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13 Ways to Get Heroes Back on Track

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hayden-panettiereNormally, the announcement of a fourth season of a popular television series would be grounds for celebrations, but one has to wonder how many fans are saying enough is enough already.

Heroes, as everyone who is actually reading this post knows, had an incredible first season that gave NBC a much-needed hit, made “Save the cheerleader” a household phrase and became internationally known. Then came season two. For a little while, it went fine – while not as good as the first season, it still developed its characters further and progressed the story at a reasonable pace.

Then… the writer’s strike. Facing a chapter without an ending, the Heroes writing staff made the massive mistake of accelerating their storyline – about a virus that ravages the world – toward a clumsy conclusion far earlier than was ever meant to happen. The result? Subplots were dropped, stories were accelerated to the point where nuts and bolts were flying off at the seams and fans were left with a bitter taste in their mouth.

As awkward as season two was, it did have some strong storylines:

  • The introduction of the Nightmare Man – a man who, at the end of season one, was described as “worse than Sylar,” added another great villain to the mix.
  • New “heroes” Maya and Alejandro had some of the most interesting and disturbing powers ever imagined.
  • Hiro gets stuck in 17th century Japan, a seemingly goofy (but entertaining) storyline that ends up revealing yet another sinister villain, an immortal who is fine with killing everyone in the world off for good.
  • Claire starts dating a flying boy – who is scared to death of “the man with horn-rimmed glasses,” i.e. her father.
  • Peter discovers that the world will be destroyed by a horrible virus.
  • Nathan is apparently assassinated on the verge of revealing to the media that some people have special powers.

It wasn’t perfect, though. There were some issues:

  • The show continued to introduce new characters, not all of whom were good. The New Orleans girl who can learn how to do anything was not particularly interesting and added little to the overall plot.
  • They leave Caitlin (Peter’s Irish girlfriend) stuck in the future and just drop her story.
  • They kill off Ali Larter’s intriguing character… to save the stupid New Orleans girl.
  • The last several episodes move way too quickly, forcing characters to do unexplained things that don’t fit their nature. The season finale is particularly painful as it is clear that the writers decided to cut the story short rather than just leave us hanging until the show’s return half a year later. Sometimes less is more.

Season3 has had its moments, but has suffered since the first episode and doesn’t show any signs of improving. In fact, there are a lot of things wrong with this season:

  • Nathan has a “religious” experience and his character completely switches gears again. He becomes the most unbelievable flip-flopper in the history of fiction and non-fiction.
  • Ali Larter is introduced as an entirely new character, whose power is that she can turn things to ice. She goes from having one of the most interesting powers to the dullest, and as such gets very little screen time. The writers cop-out big time by explaining that she and Nikki were a result of a medical experiment.
  • Sylar temporarily becomes a good guy with mommy and daddy issues. One of the most cunning and creepy villains is manipulated beyond belief.
  • Noah Bennett continues to switch sides and loyalties, but his argument that he’s just trying to protect Claire is starting to sound really old. The writers believe it, however.
  • Peter becomes trapped inside a villain, while the villain gets his body. Oh, Jesus, are you serious?
  • Noah Bennett runs around calling “bad guys” “villains” because that’s the name of the chapter and what bad guys are called in comic books.
  • Matt develops the same painting-the-future bit that other characters have had, which was interesting the first time around but isn’t anymore. He and many other characters also have to deal with a stupid African prophet who is more annoying than anything else.
  • Another horribly annoying character is introduced: Daphne. She’s killed, which is good… but wait, she isn’t actually dead, convincing us that the writers have no interest in permanently killing any character for good.
  • The writers take us into the future, but this go-around the episode isn’t nearly as good as the excellent one from the first season. Penis envy persists.
  • Matt becomes an increasingly annoying character.
  • The writers give sidekick Ando special powers. Do not ever give regular people powers. It ruins the balance of the show. His powers also suck.
  • The writers give Mohinder special powers, as if he wasn’t already annoying enough.
  • Mohinder’s special powers turn him into a villain (did he murder Maya? I can’t remember. If not, what happened to her?). Unfortunately, the writers decide that he would annoy us better if he switched sides once again and became a good guy with super-strength but no barnacles. Cop-out.
  • An eclipse takes away everyone’s powers. The eclipse lasts for multiple episodes, raising the question as to why no one is disturbed that the earth has stopped rotating and the moon has stopped orbiting. The earth would also be destroyed if this happen, and we would all die.
  • One also wonders how an eclipse can take away powers. This is stupid.
  • Peter goes from being a bad-ass who absorbs powers at will to only being able to use one power at a time. Suddenly, he is not the awesome anti-thesis to Sylar but just another boring hero.
  • Sylar learns how to take people’s powers without cutting open their heads. What’s the fun in that.
  • Hiro still doesn’t have his powers back. Hiro and Ando split up.
  • Sylar gets a sidekick who has to be one of the most annoying people on the planet. Viewers wonder why Sylar doesn’t kill him immediately. If Sylar doesn’t do it soon, I will.
  • The characters continue to return to the Mendez suite, as if everybody looking for heroes wouldn’t keep a constant eye on that place.
  • Nathan commits his biggest flip-flop yet and, for no particular reason decides that it be best if he pit the government against all heroes – except for himself, his brother and his daughter, of course. Nathan is confused when this plan backfires on him, and we wonder how even a politician on a television show can be so stupid.

