Heroes continues an ugly trend

You know what pisses me off? I'd like to say when a show starts strong in the first year and then the quality plummets like eagles fucking. That would normally be enough. But Heroes, season 2, seems to be raising the suck bar to new heights. The show has regressed considerably, and I'm seriously considering dumping this ostensible piece of shit. Let's look at a few examples.

By the way, I wasn't going to write this piece at all. I had watched Monday's episode last night, and although it wasn't too bad (excluding the Mexicans and Claire at this point can only help), it was better than the any of the previous episodes. So I go to bed and happen during the night to dream about Heroes, where I'm actually in it. Normally, this would be a pretty cool thing, but my unconscious starts to get irritated to the point where I wake up from the dream and I can't go back to sleep BECAUSE THE SHOW HAS BECOME A 42-MINUTE WEEKLY LAUGHABLE, POORLY WRITTEN, PAINFUL EXPERIENCE. At 4:30 in the morning, I am just plain ANGRY about it, and I'm going to talk about why. (Because if I tried to explain this in person rather than writing it down, you would easily confuse me with a ranting loon.)

Felix at Film Threat thinks a large part could be saved if they just kill off a lot of the characters. Basically Claire, wolfman (the flying boy), Niki, her son Micah, the new black sibling (don't know her name, don't care, if that tells you anything), the mexicans (maya and whomever) and Ando. I don't really have a problem with any of that, but it's probably not going to happen. Were it Heroes of last season, I would fear for all of their lives because the show was refreshingly merciless in killing off interesting characters, making you wonder if anyone was safe. This season seems to be coddling mediocrity as a virtue. Here's some of my peeves:

Guest Stars. I'm really thrilled the you could have Uhura come on and play the grandmother to Micah and have a few sassy lines. Very critical. Also, way to use Kristen Bell in this week's episode. She showed off her acting chops to say a very boring, canned lines (more on that later) and zap the Irish chick's brother (completely unprovoked) and then get 'called off' the case. Ms. Bell must have done a spit-take on the script when she compared the quality to that of her former Veronica Mars show. My point here is that the guest stars can't save the weak-ass writing. It's as if the producers go: "Look! It's Veronica Mars! Please don't pay attention to the fact that our writing sucks!!!" And this is BEFORE the dreaded writers strike. Are you telling me it's going to get WORSE?

Plot Device. Speaking of hacked scripts, it's pretty clear that Kristen Bell was only there to give Peter a reason to leave Ireland and go to Montreal with his new chick. Still it's better than having Nathan go with Parkman to visit his Dad. Why again? Oh because he can fly. On the other hand, once he's there, they can beat each other up! Oh, and what's Micah's cousin's name? You know the one who was there expressly to showcase Micah's ability to get Pay-Per-View? Who cares! Plot device, exit stage right. I'd say the sword in Ando's possession that has the scrolls is a plot device to keep him in touch with Hiro's "adventure", but then that would accuse Ando of being involved in something resembling a plot.

New characters. D.L.'s sibling, who is struggggling in New Orrrrleans to make her way and do some high kicks and... urrrrrgh. I forgot to care. Just like I am hoping and praying that Sylar rips the heads off the two Mexicans before they become any more retarded. They are great TV if you want to portray your latinos as super-stereotypes (God-following, gullible, over-emotional), but in the end I end up laughing.

Conversation. Speaking of laughter, I can't count the number of times I have said "oh my god", rolled my eyes and laughed aloud to the drivel coming out of some of the characters' mouths. At LEAST three times a show, someone will say something so phenomenally melodramatically unbelievable I will be tempted to chuck my shoe at the screen. Daytime soaps aren't this bad. To me, this is the death of a serious drama, when your characters say and act so cheesy that you no longer stifle your laughter.

