Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fuel on the Fire: Why Heroes is Better than Lost

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said Heroes was better than Lost?

Someone else agrees... Has Heroes Cracked the Lost Formula?

Here's a little cut from the very short article:
A lot of fans credit the success of Heroes directly to the fact that you really have a sense that the story is coming together, which is a polar opposite of LOST fans assessment of their program of choice. In this sense it is very possible that Heroes may not have just matched the LOST formula, but exceeded it.
This is my biggest reason for thinking Heroes is better than Lost. My biggest issue is that Lost doesn't really answer the questions. It says that it is, but all of a sudden the hatch is open and then what? A computer to enter the magic numbers on? It teases you and tantalizes you, but in the end, the answers you get make no sense. I think part of the problem too is that there is basically one story. The island. And it's a narrative corner the writers have put themselves into and can't really get out of. Sure, they have the flashbacks which are supposed to flesh out the characters, but again, in the end there's not really much there. They can't get off the island without the show ending, so they are stretching it as long as possible. At least, that's what it feels like to me.

Now, I will freely admit that there is a strong possibility that Heroes could turn out the same way. We're only 6 episodes into it, and there are plenty of opportunities for dropping the ball. So far though, the only story that I'm really not excited about is the mind-reading cop (Matt) and his wife. I like Matt, but the story doesn't really seem to have any kind of direction within the larger story. Everything else, from the cheerleader to her dad to the politician to the painter, all of it works well and has a sense of really going somewhere. There's a sense of overall story and narrative that Lost doesn't seem to have, or if Lost does have it, doesn't seem to be so complex that an advanced degree in theoretical physics, metaphysics, and philosophy is necessary to grasp it. This is especially true now that the Heroes are starting to meet and interact with each other. Their stories are starting to intertwine and the sense is that story is starting to pick up.

The other thing that sets Heroes apart from Lost for me is the sense of fun about it, mainly in the character of Hiro (played by Masa Oki, who also just happens to be a programmer for ILM that did the water effects for The Perfect Storm; talk about a renaissance man). The joy that he's brought so far to his role, serving as a template for how the rest of us geeks would be if we got the power to stop time and teleport is spot-on perfect. This sense of fun also makes it a nice counterpoint to the unrelenting darkness of Battlestar Galactica, my other favorite show.

So, it comes down to it that I think Heroes is better than Lost, so far. I'm hoping it can keep its momentum, narratively. Otherwise, 3 years from now, I might be writing about why Heroes is awful and how it lost its way, similar to another serialized drama from the early 2000s....

15 comments:

Sam Davidson said...

Good post. I'm a Lost fan, and haven't seen Heroes, but I'm holding out hope that the coming together of everything on Lost will be worth the year or two I've spent confused.

Clarissa said...

Oh, I sooo loved it when Hiro got all excited about having a sword in the future. Hilarious! And having known multiple tech geeks myself, I'd agree -- spot-on. I still don't really get the blonde who changes personas ... how that works. It's like Multiple Personality Disorder, yet so much more. Plus some kind of physical super-strength. And just what was her husband doing to her innerds? is she still alive, or did he have mercy and only wound her enough to get away? And what are the abilities of their son?

I'm certainly looking forward to each episode with bated breath! (Nah, not really, I do have a life. But it's fun.)

TheCrowder said...

Phil, first, let me admit, I have not watched Heroes; however, I am a huge LOST fan. Your points are not lost (ha!) on me, but, I do think you are off on one key point. You say that the island is the "one story." I, however, would say that the island is not a story, but, rather, a character. The one story is: who are these people, what is happening to them, where are they, why are they all together, and how will they get back to reality?

Hopefully Hereos will go on a marathon so I can catch up!

Phil said...

Clarissa, my theory on Niki (blond stripper) is that she does have MPD and the other personality has discovered the super strength. I think Niki's challenge will be discovering that she has the strength also and what to do with it. And especially, with the likelihood that her and DL's son Micah will have a power, I think that will become more of a challenge.

Brian and Sam and others, the SciFi Channel is running a marathon of the first 6 episodes on November 29, as well as rerunning each episode on the Friday after it airs. That would be an excellent opportunity to catch up on all the story lines.

Jeff said...

