Comic-Con 2009: The Heroes Panel

Judging fictional strangers, let's go to the video

The Heroes Comic-Con panel has come and gone, and while I do give them props for a very considerate cast showing (pretty much everybody but Ali Larter, Mohinder and Greg Grunberg were there, and Grunny had a good excuse -- it was his son's bar mitzvah!), as well as some hesitantly promising new characters (not that this show needs new characters, but at least these guys don't seem to be in danger of Maya or Adam-level suckage), but, in true Heroes fashion, with the few bright spots came an avalanche of offensively bad story ideas. God, this show. I swear. Let's run down the bad and the good.

The Bad:
We saw in last season's finale that Sylar and Nathan will both be inhabiting Nathan's body for a while; the panel confirmed that and also revealed that Sylar will be sharing a brain with Parkman, left over from the finale's events, but the real ass-kicker was Zachary Quinto's answer to the question, "What was the funnest thing you've gotten to do this season?" His answer? "I got to crawl out of a grave." That's right. Not only is Sylar sharing Nathan's body and Parkman's brain, we're also getting a third, physical Sylar. Which just makes me wonder, what the hell is wrong with Tim Kring? Has the audience not made it abundantly clear that we don't want one Sylar, let alone three of him? Honestly, is there a more self-destructive show on television than this one? It's like they're trying to piss off the 12 fans they have left.

And to further exemplify this point, Masi Oka revealed that there will be "a lot, lot more time travel" for Hiro. I mean, my god. The only thing this show is in more urgent need of getting rid of than Sylar is time travel storylines, another thing that was screamed from the rooftops by all four of us who are still watching this mess. And the rest of the particulars of Hiro's storyline are equally thrilling: his illness at the end of last season has been diagnosed as terminal, so, knowing he only has a few months to live, he decides to open a small business with Ando for some reason? This show just continues to be excellent at writing about humans in a real and organic way. Hiro will also be continuously jumping back in time to fix his past mistakes that he's literally listed on a frigging bucket list, like god forbid this show have a forward-looking storyline for once in its stupid life span.

Claire's in college, and as such, will enter into a ridiculously pandering lesbian experimentation storyline.

Parkman's going to embark on a career as a detective of some sort. Eye roll. Parkman's about as competent an investigator as Inspector Clouseau.

Everything seems just criminally HRG-light. It looks like we're going to spend some time on his crumbling marriage, but I think that's all we're gonna get. You know, because we have to spend all that important time with three Sylars, Hiro's time traveling and Claire's girl-on-girl make out sessions.

The Good:
Tim Kring promised that they will be focusing on only two or three characters per episode going forward in order to tell more detailed stories and deliver more in-depth character development. It sounded like he's trying to structure the episodes like Lost does, and I think that's a really good thing. The character writing on this show is shallow and lazy, and I think that's at least partially due to them always having 17 storylines going on at once to attend to. Letting a bunch of characters sit out each episode is a smart move, even if it does mean we'll have to sit through several Mohinder or Parkman-centric episodes next season. Lost is still awesome, even though some episodes used to be all about Kate, you know?

Swoosie Kurtz is coming back! A lot, apparently!

Peter will take a break from being a full-time whiner to go back to being a paramedic. I don't know why, but him as a paramedic doesn't bother me, and I'm glad he'll have something to do with his days.

The new characters are going to be a family of carnival performers, which I actually think sounds pretty cool. And it's a surprisingly logical progression, given the history of "freaks" in human history, albeit a little 19th-century. If genetic mutants existed today, they'd more likely have reality shows that they'd support with tours, but it's Heroes. They're doing their best. Plus carnivals are creepy and wrong, and there's nothing scarier than a carnie.

Speaking of the carnies, three of them were at the panel, and I dug them all. First up was Robert Knepper (T-Bag from Prison Break, who was so pleasant and humble it was like bizarro T-Bag, which weirded me out). He plays Samuel, the "earth mover" (whatever that is) and carnie ringleader. I don't know anything else, but I do know I like the sound of that. Next was Ray Park, who is -- I shit you not -- a ninja carnie knife-thrower with super speed. How can I hate on a ninja carnie knife-thrower with super speed played by Ray Park? I cannot! And thirdly, the lovely Dawn Olivieri, who plays Lydia the tattooed carnie lady and empath who can see the future when her powers team up with Samuel's earth-moving ones. I don't know. She looks kind of Tricia Helfer-y (at least from a distance), and is apparently naked a lot, which I guess will let us see the possibly significant-in-some-way tattoos. Some of that was convoluted, obviously, and will no doubt be annoying, but I can't deny that these three characters have promise.

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