Overall quality. I grow weary of even thinking about this show, so I'll conclude with this: Every episode this season feels like a short, slammed together creation of people who ran out of ideas. Every single episode from last season, even the worst -- the finale -- is head-and-shoulders above every episode this season. It's almost ridiculous how far this series has fallen in such a short stretch of time. I'm angry because I'm bitterly disappointed, and I'm really not sure if I have the patience to go back for more.


Pushing Daisies does it again

I put off watching Wednesday's episode of Pushing Daisies for a day in order to enjoy a calm, peaceful night out of socializing. I didn't realize when I returned to my very pretty DVR that the second episode would match, even surpass the pilot. Right now this show is setting the bar so high that it is already not only my favorite show of the year, but one of the most unique shows to come on TV since... well Buffy. And that's setting the bar pretty damn high.In this episode we learn that Ted's 1-minute rule isn't restricted to adults, knitting can save you life, full-body plastic suits can be useful in many ways, and a CDC-type protective glove protruding through a glass shield can be very romantic. The latter of which again demonstrates the show's producers' knack for toying with censorship (if you didn't first think that was for "road jobs", then you should try watching the show through a naughtier eye).

All that aside, the scene-stealer of the show comes from waitress Olive (Kristen Chenowith), who does an impromptu musical number from Grease, "Hopelessly Devoted", that had me laughing out loud at how funny and clever it was. AND I HATE MUSICALS. Watch it again here -- thinking about the floor cleaner dancing in the background just makes me giggle every time.

I know that Barry Sonnenfeld has directed the first two, so I'm hoping there isn't a drop-off in the quality once someone else takes the helm.



One of the new shows that I’m starting to watch is “Moonlight”, basically a tale of a vampire that is a detective that has morals. He had to “kill” his vampire wife years back to save a young girl, who is now a reporter. I heavily suspect that the vampire wife will resurface. It’s not so much because her death flashback wasn’t really conclusive, but more that CBS has her pictured on their Moonlight page as one of the main characters. Nice tell.

Instead of reworking the CBS writers’ pitch department’s prose, let’s just examine their interpretation of Moonlight from their about page:
    Mick St. John is a captivating, charming and immortal private investigator from Los Angeles, who defies the traditional blood-sucking norms of his vampire tendencies by using his wit and powerful supernatural abilities to help the living.
Stop right there. I’ve seen two episodes of the show, and I think that they should be embarrassed to accuse Mick of having wit. Within the space of 84 minutes of television, he has all but screamed “I’m a vampire” through his mistakes; this from a being who is actively trying to keep his nature a secret.

Let’s tick off the list of blunders so far: Attempting to kill a criminal with fangs but failing and thus reveal himself to the criminal, check. Do a video interview on the internet and become a city-wide celebrity, check. Rescue drugged female foil and be seen getting stabbed and then when she awakens at HIS place hours later be STILL WEARING THE SAME BLOODSTAINED SHIRT WITH A HOLE IN IT, check. Visit old blind cop buddy who thinks he has aged like him, then give female reporter case file allowing her to track the buddy down and wonder why he thinks he’s that old, check. Should I be this offended they used the word “wit”? This irritation feels justified, like a well-simmered pot of football fan anger.

