Heroes! Press Release!

NBC has come up with a snazzy press release about the upcoming Volume Five of Heroes. Like all good press releases, it does a nice job of drumming up interest in the coming season: it provides neat tidbits of information about each character's plotline and gives some indication of the general thrust of the volume. It sounds pretty good. However, snazzy press release or no, at this point it’s reeeeeeeeally hard to summon up too much enthusiasm for Heroes. We’ve been down this path too many times, and been disappointed too many times, and thus this press release seems a little… disingenuous. So I drafted my own version.

NBC’s version of the release can be found here. Mine is below. Warning for vague, press release-style spoilers:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Following an unsatisfying third season, which hemorrhaged viewers in all directions thanks to a mixture of slipshod plotting and wildly inconsistent characterization, “Heroes” returns to NBC on September 21. “Volume Five: Redemption” is destined to recapture the excitement and magic of the critically-acclaimed first season. Sound familiar? That’s because we said the same thing last year. But this time we mean it.

In the climax of “Volume Four: Fugitives”, Senator Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) was murdered by Sylar (Zachary Quinto). No one could be bothered to use Claire Bennet’s (Hayden Panettiere) Magic Blood™ to resurrect him, so Angela Petrelli (Cristine Rose) and H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) badgered Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) into using his mental powers to trick Sylar into believing he was Nathan, thus confounding and alienating both Pasdar’s and Quinto’s respective fan bases in one fell swoop.

“Volume Five: Redemption” begins with an attempt to clean up and/or ignore the messes and muddles left over from last season.

Claire tries to adjust to a normal life as an ordinary college student. This is difficult for her, because Claire is so very, very special. So special that random characters often randomly point out how special she is, just to make certain the breadth and depth of her specialness is not lost on viewers. Like all college freshmen, Claire will indulge in a little hot girl-on-girl action with her roommate. This will not be sensationalistic at all, and quite frankly we don’t understand why everyone’s making such a big deal about it. Just because we included the scene in the teaser we showed at Comic Con is no reason to think we threw it in there just to boost the ratings. Grow up, people.

Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) discovers he has a terminal illness. This laugh-a-minute plotline will resolve itself one way or another by the end of the season, when Oka finally decides whether the benefits of starring in a hit network series outweigh the indignities involved in participating in episodes like that ghastly Indian wedding business. Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee) will probably be on hand as well, but his participation is too inconsequential to mention in this press release.

Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) will fall madly in love with a beautiful deaf girl, in a sweeping romance destined to be every bit as beloved by audiences as such past sweeping romances as Hiro and Yaeko, Mohinder and Maya, Peter and Caitlin, and Claire and that wretched flying kid.

H.R.G., whose wife should have ditched him three seasons ago after he gave her life-threatening brain damage by repeatedly having her memories wiped against her will, adjusts to bachelor life by arguing with Claire about how he just wants to protect her and ignoring the existence of his son.

Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) will be largely MIA for the first few episodes, because we still can’t think of anything to do with him. Once he reappears, he’ll resume his standard role -- frowning prettily at computer screens, spouting exposition, and getting knocked unconscious by miscreants. As a special “Suck eggs, losers!” to those viewers who have pretty much given up on “Heroes” but nonetheless keep watching for their weekly dose of Mohinder’s phenomenal bone structure, the entire lower half of his face will be obscured by a thick, unflattering beard.

Tracy Strauss (Ali Larter), improbably alive after shattering into pieces last volume, is torn between seeking vengeance and using her powers for the greater good. She’ll vacillate between good and evil from episode to episode, depending upon who’s writing the script, until her character becomes incomprehensible and baffling. At this point we’ll kill off Tracy -- just like we killed off Nikki! -- and bring Larter back next season as a totally different character.

Nathan Petrelli, who has no idea he’s actually Sylar, returns to the Senate, where his reputation as the Senator who resigned, then was shot by an unidentified assailant during a live press conference, then died on the operating table, then mysteriously came back to life, then found God, then rounded up and imprisoned people with special abilities will once again pass unremarked and unchallenged.

