May 15 2010

Heroes and Law & Order cancelled

Published by at 11:34 am under Heroes,News,Superhero Stories,TV Review

NBC finally axed two excellent shows that kept going long after the stagecoach reverted into a pumpkin.

From season 2 on, Heroes was a fetid cesspool of contrivances, idiot plots, plot holes, gratuitously bad acting, wildly inconsistent characterization, no compelling villains besides Sylar and a cast that was probably twice as large as it needed to be and definitely twice as large as the writers could handle.  But unquestionably the biggest disappointment was how much the later seasons paled in comparison to season 1. It may be better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, but you have a much better idea of what you’re missing.

Hopefully NBC’s next superhero program, The Cape, will do better.  An honest cop is framed for murder and becomes a superhero to get revenge.  (I suspect that he won’t actually have superpowers, though–among other things, NBC was concerned about Heroes’ large special budget).   The concept sounds forgettable, but I’m (irrationally) hopeful.  I’m excited that the protagonist is trained by a circus gang of bank-robbers.

As for Law and Order, I’m glad it got canceled.  The closest it got to long-term plot development was cast changes.  While that makes it easy to rerun old episodes (because it doesn’t matter whether viewers see the episodes in order), I think that serialized television allows for better character development and the excitement of cliffhangers from one episode to the next.  I think The Wire is an excellent example of that: the show is ridiculously addictive, but you pretty much have to see the episodes in order or you are screwed.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Heroes and Law & Order cancelled”

  1. Contra Gloveon 17 May 2010 at 5:42 am

    Not just serialized television; limited-run serialized television.

    Trying to do plot development over the course of a show meant to go on forever will result in continuity lockout.

  2. B. Macon 17 May 2010 at 6:30 am

    Hmm. What do you think about the Lois and Clark model, where a few episodes each season advance the plot in a long-term way, but most of the episodes are just one-shots that can be watched out of order? I don’t think it’ll last for a show really meant to go on forever, but I think it’s definitely flexible out to five seasons and maybe out to ten. Each season usually has one major long-term development.

    For example, Bones used a similar setup, where most of the cases were random one-shots, but a few each season set up the “end boss” for each season finale. In Lois and Clark, I vaguely remember season 1 was the death of Lex Luthor, season 2 was dealing with the successors to Lex Luthor, season 3 was Lois and Clark getting married, and season 4 would have been them raising the Kryptonian kid left on their doorstep in what ended up being the final episode.

  3. Tomon 17 May 2010 at 7:16 am

    I think The Cape lookes quite interesting. I’ll definitely check it out.

    It’s a shame Heroes was cancelled. They just revealed themselves to the world. Now we’ll never get to examine the effects that introducing people with superpowers into a world that hates and doesn’t understand them will cause.
    …Unless… y’know… we read X-Men…

  4. Contra Gloveon 17 May 2010 at 7:55 am

    @ B. Mac

    Don’t know. Haven’t seen Lois & Clark.

  5. B. Macon 17 May 2010 at 10:49 am

    Well, I think that Bones and possibly Justice League Unlimited are also examples. Most of JLU’s episodes don’t have to be watched in order, but there are a few where a character’s actions (often Lex Luthor’s) causes what happens in a later episode. For example, in season 5, Lex Luthor joined the Legion in I Am Legion -> he seizes control of the Legion in Dead Reckoning -> Luthor finishes off the old leadership and wakes up the End Boss in Alive! -> Luthor and the other surviving villains join with the Justice League to defeat the end boss in Destroyer.

  6. B. Macon 17 May 2010 at 11:00 am

    I think that tearing up the Masquerade (for example, by revealing the existence of supernaturals in a world where they spend most of the story hidden) is a sign that the series has jumped the shark. On the other hand, I think it could work in a conclusion–for example, a happy ending might have humans accepting the supernaturals and that would probably require that the secret be revealed to everybody.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t want the Masquerade to be so iron-clad that no one besides the supernaturals find out. For example, in Heroes, enough people in the U.S. government knew to pose a problem to the supernaturals.

    (Note: I use the awkward term “supernatural” rather than something more specific like “mutant” because I think this applies to fantasy Masquerades like vampires or werewolves hiding from humans just as easily as Heroes’ mutants).

  7. Tomon 17 May 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Hmm… slight disagreement on Justice League there. Season 1-3 could be watched out of order, but seasons 4/5 definitely had distinct story arcs (Cadmus, The Question’s conspiracy, the various relationships, the Legion of Doom, etc).

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