Another week, another showdown to the death between Heroes and 24. Today’s Rounds are Overall Quality, Ratings and our rotating Third Round goes to “The Weakest Link” which will be explains as it pops up.
Round One: Overall Quality
Well, Heroes picked up a bit compared to last week’s episode, but we’re still knee deep in a transitional period. It threw us some more Christopher Ecclesten (“Doctor Who”), and a rather fun little appearance by George “Sulu” Takei at the end of the episode.
All of this being said, I am getting concerned about the core mythos of the show at this point. Sylar has been out of action for too long, Mohinder might as well die already, Claire’s search for her parents is cute but still lacking the spark (Even with the introduction of Jessalyn Gilsig), Peter is still a little too whiny, Niki/DL lacks connection, and while I love Hiro dearly, he hasn’t had much important to do since “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” and the dinosaur. He’s been consistently the best part of every episode, this one included, but he needs to recover his purpose. The pieces are in place for this mythos to work, but it just isn’t quite there yet. Even a transition episode needs to do something more to connect to and extend the mythos, and this episode didn’t do it.
24 is also entering its first transitional phase, and about now is when people start whining about the show’s quality, spoiled by the amount of action in the last five episodes. We have an episode where Jack didn’t really get to torture anyone, where there were no bombs or explosions, and there was very little of the action that has made the character of Jack Bauer so popular with the kids.
And yet, I count myself among those who think that these episodes are often what 24 does best. We received further intel into the state of affairs with McCarthy, we gained new insight into Nadia’s character (Milo’s got to be banging her), we dealt quickly with the White House related tension (Any bets on how many show hours it takes Karen to get to CTU?), and the episode did a good job of easing into its final act featuring James Crowell as Phllip Bauer. In the end, the episode remained compelling drama that introduced and advanced storylines in a way that still contributed to the overall plot without action sequences or interrogations.
Round Two: Ratings
Things are fairly similar to last week here, but with some slight differences.
At 9 p.m., leadership was mixed between NBC’s Heroes and Fox’s 24. Heroes won the hour among adults 18-49 (6.1/14) with a second-place finish in total viewers (13.57 million); while 24 was the most-watched (14.05 million) and a competitive second among adults 18-49 (5.4/12).
While Heroes might still have the advantage out of young viewers, the bad news here is that 24 took over the lead in total viewers and managed to stay steady amongst those younger viewers while Heroes well. It’s pretty much a tie, because of this, but 24 is definitely in the best position, especially heading into its 2-hour event in two weeks.
Round Three: The Weakest Links
Yes, every good show has its weak links, and Heroes and 24 are currently suffering from a storyline a piece that is compelling me to fast forward through them. This category will be able to judge which link was weaker, and how each episode handled that problem.
In the case of Heroes, the character of Matt Parkman has a lot of potential. I love Greg Grunberg (Alias, Felicity, pretty much everything JJ Abrams has ever done), and I think that his power has great possibilities. But, dear god, the man needs something to do. He has entirely lost his purpose after being suspended, and with it everything that made him entertaining. His banter with his partner was charming, his searches for the truth allowed him to connect with the main storyline. But, after last week’s failure at Primatech Paper, the character has become utterly worthless. Heck, I half expected him to decide to take up plumbing full time.
His wife is pregnant, she knows he can read her mind, and their marriage remains more or less irrevocably damaged. There is no path for this character to follow right now. I think Mohinder is the least interesting character of the bunch, and was certainly the show’s weakest link while soul searching in India, but he at least has returned to New York with a purpose. Every time we turn to Parkman, I honestly stop caring. It pulls me out of the show’s core storyline, and that is when you have to consider killing some people off and consolidating the existing characters into a tighter arc that would make for less of these problems.
And, let’s face it, 24 has long had the same problem, balancing multiple storylines with tenuous connections to the overall plot. It is those that lack that connection, in a real manner, that hurt the show’s ability to have these transition episodes. And, for 24 this season, this weakest link has been Sandra Palmer and her boyfriend Walid. She’s a tad bit annoying, he’s a bit too passive, and the entire scenario at the holding facility continued for too long past our point of interest.
But, it still connected with the main plot, and in this episode it was unceremoniously ended. It involved CTU, so that there was a connection to our main storyline, and then it ended, allowing Sandra to head off and protect our civil liberties. While she may be grating, at least she has clearly been given a sense of importance that can translate into something new, and they are transitioning her into that role now.
And, based on these three categories, the winner of Superpower Bauer Hour Showdown Week Two is… Continue reading