Posts Tagged ‘TV’

409 – Brother’s Keeper

A pick-up episode in terms of both pacing and storyline, continuing the up-and-down bumps the series has been putting its viewers through lately.

In exchange for Charlie, Samuel wants Hiro to go back in time eight weeks to the night he murdered Mohinder Suresh. He doesn’t want the whining exposition bag saved – instead he wants a film can from 1961 brought back. Unfortunately, Hiro can’t focus enough to time travel.

Other stories include Tracey losing control of her powers and not knowing what to do about it. In a change from the normal boring storyline, she seeks out old man Bennett, only to find Claire and some excellent CGI as the ice queen accidentally freezes both a full bath and everyone’s favourite healing girl – although we are still denied a truly excellent money shot of Claire regrowing a whole foot.

The Haitian seeks out the Petrelli boys, finding Peter and Nathan – the Real Sylar, try to keep up at the back – and tells Peter that their mother wants their memories erased, instead he hands Peter an address and tells him to go alone. Naturally, he doesn’t and the Petrellis discover the body of the real Nathan, setting them off on a quest to find to find Parkman.

The bulk of the episode, however, is set eight weeks in the past, as Mohinder once again goes through his father’s research and discovers that Samuel:
a) was born in Coyote Sands
b) has powers that will increase by a thousand if he surrounds himself with the right super-powered people
c) has a compass to seek out the individuals.
This sends Mohinder off to find the man himself at the carnival, only to be warned off by Joseph and told to destroy the film.

While the episode is not without its flaws – didn’t Mohinder’s story end when they bailed out of turning him into a lizard? Why does anybody want more Mohinder? Why is Claire in this when it could be Bennett? – it’s definitely got its fair share of cracking scenes. There’s the ice-based delights of Tracey’s uncontrollable powers to the genuinely exciting confrontation in Parkman’s hospital suite as the overlong and bloated story of Sylar’s mind and body finally comes to an end. We could have done without Hiro saving Mohinder, but it’s all worth it for the idea that Mohinder is now trapped in a psychiatric hospital and is probably going crazy for the eight weeks he must remain there. Likewise, Tracey’s will-she-won’t-she arc comes to an end as Samuel welcomes her into her new home.

It’s not perfect by any means and it’s certainly not the best episode of the series so far, but it ends several dangling plot strands and gives the story as a whole a much-needed kick up the arse. Maybe, though, Hiro shouldn’t have saved Mohinder? The last thing we need is another bloody character getting in the way, while the cliffhanger suggests that the story of Sylar’s return isn’t quite finished yet. You bastard, Kring.

Four stars

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Heroes Volume 4 Review

Posted: May 23, 2009 in Review
Tags: , , , ,

Heroes Volume 4 Review

Heroes is a strange beast. It can be a loving show, one that rewards watching with occasional flushes of majesty. Sometimes it can bite the hands of its viewers with teeth made of hard-edged steel.

After the horribly patchy-but-turned-good-at-the-end Volume Two (‘Generations’) came the thoroughly magnificent third Volume, ‘Villains’. A thing of absolute beauty, it was television sci-fi writing at its very finest, with character arcs, plot twists, huge super-powered showdowns, great new characters, a story with a conclusion already planned in advance and the most impressive thing – not a single weak episode in all thirteen.

So what can the fourth Volume (‘Fugitives’) offer? Well, on the whole, a nasty trip down memory lane. For starters, the entire Volume is completely directionless, wandering from set-up to set-up without really ‘doing’ anything. Sylar spends the first half of the Volume wandering aimlessly as he tries to find his father, a far cry from the brilliant, hilarious and genuinely frightening villain he managed to become by the end of Volume Three. For the second half of the Volume, the writers seem to have decided that a mental breakdown would be an interesting thing to watch happen to a once great villain. Problem is, it’s not. And now that Sylar can shapeshift, he has been made completely indestructible.

Peter’s manufactured ability has changed from the flight we saw in the last episode to the new power of absorbing one ability at a time. Where this came from is anybody’s guess, but it means that he spends the whole Volume partnered up with useful people so he can actually do something.

Matt Parkman gets conveniently ‘gifted’ with the ability to paint the future, but this gets forgotten after about four episodes. He also gains a son – even though we were all told it wasn’t his.