The Heroes writers can still turn this ship around, and they’ll have to if they want a season five. It’s going to be hard, but not impossible. They’re going to need to be disciplined and create some rules for themselves that cannot be broken. My suggested solution is at the bottom of the post, but here are some general ideas/rules that the writers should implement to improve Heroes:

  • Bring back Molly, the little girl that could find anyone, anywhere. She was an interesting character that has been crucial at times.
  • Kill off Mohinder. Make fans happy. Destroy him.
  • Give Matt some Zanax. He has way too much anxiety and becomes annoying as a result.
  • Make it a rule that no character’s power can change for the sake of changing. They can evolve, but not completely change.
  • That being said, give Peter back his kick-ass powers.
  • Keep Sylar a bad guy, and if you want to make him temporarily good, offer a common villain. Don’t allow him to be so easily manipulated.
  • Make it a rule that no character can lose their powers unless another character (like Mr. Petrelli) has the ability to do so. Silly things like the moon moving in front of the sun should have no effect on what is a genetic trait.
  • Keep the stories grounded in reality… only with superheroes. This stems from the eclipse thing. Do all the crazy stuff that comes along with people having powers, but otherwise don’t give in to cheesy comic book gimmicks.
  • Slow things down. Stuff is happening way too quickly. Progress the stories slowly, add some mystery to things that span entire seasons, and allow time for your characters to progress and develop. If you want to make Nathan a bad guy who starts hunting down all heroes, develop this transition over 20 episodes – not one.
  • Don’t allow characters to switch sides multiple times in a season. If a good guy becomes bad or a bad guy becomes good, make their transition a series-long one.
  • Plan your show out more than five episodes at a time. Don’t switch gears on a minute’s notice, unless it’s an intentional twist that makes sense.
  • Bring back Ali Larter’s original character.

I’m sure there are more, but those could start moving Heroes back in the right direction. But, the writers shouldn’t waste several episodes trying to do this. All of this could be accomplished in one or two episodes, and I strongly believe that, if done right, this could solve the problems of the show:

Hiro is not the only time traveler. There is another time traveler, a bad one, who goes back in time to do some really bad things. Everything changes in the future, but Hiro, who partially exists outside of the time-space continuum, is the only one who isn’t affected. He goes back in time, back to either the end of season one or even the end of season two. He fights with the evil time traveler, and past Hiro is killed. Future Hiro takes his place amongst a group of characters that haven’t been affected by the Villains or Fugitives storylines. Peter still has all his powers, Nikki is still alive somehow, and all of the horrible character development that we’ve witnessed areerased. And things continue on as if nothing happened.

Typically, I’m not a fan of doing something like this, but considering that Heroes does involve a lot of time travel, wouldn’t the easiest solution be to just return to a part of the story where fans generally agree that the ship was still on course. If the writers could work the virus storyline back into the fold, that’d be awesome, but if not, just go back to the end of season one and go from there.

What do you think?

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: TV Series
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  • Fin

    GENIUS!!!!!!!!!! LOVE IT: WISH IT WOULD HAPPEN.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Thanks, Fin!

  • muffin

    this is wht ie been trying to tell my boyfriend.season 1 and 2 LOVE!!!seasons 3 i still barely understand it.and i have been watching heroes since day 1. i can say that if thing dont get righ, i have to take a bow out and end it while its still bearable

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @muffin – yeah, Heroes is pushing my limits – I don’t know if I can survive another season of this.

  • Relly Ebita

    It seems there are so many things left unanswered in season one.. season 2 came out with more questions and still no answers.. season 3 was a total chaos.. or id rather say disappointing..

  • Reggie Whitaker

    Hello everyone,

    After reading this article it just became a bit clearer how the situation currently is divided in two pieces. The first piece is the basics of Heroes, a couple of superheroes trying to save the world with there amazing powers and of course a couple of bad guys like Sylar who do bad things. The second piece is the stories around these events, Claire with her underwater boy-friend, where the fuck is West???

