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Heroes Extra: WGA Strike

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It’s Tuesday. It’s my lunch break. I’m taking the subway from my office to Universal Studios, where the Heroes staff writers are picketing as part of the WGA strike. A bunch of the cast members are scheduled to show up at noon, a fact which is not lost on me. I haven’t picketed anywhere yet, and it’s high time I did: I think the writers deserve a fair break and a better contract, and I think the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) has been, for lack of a better term, buttheady in their dealings with them thus far (the low point being the way they tossed around ultimatums and stormed out of negotiations over the weekend). I’m out of the industry at the present, but I have my degree in screenwriting from USC’s film school, and I’ve worked extensively in television. These are my people by proxy. They have my full support. I also want to see pretty actors.

My goals for today are twofold:

1. Show my solidarity with the WGA.
2. See if Sendhil Ramamurthy is really tha…

Heroes, Volume Two, Chapter Eleven: Powerless

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Mohinder arrives at his apartment and finds Sylar sitting at his desk. Sylar welcomes him home and expresses concern about his broken nose. Mohinder asks what he wants. Sylar advances on him and, after he’s whipped up a suitable aura of menace, smiles and replies, “Breakfast.” Mohinder turns to see Maya in his kitchen, cheerfully cooking up a mess of chilaquiles. Because this scene was insufficiently preposterous on its own, she’s also wearing a “World’s Greatest Dad” apron.

Maya gushes about how she’s honored to meet Mohinder – she’s read his father’s book and has so many questions about her own abilities. Mohinder asks if she’s aware Sylar’s a murderer. She confirms she is, but it’s okay, seeing as she’s killed many, many people herself with her own ghastly power. Maya guides a shell-shocked Mohinder to a chair, and they all settle in for a deliriously uncomfortable breakfast. Maya paws Mohinder and yammers on about the Black Eye Goo of Death, while Mohinder blinks back tears and w…

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Ten: Truth & Consequences

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Peter wanders around plague-stricken New York City circa 2008, calling out for Caitlin. He finds himself back in present-day Montreal with Adam, having failed to rescue Caitlin via teleportation. When Adam learns the future plague is caused by the Shanti virus, he tells Peter about one of the Company founders, Victoria Pratt, who first retrieved a sample of the virus from Shanti Suresh in 1977 and used it to create a biological weapon. Adam convinces Peter they need to destroy all remaining strains of the virus to prevent the upcoming catastrophe.

At the Bennet home, Bob delivers an urn containing what he claims are Mr. Bennet's remains to the family. As Mrs. Bennet holds him off at gunpoint, Bob assures her the Company will leave the family alone out of gratitude for Mr. Bennet’s years of devoted service.

Bob tells Elle to keep the Bennets under surveillance for a while. When Elle complains to her dad about her wounded arm, Bob reprimands her for her carelessness in getting shot…

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Nine: Cautionary Tales

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Huh.

What an utterly bizarre episode.

Ever since the discovery of one of Isaac Mendez’s missing paintings way back in episode three of this season, we’ve known Bennet was destined to take a bullet to the eyeball at some point. For the past couple episodes, thanks to yet another precognitive painting, we’ve had a pretty good idea Mohinder would be the one pulling the trigger. We’ve all tried to puzzle out how things could escalate to such a point. How, we wondered, could their relationship deteriorate to a stage where gullible yet morally pure Mohinder would deliberately kill sympathetic yet morally gray Bennet?

Sure, there’d been some groundwork laid, what with Bennet growing increasingly paranoid and brusque with Mohinder, and Mohinder seeing evidence the Company might be less evil than Bennet had led him to believe, but still, it’s a mighty big leap from misunderstandings to murder. Could Heroes possibly pull off the killing of Bennet in a way that doesn’t undermine everything th…

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Eight: Four Months Ago

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We kick things off with one of Mohinder’s inscrutable voiceovers. They never make much sense, but I like listening to them anyway. The accent, you see. It’s pretty. By the way, this is all we’re going to get of Mohinder this episode. As much as a week without Mohinder is an ugly, joyless prospect, it’s probably for the best. The poor boy’s been awfully frazzled and flighty the past few episodes; he could use some time off to get his head together before he does something really reckless, like, say, shooting Mr. Bennet in the eye.

We pick up in Montreal with Peter’s encounter with Adam Monroe, the man formerly known as Takezo Kensei. Now that he’s an immortal, vengeance-driven villain instead of an inept samurai imposter, he’s scads more fun. Yet another reason to celebrate the end of that damnable feudal-Japan plotline. When Peter fails to recognize him, Adam figures the Haitian wiped Peter’s memory. He tells Peter to tap into his regenerative power to heal his mushy little brain. Pe…

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Seven: Out of Time

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Feudal Japan: A lot of stuff happens, some of which is even sort of important. Here’s the key thing: this plotline finally ends. Hiro duels with Kensei, there’s a big gunpowder explosion in which Kensei presumably dies, Yaeko promises to preserve the timeline by making sure the legend of Kensei is passed down intact, and Hiro teleports home to present-day Tokyo.

