Thursday, February 12, 2009

Heroes in Arkansas

I like me some Heroes. Sure you could knit a sweater with the dangling plot threads by this point, and it is disappointing that female characters die much more regularly than male ones, but where else can you get a weekly dose of over-the-top comic book action? Still, when Monday night's episode "Blood and Trust" revealed that the heroes had crash landed in Arkansas, the lack of research into the setting was so obvious that Joy leaned over to me at one point and remarked, "It's like they threw a dart at the map and said 'give us a random out of the way location for this action to take place.'"

What prompted Joy's snarky response? For starters, the plane crashes in a valley between two hills in the middle of stunted, sparse tree growth that is obviously California. Supposedly they are outside Russellville, Arkansas, but they didn't bother to do any dressing for the area to make it look like the Ozark outskirts. Instead, they relied on three things to let us know that we were in Arkansas:

1. When Hiro decides to ditch his orange, government-issue jumpsuit, he borrows clothes from a trailer home that has the day's wash hanging outside. And what shirt does he pass over when picking clothes? This one:2. When the heroes are planning their next move, they gather behind a one-room, white clapboard Baptist church.

3. Ando can't get a direct plane to Russellville because no one knows where it is, causing him to blurt out in frustration, "don't you know Clinton?"

There you go: redneck trailer homes, small Baptist churches, and Bill Clinton. All you need to tell us we're in Arkansas. But what most made me laugh is that the producers didn't bother to learn that right outside Russellville is a nuclear power plant. So when the plane crashes and then an airstrike is ordered to cover-up the evidence, they are bringing in heavy firepower next door to a nuclear reactor.

But perhaps I'm being too hard on them. Maybe they're wanting to go in a new mutant powers direction. What's one more thing in an already-overcrowded plot?


Kyle said...

Speaking of complicated plotlines, do you watch Battlestar Galactica? I've been especially impressed by the music (in fact, I'm listening to the season two soundtrack right now).

Andrew said...

I've actually been waiting until it ended so I can get the DVDs and watch the entire show in one long block. I'll be sure to pay attention to the music. What do you like so much about it?

Stephen Granade said...

I think this is the danger of TV writers covering anything you actually know something about. Sigh.

You should definitely give Battlestar Galactica a try. It's tangly, but not quite as stupidly so as Heroes (pace

Andrew said...

Ok, that's the best summation ever of the show. I'm hoping with Bryan Fuller back on the show it will regain narrative momentum, but we'll see. There's always Dollhouse tomorrow night.

Kyle said...

The show has good pacing and a fairly complex plotline (though never to the point of near-incoherence, like in Lost), and it feels like they had something like a master plan for the whole show. The camera work is interesting in that they matched the epic narrative arcs with handheld cameras (and lots of zooms, which I'm convinced they stole from Firefly), even for obvious cgi shots outside the ships; some people have criticized it for "not looking good," but it does give a sense of immediacy that you otherwise would lose. Both the humans and the cylons (the robots that humans created who rebelled and are now fighting the humans) are full of moral and motivational complexity. And the show deals with many contemporary issues like war, terrorism, and nature (and limits) of democratic governance. There aren't many witty lines, so there probably won't be much re-watch value for me, but it's definitely worth your time. All the DVDs are out except for the current half season, which is (supposedly) the final season; I just started watching in December and have caught up to catch the home stretch.

Andy Forbes said...

Maria and I couldn't take Heroes any more. The same is true for Lost. Both of those shows got to be too high on our risk:reward scale. That is, what's the risk of wasting an hour and getting really mad/frustrated/disappointed by watching this vs. the reward of cool plot and character development.

BSG is definitely a winner for us, but there are still some eye-rolling moments. When you do start watching it, I recommend pacing yourself. We had to take a serious break after season 3, or else we might slip into clinical depression from thinking about it too much. (Ok, it's really not THAT bad!)

Andrew said...

You should think about getting back into Lost - this season has been great at beginning to tie things together in a format you can understand. It seems like after season 3, which was headache inducing, they found a plan and are sticking with it.