The marketing team behind NBC’s superhero drama Heroes spared no expense in getting viewers revved-up for the show’s third season, “Villains,” which promised to correct the turtle-crawl pace of season 2 by delivering a rogues gallery full of super-powered bad guys, along with more of the action-packed throwdowns that made the end of Heroes debut season worth the long journey of 22 episodes.

Well apparently NBC’s money would’ve been better spent on other prime-time fare, because the Nielsen ratings for Heroes are currently falling faster than a drunk girl in heels, with a whopping 22% of its viewership having turned away from the show as of the October 6 episode.

But are the criticisms and complaints about how Heroes has (just barely) unfolded this season as meritorious as they seem? Or is this yet another case of “Joe Sixpack” trying to play amateur critic?

(You’d better believe we will discuss.)

I try not to editorialize too much on this site–even though it is a blog and that’s what blogs are pretty much for. Regardless, I always believe that the best opinion for the public sphere is the even-handed one–an opinion that is at least CONSIDERATE of counterpoints of view that may be out there.

However, in this rare case, in defense of one of the few shows I still truly enjoy, I must draw my daggers.

En Garde.

About a week ago I posted a heated comment after reading Screen Rant‘s own Vic Holtreman’s post: Is Heroes Season 3 Awesome or Ridiculous? (BTW, whenever someone frames a question that way 9 out of 10 times they’re just trying to dress up their negative opinion to look pretty. Can’t fool me.) My tirade basically had to do with the fact that… oh hell, just read it verbatim for yourself:

Kofi Outlaw said,
October 8th, 2008

This season is EXACTLY what we all wanted to see since season 1. You all claim that it was the Characters that made season 1 so special? Have you watched Season 1 recently??? MAJOR CHEESE FACTOR. (“Save the cheerleader, save the world????”) [With S1] We all were waiting for the super-powered showdown to save NYC and even that climax, while good, was a bit underwhelming.

Season 2 was a wash because it took SO long developing the characters and the story arch that we all were like “where’s the action???” That’s why only the last 3 eps of S2 were good, and why the show lost viewers

Now in S3 we have action, we have good twists and turns, good VILLAINS (Marlo from “The Wire?”) and many of you are COMPLAINING ABOUT IT???? It just goes to back up what I always say about TV, which is that the audience doesn’t know WHAT the hell it wants. Everybody is a wannabe critic who thinks they know how it could’ve been better. Write Tim Kring if you feel so strongly, then.

If you’ve “fallen off” the show, good riddance. Go watch Knight Rider while I keep enjoying this thrilling season of a show I enjoy immensely.

While I might’ve betrayed that “objectivity” I pride myself on, I stand by what I said. It is amazing to me that people can have such short memories, or sometimes fail to connect the dots between past and present to see an emerging pattern. To put it simply: Heroes “Villains” is a direct emulation of season 1, only with a much higher ante and weaving a much more intricate pattern, to be revealed (hopefully) in due time.

Ever the Zen master that he is, Vic tried to quell a Screen Rant behind-the-scenes email fight by stating that it is specific elements–convoluted time-hopping plot lines, shallow characters, bad dialogue, blink-and-you-miss-it editing–that are flushing Season 3 down the crapper. Well, if you’re shaking your head in agreement with ol’ Vic’s assertions–if you too are part of the 22% of viewers who are trying to divorce yourself from Heroes at this crucial juncture, may I remind YOU as I reminded Vic:

Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 6:29 PM
S1 was JUST LIKE THIS: Random quick snippets of story and character that slowly (SLOWLY) wove into a purposed design. [DUDE, RANDOMNESS FORMING PURPOSE] WAS THE THEME OF THE WHOLE FIRST SEASON!!! At first, if you remember, an episode was

– Peter/Nathan bromance
– Claire high school angst drama
– Hiro/Ando hijinks
– Nikki gorefest
– Parkman’s cop/family snore fest
– Mohinder’s back and forth and back from India story
– Sylar mystery
– HRG/The Hatian mystery

That was the exact formula

It irks me that the show is going back to basics, and people are now like “it’s too quick-moving, I wish it would go back to basics…”

I mean really: HAS THE WORLD GONE INSANE???? After Season 2 “Generations,” (a season which was never fully developed story-wise, BTW), don’t you think that Heroes needs to be doing a little bit of narrative catch-up? And talk about ‘judging a book by its cover': tonight’s episode “Angels and Monsters” is only the fifth installment of a twenty-two episode season! That’s more than 3/4 of the story yet to be told!


Why is Linderman in Nathan’s head?

Is Sylar really Peter and Nathan’s brother?

Is the Nikki Sanders/Tracy Strauss triplet storyline going to bear fruit or fall flat on its ass?

Will Peter go “Sith Lord” on everyones’ ass now that he has absorbed Sylar’s murderous “hunger?”

What kind of freak is Mohinder morphing into now that he gave himself the super-shot?

Will we ever truly care about Parkman?

Are Ando and Hiro really going to have to fight to the death, thereby ending TV’s cutest bromance?

What other sadistic villains do Tim Kring and company have waiting in the wings?

(And just try and tell me that the episode where HRG and Sylar teamed up to stop that first batch of villains wasn’t cool. Try and tell me that.)

These are all good tidbits of mystery that can potentially blow up into badass episodes–if people give them time to develop properly. Understand: you can’t have an intricate story line develop properly and have it all happen NOW! NOW! NOW! It doesn’t work like that, people. Just ask yourself: how many lingering questions did the first two episodes of “Villains” answer? Is that not the kind of mystery resolution fans had been clamoring for? Trust in the storytellers for god’s sake, they’ve earned that trust!

I’ll end this rant by saying this: while our source, Reel Comix, is quick to point out that this 22% drop does NOT include the number of DVR or online viewers who watch Heroes every week (the final figure will be calculated later), the show’s popularity IS in the steepest decline of its 2.24 season run. That basically means that more people are displeased with “Villains” than they were with “Generations.”  And to me, that is all kinds of wrong.

Finally, take heed comic book fans. Tim Kring is the best thing we’ve got in our corner right now, as far as television is concerned. (Do I need to bring up unpleasant comic book TV shows of the past like Birds of Prey?) And if no one else will say it, I will say it here: Smallville is a joke. And not a funny one.So if you want to see quality comic book dramas on TV anytime in the near future, Heroes cannot flop. Here’s a tag line for you: “Save the show, save comic book TV.”

Seriously though, if you are displeased with the current direction of Heroes, be steadfast. Pay close attention to what you don’t like in each episode and send Kring and Co. an email. The makers of Heroes have stated in the past that they are exploring new terrain; that they aren’t the biggest comic book savants around; and that fan feedback is an important element of their brainstorming process. So put down the complaints and pick up a purpose and just maybe you’ll get back the Heroes you seem to remember so fondly, without throwing out a beautiful baby along with some dirty bath water.

There, I’ve said my piece. I’m cool now. I calmly await your daggers.

Source: Reel Comix