Heroes + A Rundown of Genre TV This Season

I’ve gotta say I’m still enjoying Heroes, and one of the reasons is that when I tune in each week, I can’t be really sure of what’s going to happen, unlike virtually every other show on network TV other than Lost and Terminator.

Every season, my wife and I try to sort through the genre shows and pick one or two that will actually be worth our time, and even though there is an embarassment of riches as far as genre television goes this season, and a lot of it is a hell of a lot of fun, in the end, most of it is as much a formula as back in the days of The A-Team or McGuyver.

Chuck and My Own Worst Enemy are both essentially Alias with two different slants. Every single week there is going to be a spy mission, every single week people will be using a ear-radio, and every single week there will be a new McGuffin to chase after.

Eli Stone, stripped of its supernatural elements, is just exactly like every other lawyer show.

Life on Mars is just a cop show. 70s cop case + some trippy random "clue to the mystery" (Mars Rover Robot or hallucinations of himself as a child) = the show every week.

Pushing Daisies has a great sense of humor and whimsy. But it’s still just Murder She Wrote with genre trappings.

Every element of Crusoe is so familiar I might as well just watch The Swiss Family Robinson, Pirates of the Caribbean and Gilligan’s Island on an infinite loop.

11th Hour pretended to be some cutting edge science show, but is actually just a gussied up version of CSI, House, and all those ridiculous procedural shows where the writers have to invent 4 false solutions to the problem just to stretch the show into a whole hour. What a waste of time.

Fringe is the X-files rewarmed. Every week = another mystery about "The Pattern".

Heroes so far this season has been really dark and byzantine. There are actually times when I have a hard time following it, and I appreciate the challenge. Part of what I’ve enjoyed this season is its similarity to comic books. That is, so many characters and powers you have a hard time keeping track of them, the continuity so convoluted that it makes your head spin, the recurrance of old characters, the revelation of mysteries that turn expectations on their head (the Petrelli patriarch is alive? And Sylar and Peter are brothers? WTF?), the rockin’ guest villains (the "black hole" guy, and the creepy corpulent puppet master guy), the twists that the writers put in to change allegiances and provide excuses for heroes to fight heroes and villains to team up with heroes.

Yes, it’s unlikely and operatic and over-the-top, and with all the mucking around with alternate futures and time-travel and changing alliances and rampant power losses and power gains, it probably won’t be long before continuity problems make the whole thing collapse in on itself.

Just like comic books.

And so much fun.

It’s too bad they fired Jeph Loeb (or he left. Whatever). I figure it’ll make Heroes worse rather than better.


Wild Wild West and Stopping Time

As far as I know, I may have only ever seen one episode of Wild Wild West, but it affected me for the rest of my life.

In the episode, one of the characters had a pocket watch that could stop time.

I would later see this idea a few other places, including an episode of Duck Tales, but Wild Wild West introduced it to me.

Other kids might have fantasized about being able to fly, or being super-strong, or whatnot, but I wanted that watch.

Elementary school, junior high, high school, I wanted that watch. Even into college, and sometimes now… lately, the fantasy pops up mostly when I’m in the movie theater and there’s some ass-witted rudenick who actually answers their cell phone and talks into it during the film. I’d stop time, take the phone, chuck it out the exit door, and re-start time.

Back in the day, it was things like studying last-minute for a test (it wouldn’t have occurred to me to stop time during the test to look up the answers), getting off the home-bound bus when it passed my house on the opposite side of a busy main street instead of having to wait until the bus ran its whole route and came back on the proper side of the street…

Dealing hilarious and humiliating come-uppances to bullies or recurring enemy.

Then there was stopping time to run rampant through department stores and malls. Not stealing stuff, but treating the world like my own private amusement park.

And stopping time in creative ways so as to woo, romance, or seduce girls.

And, of course, the old standby to which various fantastical powers have always been put: seeing girls naked.

Time bored during class could be spent thinking up endlessly intricate pranks.

In college, it was more likely to be stopping time to get sleep I badly needed, or buying extra time to finish a paper.

And there was this horrid cow-bitch down the hall, Rehka, who would sit in the dorm hallway for hours yakking to her friends at times when people might well want to sleep. I tried the usual ways, asking politely, asking repeatedly, suggesting that they might move into her room, which was less than two feet away, to continue their incessant blabbering. Talking to the RA, who was a nice girl, but way too nice (wimpy) to be an RA, and therefore useless.

When all that failed, and the harpy hose-beast was out there yakking in the halls, I’d stop time, belt the screeching troll in the mouth, and then get a good night’s rest.

In high school I’d spend all sorts of time trying to figure out the logistics of the stopwatch. Obviously, it wasn’t stopping time — I was moving unbelievably faster than anyone else.

So there were kinks that had to be worked out.

If I was moving faster than everyone else, then if I actually hit someone while time was stopped (or even tapped them on the shoulder), I could injure or even kill them.

So there had to be a thin energy field around my body, a kind of time-buffer that kept my tremendous speed from causing unwanted casualties.

Also, if I spent too much time using the stopwatch, I could age prematurely. So there had to be a device that reversed that process while I slept.

Little things… like a modification so an outline of my body would remain in the air, so that I could stop time, do something, and return to the exact spot. Otherwise, observers might see my body or limbs suddently "jump" from one place to another.

And it would be boring being in fast-time by myself all the time, so there had to be another modification where I could touch people, click a button, and bring them into time-sync with me.

Anyone else happen to remember that episode? It’s one of those things that’s so far back and hazy that I could almost feel I made it up.

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse 4 Rent

Joss Whedon is (or will be if the writers’ strike ends anytime soon) working on a new sci-fi tv series for Fox, starring Buffy alum Eliza Dushku, titled Dollhouse.

This is awesome, amazing, spectacular news.


Not really.

Name me one genre series after X-files and Millenium that lasted more than two seasons on Fox.

Um, Futurama, which was to the Simpsons what Millenium was to The X-Files.

Oh, there was Sliders, which they cancelled after the first season, then revived for two seasons, and then pawned off on the sci-fi network.

So, slim pickings.

The best we can hope for is a season and half.

The Tick
John Doe
Kindred: The Embraced
Alien Nation
Adventures of Brisco County Jr
Dark Angel
Harsh Realm
Space: Above and Beyond
The Lone Gunmen
Point Pleasant
Tru Calling
and definitely some others I can’t think of right now.

Joss should just plan his story-line to last a season and a half right now. Anything past that would be an utter miracle.

Come on Joss, it’s been over a decade since a live-action genre show greenlit by Fox actually survived. You are a fool.

That’s right, I’m calling Joss Whedon a fool.