In which Ellen pokes her head out…

2 10 2008

Hello everyone!

My name’s Ellen, how do you do? I’ve been an avid fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy for pretty much as long as I can remember, and since I also know all of these other jokers that post on Conventioneers, I figure this is a good place for me.

I’ve been reading Conventioneers for some time, all the while wishing I could think of something to post about. Last week, while watching the start of Heroes season three, I finally realized what I wanted to say. I’ve been thinking about the evolution for the show, and would like to share my thoughts so far with all of you. This is going to be a Heroes review of sorts, but I think a lot of the points I raise are meaningful for a lot of other stories as well.

I began watching the show this summer because I was interested in the concept and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I found it genuinely compelling and felt connected to the characters, or at least that I understood why each character behaved in the way that they did. This started to dissolve in season two, when I felt like I had lost touch with the characters and their motivations. Or rather, that the writers had. Season one was largely devoted to developing the backstory and unique circumstances surrounding each “hero”, and as such there was little interaction between the main characters until the end. In season two, all of the heroes generally knew each other and the writers were suddenly faced with the challenge of writing interactions between multiple main characters while still remaining true to each person’s motivation and values. On many occasion I feel that they failed.

Instead of feeling connected to the characters I found myself asking why they were behaving as they were. It seemed to me that their personalities and motives had become more generic, watered down versions of their past forms. Perhaps this is what must happen when you throw so many well-developed, strong personalities together and still want to get anything done. I’d like to get your thoughts on this. Is it possible to have a large group of characters with a wide variety of motivations and powers and still write a story with momentum while being true to each person? I feel like a lot of super-hero comics have this problem.

Another problem I had with season 2 is that the writers took the story in some of the places they did to get high ratings even if it meant compromising the identity of the characters. For example, on several occasions I was at the point of pulling my hair out watching a huge conflict develop because of a misunderstanding that could have been easily defused if the characters would have actually used their heads and talked it out. It seemed like a big cop-out on the writers’ part to just use misunderstanding for easy drama. The characters also repeated bad mistakes they made in season one just because the audience responded to those mistakes the first time. It’s these decisions to sacrifice quality for ratings that make me really disappointed in the writers. The reason I hold Heroes to such a high standard is because season one had relatively few of these problems.

I had hoped that the show could regain its old glory in season three with the writers’ strike over and after Heroes showed so much promise in the last few episodes of season two. Unfortunately, the three episodes that have aired so far still have a lot of last season’s problems and ultimately leave me questioning my faith in the series.

I’d like to hear any opinions or comments you may have. I am especially interested to hear what you have to say about how shows and comics maintain the identity of their characters after they’ve all met each other and are suddenly interacting and working together.