In Los Angeles, after a couple seasons of swinging bachelorhood, Matt Parkman will re-enter the loveless and naggy marriage everyone enjoyed so much back in Volume One. As an added bonus, he’ll be raising a super-powered baby! Super-powered babies are an awesome plot device. It’s a proven fact.

We’ve got a great bunch of new cool-sounding villains, including the dude from “Prison Break” and some hot naked tattooed chick. In a major casting coup, we’ve even got incredibly cool cult fave Ray Park, whose appearance we will no doubt somehow manage to squander, much in the way we squandered incredibly cool guest stars John Glover and Robert Forster and those guys from “The Wire” last volume.

The epic journey begins once again, and along the path, some questions will be answered: Do we realistically have a chance of recapturing some of the audience bonhomie we lost last season? Will viewers notice (or care!) that our percentage of non-white regular characters has dropped from 55% at the start of Volume One to 25% at the start of Volume Five, thus effectively negating all the acclaim we used to garner for our diverse cast? Will anyone who isn’t Sylar or who doesn’t have a last name of Bennet or Petrelli ever be given anything vital to do? Time will tell.

“Heroes” used to get nominated for a lot of prestigious awards, like Emmys and BAFTAs and NAACP Image Awards and Multicultural Prism Awards. This year, we received a Teen Choice Award for Choice Action-Adventure Television Show, and damn it, we’re pretty stoked about it.

Comments

Ingrid Richter said…
He-heh. Read the original release and chortled my way throughout your take on it, Morgan. So cruel! So funny! So accurate!

Loved the bold-face, BTW...
Morgan Richter said…
Yeah, I think it helps to read the original release for context. It's all in the strategic use of bold-face.
Dan said…
I'm sorry. You know this is not my style. But I simply have to do this:

"LOL!"

I don't want to read the original release. This one is already obviously ten gazillion times better.
Morgan Richter said…
There is no higher compliment than an uncharacteristic "LOL" from Dan. Thank you.
Anna said…
Excellent!

You forgot to include a snark at the short-and-shorter list of producers, though. XD

Such as:
Heroes is produced by Tim Kring, Dennis Hammer, and some other people. Acclaimed comic book writer Jeph Loeb was fired last season as a scapegoat, along with Jesse Alexander, who was promptly allowed to create his own show, starting on NBC next spring. Also fired was fan favourite Greg Beeman, Allen Arkush, and in the writing room Chris Zatta, who wrote the popular Season 1 episode "Parasite", and supposedly Chuck Kim, Heroes' first and only writer of colour [not sure about that, but I heard it somewhere]. Bryan Fuller, who briefly rejoined Heroes at the end of Season 3, has left *for the second time*, but that is totally not due to creative differences, despite rumours to the contrary.
Morgan Richter said…
Excellent point with the production staff. I'm still burned that they fired Zatta ("Parasite" is a damn good episode -- possibly my all-time favorite), not to mention Greg Beeman. I met Beeman during the writer's strike, and (as you'd expect) he's got this great, enthusiastic, friendly, totally gonzo personality. Right now, I think the series needs as many positive, dynamic people as they can hang on to.
Anna said…
I'd give my right hand to meet Greg Beeman! D: He's so incredibly inspiring! He really made me appreciate the job of a director

Heroes really should hang on to the enthusiastic people. Uhm... I guess they are hanging on to Greg Grunberg, but I'm not sure who else is still truly and fully enthusiastic. There was a lot more gushing and general happiness during the first two seasons. I'm no longer getting the impression that it's a good working environment. That's so sad. This show had it all. Critical acclaim, a huge fanbase, and a cast and crew that loved their jobs. How'd they manage to ruin this?
Morgan Richter said…
It's a shame. During the WGA strike -- this was December 2007, right after the shortened second season had finished -- everyone I talked to was so bubbly and enthusiastic about the show: Beeman, Sendhil, Jack, Grunberg, Dania, Dana, Cristine... Masi was extremely nice, but much quieter and lower energy than the others, all of whom gave every impression that they loved their jobs and loved working with each other. Like you, I doubt that's still the case. Everyone's still being very loyal and supportive (I read a recent interview with Pasdar, where he mentioned something about how Sylar being Nathan is the best possible development for their characters, which... really, Adrian? You sure about that?), but I would imagine those good natures are starting to fray around the edges.
Anna said…
Haha. Poor Adrian. In a way, maybe it IS a better thing to do with his character than the past "he randomly comes back to life, randomly becomes religious, the randomly decides to start hunting down everyone!" of the past season. Since the end of Season 1, it never looked like they had a good idea of what to do with Nathan.
All things considered, I wish they had let him die with dignity in the Season 1 finale.

