Saturday, October 4, 2008

And the love/hate relationship with TV continues...

First, WB is totally digging NBC's Heroes this season! The show's writing staff has already been paying homage to pop cult classics from Buster Keaton to Super Friends in just three episodes, adding an element to the series that goes beyond impressive:

• Mohinder's "weird science" turn from geeky scientist to buff superhero with just one small bite of a needle is classic Spiderman, complete with a "dude is hanging from the ceiling" scene after the bite, but no upside-down kiss with hot Maya. (They did that standing up.)

• Did everyone catch the Men in Black allusion when Noah (HRG) and Sylar (Gabriel) formed an unlikely pair to take out some real baddies?

• And how the same pair parodied every "buddy cop road trip" movie in existence with the line, "Just stay close to me and keep your mouth shut," growled by the experienced pro (HRG) at the allegedly clueless rookie (Sylar)?

• And Daphne "The Speedster," as Hiro's speedy new nemesis (and named as such), does for the show—through no small coincidence—what the Flash did for the Justice League: bring a much needed touch of levity to what can easily turn into heavy comic-book melodrama...

• ... while Ando is having some problems accepting his role as Robin to Hiro's Batman, and says so. (Here, the analogy slips a little, since Ando is usually more like Alfred, standing by to help if needed.)

Heroes seems to be finding a good balance with the added bonus of smart plotlines and complex character sketches. Watch for the good vs. evil and hero vs. villain paradigms to be scrutinized, deconstructed, and artfully redrawn throughout the season.

Sadly, we're hating Private Practice so far. The season premiere turned into a major disappointment. It appeared that this series would fill a significant void left by Grey's Anatomy — namely the lack of strong, confident, and successful career women who can avoid falling into the usual chick tropes. But sadly, all three women characters in the spinoff were quickly reduced to those tired cliches in less than 60 minutes:

• Addison became the "backstabbing tease."

• Violet became the "single gal slowly realizing she let a good one get away."

• Naomi, the worst offender, is the hapless woman who can't run a business alone and crawls back to her ex-husband to ask, "Can't we just be us again?'"

What happened to the age of strong female characters? Is this some kind of Hillary (or, dare we suggest, Sarah) backlash, or just lazy writing by the show's creators? Sure, a soap opera spinoff of a soap opera hit is supposed to be a big fluffy piece of popcorn, but why can't there be some seasoning salt sprinkled on it?

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