    I have a couple of suggestions to make these things better:
    – Yeah; Give Peter back his powers!!
    – Give Mohinder a political role, like a consultant for the white where’s he’s conducting research en take away his power!
    – Bring Molly and Micah back!
    – Sylar vs Peter <– Awsome :D
    – Give Hiro his powers back, and do a lot more with Peter and Hiro batteling badasses from the past.
    – Sylar has to be more badasss then ever before, he gets new abilities like time traveling and changes things, Peter and Hiro try to prevent.
    – Cut Matt’s Character HE SUCKS
    – I don’t like Ali Larters character anymore, leave it.
    – Go back to the basics of Sylar’s abilty.. let him loose all his current powers, it’s so messy.
    – Please, do something usefull with Nathan’s character, make him president or somekind, just like ep 20 from season 1.
    – Yeah and what to do with claire… i really don’t know.. but her power’s can help hiro and peter battleing evil past badasses…
    – Cut Lyle & Sandra….
    – Put Bennet in a role of hiding people with abilities (dunno for what purpose)
    – Cut Daphne (or use her to help hiro,peter and claire, and can help here..)
    – Cut angela (great actress but she is boring)
    – Bring back Mr. Isaac of someone who resembles him
    – Please kill Danko, never wanna see him again

    I would prefer like making a dark past where all things are changed, Sylar and some other badasses doing all bad things, Peter and the gang (Claire,Hiro,Daphne and Ando) think of something to stop them, of course there is a lot of action and switching future’s which makes Heroes so incredibly awesome. Do something usefull with all the other characters… Mohinder and Nathan making a stand against Heroes, fine with me… but just make a good and clear story.

    Heroes for at least two more seasons.
    I really hope it will be better.

    Tonight: Shades of Gray

    — Goodbye!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Great comment, Reggie. Thanks! What do others think of Reggie’s list?

  • Joe Lazarski

    I would have to disagree with Daphne. I think her and Hiro had a unique chemistry and that they should’ve explored the “nemesis” side of her character more. One of the best lines in this season is when Daphne called Hiro “Pikachu”. But once they decided to tie her to Parkman, I lost all interest in her character.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    I agree – she was better when she was paired with Hiro/pitted against Hiro. I really started hating Daphne – and Parkman, for that matter – when those two hooked up.

  • Callum Allan

    I am glad other people see how the show has gone downhill from Season 1. The writers need to be more patient and develop the characters instead of giving up with storylines and looking for quick fixes!
    I agree with most of the critisms of Season 2 and 3 and the suggestions on how to get the show back on track.
    Season 2 was a victim of the writers strike but even then they should have let the story play out and not cut it short to keep to the schedule.
    There is no excuse for Season 3 and how random the show has become.
    On top of the suggested character ‘fixes’ by Erik & Reggie, I would like to see:-
    Claire’s character become a little more vulnerable and human.
    The Haitian should have a more frequent role to play.
    Maya should return… her power is very dark.
    If we’re bringing people back from the dead I would like Elle back, they could have done alot more with her. I would also like Knox to come back, he has been the only good addition to the show this season and they killed him off??

    Thats my lot!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Hi Callum,

    Thanks for your feedback. I do believe the Haitian should play a bigger role, as well as Maya. I also liked Elle when she was first introduced, as a crazy agent. When they made her more human, giving her daddy issues and the like, I feel she totally lost her game. I do think it was an effective moment when Sylar killed her – and it would be dangerous to bring her back just because.

    Which one was Knox?

  • Callum Allan

    Knox was the black guy who gained power from peoples fear – i think he could have been an effective villain and it would have been interesting to see a back story to him.
    I agree that when Sylar killed Elle it was a good return to form for him although it didnt last long before this ‘father’ story distracted him.
    Also, what ever haappened to Hana Gitelman from season 1? She would be a good character to bring back (unless they killed her off and I somehow missed it)

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Thanks for the reminder – yes, the villains storyline just seemed to flounder a lot of potentially good characters. Remind me who Hana Gitelman was…

  • http://heroesanalysis.blogspot.com melondonkey

    Callum- Hana sucked, remember? That accent? Radio isotopes? A redundant power (too close to Micah)? Good thing they were on the ball back then about ditching dead weight (RIP D.L).

    I think what we need (maybe season 4) is a photograph from the future of all the heroes together in formal wear on the Deveaux rooftop like with the old generation in season two. That sense of knowing all the heroes would get together for something big would bring back that loving feeling without using old formulas (future-painting and alternate futures). Sylar could be in the photo too and they could throw in some unknown faces to introduce new people and drive the arc. Knowing what will happen but not how is the original heroes forumla, and I’m tired of articles about how they’ve gotten back to their original formula when all they really mean is they’re just copying old stuff.

    Kill Tracy and move on to Barbara so we can get her killed too. Either kill Matt or Mohinder or stop putting them in scenes together. They’re really cramping Peter’s style.

