Monday, February 19, 2007

My Heroes

So, the ads for next week's Heroes promise that we'll finally get answers to some of the show's mysteries. Rather surprisingly, given that pretty much every time any show's promised me that it's turned out to be a big, honkin' lie[*], I find I totally believe them. Unlike, say, Lost, which I'm still enjoying, but which tends to pile mystery on top of mystery without ever making anything any clearer, Heroes is doing a very nice job of feeding us genuinely relevant information as we go along, and slowly bringing things together in a way that feels like it's building to an actual, sensible conclusion, however far down the line that may be.

I doubt, however, that they will in fact give us the answer to the one, burning question that I have, namely: how is it possible that Hiro Nakamura gets even cuter with every passing episode? Forget stopping time, that's got to break the laws of physics somehow.

[*] Not that I'm still bitter about the final episode of Quantum Leap or anything. Much.


  1. I dunno, I really liked the final episode of Quantum Leap.

    I really get the feeling that, wheareas Lost learned from the big-continuing-mystery mistakes of shows like Twin Peaks, Heroes has learned from the mistakes of shows like Lost. While the show has lots of secrets, it's not really about those secrets, and it offers up plenty of reveals as it goes along. Lost really has become one big pile-on, and I feel like its answers are offered usually to deflect criticism against that.

    We'll see, though. Heroes isn't even a year old yet. I was much more fond of Lost in its first year...

  2. I might conceivably have liked the finale of Quantum Leap a little better if the advertising hadn't repeatedly promised me that "all your questions will be answered." Hard to say, though.

    And, yeah, I do very much get the sense that Heroes has learned well from the mistakes of shows like Lost. It certainly strikes a much better balance between mystery and storytelling. I find myself thinking that we may well be seeing the arc-driven TV series beginning to reach a kind of maturity. How long they can keep it up for is certainly an open question, though.

    I find it hard to judge whether Lost is getting or worse or not, because I watched the first two seasons on DVD, which was a much different -- and I think in some ways a better -- experience than watching it as it's broadcast.

  3. It's really tough to say. Lost definitely annoys and exhausts me (not in the good way) more often than it used to do. But still, like I think a good two-thirds of its audience, I'm probably in it for the long run -- good, bad, or indifferent. (I guess I didn't learn from shows like The X-Files. I sort of regret watching the last year of that.)

    Lost is a show that rewards close viewing, which is something that DVD allows -- but, to be honest, I don't think it really encourages repeat viewing. I own the first season DVD set, and I've never been tempted to put on a favorite episode, like I'll sometimes do with Buffy, or Farscape, or whatever. (Then again, I also wouldn't do that with The Wire, and that's not a reflection of quality, just the nature of the show...). Still, I'm sure it is a different experience watching it in blocks of episodes than week to week.

    And one of the things I really like about the last episode of Quantum Leap -- or, at least, one thing I've grown to really like in subsequent viewings -- is that it doesn't offer answers.

  4. I think the big difference between watching Lost on DVD vs. week-to-week is that I found the piling on of mysteries without answers and the slowness with which some of the storylines progressed far less frustrating when I could immediately move on to whatever developments might be added by the next episode, as opposed to having to wait each time.

    I'm not actually finding it either annoying or exhausting at the moment, but I do find that it is increasingly starting to be in danger of boring me. I'll definitely stick with it until the end, though, unless it does something seriously egregious to piss me off. After investing this much time in it, I have to know how it comes out, doggone it!

    I know what you mean about re-watchability, though. I rented the first season of Lost on DVD, but I have copies of the second season which were given to me by a friend, and I don't think it's ever even occurred to me to go back and watch any of it a second time. Whereas, yeah, shows like Farscape or Doctor Who I can happily watch over and over and over... and over.

    As for not offering answers, it's not that I object to a lack of answers per se. I actually quite like a bit of ambiguity, if it's well done. There's something to be said for preserving a bit of mystery, and failing to completely resolve every loose end can add a nice air of realism. I suppose what I object to is a sense of bait-and-switch. If it seems like a show is leading up to answers and promising answers, then not to provide at least some answers is unsatisfying and feels like a cheat. It also depends a lot on how it's handled... The ambiguity and metaphor in the QL ep. seems to have worked for a lot of people, but it just didn't work for me... I think because it just didn't fit the overall tone of the show very well. I will admit that it's been many years since I saw it. Maybe I'd think differently now, but I'm not sure my opinion's likely to change all that much.