(It makes me sad to look at photos of Dana Davis supporting the Heroes' writers - who thanked her by writing her character off, haha.)
Morgan Richter said…
Up until his nonsensical press conference in the finale, I thought Nathan had one of the more effective character arcs in Volume Two, what with being grief-stricken and guilt-ridden over Peter's supposed death yet still managing to pull his act together enough to help Matt investigate what was happening to the Company founders. And then -- sheesh, what happened last season? I didn't understand the point of him finding religion if it was just going to be abruptly dropped and never mentioned again, or why he and Peter suddenly started feuding, or why he supported Arthur's scheme to give half the world powers, or why he got angry with Peter for injecting himself with the formula to save Nathan's life, or why he decided everyone with powers needed to be imprisoned. His flip-flopping gave me whiplash. As sloppy and out-of-character as Mohinder's whole bug-man arc was (and it was plenty dreadful), I think Nathan's plotline topped that for overall incoherence.

Clearly there's no one in the writers' room saying, "Okay, if we do this plot idea, does it make sense for Nathan/Mohinder/whoever to behave this way?" Because Nathan's plotline was inexplicable and inexcusable, and many of the other plotlines weren't much better (speaking of Peter injecting myself... I'm still cheesed off at that business of Peter forcibly stopping Mohinder from curing himself with the fixed serum, on the general moral principle of "giving yourself powers is bad!"... and then minutes later using the serum on himself to get Nathan and himself out of the burning building. Huh?).

Poor Dana Davis. A talented actress who was very supportive of the show, a well-received character... gone and forgotten.
Anna said…
I think infighting in the writing room is the only explanation for what was going on during Season 3.

The guy who played the German, Ken Lally, said at one point that there had been plans to get more into his character's backstory, revealing, apparantly, that he and Niki/Tracy/Barbara were siblings, and their creator Dr. Zimmermann used to be a Nazi. This Nazi super soldier clone backstory was dropped when Jeph Loeb left, even though they had already done some work on it. The whole idea that an ongoing storyline (!) gets dropped after one of the producers really screams to me that there's infighting and every writer tried to push his own favourite storyline, etc. Hence all the back and forth, inconsistent characterizations, Sylar is a Petrelli, no he's not. There's NO sense of direction about that show.


I miss Monica and I'll never get over the wasted opportunities, but at least Dana is doing fine now, and that makes me happy. She was originally intended to be a recurring character on "10 Things I Hate About You", but was upgraded to series regular because the showrunner was so impressed with her! It sounds like a much better deal than what she had on Heroes.
Morgan Richter said…
Good for Dana! I hope she has much success.

I wish the creative staff understood/respected the value of consistency. It's far, far better to wholly commit to a plot, even if you're not entirely sold on it at the outset, and to work actively to make it stronger and better, than to abandon it halfway through without explanation.

(I mean, obviously, the ideal situation would be to have a plot idea that everyone on the writing staff loves and is enthusiastic about, but when you stick a bunch of creative people in a room together, you're probably not going to ever have a total consensus. So you do what's best for the show, and you compromise.)
Anna said…
There is that. People will always disagree, but they really should be able to find a consensus, yeah, and preferably before they start writing the scripts and filming the episodes. But they could not even agree on what had happened on the show. It's one thing not to know where you're going, bu another when you're willing to pretend your past episodes never took place.
Morgan Richter said…
If I'm ever a showrunner, I'm going to enforce a strict zero-tolerance policy for retconning. The main goal of a show like Heroes should be to create a believable fantasy that viewers will wholeheartedly buy into. If you contradict established past events, you puncture big honking holes in that fantasy. By giving Sylar a contradictory origin story in Volume Three, as just one example, the writers significantly weakened his character. Should be obvious, but that's not something you want to do.