  • http://kajidas.blogspot.com/ venoms33

    Is Daphne really dead?? Now that would suck big time! I agree that she and Hiro have chemistry and work well as a brother and sister type competition (love/hate relationship). The pairing of Parkman and Daphne was much more realistic and their promise or development of a relationship was/is fun to watch. My hope is that Daphne is not truly dead. Her character adds humor and sarcasm to many of the doldrums and dead airtime. I honestly prefer watching Daphne over Claire’s boring mellow dramatic storyline any day.

    Kudos for the great ideas! I agree with all the following to bring this show back on track. I don’t believe the writer’s strike is to blame for this mess the show is currently in at this time. The producers and creator have an equal responsibility to air a top quality show and present it to the public. Season 2 was a complete wash. It felt like the shows executives completely deviated from the successful formula of the first season. I agree, go back to the basics and slow this show down. It feels like they are trying to do so much and too soon. So what if it takes couple of episodes to build a character’s back story and development? Real and true fans of the show will be here if the shows creators/writers remain true to the story and continue to produce and air quality shows.

    Now for the ideas:
    – yes, bring back Molly, she was great!
    – yes, bring back Nikki/Jessica – I would like to see her past, how she came to be and the mystery behind her sisters. she had a wild and crazy/complex side, which left you wondering what will she do next?
    – yes, please give Peter back his powers to counter balance that of Sylar’s
    – yes, take away Mohinder’s powers – let him focus on his research, finding a cure and continue his father’s work of tracking down others on the list
    – yes, stop giving powers to normal humans – take away Ando’s powers
    – yes, keep Sylar as a bad guy
    – yes, stop with the switching of sides with characters, except for Bennett, he is best served as a loose cannon
    – yes, slow down the stories/plot a bit. take a deep breath and look at the body of work produced so far. if it doesn’t make sense to you it won’t make sense to us

    Kudos for Season 3 thus far:
    – Great job bringing Micah back!
    – Good idea bringing Parkman’s baby back, but hope this storyline doesn’t last long. I prefer the Daphne storyline better
    – It’s great that Sylar and Danko will be working together as main bad guys
    – Yay, no more Arthur, Adam, Flint, Meredith, Murray, Kaito and Usutsu
    – Finally, no more Maya. After her brother was killed off, she served no purpose and added no real value to the show. Her character was lame and acting was terrible. She was just filler until Season 2 ended and the writer’s strike took over, imo.

    Other ideas to help save Heroes:
    – Kill off the Claire Bennett character, she is boring, dull and whiny. Season 1 she was great, but it is now Season 3 and her character hasn’t gone anywhere. Is she still in high school? Is she getting ready for college? What’s the story? She adds no value to the show anymore and her scenes are painful to watch.
    – Along those lines, send the Bennett’s into hiding or witness protection program just to remove the family from the show entirely. This storyline is boring and constantly rehashed every episode. Claire always wishes she wasn’t so different and just wants to be normal, boo-hoo! Arrrrggghhh, nails grinding on chalkboard! Send this family off to Kansas with Dorothy and Toto.
    – Take away Hiro’s power to time travel. The time travel power confuses things and Hiro always seems to mess things up, like the bumbling fool that he is. It is best that he just has the power to stop time and teleport. The time travel piece complicates things. Plus, who needs it when you now have Parkman to paint visions of the future and Angela to see the future.
    – Focus on 1-3 character story lines each week. Bring back Nikki and have her and Micah work together to track down her third sister. Resolve the mystery behind the scientific experiments. Return Mohinder back to following his father’s footsteps, finding a cure, tracking down others on his list and take away his powers. I believe he is a core character in Heroes who can shed some light on the evolution of these powers. His narration of the show is excellent and it was his storyline that got this show started in the beginning. I liked the idea of giving him a title of top Research Expert within a secret government agency to continue his tests. Have Peter, Parkman, Daphne and Hiro work together to help others with similar gifts. Or have them each return to living their normal lives. Remember they all had professional lives/careers before they knew they each had special gifts. Why not attempt to return to normalcy under new identities?
    – Give Peter more air time. Develop his character further and focus on his potential as a hero. He was an RN before discovering his powers, he can continue to do good now but behind the scenes. Introduce a new love interest. His original pairing with Simone was great in Season 1.
    – Slowly introduce new characters. Introduce them toward the end of the season so it will leave viewers wanting to know and learn more about this new character, their powers, intention and history. If the characters have generated interest/buzz and curiosity then the writers will have time over the summer to develop these new characters further.
    – Bring Elle back and don’t kill off Daphne!!!

  • http://www.whatareyouwatching.uni.cc Television Spy

    I stopped watching 3/4 of season 1.

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