In Ukraine, Bennet glowers at the final series of precognitive paintings. He calls Mohinder at Company headquarters and asks all kinds of pointed questions about why it looks like Mohinder will shoot him in the eye in the near future. He wants to send Mohinder photos of the paintings, but Mohinder balks – his new partner Niki is watching him too closely to risk it. Bennet insists, claiming his family’s safety is at stake. Mohinder: "So that makes me expendable?" There’s a long, long pause while Bennet tries to think of some answer other than "Yes". Mohinder squawks a bit about how they’re supposed to be wor…

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Six: The Line

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Claire tries out for the cheerleading squad. She doesn’t make it, even though she’s, like, so much better than the other girls, just because the mean head cheerleader is totally jealous of her. After a careful examination of Claire’s high school scenes in both this current season and the last, I’ve decided the Heroes writers were raised by wolves and thus have been forced to piece together their collective knowledge of American high schools solely from repeated viewings of She’s All That, Bring It On, and Never Been Kissed. There are many things Heroes does well. A realistic portrayal of high school life is not one of those things.

Mohinder and Monica are at the Company’s facility in upstate New York. More than his genetics know-how, or even his super-special virus-curing magic blood, this is why Mohinder is so valuable to the Company: he’s so gentle and pretty and non-threatening he can sweet-talk cute girls into accompanying him across state lines for the purposes of conducting uns…

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Five: Fight or Flight

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Molly’s still in a coma, thanks to Matt. Matt wants to stay with her, but Mohinder icily tells him to go find his father. It’s my guess Matt will return from Philadelphia to find the locks to Mohinder’s apartment changed and his belongings piled outside the door. Mohinder scoffs at Matt’s suggestion to take Molly to a hospital, proclaiming, "No hospital is equipped to deal with this." Well… maybe not, but you could give it a shot, right? Just to make sure? I mean, the kid’s in a coma… Mohinder hooks Molly up to an IV and looks after her himself. I know he has his doctorate, but he’s not an MD. I’d really feel better about this if you took her to a hospital, guys.

In the Loneliest Subplot Ever, poor forlorn Ando, stuck by himself in Tokyo, reads more of the ancient scrolls left for him by Hiro.

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Four: The Kindness of Strangers

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A strange yet satisfying episode of Heroes this week. No Peter, no Hiro, and you know what? Much as I love them both, I'm okay with that. And wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles – the Maya/Alejandro plotline gets interesting in a hurry when they, along with Derek, the American they picked up at the jail last episode, stop to help a man passed out in the middle of the road… who turns out to be Sylar. Is there nothing the addition of a brain-eating serial killer can't improve?

In Costa Verde, Mr. Bennet quietly freaks out about the painting of Claire embracing a stranger next to his bullet-riddled corpse. He gets all overprotective and paranoid and forbids Claire from dating. Claire ignores him and sneaks around with West. I shall write nothing further about this plotline until such time as odious, pompous West is unmasked as a villain. This will happen in due course, I'm pretty sure. The writers can't possibly intend for us to accept this overbearing, bullying twit …

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Three: Kindred

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Hey, look, Sylar’s back! Still recovering from his injuries, Sylar shows up in the care of the illusionist Candice (now a red-haired bombshell instead of a petite brunette) in a grimy shed in the middle of nowhere. Candice, who is most likely still working for the Company, uses her powers to transform the setting into a tropical paradise.

Three episodes into the new season, it's probably time to check in with Niki and Micah, huh? They're leaving Las Vegas after paying one final visit to D.L.'s grave. Yeah, D.L.'s dead, presumably from getting shot by Linderman last season. Niki takes Micah to New Orleans and leaves him with D.L.’s aunt (a luminous Nichelle Nichols, who's been visiting the same fountain of youth as George Takei).

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter Two: Lizards

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Cork, Ireland: Peter gets interrogated by the Irish iPod bandits. He still can’t remember anything, though he still has the full spectrum of his powers. The thugs want Peter to help them with some kind of heist – in return, they’ll give him a box containing everything they found on him in the shipping crate, which might give him some clues to his identity. The teaser for next week’s episode is really playing up this "What’s in the box?" angle, but come on: this is sweet, dippy Peter we’re talking about. Five bucks says the box contains nothing more exciting than his Metro pass, a Dunkin’ Donuts punch card, and the condom he’s been carrying around since 1998.