After watching a couple of episodes of Heroes, I still have to say Lost outdoes it in storyline and character development. Don't kid yourself, Heroes will start to run out of questions to answer, and will have to keep fueling the fire to keep people interested - that's what Lost had to do once they answered what was in the hatch. For example, what will they do once all the "heroes" find each other, figure out they have a combined mission to accomplish ("save the cheerleader" - which I agree with you is one of the more classic themes given its appeasement of all geek fantasies), and stop the bomb from hitting NY? Will they form some type of X-men/Justice League? Keep finding new heroes with new powers they just happen to need for the new threat at hand? Discover an evil bunch of anti-heroes? I have to think whatever they do will mirror something that's already been done in comic books - Lost's appeal to me is its originality.

I think Lost has done a good job of answering questions, but keeping enough unanswered to keep interest on what the theories are on what will happen next, where are they, and why are they there. I'm surprised they were able to keep the story going after the first season - I also think it will be hard to eventually get them off the island...it will become almost like wondering if Gilligan will ever get off the island. Also kind of like I never thought Jack Bauer could have more than five really bad "worst days of his life," but they keep bringing him back for more.

By the way, Phil, this is much more fun than talking about liberal/progressive church, politics, gay marriage, etc.

Phil said...

I agree with you, Jeff. Lost's initial appeal to me was its originality, but when the story didn't maintain its interest to me is when I bailed out.

I think about it like the original Toy Story. When it first came out, people were mesmerized by the computer animation, but if they were anything like me, about halfway through, I had to remind myself, not that I was watching a computer animated movie, but that I was watching an animated movie, but the storyline was so resonant and well written that you forgot about it being animated.

Because the storyline for Lost hasn't held me, I bailed.

Now, what you said about the originality is a good point for Heroes. I know it's not original, but similar to the way I like Battlestar Galactica, I like it because it's familiar, but twisted and tweaked to make it unfamiliar and unexpected. Same thing with Heroes. I know they're going to use some tried and true comic book conventions, but so far they've shown that they'll put a twist on them to make them surprising enough to keep me interested.

G. Brandon Hoyt said...

Cop's link to the other's is that he has contact with Syler first, and syler kills the cheerleader (in the future at least...)
OBVIOUSLY!
;-)
Haven't watched ep. 6 yet. To give you an idea on what I think about lost though, I taped the episode of heroes I missed, Didn't do that for lost.

Kat Coble said...

I have to agree with you wholeheartedly.

Lost is just meandering its way through mediocre "surprises" without providing any real forward motion in its story.

Heroes, on the other hand, is telling a story much like a good book.

Phil said...

That's true, Brandon. I was talking more about his storyline about reading his wife's mind.

Jeff said...

All I have to say to the Lost-haters - I remember a couple of years ago many of the same things with Heroes were being said about Lost (it did win the Best Drama emmy), so back to my original thoughts, let's see how the Heroes writers do in perpetuating the storyline for a couple of years. I think writers these days pitch a show that has a sensational story to get them through one season, then when it gets popular they have to keep it going (e.g., Lost, 24, Invasion (a bust last year on ABC trying to build on Lost's popularity),etc.).

And I tape Lost every Wednesday (so I can go to church of course), but haven't done that with Heroes. Although I probably would if I didn't have two kids and have time to devote to both shows. : )

Rob Cox said...

Check this out. The producers of both Lost and Heroes have considered putting the shows in the same world. Check out this article in Entertainment Weekly:
http://www.ew.com/ew/article/commentary/0,6115,1553147_3_0_,00.html

Phil said...

From that article:

"I recently had the chance to run all of this by Lindelof. For the record, when I asked him if it was true that he and Kring had discussed the possibility of a Heroes/Lost team-up, this was his reaction:

''Totally true. And if Hiro can teleport ANYWHERE, wouldn't YOU watch him team up with Hurley to find the rest of that four-toed statue?''

My answer: YES!"

My answer? Oh please, gods of television, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

gavin richardson said...

not a lost fan, or heroes. but i did watch some of jericho this week (ondemand) and it reminds me much like lost where as you pointed out, presents questions but never really answers them. all in this framework of community of people who are thrust into a unique conflict scenario. i really hope we don't have a shows like this for the next 10 years, it'll get old quickly

G. Brandon Hoyt said...

dare we call it....
EMERGENT TV?!?!!!?
BTW: Wife conflict is a subplot for us to learn he gets dizzy in crowds, vis-a-vis, grocery store scene...

Scott said...

Phil, I'm with you. Lost tries my patience. We know that there will have to be major plot developments on Heroes because they've already given us the date.
Lost, to me, is a series of cop-outs one after another. The death last night was pointless. How about having the stuff to kill off a major character instead of telling us its big only to continue the swath through the "tailies?"
I think the problem is that they don't know where they are going. "What About Brian" is my favorite JJ Abrams show.

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