Login or Register

Sign in with Facebook

Just in case you missed it, NBC recently made a surprise announcement that they will be bringing back Heroes for a 13-episode "miniseries event" in 2015.

"Miniseries event" meaning "We'll see if ratings are shit and go from there" and "Fox did it with 24, so why not?" I, like many Internet assholes, am skeptical, because I lived through the horror of watching one of the most awesome shows in history steadily piss itself away with each new season ... but I have hope. So if you're a fan of the show, I hope you don't mind if I speak for us all when I suggest to the writers and producers that we will give it our unwavering support as long as we see things like ...

Real Payoffs

Andrea Chu/Photodisc/Getty Images

Aside from the 2007-2008 writers' strike sliding a cactus up TV's collective asshole, one of the biggest problems with later seasons of Heroes was that the plot simply lost basic direction. Above all else, if a story doesn't clearly answer the audience's question of "Why?" they will eventually lose interest and find something else to watch. Season 1 was very clear in that aspect: "Why are they doing what they're doing? To save the world from a superpowered psycho and the city from an exploding Peter." No, I'm never changing that phrasing.

As the seasons went on, the plot got soupier, focusing more on the characters than the overall story. Hiro gets a love interest. And then another love interest. And then one more sort-of love interest. Claire wants to be normal and lets us know that through 6 billion rehashed arguments with her father. Sylar turns good. Then bad. Then good. Then ... something with a carnival. It was never really spelled out for us where these characters were going and why we needed to feel a sense of urgency for them to get there. They were just kind of doing things. With powers.

Via Crushable.com
"Sorry for hating you again, Dad. Let's talk about it. A lot."

The audience has to get some form of payoff if they're going to continue watching. I'm not just talking about a good season finale that puts a neat little bow on everything, either. Good video games are masters of this technique: throwing in rewards and revelations throughout the journey, keeping you playing and reassuring you that more and better are on the way. That it's all leading to something epic. Well, unless you're Mass Effect 3. Then they just give you the finger and tell you to suck their exploding Peter.

With 13 episodes in the upcoming Heroes Reborn, there's no reason we can't have a payoff every four episodes. That's one per month, leaving one episode devoted to the finale. We need to clearly understand that the characters are building up to a final, necessary confrontation. Along the way, those payoffs can come in any form. Chad Firefarter wants to know why he's doomed to a life of Kevlar chaps and butthole cream. Four episodes later, he finds a science lab devoted to colon torture called Disasster. Now he can move on to Step 2 of his arc: finding the one who bestowed this hell upon him, Dr. Assassin, and exacting his revenge.

Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"Not so fast, Doc. I need to ass you a few questions."

But it can never deviate or take away from the overall direction of the story, and the audience cannot forget that the ultimate goal is to confront and overcome a greater evil. And when they do find that evil, we need to see ...

A Proper Final Battle

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

My biggest complaint about the original run of Heroes, regardless of the season, was the disappointing final battles. They were over so quickly, I felt robbed as a fan. Even in the first (and best) season, they spent so much time sculpting the perfect bad guy, building his equal while still making him feel like an underdog, setting up a classic showdown ... and then Sylar used a few powers against the good guys and got punched in the face. It was over in about 15 seconds, like a prom night orgasm.

They have to correct this. We don't need to see buildings exploding and entire city blocks being sucked into hero-created black holes (although that would be pretty damn awesome), but come on. We spent months with these characters, watching them mature and hone their skills. We're invested in that final confrontation, and we need to see them kick some ass.

Via Depauw.edu
Preferably with hot chicks who can shoot lightning out of their hands.

Otherwise, what's the point of even giving them powers in the first place? If a dude has the power to control snakes, we'd better goddamn well see a snake tornado during the showdown. I want to see snakes shooting through the air, hissing and biting everything they come in contact with, smacking the bad guy with sickening "THWAP" sounds and leaving long, snake-shaped welts across his back.

But that can't be it. The bad guy has to overcome that and retaliate. There has to be a back and forth, and it needs to go on longer than the commercials that preceded it. If the fight concludes and our reaction is "... that's it?" then the writers aren't fucking done.

Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Not really the reaction we're going for.

Which reminds me ...

Continue Reading Below

Show the Goddamn Powers!


I was going to say, "Don't even get me started," but I'm writing an article, so I guess I actually do have to get started.

Look, I understand about character development. I know about pacing and the need to slow things down so that the fight scenes hold more value. I also recognize that, as a show loses ratings, it can also lose budget. But as we went further into the life of Heroes, I noticed a trend of the characters using their powers less and less, and that translated directly into my growing levels of boredom.

What we got instead were long arcs detailing the lives of characters we didn't really care about. Hey, look, it's another 10-minute conversation between a father and his upper class cheerleader daughter who is angry that she can't die or be injured. Who can't relate to that? Hopefully after the commercials they'll switch to a different set of people having another conversation and not using their powers at all.

Via Lyn-thorne.livejournal.com
Here we see Elle displaying her exciting hair-cutting powers.

Spoiler alert! They did.

No, we don't need to have a fight scene every single episode, but we do need to see them doing some awesome shit. Maybe they're learning their powers as they travel. Maybe the bad guys are using theirs to rob a bank or something. Hell, I'd be fine seeing them using their powers to do normal, everyday things like making coffee with telekinesis or removing snakes from their yard with that snake tornado spell. But we can't fill long stretches of the show with soap opera conversations.

Via Abstract-angst.livejournal.com
"And then what happened? Feel free to tell me in great detail for a very long time."

What I'm saying is that I really want to see a tornado of snakes. But whatever powers they decide to create, I really hope they remember this one piece of advice ...

Set Rules and Stick to Them

BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

There are many reasons the first season of Heroes was so popular, but purely from a content standpoint, it was easy to digest. Every character, arc, plot, motivation, and destination was clearly defined, especially when it came to the superpowers.

Hiro controlled space and time. Claire was immortal and had superhuman whining abilities. Sylar and Peter could collect other peoples' powers. Matt could read minds. Tracy had dat ass. If put into a cohesive team, each character could contribute something important to a fight. And then seasons 3 and 4 happened.

Suddenly, people who never had powers were getting them, which really threw a kink into the show, because we needed those human anchors to keep us connected to the plot. Others got new abilities. At one point, five different people had Claire's "my life is a burden because I can't die" power. They wiped the demigod slate clean by getting rid of Peter's and Sylar's abilities, and then gave them back with a drastically modified version for Peter. All of the abilities were being mixed together like bodily fluids at a bareback orgy.

Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
No, not literally. Although that would be an awesome power to have.

We as an audience need those characters to remain defined. If every other person takes on the abilities of another, it starts to feel like a soupy, directionless mess. That's when people start tuning out. It doesn't mean that each person can't discover new aspects of their gift, but when it starts bleeding into the other roles, that takes away the thing that makes the other character special and interesting. The show desperately needs to stick to solid rules in this department; otherwise, it just feels like the writers are making up easy ways to get a character out of an impossible situation.

No matter what, I'll watch the show. I'd miss my own mother's funeral if it overlapped with the air times. I have high hopes for it, because if it does well, they may make a Season 6. But I'm not sure my fragile heart can take it if they fuck this one up. My nerd boner has too much riding on it.

John is an editor and columnist right here at Cracked, with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Android app and iOS reader for you to pick from so you never miss another article.

To turn on reply notifications, click here


Load Comments