I miss Peter’s bangs.

Heroes Volume Two, Chapter One: Four Months Later

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We open in Cairo with Mohinder giving one of his standard-issue nonsensical lectures while a few bored attendees stare at the beautiful nutjob yammering on about levitation and teleportation. Post-lecture, Mohinder is wined and dined by a representative of the evil Company (Stephen Tobolowsky), who can turn objects into gold with his touch.

Hiro teleports to seventeenth-century Japan, where he finds himself in the middle of: a) an eclipse, and b) a frenzy of flying arrows. He stops time and rescues his samurai hero, Takezo Kensai, who turns out to be a drunken, ignoble English fraud (David Anders). By muddling in affairs, Hiro wreaks havoc with the timeline and alters history.

We’re introduced to two new Heroes, Honduran Wondertwins Maya and Alejandro, who are on the run. Their special abilities aren’t yet revealed, but Maya uses hers to somehow (and possibly accidentally) slaughter a truckload of fellow refugees.

The Dilettante's Guide To Heroes: Volume One

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Heroes premiered on NBC in the fall of 2006 to strong ratings and critical acclaim. Created by Tim Kring, Heroes concerns a group of individuals around the world who, through an apparently natural genetic progression, develop various special abilities. It's a far from perfect show -- the characterization can be uneven, the dialogue can be clunky, and the multiple plots sometimes veer from preposterous to tedious. Still, when Heroes hits, it really hits: Season One provided some of television's most exciting visuals and exhilarating moments.

Heroes has a vast glut of characters. Here are some of the major players:

August 28, 2007: Travelogue: Las Vegas

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Posts have been in short supply around here for the last couple of weeks. My sister was in town for a good long visit, so I’ve been too distracted to write. Weekend before last, we went to Las Vegas. It’d been a while since we last went – in fact, it was eight years ago, when I was sort of celebrating quitting my job at Talk Soup. We’re sort of celebrating again, so we decided it was time.

Saturday, August 18th: We begin our journey from L.A. by catching the city bus downtown to Union Station. Megabus, a UK-based coach service, has just recently added routes from Los Angeles. It was hard to beat their promotional fares: the cost of two round-trip tickets from L.A. to Vegas, including a service charge? $4.50. Seriously. Since it’s new to the area, the Megabus doesn’t yet have a dedicated stop at Union Station. Instead, we follow a number of signs and markers on a merry romp through the station, outside into a courtyard, up a narrow flight of stairs wedged in between Union Station and t…

July 16, 2007: Things I Did While Watching Harry Potter

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Snorted at the trailer for Get Smart!

Shuddered at the trailer for Fred Claus.

Wondered if Uncle Vernon, in tribute to Richard Griffith’s characters in Withnail & I and The History Boys, would give Harry’s balls a quick grope.

Started counting the number of shots of Harry tossing and turning in his sleep whilst dreaming about Voldemort. Gave up when I hit double-digits. Wondered if anyone bothered to tell director David Yates that watching people sleep does not make for gripping cinema.

Wished Emma Watson would knock it off with the “class president starring in the school play” line deliveries.

June 8, 2007: Fantastic Four! Extended Edition!

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(The image was looted without permission from the good folks at IGN Movies. My apologies, guys, it was just too good to pass up. Er… doesn’t this screencap make it look like an entirely different kind of movie?)

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer opens in one short week. To get into the proper frame of mind, last night I watched the new-to-DVD Fantastic Four Extended Edition, which is twenty-six minutes longer than the original theatrical release. That’s twenty-six more minutes of general nitwittery. Twenty-six more minutes of the Thing’s self-pity and Von Doom’s strangely benign villainy. Twenty-six more minutes of Jessica Alba’s cleavage and Ioan Gruffudd's curious American accent.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here’s a summary of the new footage:

The Strange, Sick, Sad Career of Ioan Gruffudd

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This is my third Strange Sick Sad Career essay, and in this case the title seems kind of unfair. There's nothing strange or sick or sad about Gruffudd's career at the moment - in fact, his star is on the rise, thank you very much. I was sort of feeling guilty about lumping him in under the SSSC umbrella with people like Jonny Lee Miller and Michael Rosenbaum... and then I remembered 102 Dalmatians. He might live that one down someday, but today is not that day.

Some general observations about Gruffudd: he's cornering the market on earnest and adorable. Broad comedy is not his forte: he should avoid any projects described as zany or whimsical. He's brilliant at playing characters with names like Horatio Hornblower or William Wilberforce, less so at playing guys named Freddy or Dan. He looks particularly fetching in waistcoats and breeches. He has a beautiful speaking voice and freakishly long eyelashes.

A bit of background: A native of Cardiff, the lovely and talented Mr…