Let’s continue with the CBS description:
    In a life-altering twist of fate, Mick was "bitten" 60 years ago by his new bride, the seductive Coraline. Forever 30 years of age, Mick's as handsome and charismatic as the day he was "turned," and he eschews others of his kind who view humans only as a source of nourishment.
Still haven’t seen Coraline (well, really haven’t seen her since “First Knight”, but I digress). I could harp on the “charismatic” thing again, but there’s a bigger gaffe here with the choice of “eschew”. Either the writers don’t know what the word means (to abstain or keep away from; shun), or they haven’t seen the show. Mick’s BEST FRIEND Josef is exactly one of those vampires. Mick’s contact at the morgue is one of those vampires. In fact, I haven’t seen a vampire he hasn’t cosied up to yet. Instead of “eschew” a more accurate phrase would be “pouts in front of”. Continuing:
    With only a handful of like-minded confidantes for company, including the eternally young, wealthy and mischievous Josef, a hedge fund trader who relishes his uniqueness, Mick fills his infinite days protecting the living.
Josef is a realist (for a vampire) and fun, and so far has demonstrated a much greater decision-making prowess than our hero. I’m not sure who is the foil for whom at this point.
    One night years ago, a single act of kindness changed Mick when he saved a young girl's life, making him want to be a better vampire. Now their paths cross again and Mick develops a distinctive bond with Beth Turner, who has grown into a beautiful, ambitious Internet investigative reporter.
Sophia Myles, who played a supporting role (vampire) in Underworld. Can’t escape the genre, I guess. All you need to know is that she is very, very pretty.
    Reconnecting with her unleashes feelings Mick knows he can't pursue without exposing that part of him that would make him a monster in Beth's eyes. As Mick lives between two realities, fighting his adversaries among the undead and falling in love, he discovers the mysteries and pleasures that a valuable life has to offer.
See, I was watching the show and Markman asked me “why can’t he be in a relationship”, and I was dumbfounded to answer. The best I can come up with is that he needs some extra mopeyness. I can just see the production meeting where an executive says, “We need to ‘Angel’ him about 25%”. So they dress him in a dark overcoat (check), make him mopey (check), longing for a mortal girl (check) who he can’t be with (check) because… well is that really important? We’ll figure that one out later!

Anyway, with that premise, I can’t wait to get to this week’s episode, can you? I was going to describe it in detail, but the most important thing you need to know is that Beth (reporter hot chick) finds out that Mick is a vampire at the end. You see, Mick has been rehearsing how to tell her (mentally saying “I’m a vampire. Doesn’t sound good no matter how you say it,” at one point – there’s that trademark wit again!) but can’t quite tell her because he doesn’t want her to see him as a “monster”. He likes to use that word a lot, but I really haven’t seen much of it, unless you mean a well-dressed stalking dimwit who has in the space of two episodes managed to get shiv’d in the chest twice by two regular humans head on. Oh THAT monster!

So, Beth finally remembers him from her childhood (replete with memories of his vampire battle with his wife), and figures out he doesn’t age, and sees him saving another potential victim from a convicted felon by getting shot several times with a shotgun, and later happens upon him in his home where he is drinking blood out of a IV bag and drooling the red stuff. So what does she say? Yep. “What are you?” THIS IS AN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST WHO MIGHT HAVE SEEN A VAMPIRE MOVIE, OR READ A BOOK. Did I mention she is VERY pretty. Clearly the line was meant to give him a chance to say “I’m a vampire,” but the writers really don’t need to sacrifice her brains so eagerly.

Favorite “huh” moment before that: Beth walks out of the warehouse after Mick had rescued the victim and she shot the felon in the face (nice!). She walks by a cop detective who is interviewing the victim, “So, Mick St. John shot Lee Jay?” Beth comes up to him and says, “No, I did,” then, dazed, walks off. Meanwhile the cop is yelling at her, “Hey! Wait! Come back!” and then gives up after she keeps walking. WELL SHIT I TRIED! WHAT ELSE CAN I DO??

At this point, this show is becoming my guilty pleasure because it is so inadvertently funny and ridiculous. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to this week’s episode. Vampires are better than any reality show.



Never heard of it until today, but I'm already interested because Doug Liman is directing it. A sci-fi adventure about someone who can teleport or "jump" around (apparently, from the trailer) from place to place instantly -- and who also only uses it to make his life easier and not be a superhero.The trailer at the official site is tight. I couldn't stop there, though, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and found the "premise":
    "A genetic anomaly allows a young man to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between 'Jumpers' and those who have sworn to kill them."
Seriously, who is conspiring to ruin my fun? Why do they always have to throw in the "war that has been raging for thousands of years" angle? I mean, aside from it being uber-cliche, you'd think that someone would win one of these things after a while. I guess you have to pitch it so that p-brained executives can understand. Aside from that, they also got Jim Uhls (of Fight Club) to rewrite the script, so double bonus. Put it officially on my list of movies-to-see-in-the-theater-2008.

