Not that prime time soaps are a bad thing in and of themselves. If Heroes had started out like that from the beginning, well, there’s a certain tone and style of storytelling associated with prime time soaps which gives screenwriters a great deal of latitude. You both know what to expect, and, you expect to be surprised by strange plot twists. In fact, in a soap, normal plot twists are considered pedestrian and out of place, while the baroque, the bizarre, the campy and the convoluted are celebrated.
But, is this what Heroes should be?
In retrospect, season 1 was truest to the feel of a graphic novel. Everything from it’s obvious love of fans, with Hiro is the ultimate stand info for the viewer, to the mise en scene borrowing comic scene layouts. It was refreshing, even those familiar with the genre. Its obvious now that season 2 was a vinculum, a transition from the world of comics to the world of normal television. Season 2 was unfocused and seemed lacking in direction because the storytelling tropes were shifting from the exotic to the familiar, bringing us to where we are now.
But why bring us here?
OK, everyone gets that biology and psychology are central to the world of Heroes. Psychology ties each hero to the form of the manifestation of his or her powers. It’s a way of writing the character’s needs and motivations in technicolor strokes across the high definition screen. I’ll leave it to you to figure out the particulars. Biology binds the heroes to each other. Where the story was about saving the world, the story now is all about family, genealogy, heredity, familial relations, fratricide, matricide, patricide, sibling rivalries, power struggles, etc, etc. Television knows how to tell this story. Think Dynasty, Falcon Crest, The Colbys.
Actually, now that I think about it, as the season progresses, I wonder how much the Petrellis will resemble the ultimate soap opera, the Greek Pantheon. Try doing the mapping (don’t forget the Titans).
For some people, this transformation has made the series unwatchable. I’m still watching but with not nearly as much interest as in the beginning, not because I have anything against soaps in general, but because I don’t much care for the old bait and switch.
There are other rapidly developing issues with the series, but I’ll deal with them in another post.