(I'm preaching to the choir, I know, and I'm repeating myself. Apologies. I used to be a whole lot more forgiving of Heroes' various flaws, but somewhere along the line, a switch flipped over in my brain and the sloppiness of the writing started to get under my skin. I should just move on and find another show, but... Mohinder is really pretty.)
Anna said…
Maybe making Mohinder appear less and less is Heroes' way of weening you off the show then? =P

I hope you're a showrunner one day! D: Especially if you include a role tailored for Sendhil.
levitatethis said…
This is the greatest press release ever! I have to link this to my LJ because everyone I know has to read this. It's funny because it's true which means it's sad as well. Reading this also reminds me how each of the characters has been essentially fractured since season 1.

I don't understand how storylines that are planned suddenly get dropped because of a simple kink that could be worked around. Besides the German storyline, in season 2 there was supposed to be a Sylar/Candace Bonnie and Clyde type thing but when Missy was hired for "Reaper" the storyline was changed. Why? Candace was an illusionist so anyone could have played her...Then again, seeing what the show did with Sylar/Elle, Sylar/Candace may have been a crapfest as well.

The lack of Mohinder is definitely going to help ween me off this show. I'd love to see Sendhil move onto something else where he can be put to good use and excell. On a slightly related note, I'm enjoying Dana on "10 Things I Hate About You", a show I expected to hate.
Morgan Richter said…
Heh. Thank you. Yeah, it makes me sad too, because the problems with the show could (and should) have been easily prevented with more thought and care. I've lost faith in the problems ever being fixed, because there's no indication the writers and producers are aware of the problem areas. I would love for Heroes to prove me entirely, delightfully wrong about the upcoming season.

Oh, yeah. No Mohinder = no Morgan. That's a pretty simple equation.
levitatethis said…
Throughout the second season and then before the third I had faith that the writers/producers would see where they were stumbling and correct themselves. And it would have been easy to do.

The problem, and you've noted it, is that they don't see that they've done anything wrong. And if they don't see that then there's no reason for them to fix it which means the problems will only get worse.

Added insult to injury, I heard that at a "Star Trek" panel in London (?), Quinto commented that he didn't like the direction Sylar went in during season 2 but thought that season 3 got back on track and was much better.

Personally I'd like Sendhil to pull him aside and hit him over the head.
Morgan Richter said…
Oh, Quinto, what are we going to do with you? I don't suppose there's any chance he misspoke and meant to say he didn't like Sylar's direction in Volume Three but thought it was better in Volume Four? Because Sylar's zenith really was that business when he thought he was a Petrelli, then ran off with Elle. V4 had some missteps, but nothing as egregious as that.

I do like that the cast members are publically very loyal and supportive of the show and each other. I think it speaks well of all of them, that they're not trash-talking the show that put them on the map. At the same time, I'm sure there are some really interesting behind-the-scenes stories they could tell, if they weren't all so darn tactful and discreet.

(Let's take Sendhil out and get him drunk! I bet he gets really chatty!)
levitatethis said…
I get the impression Sendhil is chatty whether he's drunk or not. I mentioned to a friend that as much as I normally hate it when people diss their projects there are times when it's done in a manner that's still respectful and more concerned from a legitimate creative standpoint. Sendhil is one of those people who has voiced issues with Mohinder's characterization (and even Sylar's) but has done it with both a sense of humour and with a genuine sense of interest for the show itself.

Many of us are hoping that Zach was referring to Volume 4 specifically and not season 3 as a whole...because we all know Volume 3 was absolutely terrible and embarrassing. Volume 4 felt like some things were getting back on track or that the characters were at least more recognizable. My fingers are crossed that that's what Zach is thinking of. If he's referring to the crapfest that was the episode "Villains" as being a great reveal of Sylar's character I'm going to have to kick his ass.
Morgan Richter said…
Sendhil gives good interviews (not to mention episode commentaries!) because he's direct and honest, yet also gives every impression of being a genuinely good guy who isn't going to say anything bad about anyone. (Man, he really needs to get himself a Twitter account. It'd be wildly entertaining.) Quinto is much more guarded in interviews, and thus it's harder to get a grasp on what he genuinely feels about anything.

