Thursday, September 25, 2008

(Somewhat) Off-topic: Dubious lessons learned from recent TV.

Since I usually watch Prison Break and the Sarah Connors Chronicles, I taped the season premiere of Heroes. Yes, taped. I'm not trendy enough to download it to anything or Tivo or any of that nonsense.

A few words on Prison Break, a show that's come a long way from it's titular premise: while not a great show, it's at least entertaining, and although this isn't as prevalent as it was in prior seasons, you could probably get the general idea if you watch the first and last five minutes of each episode. Seriously, if you've ever felt swamped by a problem that looked way too big for you to ever deal with, watch this show. The brothers Scofield and Burrows, and their merry men, will show you how to break down a mountain of a task into several smaller, seemingly insurmountable tasks, that you can attack in one-hour installments. You may even have trouble with those, but persevere, and you can accomplish your goal, which will then lead to you being thrown into an even worse situation. The long, serial, formula, uphill climb of the characters on this show are a lot like a lot of comics, really. Or Super Mario Brothers: Sorry, but your princess is in another prison!

But Heroes, and I didn't think of this while I was watching it, the subject came up the other day at the Fortress of Fortitude: the heroes of Heroes seem to mess up, drop the ball, screw the pooch, shoot themselves in the foot, and so forth, a lot. A lot, a lot. Like, if anyone had any sense, or used their powers in a reasonable fashion, the show would be if not over, a lot shorter.

Mohinder: Oh no! The untested injection that I had no idea what it would do, is mutating me somehow! How did this happen? (Admittedly, scientists shooting themselves up with their discoveries is a proud comics' tradition, and Mohinder could do a lot worse than turning himself into the Hulk or the Lizard. Man-Thing maybe.)

Nicki, or whoever she is now: Oops! Accidentally froze a guy! Well, I'm sure no one will notice, or come looking for him...

Future Peter: Whoops! Changed my crappy future into something worse! Better change it some more...damnit!

Present Peter: Uh-oh! I look like an escaped prisoner! Better play along, regardless of whether I have my powers or someone else's!

The two "agents" that tried to stop Sylar: Oh noes! The taser isn't working! If only we had something, anything else to try! (Really, they looked at each other like they both thought the other had the bazooka, before Sylar did his point-and-grab power on them.)

Hiro: So bored...if only I had some noble quest, regardless of what danger it might pose for the world...hey, my inheritance! Dad's last wish is not to touch it, but I'm sure it won't get stolen seconds after I open it...hey!

So, Prison Break features characters in a series of Sisyphean tasks, where the goalposts keep moving farther away. Repetitive, but more entertaining than Heroes, where bad decisions and unforced errors seem to keep the plot moving. Moving in a downward spiral towards an inevitable disaster that can only be sped up by the characters' actions, but moving. Sort of.

4 comments:

Sea_of_Green said...

Yeah, but the Heroes still screw up A LOT LESS than Clark Kent does on Smallville. ;-)

The Fortress Keeper said...

John Connor is pretty much a screw-up too. "I'll slip away from that interfering Cameron ... ooops! There's an evil terminator on my trail!"

Still, he's a lot more competent than Hiro.

Siskoid said...

It's definitely debatable whether Hiro was in character in those scenes...

googum said...

Well, having a "Nemesis" is all fun and games until you (or, more likely, your sidekick) gets shanked...