the novel too long, but I always end up asking myself - and I needed to know this because???

anne frasier said...

patti, i'll let you know!

kelly, i remember your mentioning heroes a long time ago. the actors and acting are very compelling.

elizabeth, lol! yes, netflix might fix us. :D i never thought about netflix for shows that are still on tv. well, i've thought about it, but didn't really think about it solving my problem. ah, that bill cameron.

angie, ugly betty is another show i tried to watch, couldn't, then caught a couple of reruns over the holidays and love it. maybe i actually LIKE being dropped into the middle of a story. :O

i was a veronica mars fan for a year or two, but here comes the ADD again. I want the big question answered after a while. there's a point where if that story arc hasn't found resolution i get bored and tired of waiting.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this show, but your critique sounds like my initial reaction to Supernatural. I could stomach about 5 minutes, then turned it off. It seemed to be freestanding scenes spliced together by the two dudes driving in a car.

I hope this isn't the new wave of directing.

anne frasier said...

jason, it isn't at all like supernatural as far as quality and plot. heroes is very well done. i think it might be something you might like.

Heather Harper said...

I enjoy heroes, and agree with your take on the fillers. I also watch Supernatural because I'm in my mid 30's and the brothers are HOT.

anne frasier said...

heather -- haha!!! your honesty cracked me up. :D

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I'd never thought about mini-scenes before.

I tend to look at scenes as a place where there's a conflict declared and the conflict resolved, not necessarily in any kind of tidy fashion and certainly not always a large conflict. Possibly just two people at odds over a small piece of the greater whole, if that makes any sense. It doesn't really matter how long or short the scene is as long as it does that.

So I'm not quite sure what you mean by a mini-scene. Do you mean something like a fragment of a scene where there isn't a conflict or it doesn't get resolved?

Or am I being stupider than normal and you're talking about scenes that don't actually do anything or advance character or plot?

I'm confused.

anne frasier said...

stephen, yes, they are more of a scene fragment. this kind of cutting probably has a name -- i just don't know what it is. nothing is resolved. some of these mini scenes move the plot forward, but some don't really seem to do much.