I still think we should take Sendhil out and get him drunk, just for kicks.
Ingrid Richter said…
I'll chip in for the booze fund!
levitatethis said…
Well I never say no to getting Sendhil wild and uninhibited so count me in!

I agree about Quinto normally being more reserved in interviews so you're not always quite sure what he's thinking about something. Sendhil's a little more open about it.
doubleshiny said…
Love it, especially the bit about Sendhil's beard.
"How can we make this character more serious and tortured?"

"Cover up his pretty face? Pretty people aren't serious or tortured, they're carefree and jolly, like Petrelli."
Morgan Richter said…
"Hmm, audiences aren't relating to Mohinder. Maybe if we wrecked his face, they'd find him more approachable. We broke his nose in volume two and covered him in scales and goo in volume three... Let's make it easy on ourselves this time and have him grow a beard."

I don't know what they have against the idea of just letting Sendhil show his beautiful, undamaged face. Drives me crazy.
Lou said…
Hellooooo! FINALLY I got my blogger access back. Im so happy! Ive missed out on so much the commenting fun for the last few months. The blog is brilliant as ever girl-Morgan. Just been catching up. This Heroes press release is an instant classic. If only NBC were this honest. Like Dan I dont even want to read the original. This is too perfect.
Morgan Richter said…
Welcome back, Lou! You've been missed!
di-elle said…
ZQ talked about Heroes during the ST convention in las vegas in two occasions:
First:
"... But then he talked about how much he loved his Heroes family, and it was completely endearing. The actor also mentioned that he loved the direction in which his character, Sylar, was going for season 4. Talking of Heroes still, he said that he did not like the fact that they killed Elle on the show and that he did not understand why the writers introduced Sylar’s son in I am Become Death if they’re not going to pursue this. Though he is contracted for 3 more seasons [...], Zachary shared with us his uncertainty as to whether or not the show will go on past season 4 [...]. For him, it is still unknown."

source:http://insidetrekker.blogspot.com/2009/08/meet-and-greet-with-zachary-quinto.html

and second:

"Regarding Heroes, Quinto said didn’t like where his character of Sylar went in the 2nd season, but felt the writers found his roots again in the third and he likes the new direction for the character in the upcoming fourth season, which is currently shooting. As for his future, Quinto says he expects Heroes to be his last TV series for a while..."

(this second was reported by a countless number of fangirls present at the STcon in las vegas so he actually talked about s2)

source: http://trekmovie.com/2009/08/12/vegascon09-finale-three-spocks-and-a-shatner/
Ingrid Richter said…
Interesting posts, di-elle.

Morgan and I both thought that Quinto might not be long for Heroes, after watching him slam dunk the role of Spock in Star Trek this summer.
Morgan Richter said…
Ah. So Quinto genuinely did say he prefered Sylar's direction in season three to season two. That's disappointing.

Barring a drastic uptick in quality, I can't imagine Heroes going beyond a fourth season. It'd be great if they could break the freefall, but I don't see that happening.
di-elle said…
I guess ZQ didn't like be out of the main storyline for the whole season...

I have no hope for the show and I believe this will the last seasons: is the only reason I'll still watch it, after the awful vol4 (I'm one of those who actually liked the first part of vol3 and disliked the rest of s4 - I disagree that it improved, he get worst with each episode till the awful nonsensical finale...)
Morgan Richter said…
Yeah, I don't have much good to say about the end of Volume Four, either. I don't think the finale gave viewers many reasons to hang in there to see how everything turns out. I'll watch Volume Five, but I certainly can't blame anyone else for giving up on the show.
levitatethis said…
I would be shocked if this show went beyond the next season. I'm pretty sure it's done.

