While Heroes starts to head into the second half of its season, 24 prepares to enter into its 2nd quarter with a fair deal of momentum. Two straight victories in the Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown, and a win in total viewers last week, have placed 24 in the pole position heading into February Sweeps, where TV shows do their best to throw everything in their arsenal at viewers. How did 24 and Heroes hold up in Overall Quality, Ratings, and the Sweeps Litmus Test? Let’s take a look and find out.
Round One: Overall Quality
Heroes finally put together an hour of television that appeared to go somewhere. We got copious amounts of Sylar, first and foremost, although I felt that his anger was a little bit too generic. There didn’t seem to be a mythos to his killing, although “That was for the haircut” was perhaps my favourite line of the episode. However, even though he may bore me, there was some good development for Peter this week. His ability to regenerate when not around Claire was really quite important for the overall story, and Eccleston as Obi-Wan is currently working quite well from a storytelling perspective.
The episode still had its downfalls though. I love Hiro, and loved Ando’s crush on the sister, but the entire plot had no connection to anything, and seemed like just an excuse to cast George Takei (Don’t get me wrong, I love George Takei). For someone so wrapped up in his destiny, to have him stop it all for an entire episode was counter-productive. The entire Niki storyline remains utterly mind-numbing, and this week’s sudden Linderman assisted withdraw of all charges was too contrived for my tastes. Similarly, the entire Simone situation is too uninteresting, I need her to be revealed as an agent of Linderman or SOMETHING here.
On the whole, Heroes’ best transition episode yet, despite some of its parts not quite living up to the quality of our tiny baby step plot movements.
24, on the other hand, did somewhat less in moving the overall plot forward. In a show that, let’s face it, is action-oriented and often tied down by its structure, this was one of those episodes that felt somewhat small scale, like a whole lot of setup. The episode benefited from some more Jack Bauer torture scenes, as well as some family drama, but on the whole it was just a setup for our next major plotline, the “Save Morris” one. I knew it had to be someone at CTU, it just made sense, but I didn’t put together the whole brother in the hospital thing until WAY too late. I think I’m getting a little slow.
Other than that, the episode kept things fairly stagnant. The President stood up to Lennix about the whole martial law type thing, and there wasn’t much else for the episode to go on really. It was very much a holding pattern for 24, and the only big character revelation came at its conclusion. You can’t expect too much to happen in every hour of the day, after all.
Bona fide NBC hit Heroes was second in the 9 p.m. hour in total viewers (14.56 million) and first among adults 18-49 (6.4/15) — up 28 percent in the demo from lead-in Deal or No Deal. Fox’s potent 24 remained competitive, meanwhile, at 13.58 million viewers and a 5.0/11 among adults 18-49, building from lead-in Prison Break by 3.44 million viewers and 22 percent in the demo.
What does this mean? It means that Heroes has taken the ratings crown in both total viewers and Adults 18-49. Perhaps it was that the CBS comedies sunk into 24’s audience, but it was certainly a bit of a tough week for 24 in comparison to the last few. Still a strong performance, but Heroes takes the ratings outright for the first time.
The Sweeps Litmus Test
Contents: Big-time Daddy Reveal, Character Thrown Off Roof
Test Results: Pretty decent Sweeps performance from Heroes. Peter is annoying, so the fact that he healed himself was unfortunate, but throwing him off a roof was still dramatic. And, whether predictable or not, Nathan as Claire’s father was a fine way to end the episode.
Contents: Revelation of Evil, Kidnapping
Test Results: A strong reveal to end the episode, but it was a bit bizarrely handled on the whole. The “murder” of Graem seemed a bit too extreme, but the reveal of Daddy Bauer as evil made sense. Sense is good, 24, but your kidnapping was a bit undramatic and I don’t think we care enough about Morris at this point for things to work perfectly.
And the winner is…
Heroes takes its first Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown with an across the board win. It did the best job of transitioning characters, as well as some small plot movements, and despite its usual problems it rose to the occasion with some nice Obi-Wan constructs. 24, by comparison, was just slightly uneventful, not quite grabbing hold of any sort of plot movement. It was just the way the cookie crumbled. Combined with ratings victory and a strong Sweeps-style atmosphere, it was Heroes’ week.