A Tasty Pie Hole

The premise for ABC's new fall series, Pushing Daisies, seemed somewhat interesting but not quite enough to get me into watching the show. Ted, the protagonist (but not narrator of the show, and one of the high points, as it turns out) of the series, has been gifted since youth with the ability to reanimate the dead with his touch. At first, this gift seems miraculous, except for two huge caveats: (1) if he ever touches that person/animal/food again, they die, this time permenantly, (2) if he does not touch that person again within 60 seconds, someone else within close proximity will fall over dead.

Of course, had I known that Barry Sonnenfeld was not only the executive producer of the show but the director of the pilot, I wouldn't have waiting nearly a week to watch it. (Okay, there was a lot of football on this weekend, so things might have just happened this way no matter my excitement level.) For those of you who are too lazy to Google, Barry is either best known as the early cinematographer for the Coen Brothers (e.g., the Raising Arizona and the top notch Miller's Crossing) or as the director of such offbeat films as Addams Family, Get Shorty, and Men in Black. Within one minute of the start of Pushing Daisies' pilot, you know he has brought his bizarre, yet charming talents to the series. The already cliche description of the show is a 'fairy tale for adults'. I think it best a mix like this: cartoonish, gharish, dangerous. And utterly fun.Let's compare where this series is already on target, and Chuck is already flailing. Lee Pace plays Ned as restrained, unquirky, sincere and completely likeable. Zack Levi plays Chuck as frantic, over-the-top, and rather pathetic. Ted and his Chuck (not Zach Levi, thankfully, but Anna Friel) have a genuine chemistry that is obvious from minute one, and they are very cute together. Chuck (from Chuck -- I did not realize how confusing this could get, and now I regret it) likes Sarah Walker for some reason that I can't figure other than she's hot -- oh wait it's in the script.

Perhaps it's unfair that Pushing Daisies also got the services of Jim Dale to do the voiceover. As the voice of the audiobooks for the Harry Potter series, he brings a fantastical feel to the show, I'd go so far as to say a feeling of wonder. But aside from his sonorific voice, someone was clearly cribbing notes from Ron Howard's voice work on Arrested Development -- Jim delivers some terrifically funny insights that otherwise would be awkward to put into the regular story.It is not yet known if/how many needless strawberries have met their untimely fate because of his bakery business. What is also unknown is how Barry got the name of his store, 'The Pie Hole' past network censors. (Christ, even the picture capture - above - of the store on ABC's site is captioned "Inside the Pie Hole". Are they trying to get in trouble?) What we do have is the first pilot of the year to set the bar high enough that the series is under pressure to follow up with as smart and engaging episodes.

Bonus: Check out the comic from the series. If this goes anywhere near this level, this show is going to rock.


Heroes: Bah

In my previous post, I mentioned in passing that I wasn't very please with the new season of Heroes. Let me elaborate on that a bit by talking some about the characters.

Mohinder: He's trying to take the 'company' down from the inside, but he's already demonstrated that he's a bumbling professor. Or was that all on purpose? Sure didn't look like it. One thing is for sure and that's I'm pretty sure the writers didn't intend the 'My Two Dads' angle to be so inadvertently funny

West: Speaking of inadvertently funny, the new (obviously boyfriend-to-be) cute guy talking to Claire needs to speak a lot less. And by that I mean he needs to develop the ability to be mute. Every time he opens his mouth he's either snarky, sarcastic, or annoying. And he peeps in windows. I don't care if they have a genetic tick in common, that Claire would then be kissing him ten minutes after his reveal makes me want to scream "Oh COME ON" at the pretty, pretty HDTV (but I won't do that because it is too pretty. Now that I think of it, is the HD exposing the writing flaws, too? Hmm.). To top it off, the end of the third episode implies that Claire is back to not trusting dad because of the new boytoy. Arrgh.

