I am developing a new litmus test to see if a show has lost me or not. For want of a more clever title, we’ll call it the TiVo Test.
The other night I was watching last week’s Heroes on TiVo with my husband. I’d had a busy day and I was nodding off. With fifteen minutes left in the show, I told my husband not to delete it when he was done, and that I’d finish it up tomorrow.
It wasn’t compelling enough to keep me for the final fifteen minutes. The next day I’d forgotten completely that I’d not seen the end of the episode.
The thing is, it takes me a while to give up on a beloved show. I defended Heroes last season by explaining that, sure, Sylar’s plotline was weak, and so was Peter’s, but Hiro’s was awesome (although I sure did miss the sexy future Hiro), and Niki got all badass before the end. I started watching this year with some excitement, but I think writers go astray when they give a character too much power. When you give someone the power of a god—which Peter and Sylar both seem to have now—then it’s hard to put them in bad mortal situations. In the first episode, we see Peter arguing with Claire that she can’t come see the dying Nathan in the hospital, as she’s too far away. I was yelling at the TV screen for him to teleport to get her so she could see her biological father before he died. Nope. She was “too far away.”
Later, when Sylar hunted Claire, he used his telekinesis to close all the doors and windows (and drapes and shutters just for effect) so she couldn’t get out (which was wonderfully dramatic), but when he was looking for her, he failed to open the door she was hiding behind. And doesn’t he have super hearing?
And I’ve tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. If someone were handed super powers, he might forget which ones he has, especially in times of stress. But often the characters use said powers in battle frequently as if they were second nature. Only when they have the chance to think, “Hm, Claire is across the country and her birth father is dying. I wonder if there’s anything in my vast array of superpowers that could help her?” do they seem to completely forget.
And this all smacks of poor storytelling, indicating that clearly writers need to put characters into situations to fit the plot, never mind that with the amazing talents they’ve been given, they shouldn’t be in that situation. This is akin to Superman forgetting he can fly, or you staring into the fridge realizing you have no food and no way to get to the grocery store, forgetting you have this thing called a “car.”
OK, cars are more ubiquitous than powers, but still, work with me here.
Regardless, Heroes has had me yelling at the screen too often this season, and I think when I went to bed last week without watching the last fifteen minutes, that was me officially giving up. I don’t know if I’m going to watch this week’s. I might forget I have this superpower called a “TiVo” and read a book instead.
TiVo Test subject: Heroes.