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TV Wrapup for 10-9-06: Heroes and Studio 60

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Heroes – “One Giant Leap” (1.03)

Spoilers ahoy!


This episode crystallized something for me which had been nagging at me the last couple of weeks: 

Man, this show really doesn’t like women very much.

So far, Heroes only has two even remotely likable female characters:  Claire and the skinny chick who’s puppy-dogging Mohinder around.  Every single other female character on the show is presented in a negative light. [1]  And of those two almost-likable women, Indestructible Lass suffers an attempted rape this episode which ends very, very badly (and produced a hell of a cliffhanger for next week) and Skinny Chick, I’m absolutely positive, is allied with The Forces of Evil.  (More on her in just a minute.)

My main complaint with this show so far (other than the not-so-hidden misogyny) is the joylessness of it all.  Only Hiro displays any excitement whatsoever about his newfound abilities; admittedly, his infectious enthusiasm goes a long way toward making up for the moroseness of the rest of the characters.  (I suppose Peter is also excited by his powers, but since they only seem to work in the presence of his shithead brother, his enthusiasm’s been pretty thoroughly dampened.)  There’s very little sense of fun to Heroes so far; it’s certainly intriguing and I’m going to keep watching for a while longer, but the relenteless darkness is feeling a bit oppressive.  More Hiro and more Matt would go a long way toward lightening things up.

Time for a bit of speculation about the show’s Big Bad thus far, Syler:  we still know very little about him, but it seems that it’s possible he has all of the powers exhibited by the rest of our cast.  He certainly seems to be invulnerable and seems to be able to fly, plus whatever ability he’s got that allows him to perform grotesque murders with no sign of struggle (perhaps he has Hiro’s ability to stop or maniuplate time?).  So what I’m wondering is this:  could he also have shape-changing abilities?  ‘Cause I have this suspicion that Skinny Chick perhaps actually could be Syler.  It would certainly explain why Syler wasn’t home when they went to see him (not that that’s something that really has to be explained, but it fits) and how he knew to clear out of his pad afterwards.  Even if she’s not Syler-In-Disguise, she’s almost certainly One of the Bad Guys in some way, trying to get some more knowledge out of Mohinder that they weren’t able to get out of his father.  (Also:  expect Dr. Saresh the Elder to show up soon — the picture on the back of the book he wrote is of an actor I recognize but whose name I don’t recall, so I think it’s a safe bet he’s not really dead.  Maybe he’s also Syler?  That would be interesting, and more than a little weird, since it would mean he’d been threatening to make out with his own son.  Ew.)

Episode grade:  B-

[1] It occurs to me that this criticism might not be entirely valid, since most every person on the show is something of a jackass.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip – “The West Coast Delay” (1.04)

After a bit of an awkward start (c’mon, Harriet, you’re supposed to be an educated, intelligent woman — you mean to tell me you don’t recognize a freakin’ phone number when you see one?), “The West Coast Delay” ended up being the strongest episode of Studio 60 yet.  It’s still not West Wing-class, but I feel like it’s making progress:  for the first time, it felt like Sorkin and Co. were finding the show’s voice.  I knew that moment was coming, and I’m glad to see it only took them four episodes to start getting there.  We’re finally getting a little bit more screen time for some of the supporting cast and a feel for their personalities, and we’re getting some more interpersonal dynamics that don’t involve Sorkin’s meta-preaching.  I’m hoping that NBC will end up moving this show to a better time slot, preferably a night where it can air at 9:00EST instead of 10:00EST, in hopes that some of those people who’ve already ditched the show can give it another chance.  (Of course, I’m also hoping that NBC will actually pick up the full season, which they still haven’t done.)

Since Sorkin can’t educate his viewership about the political process and issues anymore (well, I suppose he could, but I think doing so would be a little awkward in a show about telelvision), he’s decided instead to educate us about the history of drama, or at the very least to give us homework, things to research on our own.  He’s already brought in Gilbert and Sullivan and commedia dell’arte, and this week we had several references to August Strindberg, mopey 19th-century Swedish playwright and star of the buddy comedy Strindberg + Helium.  While I’m glad that Sorkin thinks enough of his audience that he can throw these references out there, that he is indeed trying to raise the bar of what a network show expects of its viewers, I’m also wondering if maybe baby steps aren’t in order?  A Masters degree in Drama shouldn’t be required to get the jokes.

By the way, was I the only one to let out a little squee of delight when the totally adorable Lucy Davis (Dawn from the original BBC version of The Office) showed up in the writer’s room?  Is it too much to hope that maybe she might turn into a recurring character?

Episode grade:  B+

Written by Allen

October 10th, 2006 at 1:21 pm

Posted in TV

3 Responses to 'TV Wrapup for 10-9-06: Heroes and Studio 60'

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  1. Interesting points here, Allen. I, too, suspect Doe-Eyed Skinny Chick is aligned with Syler and the “Forces of Darkness.”

    I missed the premier and the first episode, so last night is only the second full episode that I’ve seen.

    Dr. Saresh ain’t dead–at least I don’t think he is. I suspect that he may know a heck of a lot more about what’s going on than we’re lead to believe.

    A thought: what if Claire’s dad isn’t what he seems to be? For some reason, I’m not trusting the show’s portrayal of him. I think that there is something more to his motivations than we’re seeing.

    Thoughts?

    Jeff Newberry

    10 Oct 06 at 2:20 pm

  2. You’ve only missed one episode if you’ve seen two of them — last night’s was only the third ep. So you’re probably pretty well caught up… though part of what you didn’t see was that Claire’s dad (though we didn’t know that’s who he was at the time) was in New York and talked to Mohinder, making vaguely threatening comments and insinuating that he knew Mohinder’s father. So there’s definitely something up with Mr. Bennet; he seems to also be with the Forces of Evil, though we’ll see.

    Shit, if my earlier theory is right, maybe he’s Sylar, too. Maybe all of the bad guys are Sylar. :)

    Allen

    10 Oct 06 at 2:24 pm

  3. I totally agree about the Studio 60 highbrow references. Kudos to Aaron Sorkin, as always, for trying to fight dumb television, but making a show too elitist and um, show-offy (for lack of a better word) is just as annoying.

    I’m not really feeling the love for Matthew Perry’s character, either. I just don’t buy the performance. If Matthew Perry wants people to stop associating him with Chandler, maybe he should have stopped playing him–what? After 5 years instead of 10?

    Bradley Whitford is awesome, of course. I love him. And Evan Handler is a nice surprise, too. He’s underrated, and after this week, I’m happy to see he’ll probably get more screentime. And who knew Amanda Peet could act?

    I agree about the meta-preaching, too. I HATED the pilot opening. If a weaker writer than Sorkin were doing the show, I’d have turned it off. The evils of network TV is just not an interesting-enough topic for a one-hour show, so I hope you’re right about the progress.

    All in all, I’m on the fence. The West Wing had so much more substance. On the other hand, during last week’s episode I looked at the clock and was surprised to find that 45 minutes had already passed, lol.

    Amy

    11 Oct 06 at 12:33 pm

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