I’ve been watching Heroes recently. I’ve been meaning to watch an American program with a story which goes somewhere (as opposed to Anime, which is rarely episodic), and I figured I stood the greatest chance watching Heroes.
It’s not so great. It’s OK, but it’s not so great.
Firstly, having as many characters as they do really slows the plot down to a crawl. If you don’t watch 8 or so episodes in a row, you feel like you haven’t gotten enough story. They’re cutting back and forth so often that you wish they concentrated on one story arc, and then re-told it from another perspective, ala pulp fiction.
Secondly, this show, like all the other American shows with stories that go somewhere ™, is full of “mysteries”. I’ve had enough of random shit happening because I don’t know why. Good storytellers don’t need to have arbitrary mysteries to keep an audience hooked. There are many points during the show I say “so.. why am I watching this? Why are you, the director, or scriptwriter, telling me this other than to waste my time?”. I mean, the show is tight on time already considering the number of characters they’ve got to churn through. I want to see meaning, not mystery, especially when the expectation is that I’m going to see so many that eventually I’m just going to expect Deus Ex Machina to solve all your crappy storyline bungles.
I’m going to qualify my previous point: I really liked Paranoia Agent. That whole story is based around mystery, but how is it that they kept it so entertaining? Because the entire time, they’re explaining the mystery, not keeping it hidden. Everything you see is enlightening, not confusing. By the end, everything is tied up, nice and neat, and you kinda know it will be from the beginning, because of the skill with which everything is being handled. Every time you add a mystery, you have to give a clever explanation. It’s not a get out of gaol free card, it’s the exact opposite — a responsibility to cleverly make the explanation worthwhile.
Finally, the characters have universe-breaking super powers. Unless you do it in the micro (rhino runs into man, man somehow stays standing but rhino flies back), and only sparingly, breaking the laws of thermodynamics isn’t just acceptable, it can be downright hilarious. However, if you make a character which can do things that can fundamentally break down the universe, then you’d better well explain how he does it, as well as why he doesn’t take full advantage of it.
I’m not just talking about the guy who can bend time and space, either. I’m going to leave you to answer the question of exactly how heavy things are, and just how fucked up physics is, not to mention how much energy it takes, to move around when time is stopped. Even a superpower as cliche as flight has some fundamental issues. How’s he staying up there? How much can he carry while flying? What’s happening to the air around him?
The dumbest thing is how they explain it: Genetic Mutation. Of all things, Genetic mutation does nothing to explain how people can, without feeling tired, fly around or teleport. There’s gotta be a cost associated with the power, and in the end that would actually make for more interesting characters.
I’m going to give you a contrasting vision of super powers: In Elfen Lied, the diclonius (who are all little girls, because the show’s Japanese), have “vectors” which are effectively extra invisible arms. They use these vectors to do things like fly, use Telekenesis, etc. One of the characters actually gets all four limbs torn off (which is ã�»ã‚“ã�¨ã�† ã�‹ã‚�ã�„ã�„ apparently), but can still wear fake arms and legs and walk around using the vectors. There might still be problems, physics-wise, with this idea, but they’re a lot less offensive to my mind.
So, the show is dumb. I’m still watching it, but I’m not really enjoying myself. If the show ended due to lack of support, I wouldn’t care. I might even be a little bit happy.