Tuesday, May 15, 2007

When did I start loving you?

I'm here to defend Heroes as my favorite show of the year. Does Heroes even need defending? Aren't its fans legion, aren't they proclaiming it the shit and fucking awesome and other such superlatives? Well, I wasn't quite on the kool-aide train, at least as of a few months ago. I was still just watching the show and enjoying it but kinda waiting for the shoe to drop, for Lost-syndrome to set in or something. For the crazy, out-of-control plot and myriad characters to convolute just one too many times. Lost has burned me before; 24 is kinda burning me now. But after just watching the penultimate episode of Heroes, I know it's gonna go nuclear, only this time, thankfully, I won't get burned...

Maybe I'm not here to defend; it's too hard to defend when you're on a television high. I guess this post is more of a declaration. I suppose I should list the shows I actually watch regularly, to give some sense of what I like and where I'm coming from. Okay:

Battlestar Galactica
Rome (over now)
The Tudors (I'm trying to get over the loss of Rome -- it's not helping)
My Name is Earl
The Office
(N.B.: I used to watch Veronica Mars but I quit earlier this season [heh, it's like I'm talking about my smoking addiction or something; let's just say I don't generally stick with high school shows once they go to college]; I have also seen a couple eps of House, but it didn't really take)

So I'm not a huge television watcher; I'm only mildly obsessed with TV instead of full-blown fanatic (movies are my thing anyway). My "type" of show runs more along the supernatural/sci-fi/suspense/action line, and my comedies are of the "mainstream quirky" sort. I don't generally watch reality shows (though, somehow, without my consent really, I know all about who's on Idol every year and who wins Dancing with the Stars and all the other "cultural" stuff that I guess is unavoidable if you're on the internet at all these days).

And finally, at the start of the season this year I got hooked on two shows:
Dead Like Me and Heroes. Dead Like Me I caught in reruns and loved so much that I ended up netflixing and watching it all in like a week. Heroes I happened to see a commercial for and decided to give it a go. What's kinda weird, and I just noticed this as I'm writing, is that I watched the series finale of Dead Like Me on the same day that I watched the series premiere of Heroes, and both shows on a day of personal sadness for me. I can't pretend I didn't cry my eyes out at the end of Dead Like Me, but then when I watched Heroes I was somehow exhilarated, somehow, and oh my this is gonna sound cheesy, I felt uplifted, inspired. Yeesh. I'm a dork, I know.

But let's just say I really dug that first ep of Heroes. It hit my TV sweet spot; it gave me something I needed that day. And I kept watching it, even when it moved to the same time slot as 24 (Tivo helps). And I enjoyed it. But.... well... it was a good show, I was willing to vouch for it, I'd told all my friends and neighbors to watch, but, well, it just didn't consume me the way my super-favorites did. I'm obsessed with The Office, or, Jim Halpert more specifically, seeing as he's my TV boyfriend. I watched two and a half seasons of BSG in less than two weeks. I played online games for Lost (thankfully THAT phase is over; the bitterness has finally settled into a nice, steady cynicism and I can watch the show, enjoy, and still think it's a steaming pile of crap served up by the two biggest charlatans in television today).

Heroes was just that show I watched on Mondays and enjoyed and then forgot about for six days. I heard it described somewhere as "the best bad show ever" and I thought, yeah, that's about right. The dialogue, characters, acting -- it was all sub-par, and yet the plot was compelling enough, and the powers just cool enough in their X-Men knock-off ways, that the show was still fun and engaging.

And then suddenly, I don't know when, was it Fallout? Was it Company Man? Was it tonight with Landslide? Suddenly, I wasn't just digging the show, I was loving it. I am loving it. It is the real deal, the show that works, the serialized supernatural drama that actually knows what it's doing and knows how it's all going to end, and wants to tell its story and then be done with it, on to the next thing, the next mystery, the next crisis, we're done with you and we're not afraid to kill you, we showed you that rifle on the wall seven months ago and now it's ready to go off. And all that cheesy bad dialogue and cardboard characters and iffy acting -- it's all out the window, 'cause now I love it when it's cheesy bad 'cause it's so sincere, so heart-on-its-sleeve, so sure about heroism and duty and love and family.... Heroes, when did I start loving you?

We're living in May now and television is giving us all the goods it's got. Season finales are bursting out all over with that end-of-the-season flurry that makes it hard to take in all the shocking reveals, character deaths, long-awaited couplings, and generally expected season finale shake-ups. It's all a mid-May burst and then it's gone and summer comes like the numbing sound of nothing on, and suddenly we're expected to actually go outside and do something.

As the finales flurry hits in the next couple of weeks the one show I cannot wait to watch is Heroes. It's the one show that makes me hope I don't die before next Monday, just so I can see how it all ends. Am I crazy for loving this "good bad" show? All I know is that it's going to be a long, long summer that no amount of outside can cure. I guess the only TV that can save me after May 21 is if the Red Wings, Pistons, and Tigers all go nuclear too. Then I won't mind waiting all summer for my new favorite show to come back.


LeaJo said...

Yes. Yes, that's it exactly.

Except for me, the exact moment everything changed was in the airing of the episode "Five Years Gone". That episode tranformed this show from the "good bad" show I mildly enjoyed to the really freaking amazing show I mildly enjoy, heh.

The show really does do an amazing job with story and plot. No episode is boring and all the episodes seem to connect together in ways that I never thought they would. I always find that the show leaves me on the edge of my seat week in and week out, something that 24 and Lost used to do for me, but alas no more. It truly is a great show.

The difference between you and me however has always been that I am way more obsessed with television than you are and already have numerous shows that keep me happy every week. So I don't really need Heroes to make me excited about TV, but I do enjoy having it around. :)

The Derelict said...

You know, I was just reading something yesterday that I thought summed up why you were having trouble getting into Heroes earlier in the season: until these last few episodes, all the episodes have been "set-up", in other words, nothing much has happened except to set the stage for the final few eps. I think this is a great analysis and explains why those early eps were sometimes just "whatever" because it seemed like nothing much happened; this is also why so many of those early episodes run together -- they're all just setting up the events of these last few eps. The episodes since the show came back from hiatus have all been a lot meatier 'cause now we're finally at the point where the set-ups can have their payoffs and stuff is HAPPENING. That's why I think the show will be great on DVD, 'cause we can watch it like a really, really long movie/mini-series, with the first act being set-up, the second act being conflicts and complications, and the third act the climax. Just something to think about.

Jon Hastings said...

At first, my take on Heroes was: interesting but kind of badly done (pacing was off, cliched characters, actors all-over-the-place). I kept watching, though, because I did respond to the premise. And then 5 or 6 episodes in I really started to like it like it: the set up was paying off, the actors were growing into their roles, the cliches weren't all what they seemed at first.

And then, since it came back with new epsiode in April, I think it's been operating on a whole new, higher level.

Now, apart from The Sopranos, it's my favorite TV drama, even though when it started I didn't even think I'd be able to last the whole season with it.

I guess my point is: I actually think the show did get better; we aren't just imagining it.