Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mondays Are No Longer Huge!

Yes that's right, Mondays have now been diminished (well, some would say improved) because Heroes is over for the season, maybe even forever. No slight against How I Met Your Mother or Castle, because both of those shows knocked it out of the park tonight (especially a baseball themed Castle), but Heroes was one of the reasons I started this blog (mostly to rant about it) and now it is done with. Before the Heroes post-mortem, let's talk of happier times.

How I Met Your Mother: I was watching the Super Bowl and caught the bit with Barney in the stands holding a sign with his phone number on it. If you called, you got a phone message like this:

Hopefully the link still works, but it's a cute recording of Barney telling you to meet him at MacLaren's Pub at a certain time and date (the one in the video is October of 2016). Funny bit, and I wondered if it would pay off on tonight's episode...and boy did it ever. The episode kicks off with Barney's sign, leading to his "magic phone" which is constantly ringing (with possibly the most annoying ring tone ever) from hot women who are calling. Quick aside; wouldn't some of the women be not hot? Or curious guys? Or curious gays? Anyway, logic aside, this leads to Barney being slowly driven insane with an unending stream of girls to score with, only he can't bring himself to settle on one long enough to do the deed, worried that there's a hotter one calling every time the phone rings. Also, since this is the Valentine's Day episode as well as the Super Bowl episode, Ted and Robin get romance related storylines. Robin's is about her co-anchor Don, who asks her over to his place on a date/to a party (depending on who you ask). Robin doesn't want to go, but the rest of the gang can tell that she likes him (or is just giving her shit about it), leading to the most confusing, yet most epic, sequence this show has possibly ever given us: the rabbit or duck argument. Ted brings out one of those optical illusions where it looks like a rabbit, but also looks like a duck (for the record, I saw duck first, and it took me a good 10 seconds to see the rabbit). The theory is that she thinks he's a rabbit (which is bad), but that he's actually a duck (which is good). The hilarity comes when Marshall pipes up that he thinks rabbits are way more awesome than ducks, which leads to a fast-forwarded argument in which the other three at the table debate/bully Marshall into changing his opinion. So many great lines in that scene, go watch it (or watch it again if you've already seen it) and enjoy.

As for Ted, he gives Marshall and Lily free reign to set up an arranged marriage date for him (thanks to the input of Ranjit, who, between the knitting and carrying Barney out of the bar, was comedy gold tonight) for Valentine's Day...which they forget about. Before the date, Ted accompanies Robin to Don's party, which just turns out to be Don doing "The Naked Man".. Whooo!!! Callbacks!!! Ted bails for his date, which in classic HIMYM flashback fashion, is revealed to be someone from the magic phone which Marshall and Lily had taken away from Barney. Ted (or should I say, Teddy Westside) falls under the spell of the phone before Lily dunks it in a pitcher of beer, ending the madness. Robin comes to work to find that Don has had a change of heart regarding his job (and even wore pants), and that should take us into some Don/Robin relationship stories for the next few weeks. Great episode.

Castle was also great tonight, going back to those basics that it does so well. The plots are your basic procedural stuff, well done but with all the twists in the right spots. I don't say that in a bad way; Castle does a lot with the procedural, but it's the small bits that make the show so good. I'm not always a fan of stunt casting, but Beckett being starstruck by meeting Joe Torre was such an adorable character moment for her that it just made the scene. My favorite bit though was back at the station when Esposito and Ryan are tossing a baseball back and forth while talking over the case with Beckett. Castle enters with his coffee, they toss the ball to him, and he misses the catch by a mile, sending the ball off to who knows where and he keeps talking without even acknowledging the miss. Small moment, huge character moment, and had me cracking up. Also present was perhaps the seeds of a larger storyline as we learn (through Alexis' genealogy project) that Castle doesn't know who his father is. Whether it leads to anything or not, it still led to a sweet moment at the end between Castle and Alexis, a duo who haven't been together as much in recent episodes, but which provides a lot of heart to a genre that doesn't normally go for it.

Oh, and RAY WISE!!! I know the whole "I'm calling my expensive lawyer" thing is pretty standard when the bad guy gets arrested, but I hold out a tiny shred of hope that the finale can involve Ray Wise trying to have the case thrown out because of Castle's involvement. Probably not a strong story post, but I just want more Ray Wise.

And finally (maybe literally) we come to Heroes. With as much as the plot dragged on all season, they sure didn't waste any time resolving everything in one episode. There's a little thing called pacing, and it works wonders when you're trying to keep your show on the air. Looking back at the season as a whole, there was so much that was just a huge timewaste and had little or nothing to do with the actual ending of the actual story.

We start off with Samuel...and big surprise, he's making a speech. Blah blah blah, oh hey big reveal, they're in Central Park. Not much of a surprise considering that Samuel was all "let's all go to Central Park" at the end of last week's episode. Samuel uses Doyle to force Emma to play Pied Piper (okay, Pied Cellist) and gather people around the Carnival.

Couple of quick thoughts: A) It's a carnival in the middle of Central Park, how much extra magic power voodoo do you need to get a crowd? B) Did they file the proper permits? Is there a "special" there with the ability to push through New York State bureaucracy? Not even one scene of a couple of cops asking around and getting taken out by Samuel? The guy is supposed to be evil by this point...SHOW US EVIL!!! He's a dirty Irish guy who loves the sound of his own voice and can control the weak minded...he's Bono, not Bin Laden.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Claire and HRG are stuck underground in a trailer thanks to Magnet-O', and quickly running out of air. Well, HRG is, Claire will apparently keep regenerating her lungs. Now, I'm no doctor, but I don't think "regenerating lungs" is the same as "getting air to her brain", but what do I know, I don't have a low-rated NBC series. Anyway, HRG almost gets to leave the show by dying with dignity, but Deus Ex Tracy shows up long enough to rescue them, draw a paycheck, then see if Doritos is still hiring. Oh hey, and the helicopter just showed up too! See what I mean about pacing? That could have been an episode of "trying to escape, having a heart to heart talk, Tracy rescues them", then the "go to carnival, do things there" stuff would be in the finale. Instead, they're rescued before we even have time to care about whether HRG might not make it.

