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The Post-Game Show » bryan fuller

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Heroes: Faster, Stronger, Fuller?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Even with a geeky show, it’s uber-geeky to pay attention to things like producer credits. Unless the guy in charge is named Joss Whedon or Russell T Davies, we simply should not know their names, any moreso than we should know the name of the factory foreman responsible for our cornflakes. Yet for those who do pay attention to such things, there was a frisson of anticipation leading up to last night’s episode of Heroes, because with last night’s episode, producer Bryan Fuller came back.

Bryan Fuller was one of the producers on Heroes for its first season, back when it was legitimately must-see TV. He was also the writer on the show’s best episode, Company Man. His other credits include cult favourites Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls, and Star Trek: Voyager. Well, everyone has to make their mistakes somewhere.

For the past couple of years he’s been off making quirky cutesy deathly rom-com Pushing Daisies, but that got cancelled, so they lit the batsignal and called him back to Heroes to try to steer the ship away from the rocks of mediocrity. Last night’s episode was also the last one to feature the thumbprints of the man who may bear the blame for much of that mediocrity, Jeph Loeb, a comic book writer who attempts to cover up his startling lack of originality by hiding it behind his towering lack of ability.

sylar-spoilers

Going in to last night’s episode we had Sylar on yet another tireseome extended road trip, having finally ditched but sadly not killed his irritating teen sidekick. (If ever there was a superhero convention this show did not need to explore, it was teen sidekicks, and if it really had to go there, it really shouldn’t have gone there with Sylar.)

We also had yet another blow-up-a-city prediction, this time involving Matt Parkman suicide-bombing DC, and we had the ongoing power-struggle between Danko the sickly-looking sub-Berkoff, and Nathan Petrelli, America’s most negligent senator. Plus, we had Claire participating in a Mutant Railroad that seemed suddenly to require her to help a predatory psychopath - and not the hot one with the eyebrows, but the fat one with the sweating - and we had Hiro and Ando ‘travelling’, ie, not doing anything, because after their pathetic ’save the lesbian, stop the wedding’ sub-plot, they needed a time-out.

Last night’s episode was clearly a bit of a deck-clearing exercise for Fuller so that he could start putting things right. Coming out of the episode, Sylar’s road trip seems to have reached its end; the blow-up-the-city plot was speedily curtailed; the Danko/Petrelli tussle was resolved by putting Noah in charge; Claire was no longer running the railroad; and Hiro and Ando were back doing potentially plot-relevant stuff (or setting up a superhero babysitting sitcom spin-off).

The episode ended with a trailer that pretty much just flat out said, “we’re sorry the show has been crap, but we promise the new episode in two weeks’ time will be better”. Cause for celebration? We’ll see. This marks the third time that Heroes has apologised for itself and promised to do better, so even if the show can still improve, the audience may have run out of patience.

But was last night’s episode any good? Not really, no. It was better than discovering that Noah Bennett has flashbacks in the style of Nouvelle Vague cinema, or that Sylar’s flashback theme is The Chain by Fleetwood Mac (though I was hoping we’d discover that Danko has flashbacks to Make It With You by Bread), nor did we get anything on the level of last week’s wonderful dialogue exchange - “I’ve been here before.” / “How do you know?” / “I remember.” -  but it was still not what I would call ‘good’. 

danko-panko

First we had to get past the millstone of the obligatory exploding city prediction story, in which Danko thought he could convince the world of the danger posed by super-people by using a completely non-super threat. So clever. This narrative cul-de-sac was hastily backed away from by having Nathan yank out a wire. 

Then we had Claire’s fleeting decision to go and work in a comic shop for five minutes, which turned out to have absolutely no relevance to anything and served only as an excuse to mock the dumb dedicated fanboys and fangirls who are still watching this show. I’m going to assume that this sequence was Jeph Loeb’s bitter last hurrah. Claire next went on to save a rapist and set him free in the park. Don’t look back, Claire! Let him go! He needs to be free!

The episode gave us was more progress on the Danko/Nathan/HRG power-struggle than we’ve seen all season, the highlight of which was watching Angela Petrelli eat oysters. I think the Danko/Angela scene was meant to be a tense stand-off between two heavyweight players, but no glower or sneer that Danko could muster came close to the menace of Angela Petrelli chugging oysters in the manner of an erotic Hannibal Lecter. Danko was sent packing like a disobedient schoolboy.

The centrepiece of the episode was Sylar’s confrontation with Sylar Senior, played by John Glover. Glover is best known to many as Smallville’s Lionel Luthor, so in a unified universe, Sylar and Lex Luthor are now brothers, which means the first crossover incest slash-fic is only minutes away. 

Unfortunately, after weeks of build-up, the clash between Sylars Père et Fils was a damp squib. The highlight was Daddy triumphantly pissing in Sylar’s chips by telling him he welcomes death, but no-one gets to outclass Sylar and his thick, lustrous eyebrows - not in Sylar’s show! - so the pouty little vulcan princess overcame pappy’s one-man-and-his-dog whistling powers and took his leave. And that was it.  Well, that, and they killed and stuffed a rabbit together. I’m hopeful that we haven’t seen the last of Lionel Sylar, as he’s far too good an actor to waste on that pitiful scene.

It was a clumsy, hapless episode, but maybe, just maybe, it did enough to set things moving in the right direction for the last handful of episodes of this season and on into season four. And, like a fool, I’ll be tuning in to find out. Disappoint me again, Heroes. I like it when you demean my intelligence.