I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels
. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories
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.
This naming device tends to fail because it usually doesn’t make any sense. For example, The United States of Tara is an ineffective title for a show about a character with split personalities.
- It relies on an obscure pun. (States of personality, get it?)
- United States of Tara isn’t actually about the United States at all, so using that phrase in the title creates a huge red herring.
Me, Myself and Irene was a far clearer title for a story about a split-personality protagonist. It also made better use of wordplay (“me, myself and I”).
Just throwing it out there.
Apparently I’m not the only one that thinks it’s past its sell-by date.
Hoping that the show would overcome its second-season slump, I watched the third-season premiere. It was ridiculously bad… even worse than last season. Here are some spoiler-heavy observations…
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The creator of Heroes said…
In the second season I think we had some interesting things happen. You can’t really plan for the audience’s reaction to things and one of the things we found out was that the audience did not want to start slowly and build.
First, the show has been going on for two seasons. Why does an action show need so much time to develop a plot that is far less complicated than Battlestar Galactica or Eureka? Second, after introducing 10+ recurring characters in the first season, did Heroes really need to introduce another 5-10 characters? No.
Finally, it seems that what we’re building up to is what they already did last season: a loosely linked assortment of heroes has to save the world from Something Really Bad. That’s a premise that doesn’t lend itself well to repeats and tweaks. The coincidences and contrivances were strained enough the first time, but it only gets worse as more and more characters have to be drawn into a badly uncohesive plot.
What I liked about the first season was the development of Hiro from a scarcely comprehensible desk-jockey into someone that could almost be confused for a badass geek. Now Hiro has disappeared 500+ years into the past and we’re left with Peter (who makes Keanu Reeves look like a thespian) and a bunch of characters that have added virtually nothing to what the show has already done. Add the crazy contrivances that Davis listed here and you get a show that’s at least half a season past watchable. Unfortunately, it looks like the creator doesn’t have a clue what’s wrong.
The consensus seems to be that Fringe is a less-inspired version of X-Files. What bothered me was the torture sequence. Allowing torture as a plot device robs interrogation sequences of any semblance of wit and intelligence. I’d much rather see a foxy cop trick a criminal into confessing than beat it out of him. (Also, torture is typically a disappointing way to make the hero morally conflicted). But enough about torture. I’d like to quote one review of Fringe…
“Hi, Vague Agent I don’t know from Adam. I’m Nina Sharp, Executive High Muckity-Muck. I’m just going to assume you’re in on the conspiracy. Oh, by the way, have you seen my absurdly high-tech prosthetic arm? Sorry if this is going too fast, but we only have an hour and a half to out-WTF Lost and The X-Files at the same time. Do try to keep up.”
Some of the mad science was pretty cool, but other aspects were patently ridiculous and goofy (talking to the dead, LSD-communing, etc.)