Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lazy Writing, or Just a Bad Idea? (If it's even true...)

So, an amazing thing happened this week: Heroes was kind of good.

Not "oh-my-god-it's-the-next-incarnation-of-Buffy" good, but it's back in my moderately good graces.

This was one of the big episodes that they've been building toward, the one that explains what the heck happened to the characters in the immediate aftermath of last season's finale, and for the most part it did its job well and was pretty entertaining.

I wasn't a fan of the Peter bookending and the flashbacks happening in his eyes, but that was as much a visual problem as it was one with the writing. Besides that, I thought the Peter and Nathan stuff was done quite well and answered most of the questions I've been asking since 201 in a satisfying way.

Fine, Heroes, you win. I thought for sure that you had painted yourself into a corner with the seemingly random and convenient choices made at the beginning of the season (Peter in Ireland? Amnesia? Mirror Nathan? Beardy Nathan? Who then shaves his beard without explanation when his kids want him to?), but you schooled me a little bit and even had some true "ooh" moments. Good on you, Tim Kring, and good on you, rest of the writing staff.

But I have to bring up a rumor I heard a few weeks ago, because it kind of influences how I feel about this episode and this season.

It's fairly well known, at least in writing circles, that each episode of Heroes is broken up and written by multiple writers. Each writer or writing team is given a character or the characters in a certain storyline and they and only they (...excepting Tim Kring, of course, who can rewrite whoever the hell he wants) write the scenes for that particular character.

This is not completely unheard of. Desperate Housewives does it, I believe. Fantasy Island divided into A- and B-plots and chose writers for each section. Other examples abound, I'm sure.

(Speaking of Fantasy Island, what a great, dark TV movie that became a so-so TV show. Seriously, you should check it out. Bill Bixby is warped. And Montalban's Mr. Roarke is creepy as hell. The episodic version is a pale, pale imitation. Back to Heroes.)

The rumor I heard that makes the Heroes situation different, and mind you it is very much a rumor...

Before the season, Tim Kring gave each of the writers a character and told them to write a complete script for that character (or set of characters). Presumably, 60 pages of scenes focusing on that character and a singular storyline for them. Afterward, these scripts were broken up into pieces and shuffled together (not literally, one hopes) to form the first 7 episodes.

In-frakking-sane. If true, of course...

But how could something like that be true?! It doesn't make sense. How could Kring possibly expect to make 7 coherent episodes (let alone good ones) out of pieced-together scripts? What about the arc of each episode? Shouldn't there be a story each week for the audience instead of a series of loosely-related scenes? I mean, I know it's a serialized show, but still. There's no way there's an ounce of truth to this rumor.

And yet...kind of explains a lot about the season so far, doesn't it?

1 comment:

Rhys said...

Yep, Heroes stepped it up this week! I thought as I watched , Ah, if only they'd began the season this way....

And no more feudal Japan! Woot! There's hope yet.