Sunday, March 29, 2009

Here's another way to improve "Heroes": Close the damn fridge door!

Dear Bryan Fuller:

Recently, you've come back to the now-struggling "Heroes" to whip it back into shape, I'd like to offer a constructive suggestion for you to draw in more fans.

The suggestion is actually twofold: a. ) Give the show a wider variety of interesting female characters, and, more importantly, b.) Don't kill them off right away!

I make this plea in the wake of the past week's episode, which happens to be the first one penned by you since your return. In it, not one but two female heroes (Tracy Strauss, played by Ali Larter, and Daphne Milbrook, played by Brea Grant) bought the farm. In my opinion, it was a loss the show couldn't afford.

Take a look at when the show started. How many key female characters were there? Claire (Hayden Penettiere) and Niki Saunders (Larter again). Now how many do we have left? Claire, Angela Petrelli (Cristina Rose) and Claire's mom Sandra (Ashley Crowe) . Contrast that to how many key male characters are on the show (Nathan Petrelli, Peter Petrelli, Matt Parkman, Hiro and Ando, Sylar, The Haitian, Mohinder Suresh, and Noah "HRG" Bennett, along with the newly-added Danko the Hunter). That's a 3:1 male-female ratio.

Looking back at these last 3 seasons, it's not that the writers haven't been able to create interesting new female characters. We've been introduced to illusionist Candace Wilmer and Claire's biological mom Meredith in Season 1, the electrifying Elle Bishop (Kristin Bell) and Micah's photographic-reflex-endowed cousin Monica Dawson in Season 2, and super-speedster Daphne in Season 3.

But look at what's happened since then. All of these female characters have either been killed off (Hiro's waitress Charlie, Peter and Isaac Mendes' mutual love interest Simone Deveaux, master persuader Eden McCain, Candace, Victoria Pratt, Niki/Jessica, Elle, Meredith, and now Tracy and Daphne) or shunted off to parts unknown (Monica, Hana "Wireless" Gitelman)*. Granted, some key male characters have been killed (Ted Sprague, Isaac, Adam Monroe, Elle's dad, Knox, Flint, Arthur Petrelli, and Maury Parkman)** or vanished (Claude, West Rosen). But most of those killed on the male side were villains.

(*Yes, I know I left off Maya, but that was because, while Dania Ramirez was easy on the eyes, both her character and her power sucked and served no real purpose other than to move Sylar, and later Mohinder, from point A to point B.)

(** Same goes for her brother.)

On the plus side, we've seen an expansion this season of the roles of both Sandra and Angela, both of whom are worthy assets to the show. Plus, Niki and Traci's deaths pave the way for Larter to come back as the last triplet, Barbara. And with Micah resurfacing as "Rebel" in this arc, could that mean that his cousin Monica is not far behind? I hope so.

In summary, if you want to beef up your ratings, particularly among female viewers, the key may be beefing up your female roster, and keeping it beefed up.




At 7:04 PM , Blogger snell said...

On the bright side, we were told earlier there was a third sister, so now Ali Larter will get to show off her dramatic range again!!

Sigh, maybe that isn't the bright side, after all.

At 8:02 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

I suspect that's why they "iced" Tracy.

At 10:58 PM , Blogger MediumRob said...

Tracy's not dead: that's why they added the wink and the tear - so that everyone would know she wasn't dead, since everyone's so annoyed with fake deaths (and women dying) in Heroes. Except a whole load of people don't seem to have noticed.

Bryan Fuller confirms it in the cast and commentary track over at the NBC Heroes web site, and the relevant stuff - including spoilers for Tracy's future story arc - are over here:

As for Ali, you could always spot which sister she was playing, just from a look, couldn't you, so she can't be that bad!

At 3:48 AM , Blogger snell said...

So, people are annoyed with the fake deaths...and their answer is to give another fake death? (Wink or not, it is still a fake death, and as you noted, most people--myself included--didn't catch it). Maybe Fuller isn't going to be able to rescue this show...

At 4:17 AM , Blogger MediumRob said...

Well, is it a fake death if they're actively trying to get people to know it's a fake death? If they add stuff (albeit clumsily and perhaps opaquely) to make it clear that it's not a real death?

To me, it was obvious that she wasn't dead, since generally, people don't wink when they die and have been smashed into shards of ice (although generally they also don't live when they've been smashed into shards of ice either) and they probably assumed that everyone would read the scene in the same way.

At 5:21 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

1. I was fooled by Tracy's "death scene", too. I figured the wink was because a) she knew she was saving Micah, and b) she was going out a hero in grand hero style. This was also because I knew about Barbara, the third triplet, and I just assumed Larter would be coming back as her.

2. But we still lost Elle, Candace, Meredith and Daphne.

3. Oh yeah, I forgot about D.L. on the male side.

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