Claire: If this point she doesn't have an lifelong masochistic sexual fetish, I'd be shocked.

Hiro: Hiro has apparently mastered his powers, but not well enough to conquer the Quantum Leap-stolen new problem with his powers: he can't come back to the present until his has finished what he needs to do. Which is probably going to be making out with the cute Japanese chick. (Aside: Even though Kensei has healing powers -- wouldn't you still be worried about fighting 90 angry samurai who might, say chop off your head?) I'm really not sure, but I am sure that I'm already bored with this subplot, which isn't a good sign

Peter: Speaking of not a good sign, Superman is already adjusting to his life over in Ireland, and apparently liking his new powers. And liking to use them to inflict pain. Interesting, but the quick romance between him and the Irish lass was far too quickly brewed. Well, it's obvious he used his powers for that one. I mean, does he conveniently have to have his shirt off every time she appears? I get it you worked out, Milo.

Niki: No one still cares about you. Even if you are going to work for 'The Company' in a twist at the end. Very sad they let the hot girl get the worst material. Well, not worst, just neither good nor bad.

HRG: Still the best guy on the show, because he's got some great history and the menace to get things done. And now the Haitian is back with him so he's got 'all he needs'. Unfortunately for him, apparently Isaac's painting has pretold his forthcoming doom. Figures.

Sylar: His resurgence single-handedly saved my interest in the episode. Still a murdering psychopath, he unfortunately dispatched Candace before they could ever do some good work. It's only natural for the writers to bump off the morally questionable powered characters as quickly as possible. Oh well. I guess she deserved it for not seeing this coming. Unfortunately for Sy, he couldn't absorb her power, and he's stuck in the middle of some jungle. I'd call that lack of foresight. For a 'super-villain', he's not the sharpest tack in the box. Then again, up against some of the 'Heroes', he really doesn't need to be.

Spanish siblings: Okay, neat power that she takes life and he gives it back, but aside from that, Maya suffers from the constant-whine syndrome that has me tapping my foot waiting for something to happen to them. Three episodes now and I'm getting a little tired of their desperation-shtick. I am hoping they get mauled by a vicious fan boy in episode 4.

Bottom line: C- so far. I won't abandon the series just because the writers are trying to irk me. But this feels like watching your talented football team piss away a victory by turning the ball over 5 times in a game you should have won. Dammit, we're better than this.


The one-sentence set-up: Charlie Crews (Lewis) was a cop who was convicted of murdering his friend and wife and sent to prison for 12 years. When the case was re-examined years later, he was exonerated. Now, he's decided to come back to work as a detective.

If that were all there was to the show, that wouldn't be enough for me to watch it. In fact, it really wasn't, but the thanks should go to two things: one, NBC video rewind, and two, other series' pilots or season premieres not coming up to snuff. Yes, I'm looking at you, Heroes and Chuck.

There's more to Life than meets the eye. Crews won a multi-million dollar settlement for his 12 years wrongfully imprisoned, so he lives in an empty mansion and just bought an orange grove because he liked the red tractor. His financial advisor (Adam Arkin, great), whose life he saved in prison, lives in the room above his garage, and sometimes opens the door for Crews' hankering for pretty young women (I suppose 12 years in prison will produce a tweaked Zen outlook). His new senior partner has a history of drugs and alcohol and, despite not liking Crews' Zen-attitude, won't rat on him to their superior who for some reason wants him off the force. The superior is also on Crews' wall list of suspects, along with his former partner and lead detective, which he is using to piece together who really was responsible for the crime he didn't commit.

But the glue that holds it all together is Damian Lewis. The lead actor was one of the best things about the great HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. He hasn't lost any of his screen presence, and pulls off Crews' odd mannerisms with charm and aloofness that you believe he's been cut off, abused, and removed from life for over a decade and is just now getting used to being back amongst the living.

Yes, two episodes in, and like the preseason college football pools, my top ranked teams are already looking shaky, and there's a new, sharply written contender in town.