Meanwhile, Parkman makes a sandwich. Well, he tries to, but the Human Xerox Machine is there, and they gang up on Parkman. Just before they can make him eat a turd, Peter and New Sylar knock out the Xerox Prime and the clones disappear. Parkman takes either way too long or way too short to be convinced enough of Sylar's change of heart. Oh, and speaking of heart...okay, so Parkman looks inside Sylar's mind to see if he's really repented. Parkman isn't convinced though, because "he's seen inside his mind, but not his heart". Oh give me a fucking break! This must have been written by the same anatomy expert who gave us Claire's magical regenerating lungs.

Now we go to Hiro, who has made a full recovery from his brain surgery/psychic trial/acid trip and is ready to just hop out of bed and do whatever it is he does. Luckily, the Plot Advancing Nurse comes in to tell Hiro what to do next, rather than force his actions to occur naturally within the story. It's an note from Charlie and she's an old lady! TWIST! Turns out, Samuel hid Charlie in the 40's where she lived out her life. In Milwaukee in the 40's. But now she's in the same hospital as Hiro for no reason other than to help out a lazy writer who just wants to get this season over with, apparently. Hiro offers to fix things, but Charlie has had a good Hiro-free life and doesn't want to psychically murder her offspring by undoing all the time travel nonsense. Charlie, must be the most tolerant character on all of television. Seriously, she gets taken away from her life, sent back to an era that doesn't have the internet or cable, and doesn't seem bitter at all. If you set her hair on fire, she'd probably be all "Oh, my hair's on fire...well, it was getting a little chilly in here". For that matter, Charlie has the ability to remember everything she's ever read right? And she's 60 years in the past, right? Shouldn't she be the richest woman alive from playing the stock market? Or from betting on sports (The Biff Tannen Method)? Or inventing stuff? I can understand hiding her superpower from people, but hiding foreknowledge of the next 65 years of history? Yeah, I know it goes into all the "don't mess with the past" stuff that Hiro's always babbling on about, but this is seriously just crap. Hiro and Charlie do the best they can with the material, and Hiro saying goodbye is a nice bittersweet moment, but it's nestled in a big basket of lazy crap writing. Just as they finish up, Ando gets the "it's time to wrap this crapfest up" call on the special Heroes Hotline or something, and they teleport to Central Park.

So now we have all of our players (well, all the players that didn't get ignored all season) together in Central Park, ready to wrap things up. Claire goes to try talking, since that worked so well every other time she's tried it. Oh hey, there's the plant guy! Geez, with that outfit, he was probably better off being homeless. Anyway, so Claire does the whole "catch up the audience on the season" thing, which the carnies are blowing off. Then Ray Park and HRG show up to back her story up, which doesn't do much else more. However, Xerox Guy shows up, and thanks to Parkman's mental instructions, confesses to his part in the shooting of Lydia. This causes the sheep...I mean carny folk to break up the family and get out of Dodge. Meanwhile, Sylar goes to save Emma from Fat Jeff Dunham, which is predictable and boring. Samuel has a freakout and runs on stage (ooh, to give a speech?) to start the earth-based massacre. Peter flies (flies? did I forget something?) into him and they have an incredibly boring dirt fight and talk about each other's dead brothers for a while. Just long enough for Hiro to show up, teleport everyone away, and then stay gone. Poor Masi Oka...let's get this guy on 24 or something.

So Samuel's power supply is cut off and he's led out in cuffs. Everyone gets to celebrate, and Volume 5 is over. Now here's Volume 6 and...oh crap, Claire's going to do something stupid. Thanks to the conveniently contrived news camera in her face, she decides to speak for everyone else with a power and out herself as a special, Midland-style. At least the climb to the top of the Ferris Wheel took long enough for every other character there to have the chance to react to it. Okay, and seriously? Having everybody just stare dumbly while she climbs? Lame. She lands, she heals, and it's over. Great, now the last thing I'll ever have seen on Heroes is Claire's dumb face staring at me.

Okay, so here's what kills me about this finale: There was no real reason for Sylar to be there to save Emma (or to turn good, for that matter), Hiro was only there as a freaking BUS, Claire and HRG were only in danger for about 8 minutes, and most of the other characters from this season (or seasons past) were just gone for no reason other than not being in the episode. Ensemble shows need ensemble casts, and this cast is Claire and Peter and then some other people who come and go. Sylar is a great character, but he has no consistency. Why should I buy into a reformed Sylar when he's only been reformed for 3 hours and he has a history of turning right back to evil? Why should a petulant and gullible teenage girl get to decide for everybody else that the world needs to know about specials? Why does Peter only have one facial expression? Heroes gave us a lame and boring villain, and lame and boring protagonists to "take him down" with. What did we really get out of this season? Claire might be gay, Peter...nothing, Hiro had a brain tumor and now he doesn't anymore, Sylar is magically good, and Samuel accomplished nothing. The whole season was a interminable march to this point, where the specials are now known about. Great, you spent 5 seasons getting us to Issue #1 of X-Men. If Heroes gets canceled soon, I'll come back with a full obituary of the series. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that it will come back to torment me for another season, so we'll just spend the time until then watching some much better shows.

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