Hiro and Ando struggle to even come across as comic foils. With Hiro powerless, what could have been a nice role-reversal for the only genuinely brilliant duo is instead forgotten as they bumble about not really doing anything. Ando’s manufactured power has also changed – where it once amplified other Heroes’ abilities, it now just shoots red lightening. Even when Hiro regains the ability to stop time, Ando never once suggests teaming up their powers. Surely the two are perfect? And now that Hiro’s body is slowly breaking down because of his over-reliance on his powers, isn’t it obvious that Ando is the perfect partner? But, no, such logic has no place on this show, it would be entertaining.

Claire goes back to being boring, even after the wonderful flirting with the dark side briefly seen in the last Volume. This time she’s given a four episode love interest (hint: it’s boring) and then spends time looking confused. Bennett fairs better, with a slightly more meaty story of deception and betrayal, but it’s never that interesting compared with the man we all know from past seasons.

Worst offender is new character Denko, a man born to hunt the Heroes. Across the whole Volume, he serves zero purpose. He might get to team up with Sylar in the final episodes, but given that the rest of the time he chases people around and gets more guns aimed at him than Jack Bauer, it’s not worth the wait.

There are some really great moments in this Volume that remind you why you bother sticking with creator Tim Kring through the ups and downs. Daphne’s death – her actual death – is incredible; a mixture of great writing, genuinely touching acting and good CGI. Likewise, the send-off given to Tracey is just as excellent, as she freezes everything around her to protect Micah. If the former glory of Heroes can be seen in these flashes, what was stopping it breaking through the whole time?

Even when the Volume limps to its damp squib finale, where Sylar plans to take the place of the President, the show continues to bite its viewers’ hands. A major character is finally killed, only to be resurrected minutes later in the laziest plot device twist ever. This was once a show that had the balls to sever all its connections to an entire season just because viewers didn’t like it. What’s going on now? We’re even cheated out of a proper climax, as the Amazing Flying Petrelli Brothers prepare to take on Sylar when, for the second time, a door is slammed, ensuring that the battle is unseen to lower costs. Thanks, Kring.

All in all, this is hands down the worst Volume of Heroes’ entire run. Kring and his boys need to figure out where they’re going with this, because after that weak cliffhanger (ANOTHER character is brought back from the dead, are you kidding me?!) the entire show looks to be dying. Let’s hope the magic returns soon.

2/5

Doctor Who ‘Planet of the Dead’ Review

As concepts go, putting a double-decker London bus on a sand-covered alien planet is pretty high. As episodes of Doctor Who go, this is one of the lamest.

Opening with a horrendously clichéd thief-takes-valuable-item scene (with guards that don’t look at the object they’re monitoring), the episode moves on to what is writer Russell T Davis’ only good idea for the story – getting The Doctor and a busload of forgettable misfits stranded in a desert.

From here on, roughly nothing happens. At all. Michelle Ryan’s expert thief Lady Christina proves to be bland, boring and contrived. The best part of her character is the magic backpack that holds out every useful item under the sun, like shovels and axes, which she so clearly needed for a rooftop theft.

The pace dies as Tennant’s Doctor tries to liven up scene after scene of boring character introductions and exposition, from explaining how they got to the planet (SPOILER: wormhole), to chatting up the Token Psychic Bus Passenger. Because there’s always a Token Psychic Bus Passenger when The Doctor needs warning about the upcoming Regeneration.

The episode goes from barely watchable to downright intolerable as The Doctor and Christina bump into the worst aliens since the fat penguins – flies in boiler suits. The only conceivable purpose of these characters is to have a crashed ship containing the Token Plot Device Crystal that is needed to get the bus back to earth.

It’s here that a much more interesting story is discovered, discarded and forgotten. There is a storm approaching the bus – a storm made of metal manta rays. If they get through the wormhole, they will turn the earth into a desert, just like they did to the planet they now fly around. Wouldn’t it be a much more interesting episode if the bus turned up in the middle of the city being eaten alive by the manta rays? Why must we be forced to watch this dross instead?

The episode then staggers to its climax, featuring three manta rays escaping to earth behind a terrible CGI flying bus and being shot down by an unusually bloody-minded UNIT. Lee Evans makes a cameo appearance as a comedy bumbling scientist and The Doctor helps Christina escape, for no real reason.

All in all, a very bad start to the year of special episodes. The only saving grace is that Catherine Tate isn’t in it.

1/5