And not soon enough. I'm one of those people who hated volume 3 (and I tried to like it until I couldn't lie to myself anymore), didn't mind volume 4 (though I do agree that Sylar and Quintos portrayal of him got worse as the volume went on) and tried to put a positive spin on the finale...until I read some spoilers for volume 5 and threw in the towel.

My mission for the new season is to see if I can spot Mohinder in some "Where's Waldo" mission in the middle of a crowd and to see what illogical storyline choices will be followed when much easier and intelligent ones would apply.
Morgan Richter said…
I was pretty forgiving of Volume Three while it was originally airing, even though there were many, many things I wasn't happy with (Mohinder's bizarre and out-of-character bug-man escapades, Sylar and Elle as tragic lovers, Sylar's Power of Empathy). Looking back at my V3 recaps, I think I was pretty generous, really, probably because I still assumed sanity would prevail and things would work out for the best (I was bored/exasperated with the first half of Volume Two, but I was more or less satisfied with where it ended). I think Volume Four was in many ways an improvement, but somewhere along the way I lost my patience and sense of humor about the show's flaws, because it became increasingly clear the problems with the plot and characterizations were not (and are not) going to be fixed.

(Also possibly related: during Volume Three, Ingrid's and my mom was still alive, and thus the world was a better place.)

Hell, Volume Four was enough of a "Where's Waldo?" with Mohinder (there's that one episode where Ingrid swore he wasn't in it at all, until I spotted the top of his curly head peeking over HRG's shoulder when Matt, Peter, and Mo drugged HRG in the bar). I'm not looking forward to another volume of the same.
levitatethis said…
Like you when I put on my retrospective glasses I realize I was much kinder to volume 3 while it was airing (until we got to the episode "Villains"...and there's no need for me to rehash my feelings on that) than it deserved but, like you, I think I was that way because I genuinely believed the show would get back on track in volume 4. I honestly believed the problems would be fixed.

Volume 4 started of well and had lots of ups and downs (more ups in my opinion) and by the end of it I was sick of a whole ton of characters but still hopeful for what could be...and then as the months went by and it all started to settle I realized it wasn't going to get better. That the badness will still be there come next season. Seeing the promo for season 4 at Comic Con didn't help.

Add in the fact that Mohinder seems almost completely MIA from upcoming storylines and a part of me wants to wash my hands of the whole thing.
Morgan Richter said…
I'm trying to summon up a spark of excitement about the coming volume, but it's tough. I don't hate the carnival idea -- in the right hands, it could be cool and creepy, as could Nathan and Sylar warring for possession of the same body. It all depends on the execution. I don't have much (any) faith that Claire's college scenes will be any more realistic or less careless than her high school scenes, and based on the promos, I'm worried her plot will be overemphasized at the expense of other characters.

It makes me glum that there's not one element I can honestly say I'm excited about. And the lack of word on Mohinder is a huge drawback.
levitatethis said…
That's the thing. In theory the carnival idea sounds really interesting (then again, I really dug the show "Carnivale" and that was enjoyable creepy so I'm probably letting that influence my expectations). And at the end of Volume 4 I was among the few who thought the idea of Nathan/Sylar was interesting -- I thought we'd get "Nathan" knowing something wasn't right with him but not knowing what's wrong and then slowly there would be tiny reveals that he was really Sylar (and I wanted him to go to Mohinder for help and have Mohinder unintentionally discover the truth).

Yeah right.

I just feel like I've lost faith in the writers. It's like they're sitting in a room throwing darts at the wall and wherever it lands (characters, implausible story lines) they go with it.
Morgan Richter said…
It's like they're sitting in a room throwing darts at the wall and wherever it lands (characters, implausible story lines) they go with it.

Oh, sure. I've maintained from the beginning that Mohinder's actions are determined by the writers drawing slips of paper out of a big special jar they keep in the writers' room: Adopts Small Child. Shoot HRG in Eyeball. Turn Self Into Crazy Bug-Man. Kind of a shame how they drew the Gets Knocked Unconscious slip out of the jar five consecutive times last volume, but that's how it works.

(It was a good day when they drew Shows Up On Sylar's Doorstep out of the jar back in Volume One. I keep hoping that slip will come up again.)

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